Shaping Us Toward Sunday … Texts for the Week
From Pastor Todd's Weekly Email …
I was sharing a conversation recently where it was remarked, "Can you believe how fast the year is going by?" We all agreed that at some point our parents or grandparents often made this remark while we felt like life dragged on slowly. Then we all acknowledged just how fast time does go by. Sometimes it goes by so fast we forget just how we are to make use of our time. Jesus remarked about time and the need to make the most of the "day" and the Apostle Paul notes that we must "redeem the time." If we are not about things that give preference to the mission of God in the world we are forgetting the "day" Jesus described and we fail to bring to bear any kind of "redeeming" of the time in which we live.
Our texts for this week challenge us in a variety of ways. Last year I had the privilege of sharing a small collection of pastor's talking about preaching with musical artist Michael Card. At the time Card was working on a book on the Gospel of Luke. One theme he replayed over and over was, "the people who should 'get' Jesus don't and the people who shouldn't get Jesus do.' That could easily describe some of the setting for the Old Testament text for this week. You would think the King of Israel would get it when an opportunity to point to the work of Israel's God comes along he would seize it. Instead he responds out of feat, if not mis-perceiving the ways of God.
Sometimes we let the time and place in which we live dictate our response to God. For instance the Psalm (30)for the week is an interesting one for July 4th. The song is obviously about someone who experiences God's deliverance from either an illness or a disaster. Hidden in the middle of the song is a hint at the source for the "fall." The writer experienced a prosperity that led to what one writer refers to as a "full-of-himself-ness." The center for life that flows out of a pre-occupation with "me" ultimately leads to a "fall" so goes the Proverb. Recent US history has us grappling with difficult economic times, high un-employment, faltering standings among other world powers and countries. Our finger quickly rises to point to Washington D.C. and our politicians. But, our own personal politics of life and work often express this same "full-of-ourself-ness." And, this is no where more evident than in the American Church. Prosperity is (not) good for us. For like David we believe we are the mountain that cannot be moved. And then …
We fall. One by one we succumb to the pride that sabotages our ability to see and perceive the way God works in the world around us. And, even more how we are to be participants in the mission of God to love the world. Our falling in our day is so private that we often do not have the means to experience restoration. Paul writes in Galatians 6 that the community of faith is the place for restoration. It is the place where we share burdens that are borne and at the same time learn to bear our own burdens rather than be a burden to others. It is the community of faith wherein we practice doing good to all so we will be prepared to do good to those "outside." Remember, Jesus gave a strong rebuke to James and John for their desire to call fire from heaven on those who did not receive Jesus. Instead, the opposite was the aim – show loving-kindness. For the Scripture notes that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance not the rebuke by God's people.
Finally, re-constituted as the people who find their shape in the world not by what happens in the politic of culture but by the work of the Spirit of God we are then sent into the world to do and live as Jesus in and for the world. We look for a place of peace and learn to live out the hospitality of God in relationship to others. Some will receive us and others will not. Some will embrace Jesus, others will discover just how close Jesus came to them. At the end, our aim is not condemnation but love and mercy. Even the shaking of dust is a non-violent rebuke of unbelief. What we could learn is to set aside our quick move to raise our voices in protest of those who do what people without Jesus do and instead love people which is what people with Jesus do.