Where are my to-do listers? Don’t be ashamed - you know you love the satisfaction of putting a check mark beside a completed task!
Even for non-checklist people, there is satisfaction in completing a project or task. Hopefully, there is satisfaction in completing a day.
We can end a day is so many ways...with prayer, meditation, plopping in the bed, etc. Paul, or someone writing on behalf of Paul, suggests that we end our day without residual anger. We have approx. 14 or more hours to complete it...to put a check mark by it.
What if something angers us during that time? What do we do with that anger?
Think about anger...Why would Paul suggest following creation’s natural rhythm and putting a cap on anger before the sun goes down? Why not just say “don’t be angry?”
- I think it’s wisdom in knowing that anger happens - to try squelching it at the get go would be unproductive and living in denial. Anger is a part of the human experience for good and bad reasons...letting anger fester is only slightly different than letting an infection fester.
Not addressing it causes a whole host of other problems... holding onto that anger can turn to grudges, depression, or rage.
- Kathryn Matthews (ucc.org) reminds us that “Just as long-simmering anger can hurt a person's physical health and emotional well-being, so the angers and resentments in a community, unaddressed, may injure the wholeness, the health and strength, of the community of faith.”
- So, not only do we need to address it as individuals, but for the sake of community. To talk about what our underlying fears are; to share our stories and experiences...because with a little more understanding and connection, we can dispel anger. Without working through the anger, it festers and splinters us.
I think we can all agree that there is “bad” anger and “good” anger.
Examples of not worthwhile anger...getting angry over TV going out during a storm or getting into a rage because getting seated for dinner took longer than expected
good or “righteous”
There is Biblical precedent: prophet Amos (a farmer outraged over the social injustices in Judah and the ways that the people were distorting worship of God), Jesus overturning money-changer tables in the temple (angry over the ways that they were turning the inner temple, a place of worship, into an unfair trading ground)
Good anger is the reaction we have to people being treated unfairly or a person or animal being abused. It’s when we see injustices. It’s good anger because it can motivate us to action...motivating us to volunteer at homeless shelters, motivating us to take an active role in voting, motivating us to being more involved with the school systems, motivating us to raise solid kids, and much more.
A good anger is needed from time to time….yet we still want to be intentional about it….not letting it pass too quickly (especially if the situation hasn’t been resolved), not letting it simmer too long (because then we’re just letting it fester), and also not mislabeling it (Someone cutting you off before a red light on your way to church, which makes you late, doesn’t qualify as righteous anger!).
This natural rhythm of a day, which Paul encourages to be a cap to our anger, brings with it new mercies every morning
Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”
It is a natural restart & time to set intention
These Ephesians verses give us a whole list of ways we can intentionally work toward Christian living. They define for us what it means to “walk the talk”....especially in difficult situations and conversations….for example, to choose to only say what will build up another person or group, not trying to bring them down...for us to speak in love, not anger.
Every new day we have an opportunity to work on “becoming Christians.” Karl Rahner, a German theologian, said that it is better to say we are becoming Christians than we are Christians. “His words suggest growing into an identity rather than achieving a static goal.” (KM, ucc.org)
I do believe we are Christian, because we believe in following Jesus’ teachings and knowing that, in those teachings, we find salvation from greed, selfishness, hate, and other evils. AND I believe we can work on becoming Christians
for example, each new day setting an intention on only saying what will build up...or putting away bitterness…or extending Christ’s love to someone normally rejected. Just like a musician is a musician when they learn to play “chopsticks” AND when they master writing an original - they practice.
For the next few minutes, a silent reflection on what you can do today to fulfill some of these wise words from our Scripture.
When do we have the opportunity to be loving, generous, tender-hearted, and forgiving, and in so doing and being, offer ourselves up "as a fragrant offering" to God?
And also, what does it mean to you to "grieve the Spirit of God"? Especially in the light of anger - the good and the bad, the ways we let it go too quickly or too long.
Scripture: Ephesians 4:25-5:2