Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 24), Year C

Jeremiah 31:27-34 and Psalm 119:97-104
Genesis 32:22-31 and Psalm 121
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Luke 18:1-8

So much of our existence as humans revolves around relationships.

If you are physically and intellectually talented enough to be reading
this on a web page or in an email, you certainly have your fair share
of experience navigating, succeeding, trying, failing, and exploring
relationships with other folks. It is often tough work to be in
relationship with someone else.

Even in situations where you may not have much of a connection with
the other, it can still be difficult for you to express your needs /
feelings / desires and for the other person to express their needs /
feelings / desires and for the both of you to understand one another.
We all show up with our own stuff and experience the world (and other
people) through our own histories.

And in relationships that are important to us, even greater challenges
can show up because we might feel we have something at stake. Maybe
our life depends on getting something from the other person who holds
the power, maybe we need to preserve the relationship because it helps
to give our lives definition, maybe the important relationship helps
to define who we are and without it we would find ourselves

Having some skill at being in relationships and preserving them is
important to our survival.

In this week's lectionary selection from Jeremiah we see God reaching
out and re-committing to the relationship with the Israelites. And as
often happens when two parties are re-committing to a relationship
where trust has been broken in the past, some different expectations
are set out this time. God says it will not be like last
time...individuals will have more responsibility for their own
actions. And most importantly in this passage, God forgives the people
so that they can re-enter relationship with one another.

In the short passage we get from Psalm 119 we see the writer
essentially singing a love song to God about how wonderful it is to be
in relationship with God. How wonderful it is to know the law of God
and have insight in to the world because of that relationship.

The alternate reading from the Hebrew scriptures is the familiar story
of Jacob wresting with a stranger that he later recognizes with God at
night in the Wilderness. Our relationship with God isn't always some
corporate thing - God and The People. Sometimes it is deeply
personal, one on one, physical. Wrestling.

In this week's passage from II Timothy we continue to see a writer
whose world has been shaped by faith in the stories of God's actions
in Jesus Christ. From the way he writes, we assume he would resonate
with John Wesley's sentiment about sharing the good news of Jesus: "I
set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn." He wants
everyone to know what he knows about God and he knows that it is
urgent to tell the story because there are others telling a different,
false story. Our telling the story from day to day and generation to
generation really requires that it is Our story - Our relationship
with God that becomes witness to God's grace.

And in Luke's account of the life of Jesus we find Jesus giving us
encouragement about a way to commit ourselves to relationships when
there is something that is vitally important to us. In this story of
the widow incessantly petitioning the unjust judge we find
encouragement to persist even if the relationship is not one that we
want (or need) to be in long term.

We have a choice about engaging in a relationship. And then we have
myriad choices within that relationship about how we will act, how we
will persist, how we will continue. It is overwhelming to count the
relationship we find ourselves in. And yet, just acknowledging that
they exist calls us to a different way of being.

I am here. I wait for you.
And sometimes, you wait for me.
Thank you for showing up...
for engaging...
for reaching out to me.
I pray that I learn
in relationship to You
how to reach out and engage
with the rest of creation.

© matt & laura norvell 2010 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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