Sometimes it is tough to know what we are looking at.
Sometimes our experience and our context or our lack of experience and context all add up to a moment where we are staring dumbly at whatever is right in front of us.
Sometimes situations are overwhelming and we stare dumbly (like a sheep) and are unable to recognize what is going on or make a choice about what to do or where to go.
Sometimes it is hard for us to know what is right in front of us and we need someone to shepherd us and explain to us or reveal to us what it is we see.
In the passage from Acts this week, we get a snippet that is short on details. The short story is Peter brought a woman named Tabitha back to life. We don't know if the disciples who called him to come and visit them had any intention of Peter bringing her back to life. All we know is that the disciples were in distress and they called Peter to come and be with them and Peter prayed and he brought this woman...this disciple, Tabitha, back to life. Now, did Peter have the same response Jesus had when he told some others, "she is not dead, she is asleep"? We don't know. We do know that Peter arrived, sized up the situation, and knew that there was something available there that no one else saw as an option.
There are no new words to string together about Psalm 23. For us, the important reflection here is that sometimes we need to trust that God will guide us when we are blinded by all of the other things that are difficult in our lives.
In Revelation, those who have come through the trial - people of all nations and languages - are washed clean "in the blood of the Lamb." We wonder if their coming through trial must have included leaning on someone/something to guide them? The very language of the paschal lamb hearkens back to the Passover experience of the Hebrews who protected by the Lord through the plagues to be led out of slavery in Egypt by Moses (who, by the way, was a shepherd).
In the passage from the gospel of John we see Jesus being questioned by a group of folks near the temple. Essentially, they say 'Just tell us if you are the Messiah...we don't want to read between the lines.' And Jesus says, 'I am not going to do the work for you on this one. You can look at all I have done and listen to what I have said and draw your own conclusions. It is up to you to see what is in front of you.'
Part of our humanity includes fierce independence at times. Other times, it includes being clueless and stubborn (hmm...all three seem strangely related). Sometimes, we need a shepherd.
Lamb of God,
I want to be right and I want to be strong
and I want to do it myself.
Willful. That's me.
But that willfullness
Leaves me scared and breathless
and needy and alone.
Be my shepherd.
In many ways
tend me and know my name.
matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
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May Grace & Peace be with you.