Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 338: Nahum 1; Psalm 124; Mark 2

In the world of team sports, particularly in the United States, this is one of several seasons out of the year when teams and their fans focus on post-season, championship rounds. Who will be picked for which bowl game? Which team will make the playoffs? Who will have the chance to seize a wild-card bearth and perhaps overcome a less-than-favorable regular season for a second chance at this year's glory? Once the dust settles on the revealed answers to those questions, then the spectacle of the championships begins. Commentators expound, in a seemingly endless fashion, on the virtues and weaknesses of each team, each player. Fans opine over coffee and the water-cooler over the choices and strategies of the coaching staffs and trainers, and on which player is going to do well, or not, because of some certain factor. A lot of money, time and spirit go into these championship games, and the spectacle of them provides the equivalent of a national holiday for most of the citizens of this land....

...and yet, what more than passing glory are these championships? Granted, they provide hallmark moments for us all in our lives. For players, they are at the pinnacle of their careers. For coaches, they are bookmarks on a life's work. For fans, they provide a sense of belonging, of being a part of something bigger than one person or one age in the human experience. Anyone who was there when that team made that game happen knows that feeling. But like all human experiences, those feelings and moments are fleeting. They come and then pass into memory, into the record books. They are for a brief time, and then they are no more.

The kind of victory we are taking about today, in the context of our Bible readings, is quite a bit different from that human championship. While the metaphors might indicate a parallel, the reality of the victory of our God is both absolute and enduring. Earthly power and might fade and wither in the Presence. Temporal might, and the presumed right of kings, generals and heroes dissolve in a puff when God moves and acts. Who and what we are fade when God's intent is revealed...how can we continue to exist, much less participate in that victory, but for the mercy and love of God, for the sake of God's self for us?

Into this celestial tumult walks our Jesus. He is simply here and now. He heals a paralytic, after forgiving that person's sins for the sake of their friends' faith. He eats with tax collectors and sinners. He feasts and rejoices in the moment with those who follow, conspicuously not fasting in piety. He pluck grain on the Sabbath for a snack and then teaches that the Sabbath was made for humans, and not humans for the Sabbath. He points to a realization that real victory in God does not necessarily carry the aspect of the fanfare of a championship game's completion. It is not found in the heraldry and displays of might that post-battle victory parades evince as trophies are exhibited and plunder enjoyed.

It is found in the simplicity of being and resting in the presence of the living God, in the practice of a mindful celebration of the moment for which God has formed us with intent. The victory of our God is that we are, and can give thanks for that first, and foremost....

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