The readings for Sunday, April 5, 2009:
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm: Psalm 31:9-16
Second Reading: Philippians 2:5-11
Gospel: Mark 14:1--15:47
Gospel (Alt.): Mark 15:1-39 [40-47]
Every so often, I come across a song or hymn (and sometimes, a book or a preacher) who seems to have a strangely Old Testament view of God. This past week, it was a song that expressed the belief that God gives and God takes away, and God's approach to this giving and taking away is arbitrary and impossible to understand.
How peculiar, I thought. I can accept the idea that God tries to give and only finds my clenched hands. I can accept that my needs might take some time for God to meet (like a faculty member who asked to be relieved from teaching on Saturdays--I can do that for her, but not immediately, since classes start in a week, and the schedule is set). I can accept that God has a larger picture, and some of my yearnings may not fit with the larger vision.
The idea of a capricious God who says, "Ha, ha, ha! I gave you that great job, and now I'm going to yank it away. But first I'll wait until you've financed some purchases, and you're really counting on the money. Then I'll have you lose your job. And I'll throw in a health crisis, just for my own amusement"--that's a horrifying idea. Those things may indeed happen to me--but it's not the fault of God.
This week, most Christians will hear the Passion story. We start with Palm Sunday, where so many people seemed so enraptured with Jesus. Yet days later, they're willing to crucify him.
The lesson here: God is not fickle; it's humans and the societies that humans create that are fickle. You can be acclaimed in one season and denounced in the next.
Our Scripture readings remind us again and again of the folly of putting our faith in the things of this world, and we seem to be living in a time period that proves the Scripture. Those of us who didn't invest in stocks may have invested in our houses, and some of us cautious folks kept our money in what we thought were safe structures (money market accounts, savings accounts). Ha, ha, the joke is on us all. Many of us went to school so that we would have white collar jobs that we could count on. And now, we're discovering that we're just as expendable as your average factory worker.
The Passion story reminds us that dreadful things may happen to us. God took on human form, and even God couldn't avoid horrific pain and suffering. But the Passion story also reminds us that we are not alone. God is there in the midst of our human dramas. If we believe in free will and free choices, then God may not be able to protect us from the consequences of our decisions. But God will be there to be our comfort and our strength.
something broke me
7 months ago