Blogging Towards Sunday, September 6
At first glance, even the second, I'm struggling to see what these passages, proposed for this week, have in common. God who saves everyone, in particular the poor and excluded. The same God, seen as the God of Israel that will take vengeance upon the enemies of Israel (basically everyone else) in a salvation that looks like deaf suddenly hearing, blind seeing, and muet speaking. A salvation that doesn't promise life eternal in the here-after as much as it's transforms brokeness into wholeness and vibrancy here and now. Then stories of Jesus healing: at first not wanting to heal a non-Jew/Gentile woman's daughter, then giving in - or being negotiated into acting. And the healing of a Gentile deaf-muet man, leading to the proclamation of Jesus' goodness in words taken from the Greek version celebrating the goodness of God's creation in Genesis 1.
Maybe the challenge for us in these living words is to recognize that life is indeed a gift: that we haven't earned, worked for or inherited, but merely been given. Life that doesn't come at the expense of those different from us racially/culturally, socially or class-wise. Life that isn't just in the not-yet-far-off-pie-in-the-sky-riding-on-a-cloud-future, but here and now in what we do, the meaning we make of our lives and the footprints we leave in the lives of other we know and are known by. Psalm 146 lifts us an impartial, benevolent "good" God - like the wise-old guy in the clouds. Then Isaiah seems to lift up a God of vengeance, throwing down lighting-bolts on the Gentiles, all the enemies that made Israel suffer during the Exile in Babylon. Yet Jesus, in the way Mark tells these stories, tweaks the language re-taken from Isaiah 35 to tell a different story. God - through the person and actions of Jesus - opens the ears, eyes and loosens the tongues, not just of the Israelites, or of a specific "chosen" people - but of all people.
Maybe that's the word for us in this time of economic crisis, increasingly violent rhetoric regarding morality/faith in terms of support or death-threats against President Obama, or dialog about Gay Marriage, in action to heal our environment, or in the national debate about health care and the need for it to change. Rather than pointing fingers, giving the finger, or making a fist - maybe we need to open our hands to recognize that we are all God's children, all called to be 'new creations', to live life fully - here and now, not after death - with each other, as opposed to against each other. I feel as if I sound like I should go hug a tree or am advocating that. Yet isn't that too the image the prophets give us of the "new day" dawning in the event, purpose and passion of the Messiah to come: life is so good - community so deep - life-meaning so relevant -that even the trees of the field shall clap their hands and join into the song of salvation.