Out of the Comfort Zone - Reflections 5-22-19

Texts for Sunday, 
Out of MY comfort zone

 May 26, 2019

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 16:9-15 
Psalm 67 
Rev 21:10, 22-22:5 
John 14:23-29

I admit it. I'm a fan of the Holy Spirit. I'm also a fan of the Creator and the Savior, but the Holy Spirit is the breath, fire, the wind/motion of God. The Spirit blows, scorches, and pushes people, including me, way out of the comfort zone. 
Yes the Spirit does a whole lot of other terrific things, but today, I'm thinking comfort zone.

My most comfortable zone is alone in my head. I don't need noise or action or things to do. I like to just be, and then to think about, well, any number of wonderful things - cats, creation, tofu, the meaning of life - you know, wonderful things. 

But, as I learned long, long ago from Martin Luther's Small Catechism, the Holy Spirit calls me through the story of God's love shown in Jesus, enlightens me with gifts, sanctifies, and  sustains me. Somehow all those verbs do not include holding me safely in my comfort zone. My call is as a deacon and my gifts are those of service... out in the church and the world...with all kinds of people, some of whom make me quite uncomfortable. So much for cats and tofu.

The whole book of Acts is a story of the Spirit being active in the days after Jesus' resurrection and ascension. One of the central figures in the book of Acts is the Apostle Paul who was comfortably established as a student and practitioner of his religion. So comfortable, that he would do anything to protect his religion, including persecuting and murdering those who followed some loser named Jesus.

I have only been pushed a tiny bit out of my comfort zone compared to Paul. After the Holy Spirit got a hold of him, he was carried thousands of miles away from his zone. He was called to take the story of Jesus (Paul admitted he was mistaken about the whole loser thing) to the ends of the earth. Literally.

In today's story, though, someone else is called/pushed by the Spirit: a certain woman named Lydia from the city of Thyatira who was a business woman selling purple cloth. The Spirit had already been working in her life. She was a Gentile whose heart was seeking something more. She left her comfort zone as she was drawn to the God found in the Jewish religion; God had a hold of her heart. Being a Gentile and a woman, she needed to worship someplace out of a synagogue. As it turns happens, that place was also out of the city where she gathered with other women for prayer. Outside of the city's gate was pretty much out of most people's comfort zone.

Paul also passed over those boundaries. Outside the city and outside the synagogue, he sat down with a group of women, of all people, to talk with them. And that Spirit who brought them all to this place, opened Lydia's heart even farther. 

In the John text, Jesus tells us to not let our hearts be troubled. The Advocate, aka the Holy Spirit, will be sent. And like Lydia, our hearts will be opened.

How has the Spirit blown or pushed you out of your comfort zone?  

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245