By Elizabeth Hartmann
2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
Almighty God ,
As the scriptures are read and YOUR Word is proclaimed, reveal to us The Way of Salvation fueled by the Power of the Holy Spirit, that we may not grow weary in doing What is Right.
In Jesus’ Name We Pray. AMEN
Hot, humid, long summer days make us tired and sleepy. And when we think about slowing down, we realize that we want to be lazy! Because we do not have enough energy to do “What is Right or Wrong.” At times like these, we can find insight from our friends in the animal kingdom – slow & lazy. Are we Sloths?
The Identity of “The Sloth.” Sloths are medium-sized, plant-eating mammals. Our world enjoys both, the two-toed as well as three-toed sloth that inhabits the trees of South and Central America. Their sharp, clawed hands and feet make the trees an ideal place for them to Live (and..well) to sleep. Sloths spend only 4 hours-a-day active and awake. They are nocturnal sleeping during the night as well as much of the day, totaling some 18-20 hours of sleep each day.
Since these mammals are plant-eaters, their teeth are flat with a pair of notably, large buckteeth in the front. They have oval-shaped heads that sit atop of their unusually thin, long necks (which make them appear to be too big for bodies) with big round eyes on either side of their heads.
Sloths do not hibernate. Therefore in order to survive The Ice Age these animals migrated south. An advantage they have is that they carry their food, like a squirrel or chipmunk by filling their cheeks full of: vegetables, nuts, fruit, berries and twigs for their long journeys ahead. But do not be fooled by these otherwise slow creatures. Because when they are provoked – they become agile and quick climbers seeking shelter and safety in the trees. These animals like being together and as such they travel, in small, family packs. So where so we find Sloths?
ONE Common Place is ON The Big Screen like in Ice Age – The Movie, the 2002 Computer-Animated, Comedy-Drama and Adventure FILM produced by Blue Sky Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox.
Currently, there are FOUR Ice Age Movies: with a star team of leading characters and from these THREE Amigos IS.. Sidney/Sid. He is A Ground Sloth. Sid along with his friends, Manny – A Wooly Mammoth and Diego – A Saber-Tooth Cat, bring the migrating animals together as they make their way southward. The first of their adventures is to return a baby that they find to his tribe in the tundra.
Their antics together start with a playful scene from a saber-toothed squirrel named Scrat who is looking for: “The Perfect Spot” to bury his prized and much treasured acorn. He finds just “the right spot” and then proceeds to scramble about trying to bury the acorn beneath the snow and ice. However, as Scrat moves from (patting the acorn with his foot) to stomping the acorn into the ground – the ground cracks! Causing many other, varying, rippling micro-cracks leading out for miles around. Finally setting off a large avalanche! Here the pack meets and their adventures begin!
Extremes accentuate the conditions in life! Talk about contrasts! On the one hand, is The Ice Age with our discovery of “WHAT IS A Sloth?” AND On the other are: “The Dog Days of Summer!” But The Sloth’s natural habitat is – The Rainforests – where it is hot, humid and rainy! We have: Hot and Cold, Soft and Loud, High and Low, Light and Dark, Skinny and Fat – there is a relationship in these extremes.
Extremes call our attention to the craziness instead of to what we perceive from our world to be “Normal Operating Procedure.” The chaos along these outer edges helps us to focus on the true subject at hand. Our business in being idle!
Here the climate is: either hot and humid, or ice and freezing. In either of these extremes, we find ourselves drawn towards laziness. This idleness seems to surround us. We are tired, worn-out, listless with our fuel gauges set to empty! We are running on empty!
The climate causes us to be drained by taking away our energy! But the weather conditions, are what brings us to our knees! When we say, “Calgon take me away.” <OR> We wish we were a Genie, so that, when we “snap” our fingers and “nod” our heads that we could simply, “DISAPPEAR!”
The Sloth’s energy gauge stays pegged ON “E” for empty! They are lazy. So we do relate to “The Sloth.” And they only have ONE defense mechanism – and that is to move so slowly that their predators miss them altogether! We are not noticeable, much like a chameleon that blends into its’ surroundings so that they cannot be seen. Therefore, when we no longer want to be seen or noticed – We Become LAZY. The deep summer finds us with “a” respectable amount of laziness.
