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There is something within us that resists limitations and authority. We don’t like to admit that we have so little control over our lives and that humanity is not the ultimate authority on much of anything. I’ve been thinking about something I read many years ago by Peggy Way. She wrote about “the fact of glass,” the finitude of human beings. Like a bee that cannot comprehend that it cannot pass through glass and keeps bumping up against it, we humans cannot comprehend that we are fragile and finite and keep bumping up against our limits. It isn’t necessarily bad, but it can be a bit painful, not to mention that it can look pretty silly sometimes.

Maybe because I’ve just turned 50, the texts this week bring this “fact of glass” to mind. Each passage serves to remind us of our limits and how we are called to spend the time allotted to us. We aren’t supposed to spend our days bumping up against our limits. Rather we are called to live in God’s abundance and be agents of love and unity.

The Acts passage tells the story of Jesus’ ascension. The disciples stand staring into the sky where Jesus disappeared and angels come and remind them that life is before them. They are not to look back or look up wishing for what was, but they are to embrace what is. Jesus left them with a job to do. They return to the others to spend time in prayer. How else would they be able to imagine a future without Jesus-in-the-flesh? How else would they be able to stop looking to the past and live into the future God envisioned for them?

The verses of Psalm 68 clearly state that God reigns over all that is. I hear it as a call to relinquish our perceived control and turn, once again, to the God who is ruler, protector, and strength for all. How often do we forget that God is awesome and that we live in God’s sanctuary? How often do we fail to trust God who is parent to all and will comfort and strengthen us when we suffer?

1Peter continues this reminder that God is God and we are not. If we are to journey with Christ from death to life then we must trust that God is with us through all pain and suffering. God has not forgotten God’s promises to us. It is much more likely that we have forgotten just what it is that God has promised us. We need to stop bumping our heads against the glass and trust that God will guide us and shower us with grace as we move through life. It is not necessary for us to be consumed with worry. How much easier would life be if we believed that we were not on our own, that God accompanies us through all things?

As the “Farewell Discourses” continue in the Gospel reading, Jesus clearly tells the disciples that they will not be on their own after his death. They belong to God and God will not leave them alone. No matter what comes their way, God will be with them. They are to work toward bringing about unity, a unity first imagined in the heart of God. However, they will wear themselves out and go in wrong directions if they forget that it is God who works through them to bring about this unity; they cannot possibly do it on their own. How many headaches and heartaches would be avoided if we didn’t try to do things our own way?

While I am hearing a reminder, an invitation, to return to the heart of God, to rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit more than my own, maybe you hear something different in these passages. Where is the Spirit guiding you this week? Please join the conversation so that we may share this journey together.


Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, vlog, and books at Beachtheology.com.


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Photo: CC0 image by Michael Schwarzenberger

8 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: We are Not Left to our own Devices

  1. i am thinking about the idea of being witnesses, from the Acts reading.
    what have we witnessed this week: here is Australia, it is 50 years since a referendum to include aboriginal people in the census – yep, until then they did not count.
    also 20 years since a report on the Stolen generation – Stolen Generation refers to a program of removing aboriginal children from their families.
    this Wednesday [today my time] is Aldersgate Day – the warming of the Heart of Wesley.
    and of course, the bombing in Manchester, and whatever other violence is happening around the world, that may or may not make the news.

    in Acts: But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.

    Into all this stuff happening in the world,, how are we witnesses, how do we tell with our lives, not just our voices, what Jesus has done.

    been at a meeting of area UCA ministers, and about to leave for a Presbytery [region] meeting.

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  2. So, I’m generally a lurker in this group, but this caught my attention. We’ve entered what I call the season of minefields–secular and civic holidays that press in on our spiritual lives (and worship). On this Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in the US, I am drawn to this “fact of glass” as one of the ways we continually deny death, extend life, etc., and yet, on this day we glorify those who died in violence. In some ways, this civic day breaks us through the glass to fully face our humanity and our mortality. The promises of the Spirit, the mystery of the ascension, and 1Peter’s assurance of God’s providence all sustain us. What if the fact of glass is one way God boundaries us in God’s ways–that oppose the ways of the world (war, militarism, and oppression, to name just a few)?

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  3. Ruth, yes! Absolutely the fact of glass is one of the ways in which God boundaries us into God’s ways. I hadn’t really thought of it in the face of the civic holidays, but you are right. My personal rule (and my congregation has adjusted) is that I do not address secular holidays in worship, except in the pastoral prayer. It helps me keep my feet out of the minefield.

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