Our Epiphany Days of Prayer take place this coming Monday and Tuesday, January 6-7, from 9 am to 9 pm each day. Depending on how they are counted, the commands of Jesus can be numbered in the dozens, maybe hundreds. There are many things Jesus tells us to do, and say, and feel, and be. Simply put, Jesus is the Lord of life, and as Lord he acts and speaks accordingly.
I am not sure how you experience the word “command”, but I can guess. For the most part, commands are things we resist, things others foist upon us because they resist them too. A command almost always feels like a burden or a weight. You might think about your work situation or some other experience in your life where commands are given. Almost every hierarchy we know pushes the burden down to those less powerful so that the powerful can enjoy advantage and ease.
But in the kingdom of God, everything is different. Yes, the king commands, but the nature of his commands must be seen for what they are. Instead of being a king who commands for his advantage and our burden, Jesus reverses that order. We get the blessing, he takes the burden (and buries it, until finally all is blessing).
In our prayer walk for Epiphany 2014 we will consider a selected set of the surprising commands of Jesus. As you follow the seven prayer stations in this year’s journey, each station will invite you to reflect on the life-commands of Jesus, and to respond from where you are.
It is our hope that these days of prayer will enrich your love for the King we serve and follow.
command 1: He commands us to get up and walk
Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” [Mark 2:9-11, NIV]
Walking is such an ordinary and basic thing. Unless, that is, for whatever reason, you simply can’t. And so, for the man who couldn’t walk, Jesus must command him. But that command is a gift of life. What Jesus says to this man, he says to all of us: get up, and get moving. The Lord of Life commands us to engage life and people and meaning, to follow him along the road he maps out for us. If you are stuck in spiritual inertia, doing nothing with the precious time given to you, I invite you to consider this as your starting point: Jesus gives the power to get moving.
We know about the restorative and healing potential of moving by foot. Sometimes when someone is steamed or out of sorts, we advise them to take a walk, cool down, get perspective. Many folks report finding clarity on dilemmas while going for a stroll. I have no trouble believing an old Latin saying often attributed to Augustine: solvitur ambulando -- “It is solved by walking”. [Arthur Boers, The Way is Made by Walking. p. 148]
Lord of LIfe: I am stuck. I can’t seem to move from where I am. But your word gives me back my legs. You command me to walk. And if you say “get up and walk” (and you do), then I am off again on the journey.
There are six more stations to engage and ponder. Consider this your invitation.