Sunday, November 27, 2011

Monday of Advent 1: God's huge joke

Opening Sentence
Watch, for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning, lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. Mark 13:35, 36

Commemoration: King Kamehameha and Queen Emma, 28 November 1864
O Sovereign God, who raised up (King) Kamehameha (IV) and (Queen) Emma to be rulers in Hawaii, and inspired and enabled them to be diligent in good works for the welfare of their people and the good of your Church: Receive our thanks for their witness to the Gospel; and grant that we, with them, may attain to the crown of glory that never fades away; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer, Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 1, 2, 3

Lessons: Amos 2:6-16; 2 Peter 1:1-11; Matthew 21:1-11

And so perhaps we can be on the alert to hear the voice of God coming to us in the turmoil and change of the big problems around us. But not only in the big affairs of men and of nations that puzzle and perplex and horrify. In the common, in the trivial, in what we might consider the inappropriate moments to recognize the presence of God, the ironical man, coming to us. Someone tells of "a little girl, playing tag around a dining room table with her father, (who) suddenly stopped to exclaim, 'Surely the Lord is in this place!'" Why not? Why not God speaking to us not only in the big events of life but in the small delights too? At a Columbia-Princeton football game, Columbia, the underdog, stopped Princeton cold on a drive for a possible touchdown. And the Columbia band broke out into the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. And why not? It may well be more blasphemous to deny the presence of God in the common and the trivial than to acknowledge him -- even with tongue in cheek! I suspect God has a far more delightful sense of humor than his devoted and faithful followers.

Sometimes I feel that the whole world is alive with God's comings -- quite literally! A close call on the interstate highway and I'm grateful that he provided the lull; a bathrobe catches on a door knob and rips -- and what's God got against me this morning? This is frivolous, self-centered, verging on the superstitious -- I know that! But I wonder if it isn't better than assuming that God speaks to us only in crisis, or only in Scripture and in church. As if we could limit God so! So Bonhoeffer's familiar lines, "God is the beyond in the midst of life, not simply where human powers give out at the borders, but in the center of human achievement and joyous living."

. . . Advent, with its strange opening number, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, is to open our eyes to the wonder that God keeps coming, entering into dialogue with us , to speak in love, and in judgment in love, where we least expect: in a man sitting on a donkey -- God's huge joke, if you will -- always appearing to be less than he really is, so we can recognize him in his love, in the big, overbearing problems of a world in radical change, or in the simple delights of daily life. He's literally all over the place hoping that we'll have the eyes to see and the ears to listen to his coming.

Edmund A. Steimle (1907 - 1988)
From Death to Birth


Sing to the King