Communion Reflection: Why Not Now?

May 6, 2012, Author: Rev. Ann M. Aaberg

Acts 8:26-40 – 5th Sunday of Easter – May 6, 2012

I had a friend once who was taking golf lessons to improve her swing.  As many of you know, a good golf swing consists of a rather complex set of contributing factors:  one’s grip on the club, the golfer’s position and stance over the ball, the alignment of the head and shoulders and hips, what’s happening with the elbows, the knees, the follow-through, and everything in between – the height of the tee, where on the ball one’s eyes are fixated upon and so on.  This friend would approach the tee with all of those factors running around in her head and those of us watching her would wait in almost excruciating pain as she lined up her feet and gripped and ungripped and gripped the club again to get her fingers just right and loosened up her shoulders and her stance and slowly tilted her head just right and….would stop and begin positioning herself all over again.  It would take several approaches before she would finally swing the club and, I’m sorry to say, the results of her shot were no indication whatsoever of the care she put in to her swing.  That’s when I first heard the phrase, “Analysis leads to Paralysis.”  Just swing!

This same woman, when we would go out to a restaurant, would scrutinize every offering on the menu, would always ask the waiter several questions about how this or that was cooked, and would always be the last one at the table to place her order and, even then, never really seemed sure about her decision.

Much different than another friend I had who would sometimes call out of nowhere in the middle of a workday afternoon and say, “Let’s go for ice cream!”  Her high degree of spontaneity seemed at times reckless, even irresponsible, and often had negative consequences.

Where might you place yourself on this continuum between reckless spontaneity at one end and paralyzing analysis at the other?  I think it’s safe to say, for most of us, it depends on the situation and the degree of risk.  And whether or not we recognize the nudging (or nagging) we feel towards action as simply our stomachs growling or boredom, or a true calling to one’s higher self, a change or new behavior or action to which the Holy Spirit is beckoning?

Our scripture story this morning of the apostle Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch offers us a look into how the Spirit moves in us and through us toward sacred spontaneous action.  It begins with Philip getting up and heading south on the simple instructions of an angel and then running right up to a foreign chariot on the advice of the Spirit.  Now, we know enough about the Ethiopian eunuch that we can assume that he is probably not given to rash behavior, at least in his position as court official and treasurer for the entire holdings of the Queen of the Ethiopians.  We find him thoughtfully reading scripture; he has specific questions for Philip; and then he hears from Philip, presumably for the first time, that the scripture he is reading from the prophet Isaiah has indeed been fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah.  Philip’s teaching is compelling enough that as soon as the eunuch sights water, he says, “Look, here is water!  What is to prevent me from being baptized?”  Well, you know what?…not a darn thing.

What is to prevent us from acting upon what we know?  What over-analyzed indecision is churning about inside of you that may have you paralyzed?  Especially in acting upon your faith?  Most of us have heard about Jesus; most of us are familiar enough with his teachings; most of us are baptized already; and all of us as Christians are called to do something… to serve our neighbor and to develop and grow into the best humans God created us to be.  What is to prevent us from being our truest selves, the most loving and generous people we can be?  Where might you be stuck?  How would you fill in these blanks:

I’ve been meaning to…

I keep forgetting to…

I know I should…

I wish I could…

I can’t decide about…

I’d really like to try…

Friends, the good news is that if the Spirit is calling you towards sacred action in your life, you will be guided by the Spirit and you will be held by God.  As we approach the Communion table this morning, we are offered the nourishment we need, the peace we can get nowhere else, the inspiration and the assurance we require to confidently step up to the tee and take a swing.  No matter where that ball goes, even if it lands in the rough or the sand or plunks right into the water, the Spirit of the Lord is with us.  As you participate in this holy sacrament this morning, I invite you to ask yourself:  What is to prevent me?  Knowing what we know, what is to prevent us from living into the accepted beloved people of God we are?   Just swing!  Amen.