You have made known Let’s pray… Rev. Stuart Buisch
You have shown me the paths of life, your presence will fill me with happiness. Curious words. This is not a marketing jingle for mapquest or the directions app on your device. This is the Psalmist in Psalm 16. These are words that inspire peoples to look for a path that was made known.
This is most obvious when we transition. By the way that was a word used by a pop singer referring to a colleague musician who had died. They transitioned. I wasn’t talking about death but perhaps it applies there too. In transitions: going to school, moving to college, starting a new job, receiving a diagnosis, these are just a few of the transitions, which need direction for finding the path to follow. But do we think of that each day? Are we eager to know any details for our day before we start? This is where the tradition of morning prayers comes from. The idea is that if you start the day with prayer, scripture reading, even hymn singing you could make better decisions all day. I know this is an essential part of my morning and evening but some days it provokes thought, illuminates decisions and other days it is rushed through or even missed.
Saturday or sometime Friday we get a cluster of coupons or sales fliers, often glossy superb for that rare occasion of washing windows. However, the path of getting groceries, if these fliers were followed, would consume more gas, more checkouts, more parking lot hunting for a free space. I wonder if that is the way our daily devotions have gone. You know- a prayer (what do I say), a scripture (which one should I read – where do I start, do I pick up from yesterday, no I will do what I have done for the last 10-30 years) would be good but its just not practical today.
Joshua is in just such a place. They have arrived, this after a long 40 years in the wilderness, in the promised land. Now Joshua recognizes that he will not be around forever. He makes clear his intention that he and his family will continue to follow God, even if it is no longer a journey. Since they are no longer looking for a place in this world, they will still check in with God and find the directions for the day. That is Joshua’s declaration. We don’t know what his children and their children did. We can’t know. All we can know is what we will do. We will serve the Lord, or will we?
Jesus’ story in the gospels is about a man who came from God to show us who God is in a tangible way. It required faith to believe him, just as it does today. It requires faith to believe that there are paths of life that God would disclose to us. Not simply in the transitions but each day. It requires faith to believe that God is doing something in our world. It requires faith to believe that what will happen this week is a concern of God’s. It seems to require more faith when things that are most appalling occur in our family or in our neighborhood. How many times have we read or heard that the neighbors had no idea that someone was imprisoned in a bunker in the ground behind their neighbor’s house?
How do we get the info for the paths that God would make known to us? Bible stories are so old fashioned. Bible stories include ethical positions no longer held by everyone. There is so much Bible to know and to seek to understand. Surely God cannot expect 21st century humans to look for insight from such sources?
This is the amazing truth of Pentecost that will go on until Advent. God is still making know divine truth, out of this world directions. Clarity in times of crisis and times of boring regularity.
The Pentecost story doesn’t read like this. This crazy number EF four on the tornado scale wind struck this one house, it looked like fire and voices that were understood by the great diversity of out of town visitors in Jerusalem were heard, so all the strangers left and went off to cafes to relax before the next day of festivities began. Quite incredible storm but it all blew over.
That is not what happened. Luke, having carefully checked out the details tells that this crowd waited, listened and responded to words that Peter spoke extemporaneously in response to the event.
But even there it did not stop. These words connected. People believed and trusted what Peter said. People believed and trusted what they heard in their own tongue from a small bunch of Galileans. People believed and trusted and participated in the words that they heard and they transitioned from what they had been to a new beginning. They not only had the paths of life disclosed to them, they followed on them.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not simply a story to ponder the interpretive potential of. The experience of God’s Spirit spread abroad generously makes Jesus’ resurrection speak into our lives. The Spirit of God, released in some different way from Pentecost onward brings life into our deadly ways. The Spirit of God offers hope, courage and passion in a world of disease, despair and doubt. It is not enough to have it made known to us, it must be believed, trusted and followed by us, Amen.
Compassionate God, work your comfort for those who have lost during this pandemic and time of protests…
Forgiving God, show us by your Spirit the things that separate us from you…
Earth Maker, Sin bearer, life giver stir belief in us in this generation…