June 17, 2009

Last Week - Rehashed - Homily for Proper 6b

At least four days a week I do my best to write on my blog about the upcoming Sunday lessons. Some days are very deep, others very shallow, still others very confusing, but I write. I write because I think that my understanding of God is constantly evolving; each day with prayer, study, and reflection I gain a little more knowledge - I come to know God just a little bit better. So I've title my blog - draughting theology - because I am constantly re-writing, drafting, my understanding of God. Each day what I know gets put in stone, and each day a new stone is etched. I think we all do this. Our life experiences force us to reevaluate what we think we know about God. We meet someone new. We come up against a new obstacle. We see a prayer answered. Whatever our experiences, daily or even by minute or second we come to know God in a new and different way. We are all constantly drafting (or re-drafting) our theology.

I've known this, and talked about this, for several years now, but last week it came to life in very real way for me, and so this afternoon I'd like to share with you how God re-drafted my theology over the course of two very long days.

On Monday I woke up, did my normal routine, and sat down to read the lessons for Sunday. I stumbled upon what seemed to be a very strange verse in the lesson from First Samuel, "The LORD was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel." I sat with that sentence for a few minutes, and pondered just what it might mean, and I wrote this post entitled, Even the LORD Makes Mistakes.

I'm guessing that at some point in history, the worst thing you could say about someone had to be, "The LORD is sorry that He created you." I imagine that might sting a bit, especially in strongly Judeo-Christian cultures.

In the lesson from 1 Samuel that we have for Sunday, the author tells us that the LORD was sorry he made Saul king over Israel. Truth be told, God didn't want Israel to have a king at all, he predicted the corruption and destruction that followed, but God has a weak spot for the people of Isreal and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't say "no" to their desire to have a king.

I wonder what else God is "sorry about"? Is he sorry he gave us free will? Is he sorry he created the Church? Is he sorry that he allowed techology to move forward so that VH1 is now able to air Daisy of Love reruns everyday of the week?

We don't give much thought to the mistakes God makes. We don't care to ponder all the things that God must be "sorry about," but I imagine the list is extensive. And still, as the Canticle for Trinity Sunday said, "He is worthy of praise" because even in the midst of that which he is "sorry about" God is constantly working out his purposes for good.

Saul turned out just like God had imagined, but David was going to be the next king, and even in the midst of his failings, David would begin the restoration of Israel and of the whole Creation.

As you might guess, I got some reaction to that post. Asserting that God could make mistakes is not a very popular opinion. One friend sent me to a website that had an article arguing that God does NOT make mistakes. It was a good enough article, but full of proof texts, single verses from scripture, often taken out of context, that are used to prove the point one is trying to make. It was thoughtfully crafted, but for me, didn't carry much weight because my verse from 1 Samuel seemed to say just the opposite.

I went to bed on Monday, thinking hard about whether or not God could make mistakes. I awoke Tuesday prepared for a tough day. We were holding a funeral for a three month old baby here that day - a service I was officiating for a family who does not have a church family. I awoke thinking, I hope I don't remember this day for too long, but know now that I will never forget it.

The great uncle of young Fox gave a Eulogy on behalf of the family - a tough task for sure. He spent at least 20 minutes before the service on his knees; what he said, I'm convinced was from the mind of God. It wasn't the first thing he said, and maybe not even the second, but the only thing I remember, and I will never forget it, are these words, "God does not make mistakes."

No Scripture. No deep theological arguments. No dancing around tough issues of God. Just a word from the heart of a man of God racked with grief, "God does not make mistakes." And now I am convinced. My understanding of God was re-written on Tuesday, and now I know for sure that God does not make mistakes. Certainly, he was sorry that Saul was king, sorry that his people couldn't trust him enough to have God alone as king, sorry that Saul let the power and the prestige go to his head, but a mistake? No. Without Saul there is no David and without David there is no Joseph and without Joseph there is no trip to Bethlehem and with no trip to Bethlehem there is no fulfillment of the Scripture and without fulfillment of the scripture Jesus is just another 1st century Jew arguing for the resurrection of the dead. At the time things did not look too rosy, but a mistake? Nope. God does not make mistakes.

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