Monday Quote - N.T. Wright - If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what grief is, look at Jesus. And go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but you’re actually part of the drama which has him as the central character.
Monday Thought -
Two Sunday's ago we heard Jesus publicly proclaim his authority as 'Lord of the Sabbath.' Yesterday witnessed him exercise that authority. Luke is showing us that Jesus is the authority who is trustworthy, opposed to all other political and religious leaders.
The trustworthiness of authorities seems to be a particularly contentious and unsettling experience for us right now. From national debate about the trustworthiness of presidents (both republican and democrat), to members of congress, it generally feels as if American's are distrustful of authority. In our own little town as well, many seem to feel that they cannot depend on state leadership to look out for their best interests. I'm not making a decisive statement about whether that impression is accurate or not, but it does seem to be the perception, that those in power cannot be trusted to serve the best interests of the average citizen. Institutional authorities too have recently suffered a loss in trustworthiness. As uncomfortable as it might be to face, we have witnessed at various places in our nation debate about the trustworthiness of the police force. The church itself has experienced this loss of being considered trustworthy, and I think we would have to admit objectively, in some cases for good reason. It is particularly unsettling to feel that we cannot trust those in authority in our society. And I can't help but wonder if the vulnerability that comes from the experience of having those in authority disappoint us isn't part of what inspires Luke to show us the trustworthiness of Jesus.
It also occurs to me that Luke could have perceived that the early church to which he wrote this gospel was misplacing its trust. I wonder if we do that as well. As wonderful as technological advances are (I'm writing this on my laptop while listening to jazz on my iphone) I can't help but wonder if we do not also misplace our trust. Technological advances have also presented new challenges and haven't necessarily cured us of some of our long-standing tests as human beings. Yes we are connected in some sense. But human connection is still hard work and divisiveness a real problem. The internet and smart phones have not brought us closer together as human beings. Drones and smart bombs have not made us feel all that much safer and they certainly have not brought us peace. Computers can make financial trades in the blink of an eye and many millions of dollars made for investors, but millions remain hungry in our nation and many millions more across the globe. Perhaps we misplace our trust; in technology, in military might, in financial security and more.
Sunday's story of Jesus intervening to bring the sick slave boy the healing that his masters wealth, strength and influence could not reminds us that our ultimate trust is most safely placed in the 'God who has come to help his people.' And it challenges us to practice awareness and compassion toward those who might most often go unnoticed, as in the case of the widow and her son. As a matter of fact, this is the proof that Luke offers for why Jesus is the trustworthy authority. He seeks out and serves those who are invisible and vulnerable, those who feel that no authority is trustworthy in their abandonment. So Sunday's story invites us to pause and consider where it is that we put our trust. And it also challenges us to be trustworthy representatives of the Christ whom we serve by using our authority (In Luke 9 Jesus bestows authority upon the disciples) to serve the invisible and unheard.
Monday Study - 1 Samuel 8:10-22; Psalm 20
Monday Prayer - We do not know, Lord of the Sabbath, what the day or week will bring. But we can expect that along with joyous surprises there might also be challenges and obstacles. But the prophet Isaiah once promised, 'No weapon formed against you shall prosper... This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.' So help us to go into our day with assurance and confidence. Empower us to trust that you go before us and will empower us to meet every challenge and transform every obstacle into opportunity to bear witness to your love and grace.