7.22.2011

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Genesis 29:15-28 and Psalm 105:1-11, 45b or Psalm 128 •
1 Kings 3:5-12 and Psalm 119:129-136 •
Romans 8:26-39 •
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Space Shuttle touched down at Cape Canaveral, Florida this week ending an iconic age of space travel for the US. Our lifetime was marked by the development of this program - the narrative of "normalizing" space travel followed us through childhood. We can remember where we were for both the Columbia and Challenger disasters. We watched technology unfold in practical terms as the space program morphed and grew with reusable transportation into space.

And the generation right before ours marked time through Sputnik and the Apollo missions. The space race. The realization of accomplishments once only the fantasy world of Buck Rogers.

At some point, a journey into space was beyond our collective human imagination. But not anymore. Over time, the unimaginable was imagined and realized.

And if we look just at technology, we can point to so many examples of this. A friend was pondering her new external hard drive with a terabyte of capacity. Remember when 64K was "all that?"

There is a special element of the unimaginable that connects God's work in the scripture readings this week. And it has us wondering, can we ever really begin to fathom the God of creation? Can we anticipate the "next big thing?" Or are we going to always be amazed and surprised by God's movement - some of which seems like gift, some of which seems like tragedy?

In the ongoing drama of the generations of Abraham, Jacob gets double crossed by Laban while trying to earn the right to marry the graceful Rachel. After years of Jacob working for the right to marry Rachel, Laban pulls a bait and switch on the wedding night - a fact Jacob doesn't discover until the next morning (we'll not even go down the path of believability there...). Jacob awakens to discover he's spent his wedding night instead with the older daughter Leah. Laban's response was matter of fact - this is the way it is done - the older daughter is offered in marriage first. In another amazing and unimaginable turn, Jacob agrees to work another 7 years to marry Rachel as his second wife.

In the alternate text from 1 Kings, Solomon has a dream in which God asks him for his wish, and Solomon requests wisdom. Now if you read some of Solomon's backstory, that might be a little bit surprising. And God's response is over-the-top generous. Because Solomon didn't ask for riches or long life or power, God throws all of those into the mix along with the requested wisdom. Unfathomable generosity possesses this Creator.

The psalmist is full of praise for a gracious, generous and abiding God. There is a common thread in the Hebrew texts about asking and receiving. The psalmist understood this interactive relationship with God. God was there to attend and expected the people to show up.

In Matthew's gospel, Jesus is teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven in parables - stories with their own form of somewhat unfathomable hyperbole. Here we have the mustard seed - a tiny seed that, when tended, becomes a huge and wildly productive plant. The mysterious action of yeast. The puzzling notion of hiding treasure and then going away to sell all we own to buy the field in which we've hidden the treasure. We tend to look at these teachings slightly cross-eyed. Can it really be that we would sacrifice our all for treasure we ourselves had planted? As life unfolds, we know more and more people living in materially sacrificial ways to tend to loving others, helping the poor, mending the sick. Is it possible that what is imaginable becomes imagined and realized in our relationship with God?

And in Paul's letter to the church at Rome, he's swimming around in some heady doctrine. If you have spent too much time in the world of denominational quibbles, you might want to side-step words like "predestine" and "elect". But Paul's also painting a beautiful picture of our interaction with the Spirit and the Spirit's interaction with God and God's resulting interaction with us. He's marveling that God loves creation so much that Jesus would be sacrificed for our awareness, our attention and our very salvation. We assume that these early Christians to whom Paul writes were experiencing great persecution. They were possibly being asked to sacrifice a great deal for their faith. And Paul is encouraging them to imagine the unimaginable commitment God has made to them through Christ.

If God is for us, who is against us. Fathom that!

God, we assume that you see
every mustard seed,
every smile,
and every step on the moon
as a miracle.
Of course you would...
You are God.
Help us to see
every moment,
every blade of grass,
every sun-warmed tomato,
every rabbit that eats the tomatoes,
every laugh,
every tear,
every sweaty moment in traffic
every line of binary code...
help us as we attempt to see
your presence
your miracle
in every
drop of our lives.
Amen.


© matt & laura norvell 2011 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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