Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge?
There is no god besides me.
(taken from Deuteronomy 32:37, 39)
Moses reminds them what God has done for them and that no other object of worship can do. Troubling to some is that God promises vengeance. To others, this promise is a reminder that we ourselves are not supposed to do the avenging but instead leave it in God's capable hands.
"Do not worry," Jesus had said. Then he tells them what to do instead: Get ready.
Don't worry doesn't mean don't care.
Jesus has just told them that God is the source of their gifts (12:22-34), that God's kingdom is what they should strive for (31) and what will be given to them (32).
Continuing with the image of kingdom then, Jesus discusses their role--they are to God the king as earthly servants are to earthly masters.
What worthy servants do is be ready at any moment for any need of the master. If the master tells you exactly what time he's going to show up, then you could take off work until that time came. But, if you don't know when he's going to get home, then you have to stay ready.
But, something unexpected occurs in Jesus' parable: when the master gets there, he will serve the meal to the servants.
Staying ready to open the door, keeping those lamps lit--only insiders can do that. (Allen & Williamson's Preaching the Gospel)
Perhaps I shouldn't continue to be surprised that church people often don't get along with each other, that they squabble, engage in backbiting and, often frontbiting. The arguments may be over which Sunday School class gets which classroom, what kind of music or musical instruments are allowed at the morning worship service, and, even theological disputes at times.
After all, didn't Jesus warn us?
Well, okay, he probably wasn't talking about the kinds of disputes I have noticed, but he did say that peace was not the ultimate good. He didn't intend to paper over disagreement over essential matters or to ignore what was wrong.
In my own lifetime, church congregations have been split over civil rights and the Vietnam War. Many churches today have internal disputes about ordination of women and inclusion of gays and lesbians.
He did not come to bring peace. He lived a life that brought him to crucifixion. Taking him seriously, taking his message seriously, taking the decisions he made seriously will disrupt our lives. We don't join the church for the same reason we would join some kind of social club. We join the church to continue his work in the world. And sometimes, that work is scary.
Why do we have so much trouble discerning what it is that we are supposed to do? It's not because we are incapable of recognizing clues.
Jesus demonstrated this truth by reminding them that they knew that clouds in the west meant impending rain (from the Mediterranean Sea) and wind from the south (from the Negev desert) meant the temperatures were going to rise. They had the capability to recognize and interpret weather signs.
And they had the capability to recognize and interpret other signs, as well. Only a hypocrite would pretend that he didn't have enough information to know what was just in the circumstances.
Prayer for Today: Lord, keep us watchful, keep us prepared, keep us ready, keep us faithful. You have told us over and over what you expect of us. Help us now to respond. Amen.