Today Rev. Sarah takes a look at Paul's words to the Romans and invites us to consider if a little Spring Cleaning is needed in our Spiritual lives.
Romans 8:18-25 The Message
The winter of 2019 a show hit my Netflix feed that resonated to my core. No doubt placed there by marketing geniuses just as the new year hit… many were making new years resolutions to better themselves and their environments. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo inspired home makeovers, organization triumphs, and inspired folks to clear out the clutter in order to choose joy in their lives and in their homes. Her organizational method, coined the KonMari method stood out to people because of the simplistic and spiritual components attached to understanding that joy is not found in our “stuff,” but rather our “stuff” should have a multipurpose of bringing joy. Marie Kondo begins each phase of organization by gathering all of one kind of item, taking stock of what is there, and only keeping items that bring joy. She encourages people on the show to hold each item in their hand and ask the question – does this bring me joy? And if it no longer brings the client joy, she encourages them to get rid of it. She believes that cleaning out the “stuff” of our past helps us to move toward a more whole future. She says, “We should use our space not for the person we once were, but for our future selves.” As we enter this time of spring, I wonder what we, too, must clear out to make room for the current versions of ourselves to grow into the creations God would hope for us to become.
In our scripture passage for today, Paul is writing to the people of Rome explaining that the glory that is to be revealed will far outweigh the suffering that is to be endured in the present. And it is of value to remember that the people of Rome were suffering. Oppression was felt all over the world from Roman rule in the form of slavery, heavy taxation, poverty, and military conquests. People were literally suffering. So in Romans when we read about suffering, those who would have read those letters were in need of a word of hope for the future.
Paul made the gospel relatable, meeting people where they were. He sought to connect the Gospel to the promise that we will be revealed as the children of God. That present sufferings are not the end of our story. Just as we saw during Holy Week – with Jesus death does not win, our misstep and sin does not get the final say in our lives, and that in and through Jesus Christ we are made new. He goes on to say that “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now… and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption.”
But that’s not where we end today, friends. That’s where the Easter message ends, but today we find hope and promise in God’s love SO THAT. So that all might find the hope and promise in God’s love. Today we shine light on all our darkest places so that we can examine where we are, and where we’ve been in order to point to a place in the future of God’s kin-dom where we want to be and believe God is calling us to be. This hope is a hope for the future. And although we are called to wait for it with patience, that is not an excuse to put our self-work on hold.
If we are to live into the hope Jesus calls us to live here and now, we must examine our own hearts and minds to find the things we need to let go of in order to make room to grow. We will grow when we prune back the parts of our life that do not produce fruit. We will grow when we step into the light of God and claim the love offered to us through Jesus Christ. We will grow when order our lives to align with what God would have us do through study, prayer, sacrament, and giving. We will grow when we seek out journey groups to engage in Christian community. We will grow when we continue in our discipleship journey, and continue to move toward the next best thing God would call us to do.
Have you examined where you are in each path lately? How are you improving your prayer life? Do you rarely pray if you’re not at church? What would praying intentionally everyday look like for you? What would reading scripture 2-3 times a week, or daily look like for you? Worshipping every week whether in person or online? These intentional steps are the kinds of things that align our hearts with the intentions and hope for us from God.
This growth will often feel like we are laboring, or doing our own spiritual version of Marie Kondo. Amen.