Balance

It’s all about balance. Jesus said so. We are balanced. Almost.

Do you know what I am most grateful every morning when I get up? Balance. I can stand in my closet, or anyplace I wish, and put on my pants! Balance.

Picture this --- okay, maybe don’t try too hard to picture this, it might be embarrassing for both of us --- but imagine then, a fifty-something woman struggling to wobble on one leg long enough to get the other leg into her jeans, and then repeat the process. I couldn’t do it. I fell over, onto the bed, every dang time. So, finally I just sat down. For two years. I couldn’t balance on one leg long enough to put on my pants. And I tripped over my own feet all the time. Funny. Haha.

Not until these sweet little pills, bright yellow ones, called Sinemet entered my life. Aren’t they cute! Three times a day. Two yellow pills and, voila! I can stand up. It’s true, there are a few wobbles here and there, but it’s a miracle to me! That third photo up there is a tiny bluppit of the brain, with synapses firing. Pretty cool looking, isn’t it! Everyone thinks I should make a poster of it and I think I will. Those sweet pills help a brain with Parkinson’s Disease to produce more Dopamine and that makes those synapses and neutrinos and bambino’s and fandingo’s or whatever they are called, to fire faster and they keep me from falling on my face. Balance. I like it. It works for me. Balance sure makes a difference.

So, this got me to thinking about balance in life. And I could go the predictable route of encouraging us all to do better about work / life / spirit balance. I get obsessed (like today, for example: there are 105 photos in my new “Balance” file of photos to illustrate this devotion!) That is not balance. That is just plain nuts. Carried away! (It is a nice file, though.) But…

The BALANCE that we are invited to ponder today is the balance that makes us saints – and sinners. We are both. We are always, everyday, all the time, no matter our best (or worst) intentions, both. I have relatives who refuse to accept that. They have to be perfect – which is not what Jesus said in the verse that always gets translated, “And be perfect.” The word means, “whole.” Quite a big difference there! My uncles were on ‘perfection patrol’ for all of my childhood and we all surely heard about the long list of what was off-limits, which, oddly enough, considering Jesus’ own preoccupation with the matter, never included our treatment of or behavior regarding the poor. We had a laundry list to fulfill, the usual: no dancing, cards, swearing, short skirts, and whenever we visited them, we listened to religious music on Sunday afternoons. It was interesting. It was dreary. It was, frankly, deadening.

My parents understood things differently: We can’t be perfect. But Jesus has given us the gift of forgiveness. So, we are simultaneously – get this – sinners and saints. Saints: folks whom God can use to reveal and give God’s very own love and grace to others despite our own weakness and even failures. God can use us! God does use us! And so this week in worship on Sunday we will remember those saints, those who made the face of God clearer, who shared kindness, who gave their lives (sometimes but not required, literally) to feed us, clear the way for us to move forward, to wipe the dust of the world from our eyes, and our feet, and helped to guide us. Who shared unconditional love with us. Who were the presence of Jesus to us.

Jesus urged us to do more, to do better, but, he also told the gathered crowd one day, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” And then it gets a bit arcane but, in short, he says, you will sin, but as you seek to follow me, I will make you free. And he tells them elsewhere that he has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. And “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (from John 8)

Let’s get fancy and use the Latin phrase that describes us “simul Justus et peccator.” At the same time, simultaneously, justified – by God’s love through Christ – and sinner. And so we are balanced. But…there’s a nice catch. “Beloved, we are God’s children now!” (I John 3)

Jesus tells us we’re free and then, turns around and urges us to keep his new commandment, to love one another as God loves us, even, yes, even, to lay down our lives for our neighbors. Fat chance. Well, maybe. Once in a blue moon. We will try. We will do our best. But we won’t be perfect. We will still fail. So Jesus tipped the balance for us. We get to collapse into his arms.
So. There is this.

Or this, Grace.

The waters of Baptism remind us, daily, who we are, and whose we are. Forgiven and free! The simul. Renewed, made new, forgiven and freed to live a new life! To go at it once again.

“If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed!” Saint . Sinner. Balance. Thank you, Jesus! Help us every day in every way to reveal your love to all we meet. Help us! Amen

Jan Erickson Pearson

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