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Limitation

November 23, 2012

What can I do? And what can I not do? What limits me? How do I limit myself? Who sets the limits? God has set the bounds of the earth. Neither height nor depth, nor angels nor demon, nor anything in all creation will separate you from God our Father in Jesus Christ our Lord.

I limit myself in what I think I can do.

I have limits on the ultimate field, I cannot run as fast or throw the Frisbee as far as I would like to be able to. I could, with practice and conditioning run faster and throw farther.

I can only stretch so far. I need to do yoga to be more flexible.

What kind of spiritual yoga, or relational yoga could I do, so that I could be more flexible in my service to God, and in my leadership in the Church, and in my working with friends, colleagues, and church members?

Recently I have begun the practice of Centering Prayer. I take time, most mornings now, to go into my quiet place, and center into God’s presence. The time is not about me. Anything I think of I allow to pass through and wash away downstream. Sometimes that is harder than other times. I try not to limit my experience, and I try to not judge it on human standards. Whatever happens, is God’s to use and take from me. I am becoming more of a mystic, it seems. But I don’t understand it. Perhaps I shouldn’t.

I need to limit the way that I… Actually, what I need to limit is the number of times I think of a new resolution: from now I will… and then I make a list, and usually don’t start any of it. Perhaps what I should be doing is adding small things, things that I want to be doing, and things that I want to become more of my personality and things that define me. And do them on a small scale. Only then, when they have become a habit, will I be able to say: from now on, I will…  And then, I actually will, because it will be a continuation of current habits, rather than a list of things that I desire to begin, on top of all the other things that claim my time during the day.

Limits can either be healthy or unhealthy.

Some limits are good. For children, especially, we set limits, such as don’t touch the stove, don’t cross the street without an adult, and later, without looking both ways, we set bed times, and then we set curfews. These limits set boundaries for healthy living.

One of my current limits is the desire to only eat plant based foods. I continue to see benefits from attempting to adhere to this limit. Occasionally I choose to step outside of it, for relationship purposes (especially in the church).

Limits help us to keep healthy, they keep us within the bounds of the community. God first set the ten commandments as limits for the health of the Israelite people. They are limits set so that people can live in peace together.

But we are human beings. We are able to take limits set for good, and we can twist them to ways that end up being unhealthy and destructive to the community, rather than build it up or keep it stronger.

We have twisted the laws to the purposes of the powers and rulers, and we do not have the ability to live in peace with one another. Each person takes the law, and bends it to their own purposes and to their own will, and it no longer becomes a thing of God’s. We take the law and twist and distort it so that we “tithe herbs and spices” rather than attend to the cares and needs of those around us.

We set limits, and we limit ourselves to what is fallen, and broken. Our community breaks with the limits that continue to be heaped upon us.

Christ has set us free. Free to live within the limits that God has set, rather than the limits we have placed upon ourselves. God’s limits are freeing, they release us to live in peace, and in justice with one another. God’s limits release us to live in a whole and holy community together. Through the work of the Spirit, we rejoice in the limits that God places for us.

Like a speed limit, which we follow to stay safe on the road, we follow the limit of the Spirit. We don’t want to flail around willy-nilly, lost and wandering. With the guidance of the Spirit, we journey on the path that guides us home. We walk as a community with the neighbors, both near and far, with which God has blessed us. Our hope is to celebrate with them, joining at the table together.

Our final limit is to reach the Kingdom of God, and to bring the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Amen.

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