by Mary Lou Redding
On this midsummer Sunday, we are deep into the season of the Christian year known as ordinary time-the longest season of the liturgical calendar. The festivals of Easter and Pentecost are memories, and Advent is far ahead on the planning calendar. These days bring few special observances in the church-they are “ordinary” time. For us here in the South, August can also bring long days of stifling heat-the “dog days of summer. “This August landscape fits the emotional tenor of the week’s lectionary readings.
Today’s reading from Hebrews offers a poignant picture of a people who describe themselves as “strangers and foreigners.” Like the Israelites leaving Egypt, we who follow God leave behind the familiar, holding in our hearts a dream of a better place, a dream of being more than we are. Yet we set out with no sure destination in sight, no guarantees, no place to call home.
The image that comes to mind is that of thousands of refugees who streamed out of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.That exodus was a phenomenon seldom seen in this country. And, setting their sights on a new future, many refugees chose not to go back. Following God is something like that. We have no guarantees of where we will end up or how long it will take us to arrive. Yet as Hebrews also tells us, God is “not ashamed to be called [the] God” of people who set out on the search for that better homeland.
0 God, give us a vision of what you want for us, a vision so compelling that we willingly leave behind all that weighs us down on the journey toward the better country. Amen.