Lectionary Reflection:Year C, Third Sunday in Easter
April 25, 2010
How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.
–John 10:24 b
Oh my! How we long for everything in life to be made plain to us. Not very many people I know actually enjoy living in the tension of ambiguity and the unknown or unseen. Most folks prefer a world of clear blacks and whites to mottled grays and muddy waters. Sometimes we crave certainty so strongly that we fail to see the metaphorical forest for the trees–much less the real deal–as we whiz down life’s highways at something close to warp speed.
Unfortunately, we often like our theology like that, too. We want easy instructions and simplistic answers for all of life’s messy questions. We want a Jesus that we can claim as our Lord and Savior but who’s as safe and easy on the eyes as a life-size cardboard cut-out of Johnny Depp. We’d prefer to check our brains at the door, be entertained and refreshed during worship, and have six days left to our own devices. O.K., I know that’s a sweeping generalization and over simplification of the Christian landscape, but I’ll bet my hat there’s a kernel of truth there for the majority of us.
I’ll be the first to admit that I, too, am more comfortable with the “frying pan” approach to prayer petitions and theological quandaries. You know, the “Dear God, please make your answer as clear to me as a frying pan upside my thick head” methodology. I would much prefer for God to provide a burning bush or wet fleece to make divine will known to me. It seems, however, that God most often prefers to employ a more subtle approach, one that’s designed to make me use my brain and abilities to respond to the Spirit’s gentle urgings and direction, and one that makes me listen. In short, you and I, all of us, are called to be active participants in the process.
Jesus is made known to us. We have the story recorded for us by faithful witnesses. What we need to do and be about is recorded in plain Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that’s been translated and paraphrased by a host of scholars. Not only that; if we look, we will see evidence of God’s action in this world today. We, you and I and all God’s beloved children, are among the great multitude that will one day gather around the throne of the Lamb. Jesus made it plain by his time on earth with us; it’s humankind that tends to complicate matters.
No, effective discipleship and stewardship can’t be ordered up at the drive-thru window of life like some sort of spiritual fast food: “Give me an extra-large Lutheran combo with a slice of Calvinism, hold the New Age, add a side of Anabaptist, and let’s see, oh yes, body and blood to go.” We don’t even have to say “Make mine plain, please,” because Jesus has already done so. Make time to be still and listen for the voice of our good shepherd. He does love us, he will call our names, and he will lead us. Thanks be to God! Amen.