Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Please God

By Beth DeCristofaro

But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!”  (Numbers 21:4-5)

So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me.  The one who sent me is with me.  He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him. (John 8:28-30)

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.
You are our mother, brother, and Savior. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace.
You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Amen (Julian of Norwich)

Recently I heard a sermon wherein the priest reminded us that even though it is difficult to talk about the fact that our loved ones eventually die, that in fact, dying is very much a part of life.  He said “Someone dies and we act surprised!  We say ‘How could that happen?’”   But bad times, tough breaks, real suffering, frustrations, failed dreams are all very much a part of life.  It is pretty tedious being around people who always see themselves as victims, held back or given short shrift in life.  They seem surprised, angry or even despairing.  In reality, life is pretty difficult but life is, at the same time, very awesome.  That same “wretched food” (manna) which the Israelites complained about came directly from God who saved them from starvation.  While it is tempting to ask how they could be so short sighted, it is probably more advantageous to ponder how likewise shortsighted we might be.

Jesus, however, did not see himself as a victim.  He was not powerless in the face of political or religious leaders.  He was not held back or denied what he might consider a rightful place in the world order of things.  Jesus was always with God, doing what pleased God and never alone. Jesus knew life as bigger than what humans could see.  Life was from God and as God-given held the promise of eternity through him.  Even on the way to Jerusalem and the Cross, Jesus focused on his relationship with his father.  

God saved the Israelites from the serpents when He instructed Moses to raise a bronze serpent on a pole.  But all those Israelites eventually died of something.  Even as Jesus challenged the temple leaders and healed the sick, he knew he would die not as a victim but as willing sacrifice.  Contemplate the Ash Wednesday prayer “Remember that thou are dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”  Someday we will be ashes, or dust in the ground.  Are we in denial or victims to be burned, buried and gone?  In the last days of Lent, how can we act as co-creators of God’s kingdom doing what is pleasing to God? 

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