Monday, January 11, 2016

What Was God Thinking?

Happy New Year!  I guess...  I returned from my holiday visit in Pennsylvania in the back seat, sick with a bad cold.  My first couple of days back, I worked from home in my pajamas.  Now back in the office, I find my hands shaking due to medicine I'm taking, and my mind is moving as slow as refrigerated molasses.  As I check Facebook, I learn that I'm not the only one suffering an illness.  One colleague posted, "I made it vertical for the first time in a week!"

Having just experienced the celebration of the Incarnation, God taking on human flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, I find myself wondering, in the midst of a coughing fit, what was God thinking?  And now in the weeks after Epiphany we read the stories of Jesus calling disciples to ministry, and as we ordain and install ruling elders and deacons and calling all Christians to share this ministry of reconciliation, what was God thinking?  That God would trust the gospel to us mortals, and give to us stewardship of the church, the stewardship of the earth, is amazing to me!

We are humbled when ill and cannot do what we normally do.  Life and ministry are hard enough when we are feeling well.  There is so much to do, so many worthy causes and events to attend, so much need.  We are not God, and cannot be at two places at the same time.  Why is that?  Still, God calls us to ministry in our human condition(s):  with our colds, broken bones, and disorders.  What was God thinking?

OK, so maybe 2016 is starting out a little dark for me...I'll get over it.  But the question is a good one.
The Apostle Paul pondered these same things in the fourth chapter of Corinthians, in a pericope subtitled "True treasure, mortal ministers,"  he writes,

"BUT we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.  For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our martial flesh.  So death is at work in us, but life in you."  (1 Corinthians, 4:7-12 New Revised Standard Version)

How amazing it is that God chose in Jesus to take on flesh and blood out of love.  How amazing that God would entrust us to minister in God's name, in spite of our limited understanding.  And oh, yes, this ministry is not about us, (note to self, check ego at the door), it's about the extraordinary power of God.  Sometimes our weaknesses and limitations help us remember that.