Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 67: Deuteronomy 10-12; Psalm 56; Luke 14

Taking the higher seat...
Jesus and Moses are piling it on, and while doing so they are raising the bar of righteousness for all of us. Moses is reminding Israel of who it is, where it has come from and where it is going; and God's will is profoundly linked to that narrative. Without God, they are not. With God, they live and prosper. Yet, in a quick recap, Moses reminds Israel that they have already demonstrated their own lack of fidelity to God's will. As they prepare to enter the Promised Land, and into the fulfilled life in covenant that God is offering to them, they have already missed the mark. The golden calf was just the half of it. Their lack of fidelity sets as much a precedent in their relationship with God as God's steadfastness recalls them back when they stumble. This is to be our new journey with God: that God sets out life and death before us, and we are called to choose life. To put it another way: God sets out blessings and curses. If we live in alignment with God's will, then blessings. If we choose to walk our own way, curses.

Our mistake is to assume that the concept of curse is like some B-movie gypsy fortune teller who is the one tasked with telling some poor sod that because the werewolf has bitten him he will now, when the moon is full become a beast. Or, on the other hand, that God's blessings can be won, as one might obtain some benefit by paying an appropriate ransom to a person who is withholding some benefit from you until appropriate restitution is made.

I don't think fidelity in covenant with God's will is quite so transactional. God is yearning to be in relationship to us, and is calling us into relationship with the divine will. Simple enough, and yet it makes life so complicated. Take the Pharisees as Luke's continual whipping posts: they are the grumbling resistors to Jesus' teachings on social justice, on hope and faith, and on how God's world is ordered over and against the way the world is currently set up. Is it appropriate to heal a person on the Sabbath? If we are the anointed and elect of God, then why not claim pride of place and take the higher seat in the assembly? Who does God remember and invite to the wedding feast, after we decide that today is not convenient for our schedule and we decide to pass?

God's call to us is quite simple: love me (and by the way, love your neighbor) as I love you. Our challenge is to sit up and listen, to dial down the noise we encourage in and around us that distracts us from that invitation and then to step up, open up and embrace the blessing of being in love with God while letting our actions-without prejudice or reservation-demonstrate that love to the world. As I said above: simple enough, and yet---it makes life SO complicated!

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