We've shared some in the past few weeks about our human tendency toward self-reliance - our expectations about our own ability. We've also thought some about how beloved we really are and how hard it is for us to accept that. This week's lectionary readings invite us into similar places, this time reminding us that God is not some icon or some presence that breaks through in drama and light. God is present and active in many ways at many times. Our challenge is to accept that, to observe that, to embrace that, to invite that and to not get in the way. And we also think this probably obligates us to some pretty dramatic response.
Think about it...if we accept that God is among us, in the details, we have to take that pretty seriously, don't we? This applies in ten thousand directions--If we really believe what we say we believe about God, doesn't it make a serious impact in the ways we live our lives?
The prophet Isaiah is looking forward to a time when Jerusalem is fully restored, and the Jewish people will be returned to favor - the delight of the Lord. This is late in the book of Isaiah and is set in a time when some of the Jewish people have begun to return to Jerusalem. Perhaps reconstruction of the Temple is well under way. But life is not yet what those returning had hoped, and the prophet is still looking toward a more complete restoration. And also here, the prophet is actually reminding God of God's responsibility to do just that. Now there is an interesting encounter, don't you think? We petition, we praise, we lament...how often to we remind God to act in God's nature? We have to have expectations about God's action to remind God of action!
The psalmist is full of praise for God's sure action on behalf of the people. There is confidence here - not just reflection. This person is praising not just the experience of God in the past, but the expectation of God in the future.
Paul's letter to the church in Corinth introduces a new wrinkle to this reflection. Paul is attributing action to God through the Spirit. Unlike the idols that these pagans once revered, the Spirit is actively bestowing gifts on each individual for the good of the community. And Paul is telling the people about this action of the Spirit. We assume he feels like they need to know. They need to know so that this new movement they are following is different from their old way of life. And they need to be looking for God's work among them.
In John's gospel, we witness Jesus' first miracle - a "game changer" for him and for those who are following him. And this account serves as a trumpet herald. Something is happening, things have shifted...this man who has been moving through the countryside gathering disciples has made a major move. There are lots of nuances in this passage and it is worth a deeper read set within the context of understanding the ministry of Jesus Christ. But here, amidst this collection of readings, we are aware that this is God's incarnate movement among the Jewish people. A game changer. God at work in the world.
God, I want to believe everything You have said and everything I believe I believe about You.
And I know I sometimes do not.
I want to listen for Your movements and Trust in Your Goodness,
and sometimes I do not.
It seems no matter how much I can intellectually convince myself to Believe The Right Way,
I often find myself doing otherwise.
Thank You for not holding my unbelief against me.
Thank You for continuing to reach out Your Hand
no matter how often I push it away.
Thank You for showing me patience and love in abundance.
Thank You for making it possible to believe.
© matt & laura norvell 2009 www.settingourstones.org
we want to 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.