Monday, August 22, 2011

On holy ground...

As I look toward this coming Sunday, my usual practice of a Monday is to open up the lessons that the framers of the Revised Comon Lectionary have prepared for me and all the other . It is a good thing, I find, that when it comes to embracing a text first and then seeking to discern and interpret what God is asking me to talk about I am able to avoid the temptation to use the scriptures to my own purposes. In a loose sense, I suppose that might be called "proof-texting." So thanks be to God for the people who work very hard to keep us on our toes...sometimes by offering texts that are quite hard to link thematically, and for often pushing us to think well outside the box of our own personal agendas and expectations.
This coming Sunday is no exception. In one lesson, from the Exodus, Moses has his primary theophany with God...that point whe he is told to go back to Egypt in order to procure the deliverance of the people of Israel from the abject state of enslavement they endure as indentured corvee laborers to Pharoah's public projects. As an aside, I give thanks that this way of creating new infrastructure has fallen to antiquity. Can you imagine people's reaction to our government if it were the case that during the summer our local, state and national governments reserved the right to cashier our time to fix roads, bridges, and to help renovate and/or erect government buildings?
Next on the list is St. Paul giving us a guidebook for life in Christ: chapter 12 in his epistle to the Romans. Instead of God demanding our only a portion of our time and strength as servants to the kingdom, Paul commands that we step up in some surprising and innovative ways by setting a high bar not just on behavioral expectations, but also on the inner motivations of our hearts.
Finally, we find Peter being censured by Jesus for berating him about Jesus' teaching the disciples that, as messiah, he is going to be taken, beaten, killed and raised. Peter can't accept that the messiah should "go out like that," even though just moments before he was being lauded for confessing Jesus' identity as the Christ of God---"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard...." Seems we can't win for losing. Just when we start to get our heads wrapped up around the idea and hope of God's continual promise to send a deliverer to us in times of need, we start to argue about the hows, whys, whats and wherefores of the nature of the messianic functon.
God continually promises that salvation is ours, if we are but willing to trust, have faith. Where we screw up is that moment after the promise is revealed...because in that moment, we start to project put own agendas on God's. I have seen this happen again and again in life and ministry. Sometimes that impulse arises in others, as when on one occassion I witnessed a person who felt that clergy had too much power attempt to quite literally rewrite the Church's ordinal to fit their desire to see clergy have less privilege, as they saw it. Admirable ideal, given the reality of the abuses clergy are too often empowerec to commit...but you don't amend the ordintion before you attempt to heal the broken and call the healthy.... As well, I have seen in myself the root, childish stubbornness of not wanting reality to be one way when I want it to be be another, when there is no way on God's green earth that my desire will come to pass. I am still waiting for that moment when an unending bowl of pasta actually causes one to lose weight instead of gaining it. Just one ofmmy personal conceits. We all have them, some that contend with reality itself while others just challenge the loose impulse we all possess to engage in periodic over indulgence.
Clearly the first and third lessons focus on the nature of the call to messiahship that Moses and Jesus were called to embrace. Harder for us is how human beings actually decided to participate in that heavenly vision. Jesus knows who he is, but we still have to open ourselves up to embracing a "failing" messiah who dies on a cross. Moses is a challenge as well. He is certain that he is a poor choice. He is not a good public speaker. He has a price on his head. He can't go back to Egypt....isn't there someone else who can go.
I guess when it comes to the idea of Moses standing on Holy Ground to receive his commission as the anointed deliverer pf Israel, that God's comand that he remove his sandals is no mean idea. If we are willing to take off our shoes as we enter into sacred spaces or relationships, then can we any less be willing to surrender our personal agendas in light of God's call to us to become full citizens in a kingdom whose sole focus is on the ones who have not yet heard the Good News, or who are yet to receive consolation and comfort from us in God's most holy Name?

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