Focus Scripture: Isaiah 28:26-29
To everything there is a season. While these words are from Ecclesiastes, today's reading in Isaiah reminded me of them. Grain is threshed but the threshing does not go on forever. I can well imagine a kid somewhere who likes threshing. Maybe that's their favorite part of the task of turning grain into bread. And so they thresh and they thresh and they thresh. But the grain never becomes bread. If all you do is thresh, there will come a time when someone will want bread and come out and say, "enough with the threshing already."
There is a method to how things are done. There is logic and wisdom to it all. You must thresh the grain, but that is not enough to get to bread. You must also grind the grain and mix the dough and bake it. A horse is useful in farm work, but a horse can't thresh, just as threshing does not result in baking. Just because something is useful in one part of the process does not make it the right answer to everything.
It also reminds me of the saying, "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Yet we know that it is not. God's creation is great, broader, and more varied than that. Different problems require different solutions. Different people have different skills. You need more than a horse or a threshing machine to get from seed to making bread.
That is true in the spiritual world as well. There are many different people and many different gifts from God and many different spiritual disciplines. We need all of God's gifts, each for their own purpose and their own time, to accomplish God's many varied purposes. What a wonderful creation God has made.
There is a time for worship and a time for celebration--indeed we are in a season of celebration right now--Christmas. But there is a time when worship and celebration does not get the job done. When I see the pictures coming out of Aleppo, of children with dirt and ash covered faces, where the only spots not covered in ash are the places streaked with blood, children so in shock they aren't even crying, and mothers crying for their children who are missing or dead, and the rescuers who are crying with each child they pull from the wreckage, praising God and singing carols is not getting the job of being a Christian done.
When children in my own town are sent home from school without coats or shoes that fit, lifting prayers is not getting the job done.
When cheap and easy access to guns without background checks means that men with a history of domestic violence can readily get weapons in violation of and despite the law, reading sacred scripture in worship does not get the job done.
"I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line," says God. There is a time for threshing, and a time to grind grain, and a time to bake. The trick is to know when it is time to do something different. Sometimes as a person of faith it is time to do more than worship, just as you have to do more than thresh. Sometimes you have to be a force for change.