Monday, October 18, 2010

Blogging Backwards Towards
Sunday, October 17th

This parable about the persistent widow and the stubborn judge is like an onion: filled with layers.  Does it paint a picture of what God is like, as in someone who has to be talked into action?  Or is it portraying how we should relate to God: bargaining, begging, not giving up in our requests?  Or is it about something else?  Personally I think we often get lost in the parables.  They're images, metaphors, word-onions (if you will) that we're invited to wrestle with, unwrap and struggle through.  It's not just a question of figuring out what represents what.  I think we get the parable when it gets us.  It's in the struggle with the parable that we receive the good news it contains.  Maybe it's corny, but it's a bit like the onion metaphor: you struggle and tear as you work or cut through it.  It's when you're eating it, or cooking it that you realize the power, savor and flavor of the onion.

So maybe this parable is a reminder that God is bigger than what we imagine or can even fathom.  If the widow can wear down the jerk-of-a-judge in the parable who doesn't want to lift a finger to act, let alone help anyone; then how much more will God respond and walk with us in our pain, prayers and passion?  Does that mean God will answer all our prayers, giving us what we want?  I don't think Jesus is talking about that.  I struggle with that, having prayed many times for things/people/events that haven't come to pass.  Am I unfaithful?  Is God a cosmic joke, merely a thing we talk to when we're powerless? Does God need us to talk to him to keep God "alive?"  I don't think it's a quid-pro-quo sort of thing.  I find that when I pray it's often the process of praying that saves or delivers me.  Whether I receive - or don't - what I've prayed for is almost besides the fact.  I think Jesus is trying to say that God isn't like us: bigger, better, different, faithful in a way we can't imagine or fathom.  How do we communicate that?  How do we understand that? How do we find strength and courage in that promise when life gets hairy, hurtful and hellish?

GLEE - the pop culture phenomenon musical show about a high school glee club recently aired an episode "Grilled Cheesus" that wrestled with this issue of faith and prayer.  Interesting take, a bit stereotypical (as in that the gay teen is atheist while the African-American girl is a choir-sining baptists) but it portrays the struggle that we seem to all share and the way we live or don't live it in modern American life.  HERE'S a LINK to the episode online.

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