Thursday, September 18, 2008
Whiners get Bread from Heaven? I will Go and Do Likewise!
What is the lesson from this text? Can it really be that if you whine to God(dess) you will get what you want? Perhaps. Lutherans believe that we always get more from God(dess) than we deserve - this is grace.
While there is a part of me that cautions against the simplistic understanding that if you pray for things you will get them like a genie waiting to provide wealth and fortune, if you but believe. While I do have had powerful experiences in my own life and in those I love of times when prayer heals bones, mends broken lives, heals addiction and other diseases, I also know a number of very faithful people who have prayed mightily and have not found relief from what plagues them.
It is too easy to say just pray harder, or that prayer doesn't work if you don't believe "enough." My Lutheran charisms always remind me that I am never "enough" for the "more than enough" that I get from God(dess).
I think this text and many of the angriest Psalms give us a better idea than prayer. Our God(dess) promises to be for justice, and yet sometimes we need to yell, scream and whine at God(dess) to help God(dess) remember and honor those promises.
This means we need to be yelling, screaming, whining advocates for justice on earth, not only in our prayer lives, but in our sermons, our letters and our interactions with those in power.
The Exodus text tells us that we must whine as we advocate to end hunger (our own and our neighbors).
If you pair this reading with the Philippians (1:20-30) we have good reason to believe that this whining, screaming and yelling can also be applied to our physical needs, our health and wholeness in our bodies. Certainly, the physical distractions that make it hard for people to be able to think, pray and advocate for themselves are issues that we need to care about as Christians if we want to help are neighbor be able to live a life that is worthy of the Gospel.
Note that I arguing that we make it possible for others to live the life they believe is worthy of the Gospel. I am not saying that we need to tell our neighbor what that means for them. As a community of faithful we can hold each other accountable, but ultimately we are better off when others have freedom (free for and free from their neighbor).
Lectionary Cycle B: Proper 20A/Ordinary 25A/Pentecost +19