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Wait for the Lord with courage

by davesandel on April 16th, 2021

Friday, April 16, 2021             (today’s lectionary)

Wait for the Lord with courage

A Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up and said, “Have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. If their activity is of human origin it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you may find yourselves fighting against God! And the others were persuaded, so the apostles left, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.

We human beings have a long history of blaming somebody else for our own mistakes ­- Adam, then Eve, and so on down the line. When Calvin coined the term “total depravity,” he meant “an inward distortion which makes all human actions displeasing to God, whether or not they are outwardly good or bad.” My inability to call myself out instead of looking reproachfully at you makes me defensive. And I’m defending myself from God most of all.

In his sermon on the mount Jesus told his listeners to stop judging others. Start looking at the log in your own eye and stop looking at the splinters in theirs. How can you see anything clearly around that log?

The “log” is mostly judgment. You are wrong, you are bad … you, you, you. The lawyers and clerks in the Sanhedrin couldn’t extricate themselves from their judgments of Jesus and his disciples, until Gamaliel provided them another perspective.

One thing I ask of the Lord: this is what I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. Wait for it, wait for the Lord with courage. Take heart, and wait for the Lord.

The priests knew Psalm 27; they could chant the words, they could sing the song. Although they were too comfortable in their power, they wanted to dwell in the house of the Lord. Most of them could remember their childhood and the rabbis who taught them the ways of their religion. All of them went home at night and long after dark, awoke alone and prayed their prayers in fear and trembling. Each one knew he was going to die.

Since Jesus knew they were going to carry him off to make him king, he withdrew to the mountain alone.

My friend offended her brother without realizing it. When she found out, she felt great remorse and sadness. She couldn’t talk with her brother right away, and so her sadness grew. She thought about all the times in her life that she had been careless with someone else, saying words or coming to conclusions about them that were not considerate or loving.

We do not live on bread alone. We live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

She told me, “I have NO BUSINESS paying attention to any sin but mine. It’s the log in MY eye that I must pay attention to.” With his famous metaphor, Jesus repudiates all blaming, but even more than that, insists on our self-examination. Of course the other person wronged me, but what did I do? What do I do now? And how can I get back to proclaiming the power of God?

All day long at the temple and at home, they did NOT stop proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.

I can be in such a hurry to get back to “fair.” If I’m on the offended side I don’t have much patience with the process, and so I interfere, speak out, turn the tables, retribute. If that’s the best I can do, and call it “justice,” I am going nowhere fast. The battle rages on.

So our parents teach us to count to ten. In fact, the Los Angeles Police Department trains its gun-carrying adult officers to count to ten. WAIT. Wait for the Lord with courage. It’s much more likely that we can treat each other fairly if we wait and listen for any “word that comes from the mouth of God.” But that takes a little time.

No matter. There isn’t any hurry. God isn’t going anywhere. I am safe in God’s hands, if I only take a moment to be reminded.

(Acts 5, Psalm 27, Matthew 4, John 6)

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