My first impression the first night I spent on the east coast as a transplant from the west was that Maryland, and by extension, Pennsylvania, was a paradise for bugs but not for people. Early fall it was, and still so very hot and muggy, better weather for living creatures with carapaces than flesh. It didn’t help that, as evening began to temper the day’s light, I could see dozens of insects flashing through trees or hitting the windows of the hotel that was our temporary home.
If, unlike me, you love the sizzle and sweat of summer, you may share in my general discomfort with summer’s over the top display of the truth that people are vastly outnumbered by insects in our God given world. I’m not sure why, but we’re not in any position to whine about it being creations of His as well. So, I look to the return of brood x of the cicadas with both interest and a sense of yuckiness. I’m not sure that is a word, but even if it is not, the feeling is real.
Having said that, it would be better if we would look past the “yuckiness” of the insect world and into the “yuckiness” of insincere faith. Here’s the thing, the return of those puppy-sized bugs looks a lot like a resurrection. Not THE resurrection, as in the resurrection of Jesus Christ or the resurrection at His return of all who are joined with Him in baptism. But, still, a renewal or a restoration of sorts as all those bugs buried a foot underground make their way up into our trees and bushes and begin to make that odd airplane revving up noise that is their honey call to potential mates. The Sundays after Pentecost are a time to experience a renewal or restoration of faith; all the Scripture texts of worship are oriented towards hearing God’s Word and then enacting it in our daily lives. “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in the mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and an once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
That quote comes from the first chapter of the letter from James, and while Martin Luther called this particular letter “an epistle of straw” for its emphasis on works, it still echoes what Paul wrote some decades earlier in his letter to the Romans, that we are not only to be “hearers of the Word,…but also doers of the Word.”
Paul’s words are more than a suggestion that we act in ways that are ethical or moral. His words, and the Word generally, are urgent pleas that we let the Word of God enter not just our ears like a classroom lecture, but become so much a part of us that we act them out daily. Not as automatons or robots, but as works of God’s creation so taken with His compassion, mercy, and love that we, for love’s sake also, give them life in our deeds.