But, be warned!! Laziness can lead to sleep and eventually death!
The sluggard (or lazy person) refuses to work. We read in
Proverbs 20:4 :
4 A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.
AND IN Proverbs 21:25:
25 The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
Sluggards “love” excessive sleep and are unteachable and careless by wasting great amounts of time, resources and property.
Proverbs 19:15 Reads:
15 Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry.
and Proverbs 6:6-9 Reads:
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has NO Commander, NO Overseer or Ruler, 8 YET, it stores its’ provisions in summer and gathers its’ food at harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, YOU Sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?
God wants us to be filled with life and not dread, and most certainly not death. God wants us to live with our gas tanks pegged to Full! We are to live wisely.
Lord Chesterfield from the royal blood line in England from the 18th Century tells us, “Do not put off today what can be done tomorrow.”
WHILE, Comedian and Actor – Bob Hope says with his great sense of humor, “People who throw kisses are Mighty. HOPElessly.. LAZY.”
We read in Ephesians 5:11-16 :
11-16 Have nothing to do with the useless works that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are. It is shameful to talk about what some people do in secret. Light exposes the true character of everything because light makes everything easy to see.
Wake up, Sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
So then, be very careful HOW you live. Do not live like foolish people, but like wise people. Make the most of your opportunities. These are desperate times!
We are warned! Paul’s letter to Thessaloncia:
1st – do not be lazy – Do not be idle, because idle hands and minds can only get us into trouble.
2nd – Also, we are warned about the other extreme – Do Not be busybodies either. So, what is our response? Do we ignore the idleness and hope – and just hope it goes away?! No, there is one more instruction
3rd – We are to never tire from doing What Is Right! We are to sit down with our brothers and sisters, and to encourage them to make A Place of Welcome.
These instructions are not just for individuals. They are also and perhaps even more importantly communal! We are “to do what is right!” Do not be the lazy man! Because as Jimmy Lyons says,
“Tomorrow is the only day in the year that appeals to a lazy man.”
As well as to the practical advice from Thomas Edison: “We often miss opportunity because IT Is dressed IN Overalls and LOOKS like Work.”
L-I-V-E – The Lazy Man’s tomorrow – today! Love binds these communities of antiquity together – as well as – w/ us today!! So, look for the opportunities of love instead of idleness or the busyness of being lazy. During our General Assembly in Orlando, FL – we adopted resolution # 1327 – “BECOMING A PEOPLE OF GRACE and WELCOME TO ALL.”
We made history with the approval of this resolution, which calls for such an opportunity of blessing of God’s Love – by naming – ALL Means ALL! ALL MEANS: drug dealers, substance abusers, criminals, busybodies, manipulators, … different cultures, races, creeds, faith beliefs, genders, and sexual orientations. ALL Means ALL!
This is precisely what Paul is describing for the people then – A Communal Statement of Love. As The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) we offer to our world this resolution (blessing) stemming from much prayer and discernment.
Just as, Paul tells Thessoloncia that God would bring them together soon, and that their love for one another and ALL people would increase, and God would strengthen their hearts. God strengthens ours too!
God draws us together with ALL of our differences! Paul offers this book to his Thessolonian Friends’ – as a tremendous Source of Blessing – A Profound Act of Hope! That is how blessings work! Blessings do not change written documents, creeds, or policies. Blessings change our hearts and lives. The act of blessing is the hope that holds “A Real and Obtainable Wholeness” where.. we offer – A hand of HOPE, Support, Comfort and Encouragement so that ALL People may Flourish.
So, offer the people of God’s World “A Blessing” by extending our hands of “Welcome and Grace” with God’s everlasting hope! So, we pray during this climate not for the continued Laziness.. Idleness.. leading towards death! But to love forward into God’s Kingdom On Earth – God’s World Of Hope!
Rev. Hartmann preaches at First Christian Church in Rensselaer, Indiana