Paul’s letter to the Galatians reads, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right” and Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians reads, “Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.”. Both speak to the sense of doing what is right and the need to protect one’s self from weariness in doing same. Last night at our weekly Brunswick Street United service we engaged in a robust conversation about a) is it important we work, and work hard, to live into the calling to be Jesus’ disciples and b) what do we do when we are weary in doing what is right?
We spent an hour on the first question and there were varied responses to the centrality of work to the Christian walk. On one hand we could not imagine being Christians without doing everything we could to help others. Likewise some of us struggled with how to help those who did not seem to want to work or take action to help themselves. Then there are those whose “work” does not seem to conform to our middle class definition of work. If persons cannot “work” in that classical sense how do we embrace them as sisters and brothers in the household of faith? There was that tension of Wesley’s admonition to “do everything we can” for the kingdom on one hand and to value the presence of all regardless of what action-oriented output they offer to society. The community of L’Arche, how their household works, how persons are valued for their unique “work”, was lifted up as a possible example of “not growing weary in doing right”.
The Book of Acts does describe a community of faith which includes highly industrious entrepreneurs who financially support others in their house church; refugees, widows, the sick, the poor. That support is named and affirmed, so there is a sense that working hard for the common good is part and parcel of the Christian story. But it begs the question, in what way do we name and value the gifts of those who don’t work in the way we would typically name work? As we move increasingly into a society that values all members of society we will need to find ways to honour and celebrate the gifts of those who offer gifts in non-traditional ways.
And then there is how we do not grow weary in doing right. We talked about how we “keep on keeping on…” Some said it was duty that kept them doing right even when their bodies and their spirit wanted to stop or pause. Some said they find smaller, easier, ways to do right as a means to accelerate and motivate their spirit to move on to larger challenges. Some wondered how we even know what is right in the first place. And still others wondered if doing right on a small scale is even enough when our societal challenges are so immense.
One way that Brunswick Street United does not grow weary in doing right is by offering this sacred circle each and every Sunday night to those who need a place to talk about “doing right”, a place of support, of challenge, of laughter, of tears. Circles are one way we can include many different ways of doing right and at the same time support one another when we are weary.