Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Things are Not as They Seem: Year B, Epiphany 3

This Week's Lectionary Texts:
Ice Fishing by Julian Beever (Sidewalk art in 3D)
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62:5-12
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

This Week's Reflection:
It has been a few weeks since I posted a reflection here. I apologize to any "regulars" who have wondered where Miriam's Tambourine had gone. We are back and exploring this third Sunday after Epiphany in which 1 Corinthians tells us, "whatever you think you know, forget it." It seems to me that the writer of this letter is warning the folks in Corinth about getting too comfortable with what they have and the lives they live. "The present form of this world is passing away." Things are not as they appear to be and we better find a way to see beyond.

Could Silence Protect Us . . .
I'm sure it is a stretch, but I find the gospel having a similar message. Things are not as they appear. This passage begins by referring to John's arrest and immediately moves toward the "good news" that Jesus was preaching. In fact, it is the same sentence. "Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.'" 

If I read the scripture as if I had never heard this before, I would more than likely expect something more along the lines of "Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee and kicked butt" or at least, "Now after John was arrested, Jesus met with the disciples and they all wept together wondering what they could do to help." Arrests and good news don't seem like they should fit together like this.

But with Jesus, it seems, nothing is ever what it appears to be. For example, these disciples to whom he is calling in Mark 1:14-20 are the last ones expected to be chosen by a rabbi for anything. Young, dirty, bottom of the social and economic ladder, fishermen were not likely to be "the chosen few." And, yet things are not as they seem and Jesus could see in those young men what most of us would find impossible to believe.
Coke balancing by Neil Phillips

Jonah thought he understood all too well what was to happen in Ninevah. First, he ran because he didn't want anything to do with those people, then when he saw he had no choice, he obeyed God and sat back waiting for God's wrath to rain down on the people. But, God, especially, is not easily defined and is never what seems to be. God changes God's mind and shows mercy to the people instead. Jonah never saw that coming!

We too often sit comfortably in our churches with our human-made religion and believe we see things absolutely clearly; however, Holy Scripture reminds us again and again that this is not the case. As if in answer to the other three readings, the Psalmist cries out, " For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken."

Things are not as they seem. Thank God! For God is our hope, our rock, our salvation. Because of this indefinable God, we shall not be shaken.