Apologies that the rhythm of these e-votions being sent out has been off for the last few weeks. I was in New Orleans with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (aka ELCA) high school youth gathering in New Orleans. We were part of a group of 37,000 learning about and living out "Jesus, Justice and Jazz". We are back now and ready to try to bring to bear in or normal lives what we learned during that extraordinary time. Thank you for being flexible and for your prayers during our time away.
This week there are some options when it comes to texts assigned for Sunday. Among them is the account of Nathan rebuking David for his taking of Bathsheba as his own wife by having Uriah (her husband) killed. Below is a portion of that lectionary text option:
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
David seems completely blindsided by this rebuke from Nathan. David tracks very well with the offense that has been described. He seethes with anger at the injustice. He is ready to lay down the hammer on the one who has done such a thing. He is oblivious that the hammer is casting a looming shadow over him.
It reminds me of when people file by on worship after the service on Sunday morning. Sometimes a comment is offered like "Nice sermon pastor. You really gave it to them." The internal thought is "I was talking to you as much as anyone." Perhaps what is needed is Nathan's response which is found in verse 7: "You are the man!" We are so ready to hear rebukes and instructions on behalf of others.
Generally speaking we are well aware of what is expected and what is fair. We know the standards of what God expects and we don't even mind when others get called on the carpet for not living up to those holy expectations. When it comes to the law we are fine having it apply to others. When it comes to ourselves, however, God's grace is enough for me thank you very much.
There is a song that is sung a great deal in contemporary worship services with the title "Open the Eyes of my Heart". Perhaps we should pray that they ears of our heart are opened as well. That we might hear God's correction and expectations for ourselves as eagerly as we do for others.
We would do well to strive to treat all with the grace and mercy and best constructions that we wish were applied to us when we sin. That is another one of those expectations of God that isn't so very hard to grasp but can be much more elusive to live out.
God, help us hear the words you send into our lives: words of hope, words of love, words of rebuke and words of life. Help us offer them to others and steep ourselves in them as well. May this happen all to your glory. Amen.