6.17.2012

Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year B



Let's spend some time today considering Power.

We are, in our American (mostly) middle-class upbringing, raised to believe that we as individuals have some Power.  Power of self-determination, Power of choice, willPower, Power over those who are weak, Power to do good or evil.  We believe that we possess Power.

Our scripture reading invites us to ponder God's Power, and the space we give that in our lives.  Do you leave room for God's Power?  Do you recognize that Power at work in your life daily? hourly? minute by minute?  If not, what happens to your own sense of Power if you do?

From Samuel, we have the story of Saul's demise and David's anointing.  Remember the story - The Israelites have clamored for a King and God through Samuel finally relented and Israel raised up a King - Saul.  Turns out Saul was sort of a rotten choice for a King, at least by early standards, and Samuel petitioned God to intervene.  God sent him to find and anoint a new King in the town of Bethlehem.  Samuel shows up at Jesse's place and starts working through Jesse's sons - beginning with the Oldest, because of course the most fit would be the elder son.  Turns out that was not what God said. God wasn't looking at the marks that the Israelites were looking at.  He was looking at the "heart." And so, the youngest son, ruddy and handsome, was God's chosen "King."  Now maybe calling this unexpected choice "Power" is a bit of a stretch.  But then again, maybe not.  What was it that God knew, understood, intended to overlook all the rest for this boy?

The prophet Ezekial is trying to make meaning out of an incredibly tumultuous time in Jewish history.  He writes both before and after the destruction of the first Temple.  He's both speaking judgment and consolation to the exiles.  In 17, he's foretelling a day when Israel will once again be mighty and it will only be mighty at God's hand.  Now the Jewish tradition has much to think about in the space of why life was so hard and when Jerusalem might be restored.  And in Ezekial's prophecy is a recognition that God has the ability to raise from a small sprig a new creation, a new forest that will teem with life once again upon a mountaintop.

The Psalmist is offering benediction (with hope for better times) and praise to a Mighty God.

In Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth, he's saying some things about the work of disciples. As people who recognize the Power of God in the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have something to tell others.  We're not bragging about our own lives, our goodness, our ability.  We are bearing witness to the way we understand God at work in the world.  What we have is not ours by our own hand.  Our ability is not ours by our own hand.  Are we straight up and honest with ourselves about that?  And when we are, what do we do with that?

Finally, in Mark we read two brief parables that seek to illustrate something about the Kingdom of God.  If you want to geek out a bit on biblical stuff, the first parable is the only parable NOT found in parallel in another Gospel (bible trivia for the day). The first points to an agricultural mystery (you have to reach back to ancient times and abandon your own enlightened understanding of biology here) - that seeds dropped on the ground become something totally different, plants that grow and produce.  Now at one level, that is a mystery.  And then, if we start looking for symbolic value, what "seed" is planted that grows and expands and produces? So many possibilities...then and now. Faith.  Love.  Teaching.  Similarly, the familiar parable of the mustard seed suggests that God is involved in making something really happen from something seemingly inconsequential.  Power.  God's got it.

We're not suggesting that each of these scriptures was written about Power.  But we are suggesting that it's worth looking at our lives through the lens of our understanding of God's Power.  What is our understanding of that?  What is the proper place for that Power in our lives?  What responsibility do we have to share what we understand about that Power?  What does our own power have to do with that greater Power?

God 
You are
Powerful
And we cannot 
even begin to see what that really means
how that really works
what that really does
because we simply 
cannot
conceive
of that Power.
Help us
to be wary
and aware 
of your Power
in our midst
daily.

Amen.

© laura & matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org  - We share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask thatyou let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.

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