Dear Church Family,
Our scripture today is Jesus telling his disciples about their potential:
“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” –Matthew 17: 20-22
One of my favorite books is by Kathleen Norris called Acedia and Me. In it she tells the history of a time long ago when there were not “7 Deadly Sins” but there were “8 Bad Thoughts.” When the 8 became 7, she explains, the one that was dropped was acedia. Acedia simply means an absence of care. A person afflicted with it refuses to care or is incapable of doing so. Norris tells how acedia was dropped because people believed only priests and monks were susceptible to it. Acedia was the voice within them that told them their calling was worth nothing, that their efforts would never really matter, that they should stop caring and give up altogether. It was considered the worst of the 8 Bad Thoughts because of how terribly it ruined the lives of clerics. Norris writes the book because she believes this terrible condition does not just affect ordained people but can run rampant in many lives.
I bring this up today for two reasons: the first is that I agree with Norris that acedia can creep into each of our lives and it especially creeps into the lives of committed Christians. Those of us who have given our lives to follow Christ and try, in our very small efforts, to do his will; we are the ones to whom acedia comes and whispers, tempting us to give up and give in and stop caring. It is important for us to know that this condition is not new and it is not mysterious. It has a name and a history. Which leads me to my second reason: knowing about the condition of acedia and its history gives us amazing power and courage. No longer do we hear that whisper and tell ourselves this might be our wisdom speaking to us, or realism or, even worse, the Holy Spirit. No! This whisper is a lie and it is a sin. It is the 8th Bad Thought and, when we hear it, we can stand strong and call it the liar it is. We can, like Jesus said to Peter, say, Get behind me Satan!
Because now we recognize it for what it is: not wisdom or being realistic or holiness. That whisper that says you should stop caring, stop striving, stop working; it is a lie.
In this season where death is overcome by life, may our own hearts be strengthened to overcome the sin of acedia.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you came to take away the sin of the world. Give me grace this day to refute the sin of acedia. Help me turn from it and turn toward you. In your gracious name I pray. Amen.
Christ’s Peace be with you,