Don’t leave your luggage unattended
At a recent evening service, we were talking about our blessings during 2014.
A number of people referred to their travel overseas and a safe return home as one of their blessings. We started discussing the mantra “Do not leave your luggage unattended”. You know, the mantra you hear from the minute you leave home in Wagga till you return. Loudspeakers in airports, railway stations and other public places hammer the message.
What baggage must we keep our attention on?
Our baggage may be full of valuables: souvenirs and gifts for ourselves and others; stories of our experiences; our riches of access to fresh water and shelter; our caring and loving relationships with our family, friends and colleagues. God has helped us to pack our bags with the good things we need, so we can carry out his will, as pointed to by the Hebrews and Matthew passages (see “Personal Reflection”).
Our baggage may also have dirty clothes in it. Perhaps these are memories of unpleasant and sorrowful events, culture shock, self-centredness, fear, anxiety and reluctance to go outside our comfort zone.
If we take our eyes off our luggage, we may lose our valuables, particularly relationships with God and others.
Prayer Week gives us the chance to check inside our baggage, honour the many valuables and gifts we have (particularly our relationships with others). It also allows us to take out the dirty laundry, and cleanse it.
If your dirty laundry relates to relationships, hurts between people, words or deeds of anger or criticism, now is the time to seek reconciliation and forgiveness. It may be that you can’t approach the person with whom you have a fractured relationship: they may have moved away or passed away. Still, now is the time to seek peace and resolution in your heart by talking to God — and, maybe, another person — to pursue the healing of the Holy Spirit.
If your dirty laundry relates to the constriction of your comfort zone, now is the time to take courage and stretch out to follow the Bible’s message in our reading from Hebrews 13: “Do good and help one another, because these are the sacrifices that please God.”
As Jesus said in the context of loving your enemies (in Matthew 5:46-47): “Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you only speak to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that!”
Check what’s in your baggage. What dirty laundry can you take out and cleanse, then either discard or repack for use on your daily journey with the familiar and the strangers, the prosperous and the disadvantaged members of our community?
What do you need to re-pack carefully with love and respect, to pay attention to, to nurture you and others in your daily journey in the community?
Remember: Do not leave your baggage unattended.
“May your Kingdom come; May your
will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
“Do not forget to do good and to help one another, because these are the sacrifices that please God… God has raised from death our Lord Jesus, who is the great Shepherd of the sheep as the result of his blood, by which the eternal covenant is sealed. May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do his will, and may he, through Jesus Christ, do in us what pleases him. And to Christ be the glory for ever and ever!“ (Hebrew 13:16, 20-21)
Marilyn Walter, Wagga Wagga UCA
This article was first printed in the May 2015 issue of Ruminations, the quarterly journal of the Rural Ministry Unit. It has been edited for length.