Showing items filed under “The Rev. Perry Mullins”

Getting Ready for Sunday: April, 30

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I once worked with a youth minister who told me that the experience he treasures most in ministry is watching the light bulb come on for a student for the first time. It’s not often that we get to experience that moment, but it is energizing when we do. Perhaps one reason is because we remember when it happened to us—that moment when we were first awakened to seeing what Christ had been doing in our lives all along.

That sort of awakening is what we read in Luke’s Gospel. As the two men walked the dusty road to Emmaus, a traveler came alongside them and talked to them. As a backpacker, I have had that experience many times. It is common courtesy to talk to other hikers when you see them on the trail—something about encouraging one another in the back country, I suppose. Sometimes the conversations are interesting, and sometimes they are merely small talk. But on very rare occasion has a conversation with another hiker connected with me on a deep level.

Jesus’ interpretation of the Scriptures for these two men does just that. They had been his followers, and their world had been shaken by the crucifixion, and then shaken again by the tale they had heard of an empty tomb. Jesus’ words to them are bold and lack encouragement, but they are certainly characteristic of his wisdom: “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared,” and Luke continues, “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.”

The story reads as if they talked together all day, or perhaps, Jesus talked and they listened. I imagine that it was familiar to them, like sitting at the feet of their teacher as they had just a week earlier. It was probably a conversation that made the time pass quickly. And by the time they reached Emmaus, they were hanging on his every word. They did not want him to go on, and so they begged him to stay. And at the table, “He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them,” and the light bulb came on, and he vanished from their sight.

Every one of us has a deep longing in our souls, a light bulb waiting to be lit. And like the resurrected Christ walking alongside these two men on their way to Emmaus, God is constantly calling us into deeper relationship with him—a relationship that will fulfill that longing and spark that lightbulb. The disciples on the road, after recognizing their encounter with Christ, exclaimed, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us?”

He is, indeed, talking to each of us on the way to wherever we are going. But often, we do not stop to listen. On the trail, I see talking with other hikers as a necessary burden. I fear we sometimes view our faith like that also. And yet, in reality, it is the thing that speaks to our deepest longing—that speaks to our desire for Christ. Worship is, for us, one way to be sure we are listening with regularity. Other disciplines, such as daily Scripture reading and prayer, help us to hear him also. Stop and take the time to listen, and he will awaken you again and again, and like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he will pull you into deeper relationship with him.

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Getting Ready for Sunday by the Rev. Perry Mullins

Proper 6, Year C – June 12, 2016

1 Kings 21:1-10, 11-14, 15-21a

This is not the first time that Ahab and Elijah meet. At this point in the story, they are more like old rivals than heated enemies. Each time King Ahab transgresses, the prophet Elijah appears and speaks a Word from God before disappearing again into the wilderness.

Ahab develops an unfortunate habit of doing evil, meeting Elijah and hearing God’s voice, experiencing a little remorse, but then eventually running Elijah off again because the things he says and does are so difficult. Over and over it happens, predictably, like the chase of the roadrunner and the coyote. Over time, the pattern becomes a part of Ahab and the sin digs its way deep into his soul.

In this chapter, King Ahab and his wife Jezebel kill a man in order to take his vineyard. Ahab asks to buy the vineyard, and when Naboth refuses, Jezebel springs into action. An innocent man is stoned to death, and when the king hears the news, he doesn’t mourn. He makes his way to the man’s vineyard to take it for himself. And when Elijah appears, he speaks a word from God—judgment on Ahab, “Thus says the Lord: in the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.”

It may not be the first time that the King and the prophet collide, but it is the last. And because it is the last, there is a momentary break in the pattern. Ahab pauses to comment on his situation, and perhaps unwittingly takes stock of his life, all in one profound line. He hears
Elijah’s familiar voice, what has been to Ahab the very voice of God, and he cries out in reply, “Have you found me, O my enemy?”

Wearied by the sin that drags him down time and time again, he points out in himself that which has become obvious. Ahab, through a long life spent in his pattern of sin, has formed himself to be an enemy of God—not simply a momentary transgressor, but a more permanent sort of adversary.

Ahab’s story is a warning. The patterns by which we live form us to be a particular kind of person. The Christian who continually gives in to greed, for instance, will become the kind of person who can no longer be content—the kind of person, like Ahab, who devours the people and things around him. The alternative is to walk in the way of the cross, to live in patterns of sacrifice for the life of the world. The patterns we embrace will change our souls for eternity.

Which of your habits are forming you to be an enemy of God, and which ones are making you more like Christ?

The Rev. Perry Mullins is an Associate Priest at Good Shepherd in Dallas. 

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This is a blog of essays meant to prepare parishioners for an upcoming Sunday reading.