Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 10), Year A

Genesis 25:19-34 and Psalm 119:105-112
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

There is no getting away from ourselves.

Our minds and bodies and spirits are all connected. They always and constantly influence each other.

Sometimes we fall in to a belief that our mind is our Most Important Part...and then our body reminds us we need to eat or move or sneeze.
Our we reach a place where we put so much emphasis on taking care of our body...and then we notice our brain doesn't work as well because it hasn't been used much recently.

Or we get so wrapped up in ourselves we are convinced that as long as we are good thinkers and eat all our vegetables, we need nothing else....and then we recognize we are empty shells because we have not given appropriate respect to our own spiritual life and development.

And every once in a while we ONLY pay attention to our spiritual life and development...we set it up as the greatest good believing that if we attend to our spirit, everything else will be okay...and we find ourselves unhealthy because we don't eat well or move our bodies. Remember, even the most remote and ascetic monks eat a bit and take a walk each day.

The point is that in each of us, all of our parts are connected. And when we don't pay attention to a particular part or if we take one part for granted, we can find ourselves unbalanced.

We are integrated beings and when we put too much emphasis on one aspect of ourselves, it is easy for us to lose other parts of ourselves.

In this week's passage from Genesis we get the next phase in the story of Isaac and Rebekah's life together. We jump from her watering his camels to them having children--Esau and Jacob. Most of us know the story...after they were older, Esau was out hunting and came in famished and asked Jacob for some stew he had made. Today it sounds like a couple of kids just playing around, but Jacob gave Esau some stew only after Esau swore to give over his birthright (privileges accorded to the firstborn male of the family) to Jacob. Esau's words mattered here. Body, mind, soul, spirit, property, respect...so much was tied up and tied together in a person's birthright....and Esau gave that up for a bowl of stew because he was intensely focused on a bodily need. On a side note...for those of you keeping score at home, it was Jacob...who later had his named changed to Israel...who gave birth to the twelve tribes, etc that tricked (or screwed) his brother out his birthright and inheritance. How do we reconcile Judiasm and eventually Christianity developing out of this snookering (which was just one in a series of snookerings)?

The writer of Psalm 119 certainly understood the ways his self was integrated. He understood the ways his oaths to God were connected to his physical condition. He understood that he needed to trust God spiritually and physically....he understood that his spiritual life had a direct connection to his physical life and safety.

In Paul's letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome, he does more to dramatically demarcate the body (flesh) from the spirit. He is really parsing out how the indwelling of the Spirit of Jesus Christ actually works in each of us individually...he is almost focusing on the mechanics of it. But in the end, he still says that if a person is filled with the Spirit of God, then that person's body will be filled with life also. If the spirit is healthy and connected, then the body will be healthy and connected.

And in the passage from Matthew we get a beautiful picture of integration from Jesus. He tells the parable of a sower who scattered seed...some fell on good earth, some fell on thorny soil, and some fell on rocky ground. As he describes what happens to the seeds in each circumstance we can see that the ultimate hope is that a seed is a good seed, takes root, flourishes, and produces fruit. It is not enough to be the best seed ever, or just grow roots, or to only have leaves...ideally, a healthy seed eventually produces fruit. And we, as integrated beings are meant to be physically and mentally and spiritually healthy (all) so we may grow in to what we were created to be.

If we ignore any part of who we are, we will never become all we were created to be.

Creator and sustainer
Keep me mindful
of the complexity of your creation
and who I am in that creation
and who I am as creation.
Help me see the fruits of all my parts
- all my integrated created wonder -
so that all of me
is fruitful
for Your Kingdom.

© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.

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