Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Year B Proper 15 WED Not A Commodity
Year B Proper 15 WEDNESDAY, 21 August 2018
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Not a Commodity”
Today we are given two readings on the workings of God. In both, the Spirit of God is alive and well and shows up to do what the Spirit does. Mutate. Shift. Transform.
In the Gospel, look only at the position of the disciples. They were hopeless. “Six months wages could not pay for the food, Jesus!” But they were able to witness the power of God at work in and through Jesus. There was no lack. He acted on and lived in the Abundance of God.
In the Acts account, Peter and John are sent to Samaria to lay hands on those who had only been baptized and had not as of yet received the Holy Spirit. And Simon wants in on this! He offers cash for this ability, like it was some off-the-shelf magic trick that he could purchase. Peter’s well-known temper comes out with his rebuke.
In both stories, the Power of God is either unexpected, or treated as a Commodity. There is a problem with both approaches. We cannot think that God is not with us. Nor can we assume “magical thinking” that puts God at our beck and call.
God is not a commodity. We cannot package and sell God in convenient packaging. God does not work that way. Not in my experience. Not in the Bible accounts.
When I hear of religious fads and so many religious charlatans, I am reminded of this. “The Prayer of Jabez” is one from a few years ago. And you can fill a big church with easy answers and bumper sticker theology.
Jesus knew this. Remember the end of the Gospel reading. They tried to make him King. And Jesus ran away to the Mountain. Faith is a “long obedience in the same direction.” (To quote Nietzsche)
Too often we want it like fast food.
Three Dollars Worth of God by Wilbur Rees
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
That is a very different perspective from Jesus’ call: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29