Thursday, October 25, 2012

Savoring the Stories

(This year, my church is reading chronologically through the Bible. We have an accompanying blog, which I write on from time to time. The following blog is my most recent entry posted there.)

Only one chapter today in our daily reading! A light day…hooray!

(Read Luke 10. Pause. Sit dumbfounded. Attempt to close my Bible. Reopen. Reread Luke 10. Pause. Sit dumbfounded…)

Wow, how many sermons and teachings based on this one chapter have I heard? Sending out the seventy-two. Demons submitting to them. The Good Samaritan. And the infamous Mary and Martha conflict. I confess that until this moment I didn’t realize they were all nestled into Luke 10. And I wonder, how many times have I rushed through Scripture without pondering the stories unfolding before me? Without considering the people who are involved? Without really listening to the voice of Jesus as he speaks?

These are not tall tales or fairy tales, but true tales of people who walked with Jesus, learned from him, and interacted with him. Consider the seventy-two. Jesus chooses them from the disciples following him and appoints them to go before him and prepare the way. He doesn’t send them blindly on their way, but he equips them for their mission. Then, they return to him, filled with joy, marveling at the effectiveness of their ministry: “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (v. 17).

Frederick Buechner reminds me, “Whatever else they may be, the people in the Bible are real human beings,…and it is not the world of the Sunday School tract that they move through but a Dostyevskian world of darkness and light commingled, where suffering is sometimes redemptive and sometimes turns the heart to stone” (The Clown in the Belfry, p. 41). Hmmmm. Sounds a lot like the world that I am moving through. You?

Jesus’ instructions to the seventy-two establish this truth: “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you…But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you’ ” (v. 8-9). Sometimes people will welcome the light; other times, they will reject it.

He then lovingly shepherds them through the experience of both acceptance and rejection: “Whoever listens to you, listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me” (v. 16). Success wasn’t theirs to claim, and rejection wasn’t theirs to own. It was all about Jesus. It is still all about Jesus.

We are still chosen and called for a purpose. We are still equipped and empowered by Christ within us to move through this world and speak into the lives of others. And we are still wholly dependent on him for our successes and safe in him when we face rejection.

And that’s found in just the first 17 verses of Luke 10. There are 24 more verses to consider.

A light day? Maybe not.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Dear Students,

Recently I discovered a wonderful blog with some beautifully-written prose and poetry: This poem was especially timely as I am in the midst of my first semester of teaching in many years, and it expresses so powerfully the truth I yearn to communicate to the high school senoirs sitting in my class. Read, enjoy, and visit Becca's blog for more of her stunning writing.

Dear Students,

My dream for you
has very little to do with grades
or test scores.

Alone, they are nothing.
They are marks on a page
that filter into systems
where marks on a page
define too much.

For the eternity I have seen
is vast and wild,
and percentages could no more capture
what I have seen in you
than a formula of space miles
could capture the glory of a million fire suns
spinning blue and gold
in that cold, far silence
where the angels dance.

My fear for you
has little to do with those raw things
people your age tend to think aloud.

On the contrary, I am thankful that you are defiant
of convention for convention's sake,
of a flat, white, faux-Jesus,
of insufficient answers,
of a life without passion
and adventure.

I am thankful because these things tell me
you have not let the drowsy drone of earth
quell your newborn scream.

You are unsatisfied, child,
as you should be
with these clay-bound earth-breaths.
Be so always.

My only grievances are these:
you do not realize how beautiful you are,
or how powerful,
or how loved.

You have given up too soon
on yourself.

You have allowed sixteen years of
flat, red marks on flat, white pages
to name you;
and you ask me to nod while you toss out words
and scratch at equations,

This I will not do.
For I have heard your true name
whispered by the great Lion,
the One Who spoke worlds into being.

He showed me
the manner of royalty you are,
men and women created for greatness.

I will expect nothing less.

~ Becca, Little Boots Liturgies