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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, June 12, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Matthew 10:9–23

Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (NRSV)

As a professional musician, I have spent a lot of my life, since the age of about seven, practicing. The art of practice is patiently and slowly going over the same passage of music without making any mistakes so that excellence becomes a habit. Practice doesn’t lead to perfection. It only leads the practitioner on an endless journey toward the unachievable, but it is that journey that matters most, so practicing has taught me to be as invulnerable as possible.

Yet Jesus asks his followers to become vulnerable, so vulnerable that they have nothing with them except what they need most. He doesn’t want them to take money, bags, not even a change of clothing. He even specifies to bring “no staff,” which was used for protection, so in other words, be unprotected and incredibly vulnerable!

Despite all my practicing, or maybe because of it, for many years I had a recurring nightmare. I was playing a concert but knew there was one piece or one passage of a piece that I could not play. I was terrified of that moment, because it would reveal that I was vulnerable, unprepared, not perfect. But after years of the same nightmare I reached the moment of music that I could not play and instead of stopping (or waking up) I just improvised and made something up to keep the music going. I have never had the nightmare since then—when I faced my vulnerability and was fully exposed to the possibility of failing. Becoming vulnerable made me realize that I did not fail but rose in new ways to the challenge.

Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Jesus wanted his followers to be vulnerable and open to possibility so that new ways could emerge, so we would trust in God and allow God’s will to flourish among all creation.

Loving God, help me to become vulnerable so I can trust you and be open to new possibilities. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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