Friday, October 20, 2006


Reflection for today's communion service on readings from Ephesians 1:11-14 and Luke 12:1-7:

How many of us want to have our hidden secrets revealed to the world?

I’m not talking about the people who confess their innermost secrets on television tabloid talk shows like Jerry Springer and Oprah, the ones who are looking for their 15 minutes of fame. I’m speaking about the rest of us who have something to hide that we don’t want other people to know about. The psychologist Jung called this our shadow side, and he said that most of us cover it up as best we can.

Sometimes we pretend that things are otherwise, that we are happy and at peace with the world, when inside we are frightened and insecure. Or we criticize others for not living up to the values they profess in order to hide the fact that we have failed. This is especially sad when it is revealed that preachers and members of Congress advocate moral values that they themselves cannot follow. Surely this is the hypocrisy, the leaven of the Parisees, that Jesus warns against in the synoptic Gospels.

Jesus tells us today that there is “nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” This follows from the fact that nothing escapes the notice of God who even counts the hairs on our head, over 100,000 of them. (Did you know that? Blondes have more and redheads less. You can find out everything from Google these days!)

This news, about the omniscience of God, can be both wonderful and scary. Each of us, in the depth of our hearts, wants to be known as we are and accepted for whom we are. This is the essence of love. And to be known and cared for by God, the master of the universe, is the pinnacle of love. In the light of God’s love there are no shadows. Perfect love casts out all fear.

But the all-seeing eye of God can also be a fearsome thing. There are some secrets too terrible to stand the light of day.

A couple of nights ago I was in Boston visiting my son Luke, and he took me to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was held in the cafeteria of a psychiatric hospital and there were men and women of all ages and, judging by their appearance, from all social classes. But all were alike with their secret, an addiction to alcohol or drugs, and sometimes both, that had nearly destroyed their lives.

The stories they told, of families broken up and jobs lost, were heart breaking. Addicts lie, again and again, to their families, their friends, and to their employers. The turning point for many is when they realize that only a Power greater than themselves can help them withstand the seduction of addiction. When they realize, in other words, that God knows the truth about them and yet still cares for them, for every hair on their head.

My son has been struggling with his addictions for many years. He has an acute sense that he has failed in life, and no amount of assurance from me seems to relieve his guilt. He knows that AA might be his last hope, but he resists becoming fully involved in the program. At the meeting we attended, I heard the speaker tell of achieving a “moment of peace” that revealed to him the presence of a Higher Power. And this presence helped keep him on the road to sobriety.

I pray that my son will find that peace that passes understanding, and that he will realize that God loves and cares for him despite the terrible secrets he carries within, secrets that only become bearable for him with alcohol. In the light of Christ’s love, all is forgiven and we can live without fear.

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