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Listen to the God-breathed story

by davesandel on February 1st, 2021

Monday, February 1, 2021                 (today’s lectionary)

Listen to the God-breathed story

What more can I say? I don’t have time to tell of Gideon, Barack, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets. By faith they conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises and closed the mouths of lions. They put out raging fires and escaped the devouring sword. Out of weakness they were made strong.

At church yesterday, Kevin gave us five words to live by: “What does the Bible say?” When I read in humility, read in context and with my community in mind rather than only myself, my theo-pneustos Bible speaks wisdom and courage into my life. God will breathe the stories of men and women from the past into me, and their stories become my story too.

Some were tortured, others endured mockery, scourging and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in half, needy, afflicted and tormented. They wore the skins of sheep or goats and wandered about in deserts and on mountains, lived in caves and crevices of the earth. The world was not worthy of them.

How near must the gurus be to God, living on the mountains in their caves? Wasn’t Elijah one of them? Jesus spent 40 days with his Father and learned to call him Abba, and for this he and his Father chose the desert as their meeting place. Anglican pastor and politician Kenneth Leech says that “spiritual maturity, like physical maturity, demands space, vastness, wildness.”

In his 38 years of active ministry, father-husband-priest-philosopher-professor Brad Karelius built a church whose “roots were deep enough to make it sustainable, not just a place for Sundays but a five-day-a-week community center where no one is an outcast.” But Father Brad spends as much time as he can in the desert, hours north of his home south of Los Angeles. Often he simply sits, watching the stars. “The more I focus on the brighter stars, the more the fainter ones become clear. Millions!”

I might sit in my living room or on the edge of my bed, turn out the lights and use the gong of my iPhone’s Insight Timer to mark the beginning, middle and end of a centering prayer. Or I could travel a bit, set up a small tent, unroll my bedroll and sit beside a fire under the night sky, deep in desert or high on mountain and in that place hear the gong, feel the silence, notice the snap and pop of dry wood burning.

A great prophet has arisen in our midst. God has come to help his people.

Of course these people are proclaiming the words and works of Jesus, recently arrived from Nazareth, quickly famous for changing water into wine, feeding thousands with a few fish, and healing everyone who asks. They know this prophet by his works, but he knows himself by the time he spends deep in the heart of his Father, together in the mountain desert darkness of early morning, hearing only the cries of birds and a lonely hyena now and then.

Let your hearts take comfort, all you who hope in the Lord. God, you have heard the sound of my pleading when I cried out to you. You have hidden me in the shelter of your presence from plottings and from strife.

Over the time Jesus had on earth he cherished his early morning times alone. I can too, whether in my living room or in the desert. My own daily dawns drift over me with the stories of the faithful, and yes, there have been so many … Gideon, Barack, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets, the author himself of the Book of Hebrews. In my silence too, the promises of God rise in my blood just as they rose in theirs, and we cross Kairos time together into eternity.

(Hebrews 11, Psalm 31, Luke 7, Mark 5)

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