Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Want to want to!

Readings for this Sunday, 1st July 2012,  (Pentecost 5) include 2Samuel 1:1, 17-27 (David laments for Jonathan and Saul) ; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, Mark 5:21-43 & Psalm 130  (Proper 13)
The well loved hymn "Men go to God" which is a poetic rendering of a prayer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
reminds us that in our deepest needs we do indeed go to God
(Not only "men" but all people too!)
"We go to God when we are sorely placed"

The readings this week explore some situations
where some people go to God.
The Psalm perhaps sums this up
         "Out of the depths I call to you"
While we might fly to God in time of trouble
this is to narrow a way to interpret this psalm
because we are "deep" not only at the points where things are black and at their worst;
we are also deep where we soar
where we are deeply in love
and where we are functioning at our best.
It reminds us, I suggest,
that when we are in touch with God
we are responding out of depth
and not out of shallowness.

So much of what we experience these days is really shallow.
I cite Big Brother  and similar programs endlessly in this regard.
While we are titillated by this sort of rubbish
have you ever wondered why it also leaves you feeling empty and bored
rather than satisfied.
It is shallow, and meant to be so!!
It is interesting that it is called Reality TV
It is anything but real.

We are at our most real
when we are in touch with God
and we speak to God our of the depth.
The readings point us to some real life situations which are "deep" rather than shallow.

Saul and Jonathan
David's relationship with these two men is formative in his life.
Saul is one of those who comes to understand early on that David is chosen by God
and yet he also has difficulty dealing with how God will choose David over himself.
It is the stuff of human ambition and power struggle
which is critical for any human leader to understand.
At the same time Jonathan, Saul's son, is David's closest friend.
[I am not amongst those who want to see this is as a same-sex relationship.
I think rather we see the deepest type of friendship that people experience
(we should not cloud the issue with spurious exegesis to further our particular cause)]

David knows life in the midst of death
and he knows the reality of God's power
in the difficulties of deep relationship

In this classic passage
Paul speak about generosity.
Now he shares with them what we all know
that there is "generosity" and there is "generosity"!
So he is able to say certain cryptic words to them

"it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something"
At least one of the things he is saying here is
that is we are to understand the depth of giving
we not only have to give
but to desire to do it.
This is an important reflection
for those of us who have a strong sense of duty
we have to do better than just respond to God's wishes
because we feel we ought to
We also need to want to do so.
Maybe we don't get this.
It is I think a question of opening ourself up to the grace of God
to deepen our motivation
Not only are we to respond to God's command
but also to want to respond.
If we are not quite there.
then pray for the grace to want to.

Archbishop Michael Ramsay is often quoted as saying
that we need to deepen our motivation to love God.
We usually find it difficult to say "We love God"
and maybe the most we can say is "We want to love God"
Maybe even, Ramsay reflects,
we can only say "We want to want to love !"
His point is a good one.
If we are love God, out of the depths
then often we will need to do some digging!


Many people, of course plunge the depths
when they, or someone close to them is sick.
The two stories in Mark 5: 21-43 have important insight into how encounter with Jesus
deepens our life
and how this experience of depth 

is an ultimate source of healing.
The Jairus story tells us how we can listen to God in time of death
rather than the pious advice of others
The words that the "well meaning" speak to him
    "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?"
Have perhaps a truer ring than we care to admit.
They are the hopeless words 

we often speak faithlessly
into situations of death.
The deep words of Jesus
seem almost fanciful

....this child is not dead she is sleeping
but the real depth is .....Do not fear, only believe
Likewise we hear the disciples being very dismissive even of Jesus
his words "Who touched me?" 

speak to me as a pastor 
of how often I don't see
those who come looking for Jesus.
I, like them, have lots of excuses
it isn't possible to know about specific needs for depth
and yet Jesus knows
and the woman knows.


This stuff only begins to point us towards the depth of God.
We are reminded, (almost with a sledgehammer!) 
that it is in depth we will find God
and that in finding God
we will be found.
We may only want to want to want to find God; 
but even that is enough.

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