Monday, January 09, 2006

What are you longing for?

From my sermon on January 1:

I was lent a book by one of my Tuesday Pizza Night friends. The book is titled, “The Holy Longing” and was written by Ronald Rolheiser. In this book he examines three people and their spirituality; Mother Teresa, Janis Joplin and Princess Diana. I want to examine two of these lives.

Mother Teresa’s purpose in life was to please God by loving the unlovable. All of her energy and time was dedicated towards helping the sick. In the end I am sure that Mother Teresa wished she could have done more, saved more people, increased public awareness, raised more money.

Janis Joplin was a spiritual woman as well. Unfortunately Joplin’s energies were not focused on God, they were hardly focused at all. Her time and energy went in all directions and eventually created a life of excesses in performances, drugs, alcohol, sex, and through all these excesses she neglected a time of rest. She was always on the go. Joplin ended up dying at the early age of 27.

Janis Joplin wrote a song called "Mercedes Benz" that reflect the excesses she enjoyed and desired to have:

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV ?
Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until three,
So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV ?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town ?
I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town ?

Mother Teresa was able to focus on one thing, not many. Janis Joplin could not focus on the one thing. Like many of us we want to be focused on one thing but we are drawn to feel every sensation that is experienced by all sinners. Choosing one thing means rejecting many other choices.

Consider that getting married to one person means rejecting many others.

Having a baby requires us to focus on one and to give up other personal focuses

And praying means that we have to miss TV or visiting with friends

For many of us we will never be a Mother Teresa or a Janis Joplin. We will never be fully focused on one thing like Mother Teresa: God and the poor. We hopefully will never have the opportunity to enjoy all the excesses that Janis Joplin did.

You may be saying to yourself, “Rick I cannot be a Mother Teresa and I am definitely not a Janis Joplin. Can’t I just live somewhere in the middle?”

I will admit that it would be very hard to be as dedicated as Mother Teresa. But, she did set an example for us to follow. She was not divine, therefore we can become like her.

In the book of Revelation we read the words of Jesus to the church of Laodicea:

Revelation 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! [16] So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. [17] You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Jesus says either be a Mother Teresa or a Janis Joplin but don’t be in between.

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