Just One

15 Sep

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 17 After Pentecost 15 Sept 2013
Just One
Lately, I have felt bombarded by a deluge of people marketing God.
Psalm 14:3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.
I hear You, Lord. Absolutely true. Reporting for duty. I can verify in faithfulness and truth that there is no one, not anyone (including myself), who does good on this swatch of celestial dust You have sent me to, Lord.
Jeremiah 4:22 “For My people are foolish, they do not know Me; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good.”
Me, too. Sometimes I feel soooo stupid. Sometimes I think I know You, Lord, and other times I don’t. That is the way of relationships. Sometimes I feel like a fool and sometimes I feel like a queen. Sometimes I think I understand, and at other times I am pitifully aware that I understand nothing. How can I do “good”? Jesus, You Yourself, said no one is good but God.
Lk 18:19 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
Lord, You said You would speak judgment against us. (Jer 4:12) You clearly didn’t come to condemn us (Jn 3:17). The way I see it, Judgment is accountability and condemnation is cursing. (Ps 14:1) Jesus, You sought friendship. We sought CYA (covering our assets.) Make Yourself look good, God! Thank You for having mercy and not making a full end to the desolation of the whole land! (Jer 4:27) Forgive our arrogance. We may know how the story ends in the Book of Revelation, but we don’t know how to get there. We don’t even know how to make friends!
Psalm 14:4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the LORD?
Jesus? Hasn’t our collective journey fulfilled Your own words in our day today as the religious leaders reclined at their own tables as the Holy Spirit passed over them?
Luke 22:14 When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table. 15 And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment [!] in the kingdom of God.”
17 After taking the cup [!], He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you [!]. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes [!].”
Jesus, Your words have been fulfilled and Your Cup has been divided among us. Therefore that must mean that the Kingdom of God has come. Yipee! We cannot “do good,” but we can desire Truth in our own inward being. (Ps 51:6) And we can be judged faithful. (1 Tim 1:12) This is also the name of the rider on the White Horse in Revelation 19:
Rev 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.
Lord, help me to be honest and faithful to You and to stay grounded in my authentic being in You. Help me to put You first in all things, as You are my First Love. We just have to be honest and faithful. [Can’t you see my waving hands as I talk?!] We don’t have to convert each other or market God. We just have to be faithful and honest!
Psalm 51:6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Jesus, what a sweet comfort to know that You save us in our ignorance when we act in unbelief. (1 Tim 1:13) No wonder deliverance for Israel doesn’t come from Zion itself, for we cannot save ourselves.
Psalm 14:7 O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
Lord, You said You would reign over the House of Jacob forever. It says,
Luke 1:33 and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”
If the believing Christians are “Jacob’s descendants,” then believing Christians would be SO secure in their own faith that they would love others into the Kingdom. Hospitality would be the order of the Day instead of marketing. They would not have to convert anyone, because others would know we are Christians by our love. [Gee, isn’t there a song kinda like that?] And the love would be contagious. God is merciful when we are honest and faithful. (1 Tim 12)
I must admit, I am grateful to be meditating on these lectionary lessons this week. I have taken a terrible jolt to my entire belief system. (I do Believe, help my unbelief! (Mk 9:24)) At the time when I wrote Pope Francis on Friday (13 Sept 13) I had felt strong (but not terribly confident). Then soon afterward I felt like the lost sheep in Jesus’ parable in today’s lectionary lesson. (Lk 15:4) I have tried for so long to connect with community that I got tsunami waves of Doubt followed by Arabian Desert walls of dust storms within my being at the mere thought that one more outreach attempt would make a difference. May I receive mercy in community so that Jesus Christ might display His utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in Him for eternal life. (1 Tim 1:16) I don’t doubt my eternal life, I just feel…well…like there are ninety-nine other sheep out there and we still can’t play on the same playground because we can’t talk about “it.” All it takes is one to break the Silence. Lord, I may feel lonely out here in the pasture all by myself, but I am grateful that You found me. (Lk 15:5) I celebrate with You what You are doing even though I don’t understand. I am humbled and comforted by Your grace. As long as I can see the joy and laughter in Your eyes, then I know we are all ok. I rejoice with You! (v 5, 9) You said,
Luke 15:10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
I celebrate with You, Lord!
Rev 7:10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
4:11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse–

4:12 a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.

4:22 “For my people are foolish, they do not know me; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good.”

4:23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light.

4:24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro.

4:25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled.

4:26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger.

4:27 For thus says the LORD: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.

4:28 Because of this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above grow black; for I have spoken, I have purposed; I have not relented nor will I turn back.

Psalm 14
14:1 Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.

14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.

14:3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.

14:4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the LORD?

14:5 There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous.

14:6 You would confound the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.

14:7 O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

Exodus 32:7-14
32:7 The LORD said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely;

32:8 they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'”

32:9 The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are.

32:10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.”

32:11 But Moses implored the LORD his God, and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?

32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people.

32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

32:14 And the LORD changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Psalm 51:1-10
51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

51:3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

51:4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.

51:5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

51:6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

51:9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

1 Timothy 1:12-17
1:12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service,

1:13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,

1:14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

1:15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the foremost.

1:16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life.

1:17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Luke 15:1-10
15:1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.

15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

15:3 So he told them this parable:

15:4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?

15:5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.

15:6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’

15:7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

15:8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?

15:9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’

15:10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

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