Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Bible Challenge, Day 97: I Samuel 4-6; Psalm 81; John 16

"Getting" God
In these early morning hours, as I continue each day to sit down with coffee in one hand and the Bible in the other...I find myself continually to be of two minds: the first mind is experiencing a renewal of connection to God through scripture; the second mind is vacillating between awe and a sense of holy confusion. Through the Bible Challenge, we are experiencing God revealed in scripture on three parallel tracks. We are meeting again the God of the Hebrew Testament, the God who is revealed in creation and covenant. In the Psalms, we are re-discovering just how visceral and immediate our wrestling with the holy can be, how God intersects with us in every possible venue in our lives. In the New Testament, we have walked alongside the disciples through three Gospels-nearly four now and have answered the call of Jesus to follow him, witnessed the agony of the cross and celebrated the resurrection....again, three times now and almost four. You would think, wouldn't you, that in reading the scriptures we would be closer to "getting" God. Really? Not so much.

Jesus teaches during the farewell discourse
That wonder is particularly relevant today: in John 16, Jesus is right in the midst of his farewell discourse...and instead of giving his disciples some plain and direct instruction? He speaks in figures and allegories. He offers odd words to us that are intended to teach and reveal the whys and wherefores of what is about to happen; but how do you prepare people for the horrors of crucifixion, or the confusing joy of the resurrection? Much less, how do you get your followers ready for the life to come in the age of the Spirit?


the Ark leaves Philistia
We want to understand, and we want to "get" God...and yet just when we think we have a handle on what is going on, and what we think God intends for us...the story gets complicated and new wrinkles complicate the plot. Just ask Eli in I Samuel...or the Philistines in Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath or Ekron. Better yet, ask the Israelites who thought they were doing the right thing in having the ark moved to the camp in Ebenezer for fear of their foes. God had always been with them before, right? Here is the thing, and what I take from today: God is truly great; but when we think we have it figured out, when we assume we know how to understand and handle God in our midst...that is when things get out of hand. Sometimes, we have to be willing to simply be faithful to God, to the call to justice God is continually issuing...and to be willing to set our rush to justification or explanation to the side in order to allow God some space to move and act in and through our lives. This is NOT to say that we just sit and wait passively for the call to follow. It IS a summons to us to live in a continual state of discernment and readiness. God is always acting, we just have to be careful to avoid assuming what the next act will be...

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