10.15.2009

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Proper 24), Year B

Job 38:1-7, (34-41)
Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c
Hebrews 5:1-10
Mark 10:35-45

There are days when it is awfully difficult to be, well, Human. We work hard, play hard, spend hard, live hard and then hope to sleep hard. We seem driven to suck the marrow from life - ours and everyone else's sometimes. The bottom line is that we simply cannot do it all. We are not SUPERHEROES. Or are we?

Enter God. It seems we find lots of examples in scripture where the attributes, strengths, glory and majesty of God are laid out and remembered.

And, it seems, most times those things are recited in response to a Human failure to be more than Human. But in response to mere Humanness? Not so much.

For example, this week we read a bit of the last main section of the story of Job. After Job and his friends and family have spent a significant time lamenting and questioning God because of the suffering Job is experiencing, God offers a response. Job's life has changed significantly and he seems to feel he has a right to know why and he demands an answer. And in God's response it is evident there are some things that are simply not meant for humans to know. There are some things that are the domain of God and God alone. And God seems a little miffed that Job would even dare to ask why.

The psalmist seems to find some solace in imagining the strength and breadth and depth of God's power and purview. Underlying this psalm of praise (and many like it) is a message of comfort: "I don't have to be in charge of the wind and the mountains and the water...God is in charges of those things." Obviously (when we read other psalms) we know this confidence is not always present or always comforting, but we do know that it often is.

In the letter to the Hebrews, the author is speaking about Humans called to the priesthood. Priests were important people throughout the bible. Here, the writer is sharing that part of the priests work is to be able to empathize with their fellow humans as they are also human and therefore subject to sin. And like these priests, part of Jesus' power was in his experience as a human. Had he not been walking among the common man, had he not suffered and died, his impact would not be felt in the same way. It is almost as if the author of Hebrews is lifting up our "mere Humanity."

And finally, in Mark's gospel, James and John approach Jesus and ask for the privilege of sitting at his right and left - positions of honor. But Jesus says these honors are not his to bestow. And in a permutation of the first becoming last, he tells them that in order to be first, they must become a slave to many. Hmmm. Much like Jesus himself, they must give up their power and autonomy and dignity and live to serve. And in that they might find glory.

We are struck by what we cannot do as Humans. And it would seem that in letting ourselves be "just Human," we gain so much too. Too often we are striving for powers and vision and understanding that is above our pay-grade. And it is exhausting, isn't it?

How much time do you spend (or have you spent) wanting to know the answer to a question that maybe it is not yours to know?

How often do you intensify suffering or even create new suffering attempting to know the mind of God and the logic of the universe?

What would happen if we were all to embrace our Human-ness? What if we were to accept who we are today....and then if that changes tomorrow, we embrace that change then?

Yahweh,
Unthinkable, unimaginable, incomprehensible,
Expansive You,
Help us to embrace your infinity
And our finitude
As gifts.
Amen.

© matt & laura norvell 2009 www.settingourstones.orgwe 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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