The Easter season has officially passed with the recent arrival of Pentecost Sunday – the commemoration of God’s Holy Spirit emerging in and from the disciples, inspiring and empowering them to carry on Jesus’ work in the world. No more big holy days for us in the Christian tradition until Thanksgiving and Advent roll around again at the end of November. So what now?
“The plodding durability of devotion”.
That’s the phrase the writer William Rivers Pitt used a few years ago to describe the life and work of a man named Michael Ratner. Ratner was an attorney who had dedicated his life to, as Pitt put it, “right causes”. He had been President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and throughout his career served those who were the least powerful and least cared about in our society. The vast majority of people, Pitt pointed out, would never know who Ratner was. But, Pitt also added, there is rarely glory in what he did, little fame in fighting battles that are right, but more often than not, losing ones.
It is something Jesus’ disciples understood long ago.
Yes, many of Jesus’ disciples are famous now. But in their time, the vast majority of people never heard of them either. The work they did on behalf of the least powerful and least cared about in that day, when it was not being criticized or treated suspiciously, went largely unnoticed. The battles they fought were also often “losing ones” in the eyes of the world around them.
But just as for Michael Ratner, personal glory and fame were never the point for the disciples either. For them, as it is meant to be for us, what mattered was “the plodding durability of devotion” – step by step, moment by moment lives of being as faithful as possible. Because of that, the disciples knew they were on the right side of God’s history – God’s story in the world. They knew that the battles they fought were never losing ones in the way that mattered most.
“The plodding durability of devotion” is far more the reality of our spiritual lives than the big holy days and seasons. It is the heart of a life well lived in God’s eyes.
And that, as Pitt says about Michael Ratner’s life, “ain’t nothing”.
No, it isn’t.
Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea, Minister