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"Blessed are the flexible, for they will not get bent out of shape."

 

This Lenten season we will be utilizing the new publication from Pilgrim Press entitled, "Bend", by the StillSpeaking Writers Group.  During our Sunday worship services during Lent, we will reflect and engage more deeply into the offerings from the powerful writings within this 'new thing' that the authors have developed.  Molly Baskette (one of the StillSpeaking authors) offers this introduction:


"I learned about the extra beatitude from a church camp friend, one belatedly added by
some anonymous wag in the twentieth century: “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not
get bent out of shape.”


The river doesn’t go over the mountain–it bends around it. Then spends the next 1,000
years wearing the mountain down.  Trees that don’t stand stiff but flex in the wind—bounce back rather than break.  The more you bend a bow, the further the arrow flies. Bending fills the bended with potential
energy.  But bending is scary. Who knows what our limits are? If we might crack instead of stretch?

 

The other day I went to the chiropractor for a janky hip that was making me hobble. I
thought he would yank, crack, and stretch my hip into submission. Instead he had me
push toward, not away from, the problem area while he provided gentle counter-resistance.
He said that shortening the muscle fibers “unhooks” them and allows them, counterintuitively,
to release and lengthen.


How many people and situations could benefit, not from yanking and stretching, but
from a gentle bend toward the source of pain as we seek release?


Paul wrote the words above to the church in Corinth. It was his second letter to them,
which implies ongoing issues. In it he promises that no matter what kind of pain is piled
on them, no matter how the world tries to shatter their fragile utopia, they will not be
destroyed. Lean into it, he implies. You’ll be ok. Better than ok.

He was right. When the church since Corinth has been flexible and adaptive in the face of
resistance, it has survived. When it has stuck with rigid norms and rules, it has shattered.
Jesus modeled this flexibility. Hardship, persecution, and raw living bent but didn’t break
him. The many people he encountered along the way made his enterprise bigger, his love
stretchier. He took correction from women. Foreigners became friends. And every hard
thing that happened further strengthened him, so much so that when he was on the cross,
they had to literally break his bones to hasten his demise.


Paul says the Christian is always carrying in the body the death of Jesus. Some of us carry
the death of Jesus on our bodies, wearing his means of execution around our necks. We
bear witness to this important heaviness. Life is a lot, and doesn’t seem to be getting any
easier. We don’t know what the future holds. In all likelihood: more heat for the planet,
more flood, more fire. More political upheaval and more personal upheaval.


And because we hold this death so fully and faithfully, we are able hold its opposite: the life
of Jesus. Laughter amongst friends. Impromptu parades. Smoky fish at a beach breakfast.
Impossible abundance right when they thought the food, or wine, had run out. A life with
many twists and turns. Who even knows what is coming around the bend?


Flexible, we can flow around the mountain in our path. Bend but not break when the
strong wind blows. Be supple in the hands of the God who bends the bow of us—then
gently places in the notch the arrows of love, justice, patience, and perseverance. Resting
against those hands, we gain energy so those arrows will fly far and meet their mark."

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