The writer Thomas Greene made a distinction years ago that has stayed with me through time. There is a difference, he says, between working for God and doing God’s work! These simple words point to a huge difference!!!
When we “work for God” it is very possible that the idea or the thought of what we “need to do” begins within ourselves. On the other hand, when we are doing God’s work, the inspiration and direction come from God. It is possible that the two can be one and the same . . . . and it is also possible that they are very distinct.
In the Gospel for this weekend (Luke 1:26-38) Mary makes it clear where she stands when she says, “I am the maidservant of the Lord.” In other words, I am at God’s disposal, I am ready for what God needs me for.
There is nothing bad, there is nothing wrong with doing good deeds …. nothing is negative about helping others. But, it is quite possible that in doing a good deed or in helping someone we can choose to satisfy our own desires, our needs, our own wants. It is also possible that we can choose the less difficult or the less challenging . . . . instead of taking on the greater responsibility and responding to the greater need. A simple example: I drop off some cookies for a neighbor . . . . what the neighbor really needs is for me to spend 30 minutes visiting with him/her. OR, I want to be Cantor at Church — what is needed is help in St. Vincent dePaul ministry delivering food baskets.
Building a new house for the Lord is a good thought. It is a generous gesture. BUT, WHEN THAT IS NOT GOD’S priority, it needs to be set aside. (2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14-16)
What are some of the things I want to accomplish in 2012? What might God be asking me to address? Is what I consider to be important, really important to God? What might GOD BE ASKING ME TO DO? Is our Church responding to what people really need?
When 50% of Americans live at or near the poverty level [a report released week puts the total at 146 million Americans) , we see that a so-called middle-class is really disappearing. As Americans, as citizens of local communities, as members of Church congregations — are we dealing with what is really important — what really matters — or with what we somehow are excited about?
God recognized that we needed a Savior. God recognized that we needed someone to show us how to live …. and God thought it best that this Savior be one of us and one with us. So, he chose that the Savior would be born of a woman … but in a way a little different than the “natural way”. God needed a person to help him … and he chose Mary … certainly someone who must have been confused, someone who had to be afraid . . . . yet someone willing to be and to do what was asked of her. “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me.” Mary was FULL OF GRACE because she was “empty” to hear God’s word. She was full of grace, not because of the prayers she said, but because she was COMPLETELY open to doing what God wanted her to do.
To be this kind of servant takes a really big man, a really big woman.
As we write our last Christmas cards, as we wrap our last presents, as we make plans for family gatherings …. might we also say/pray ….. “OK God ….sometimes you have to talk really loud to get my attention. I really want to be the person you created me to be …. I want to fulfill the purpose, the plan you have for me.” Here I am … ready to do your will.
As Christians we know that history was forever changed …. dramatically changed … by the birth of Jesus. One woman said “yes”. God was making more than a cosmetic difference in the world …. God was doing real reform …. this was CHANGE we can really believe in.
Is it possible that we do not see such dramatic change in the world today because there are too few people willing to say and to mean …. what would God do? what does God want? Is God saying, “oh my goodness” … why are they worrying about that? Why are they wasting time with the trivial and insignificant?”
God is sending angels to my town and your town, to my house and your house, to my church and your church, with greetings of … do not be afraid … here is my plan, my work for you in the year ahead …. are we ready to RECEIVE God’s assignment ….