Script – Luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.
Reflection – In order to listen and discern the will of God, we must know the story of God. This was yesterday's meditation. Of course we also hinted that simply having knowledge of the story of God is not quite enough. The story of God isn't information to be stored, but life meant to be lived, being itself meant to be recreated in each unique life. So the final meditation of the week focuses on listening as making God's story our own story, or living our lives in such a way that they bear witness to who God is and what God does.
I know that I've shared with you before the short-comings of thinking of faith as a matter of accepting and affirming certain platitudes. I once knew a man who fervently believed in tithing 10% of his earnings to the church. Except that he didn't ever attend church, so he didn't actually practice tithing. But he found comfort, solace and pride in the fact that he believe the right thing. This is one example of knowing God's story without making that story our own. But that story is humorous and lets face it, safe. There are more relevant and challenging examples.
For instance, recently one of Gen Robert E. Lee's descendants, who is also a Christian ministers, publicly stated his opposition to maintaining confederate monuments and support of the Black Lives Matters movement. He is now no longer the pastor of a church. Too many members found his words troubling to the point of offensive. (we would do well to recall wednesday's meditation on the unsettling and unexpected nature of God's call to us.) This pastor was urging both church and society to live the life of the God who liberated the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and chose to be incarnate among the occupied and abused inhabitants of Roman-controlled Judea. I imagine he was inspired by the life of Jesus who made the Samaritan enemy into the hero of a parable we call the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and who spent most of his time among the socially vulnerable. Allowing the story of God to shape us is challenging in that is calls us often, into direct opposition to a status quo, to the social norms and practices that we have readily accepted.
In Romans 12:2 Paul wrote, 'do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.' Notice what Paul is saying. The will of God will not conform to patterns of this world. So listening to God has a purpose. Yes, listening to God is meant to bring peace and stability, certainty and wisdom. But we must never forget that we are given these gifts so that we might then have the courage to live the life of God in the world, a world that conforms to a pattern other than that created by God.
Quote - Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Prayer – Embolden us, God who confronts and comforts both, to allow us to be shaped by your story. Teach us how to not only believe in your incarnation in the life of Jesus, but to practice incarnation in our actions and intentions. Show us how we can take part in your mission of redeeming a lost world by bearing witness to your will and way through the lives we live.