Are there filters through which you would like all of your choices to pass? Are there times when you need to sort back through the chapters of your life to see how things are connected? Are you able to be graceful with yourself when you realize that some choices cause harm?
We are in a season when all you hear in the media is the discord among political groups as they grapple with what is best...and best for what or whom is often debatable. And in the heat of that, it's easy to start casting your own stones, stating things in strong ways, making choices for or against people and ideas. Regardless of the outcome of any one election or the vote on any one bill, we all end up having to live with one another, with the consequences of our choices in the process, with the words that we have said and the choices we have made along the way. How then do we guard our hearts and our tongues so that we are able to reach out to one another as beloved children of God - no matter what happens next?
In our Hebrew scripture for this week, King David asks his military leader Joab to deal gently with Absalom. David's family story is better than any daytime soap opera written. Absalom has fled his father's wrath after killing his brother Amnon, a murder committed in rage that Amnon raped Absalom's sister Tamar. But David later forgave Absalom and brought him back to the kingdom but would not speak to him. (Did you follow all of that? It's complicated. And sort of feels like the fall out from David's poor life choices earlier...and each bad choice by each family member keeps digging a deeper pit of despair for the whole clan). Joab has had a bitter falling out with Absalom in previous chapters. Absalom encounters Joab and his armor bearers in the forest, and as he is trying to flee, Absalom is "hung" when he is caught up on a branch. Joab orders one of his men to kill Absalom, and the man refuses, having heard King David order Joab to deal gently with Absalom. Joab takes matters into his own hands and uses three spears to pierce Absalom's heart. WOW. It's like a bad shoot-em-up mafia flick. Here is a whole group of people who have gotten so wrapped up in personal passion and power that they cannot even begin to untangle the knot back to the first offense! And it is the downfall of an entire Kingdom in many, many ways.
Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus includes advice for living in harmony together. Juxtaposed against the chaotic saga of David's clan, it feels like a reminder of what is good and true and right. Deal gently, speak the truth, do not go to bed on your Anger but work it out. But it's hard. It's hard to get caught up in the emotion of whatever is going on to remember the big picture. It's hard in politics, it's hard in church leadership, it's hard in our families. How often are we able to stop as the emotion starts to take over, to take that breath and remember that those we are dealing with are precious in God's sight (regardless of how we think of them in that moment).
Jesus, in John's gospel, is offering himself as the very bread of life. Compared to Manna, he has something to offer that nourishes beyond bodily need. Jesus is invoking God's covenant, that one made with Israel, and extending it to all who will follow. Not just the Jew. Not just the gentile. Not excluding the sinner or the tax collector or the Roman. It's as if Jesus is reminding them that they can get wrapped up in their differences, or they can remember that all shall be taught by God.
Sometimes we think that the choices we make are life and death choices. But surrounding every choice is a web of relationships and beings affected. Is the choice the thing? Or the surrounding relationships? In a season of polarized debate, hateful language, absolutes, are we willing to sacrifice our common humanity to be "right?"
may the words of our hearts
and the meditations of our hearts
be holy and acceptable
for you are
our Rock and
© laura & matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org - We share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.