Your Favorite Biblical Villain
Last night, a group representing our parish attended the last of a series of "walkabouts" in our diocese that had been designed to allow us as a Diocese to get to know the candidates for the impending election of our next Diocesan Bishop. They are called walkabouts because the candidates are moving from place to place in the diocese during their visit, getting to know a bit more of the geography and culture of the community even as they meet with, present to and greet the people of God in this place. It is a decent system, in that somehow we have to figure out a way to introduce 9 people (our candidates) to something around 45,000 of the faithful.
During the presentations, the candidates were given questions to answer in front of the people. Arranged in a panel, the moderator would draw a name from a cup and that person would go first, followed in succession by the others. The first question was an "ice breaker:" a question intended to be light, relatively easy to answer and somewhat revealing of the person offering the response. Last night, the candidates got this question: "Who is your favorite Biblical villain?"
The answers ranged from "the serpent, because without the serpent there is no story" to "Peter, because he denied the Lord; we are all Peter at some point." My favorite response, and timely with regard to today's readings, was one candidate's answer: "David, because he was a thug."
|David mourns for a man killed for his advantage|
|Ananias and Sapphira: Ananias drops dead from deceit|
It's hard not to take a cynic's point of view of how poorly humanity responds to the call of God to live our lives out, worthy of repentance; but that is the very point. I am not seeing the narrative of scripture to this point in the Bible Challenge as revealing anything less than the full mercy and love of God, and our human ability to make things VERY complicated with the politicization or appropriation of same. Even though David's thuggery will continue to reveal itself, God will also continue to be present to intend correction, repentance and restoration. Even as the religious authorities and internal conflicts continue to threaten the fragile balance of life for the newborn Church, God continues to move it along-nurturing it with the Holy Spirit and guiding it along into fullness with each stumbling, grace-filled step it takes.
My hope and prayer is that as our Diocese wends its way through an inevitably political (as well as pastoral) electing process that God's hand will be upon us in the same way as we see revealed in Scripture.