10.08.2009

The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Proper 23), Year B

Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Psalm 22:1-15
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31


Sometimes we hear someone referred to as the kind of person who "goes looking for trouble." But really, have you ever known anyone who actually goes out and looks for trouble?

Not to cause trouble...but to be In Trouble.

Trouble. Say it out loud. It is a Troubling word all by itself.

It conjures up images of pain and discomfort and distress. It makes us think of being alone and shut out or singled out. Being In Trouble sounds like something to be avoided.

From our experience, Troubling Times or being In Trouble or running in to Trouble are all things we hope will not be a part of our average days.

Do we have any control over Trouble? What is an appropriate response to Trouble when it shows up or you find yourself in It?

As usual, our scriptures this week show us a couple of different possibilities.

We get to see another important part of the story of Job this week. He is in Trouble. Everything he had (except his life) is gone and he is surrounded by some friends that are badgering him and attempting to convince him that all of this calimity is his fault. And at this point he has begun to question things for himself. A modern psychiatrist might diagnose him as depressed and possibly suicidal. Trouble has swallowed him and he is caught deep inside it.

The Psalmist writing in Psalm 22 has also found herself deep in Trouble. It seem that all of the possible Light of life has been sucked from the world. She continues to cry out to God, but she is questioning where God has gone and left her "in the dust of death." What should she do in this situation? Have you ever found yourself laid this low? What do you do?

The writer of Hebrews seems to be offering some encouragement in these types of difficult times. He is encouraging the followers of Jesus to take heart in difficult times because the one they are following understands the difficulty they are experiencing because he "has in every respect been tested as we are." An important question (for us at least)--how does knowing Jesus endured similar difficulties of the human experience help you to face the suffering / difficulties of life?

And then in Mark we are presented with some of Jesus' most difficult teachings. First, he is approached by a righteous rich young ruler who wants to know how he can enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus' answer is not easy to swallow. The rich, young ruller finds himself in Trouble. In order to enter the Kingdom of God, he must get rid of all of his possessions, give his treasure to the poor. And he turns away, never found in the Gospel again. That was a reality he could not accept. Then the disciples, that quarrelsome lot, who had overheard all of this were perplexed. How could this be? (We presume they were somehow convicted by this teaching.) They ask, haven't we given up enough? Jesus paints a picture of Trouble to come - persecution aplenty. Trouble with a capital T, followed by some sort of peace and plenty. But Trouble. Somehow the Trouble of today is going to become bigger Trouble tomorrow.

And we wonder, what Trouble do we have today that has to get bigger before it ends? We know we are pretty convicted by the story of the rich young ruler. We have a LOT of things - treasure that we store up. And it's certainly not protecting us from anything.

How do you know when you are facing Trouble? How do you respond?
How do you reach out to others in Trouble?
Are their Troubles looming? What are they? How are you prepared?

God,
Keeper, Creator,
Keep us from the time of trouble.
Keep us from creating times of trouble.
Keep us from overlooking others' trouble.
And keep us in our times of trouble.
Amen.

© matt & laura norvell 2009 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.

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