Back to Real Time

For the last number of months I have posted about my thoughts and small adventures on the sabbatical pilgrimage of 2008.   The discipline of reworking my journal has given me a good refresher course in what God had been teaching me back then.  Four years later the walk from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh along rivers and through mountains while learning the gospel of John by heart, offers guidance as I focus on the future walk, especially the walk of the congregation and the branch of the Church that I serve in these changing, uncertain times.  Uncertain from my perspective, not God’s. I hope you have enjoyed the walk too.  But now it is time to come back to real time as I follow Jesus into the future while continuing to learn from the past.

I have been thinking about Sunday’s text, 1 Samuel 16, the alternate Hebrew scripture reading for the day.  The prophet Samuel is sent by God, who is definitely fed up with the antics of King Saul, to anoint a second and more faithful king for Israel.  Yes, from the human perspective, God and consequently Samuel are committing treason, and it is rather dangerous.  Samuel is directed by God to go to Jesse in Bethlehem; one of Jesse’s sons is the one God will choose as a new king.  Seven sons are paraded before Samuel and each time Samuel, although impressed, is assured by God that this or that son is not the one.  God tells Samuel that humans look on outward appearances, but God looks on the heart.

When all the young men have finished meeting Samuel, he is puzzled and asks Jesse whether there are any more sons.  Jesse tells him that the youngest, just a lad, is out in the fields with the sheep.  Samuel demands to see him and, sure enough,  the old prophet has confirmation by God that his boy, David, is to be the next king.  if he had not listened to God, Samuel would not have chosen David as king.  David’s own father, Jesse, would not have thought of David as having royal potential.  And yet….

And yet God has other plans, so Samuel takes his oil and pours it over David’s head, announcing him as God’s chosen leader for the people of Israel.  The text then says God’s Spirit came upon David.  God saw something in David that no one else saw.

You and I were anointed by the Holy Spirit at baptism.  What does God see in us that others don’t see?  What does God see in us, that we don’t see yet? To what does God call us to that we wouldn’t dare to dream on our own?  Most likely it is not to be a queen/king or prime minister or president of a nation.  Most likely it is something quite simple like being a dedicated grandparent, or sharing hammered dulcimer music or sewing quilts for Lutheran World relief.

But when God gets God’s hands on something quite simple, God can make it into something profound, even if, as is usually the case, we are unaware of it being anything more than the usual. The point is not so much what you or I have been anointed to do, but what God is mysteriously doing in, under and through the simplicity of our given lives.  God may be blessing others through us in ways we can’t even see.

Humans see the outward appearance of things.  God looks on the heart of things and there may be a world of difference between the two.  And sometimes, with God’s help, we catch of glimpse of what God’s up to and what God is seeing in us.