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Facing up, and giving God time to be with me

by davesandel on October 10th, 2021

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 10, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

Facing up, and giving God time to be with me

How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

Does Jesus mean then, or does he mean now? Is he talking about Life after death after life, or he is referring to this present darkness? And is entering the kingdom of heaven the same as entering the kingdom of God?

My theology tells me that the kingdom of God on earth, now, in this present moment, is very elusive. I fail miserably when I try to squeeze through the eye of a needle. I’m lazy. I’m selfish. I’m a fat cat, and I don’t fit. I hear about the kingdom of heaven, I see a landscape over there and know it’s the kingdom of God, but here I am, on the other side, settling.

My theology also tells me (and I know it might be self-serving) that either before or at least on my deathbed, I will enter that stunning kingdom with ease. Slip through the eye of that needle like greased lightning. God keeps his promises, even when I don’t keep mine. If your enemy is hungry or thirsty, give him something to eat or drink. Whether or not I have been a giver throughout my life, God will be a giver to me.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Fill us at daybreak with your kindness.

Jesus often requires more from me during my life on earth. (See Matthew 25 for his distinction between sheep and goats.) So I know how wrong I might be in my understanding of the grace of God.

As Jesus set out on a journey a man ran up, knelt down and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “Go and sell all you have, and give to the poor.”

Margaret’s birthday is today. I think she is a “giver,” as is her sister Kay, as opposed to those of us who grew up to become “takers.” I think I am a self-aware “taker,” and I don’t like that about myself. So I suppose it’s in my nature to assume God is a “giver,” and he will give to me.

I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. All good things together came to me in her company.

OK. I will pray.

Lord, I think I am selfish and careless with others. I think I am hardened of heart. And even when I can describe the sin, I continue in it. The description, in fact, seems righteously confessional, and so that gives me space to keep sinning.

Ugly, David. Let’s cut to the chase. You don’t need to take like you think you do. I give you all you need.

Is that supposed to help? I am grateful, sometimes I am even generous, but my heart beats on without remorse, ready to take again. A selfish friend told me once, “You know me, I’ll take anything I can get.” His words could have been mine. What happened? I don’t think I was born like that.

Lots happened, and I was with you every time. I don’t think you knew that I was with you, though. Since I gave you enough capacity to create a world of your own, and put you in a position to do so, you just went ahead. But you didn’t know I was with you.

The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

OK, OK. I know you are telling me truth, and part of me closes up and will not listen.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Tell me about that part of you, if you can. The part that closes up.

Isn’t that the point? Describing that “part of me” makes me vulnerable, and so I get angry to protect it? I was angry in the crib, when Mom didn’t come to pick me up. She was reading Dr. Spock’s book on parental attentiveness,  engrossed, and she didn’t hear me. How ironic is that, Lord? Her best intentions sent me off into fear and anger.

Tell me more.

Henry Cramer played Rock, Paper, Scissors with me on the school bus. We were in second grade. I lost, and Henry hit me really hard on the arm. I started crying. He started laughing. I turned away from him. And I turned away from you, Lord.

So what I’m saying is that I was there on the bus with you. I felt you turn away. I wept with you, and for you.

Lord, this is what I need. Just to talk and hear you love me. No excuses. Thank you.

There’s more where that came from, David. I love you.

May the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours; may he establish the work of our hands. Oh, yes, establish the work of our hands.

(Wisdom 7, Psalm 90, Hebrews 4, Matthew 8, Mark 10)

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