Psalm 25:8-22; Genesis 45; Matthew 15:29-16:4

Psalm 25:8-22  Late this Monday morning, as Jerry and I shared images from northern Minnesota earlier today.  Sort of weird to be looking at all these shots of snow, ice, rocks, and very cold water with the sun shining brightly outside and temps in the 50’s headed to the 60’s.

The latter half of this psalm focuses (so to speak) on the visual relationship between God and David.  The poet writes, “My eyes at all times are on the Lord,” but the next verse wherein he asks God to “Turn to me and grant me grace” gives us the picture of David looking at God’s back s he asks the Lord to turn around and see him.  His supplications continue with the request to “See my affliction and suffering” and “See my enemies who are many.”  It is not enough for David to simply speak his troubles to God.  It is essential that God witness them for Himself by seeing.

This “seeing” theme is important to guys like me who tend to makes God into an all-knowing abstraction rather than a Father who sees the distress of his child.  Just as eye-witness testimony is more reliable than hearsay, it’s as crucial for me as it is for David to ask God to be my witness, and see for himself my own desperate situation.  And equally, that like David, I ask God to witness my current state before asking him to do anything about it.  There is an immediacy and intimacy that “seeing” conveys that makes my supplication more real; I am forced to articulate what I want God to turn and see, not just a general prayer for God to “fix” things for me.

Genesis 45  At last: Joseph’s Big Reveal about who he really is: the brother thought dead who has created finally, after all these years, an acknowledgement of the collective guilt of the brothers.  Of which he absolves them by saying, “And so, it is not you who sent me here but God.” (45:8) Here is the mark of a man of true faith: that all of the rotten things that have happened to Joseph have been through God.  It is God who has brought him on this journey through darkness into the light.  Just as our own journeys that seem dark at worst and pointless at best bring  us into the glaring realization that God has been involved–and beside us–all the time.  You have heard enough about my own journey these past 5 years to know what I’m referring to and how it has indeed been God who has brought me to this point.  Amen.

I cannot help but remark on stumbling across the Biblical precedent for hugging: “And he [Joseph] fell upon the neck of his brother Benjamin and he wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck.”  Truly as moving a reunion scene as any in all of Western literature.

Being of a Christological bent I cannot help but see the parallels to the Other Big Reveal: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Just as Joseph had been presumed dead, he has, as far as the brothers are concerned, raised from the dead.  So, too, Jesus.  Just as the brother’s were the instruments that in effect “killed” Joseph, so too, the Jewish authorities.  But it was God in His larger plan who caused these things to occur. Just as there is a subtext of disbelief among the brothers when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, so too, between Jesus and his disciples; a reunion that quickly turns form disbelief to pure joy.  And just as Joseph asks to see his father, so too, the resurrected Jesus, having completed his earthly mission, returns to his father.

Matthew 15:29-16:4   I’ve often wondered why there are two separate multitude-feeding stories: the 5000 and the 4000.  For me anyway, repetition emphasizes the miraculous nature of the events, where a single incident could be easily blown off as Jesus setting an example of sharing and everyone then sharing what they had.  Nice, but no miracle.  Second, I think the feeding demonstrates the spiritual abundance we experience through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  We may have only a few loaves and fish in terms of resources or gifts.  But when we allow Jesus to operate on those through us, the results are amplified by orders of magnitude.

Jesus accuses the Pharisees of being reasonable weatherman, seeing the quotidian details, but missing the big picture, i.e., “the signs of the times.”  Boy, is that us: able to spend time and energy on the small stuff such as music and worship style, but missing the larger picture.  IN a sense, I think that’s why I’ve been having trouble with Right Here, Right Now: it’s pulling me away from my comfort of focusing on what I know: what red in the morning and night means, and into the larger picture–the signs of the times, if you will–of our role in the larger community.

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