Thursday, June 24, 2010

heroes in a least expected way

I don't follow sports much (as you can tell by the fact that I'm about to talk baseball just as the World Cup draws global attention). Now and then, though, even sports stories move me. Like the story of Armando Galarraga, who pitched a perfect game, except for a bad call by the umpire. My favorite bit is the last paragraph in the story from the NYTimes:

Galarraga told reporters that Joyce apologized to him after the game, adding that he had no instinct to argue the call. “He probably felt more bad than me," Galarraga said. Smiling, he added, “Nobody’s perfect.”

There's something beautifully heroic about a humble player, willing to accept the imperfections that cost him a heroic record. I confess that I much prefer these heroes to the big, powerful, always-winning ones.

Our hero story this week is a story of one who was certainly not the poster child for super-heroes: a (nameless to us) gentile widow from Zarephath. At Elijah's word, she gives up her last bits of food to feed Elijah, and finds that she continues to have enough to save her and her son from starvation through the rest of the drought.

I like heroes like this: not the ones that look like the robust football champion or the perfect captain of the cheerleading squad, but the ones that are human, vulnerable. And, even more beautifully, give what they have.

May it be so.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Gotta Have Faith

On Sunday, we heard the familiar story of David and Goliath, and I have to admit that usually, what I remember about this story is the triumph of the little guy.  Like Rev. Elbert said, we love stories of the underdog.  We root for the Cubbies.  We watch The Karate Kid.  We read Harry Potter.  We love Glee.  We cheer the Jamaican bobsled team.  

But that's not really the point of the story of David.  David didn't overcome a giant because of any special skill, and he didn't get lucky.  David had a great degree of faith that God would provide for the security of God's people.  David said, "battles are not won with spears or swords...  The battle is the Lord's."

David knew that we ourselves don't have the kind of power it takes to defeat the kind of looming obstacle that Goliath represented.  We have to rely on the greater power that God provides--and God is bigger--so, so much bigger--than anything that this world can throw at us.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A Promise to Noah

This summer, we're focusing on some of the heroes of our scriptural tradition. First up: Noah.

I have to admit, though, that I don't totally love his story (especially the whole "God destroys everything" aspect of it)--and I have a few issues with his "heroism" (since we don't get any signs that he protested against the destruction of everyone else).

What's it all about, then?

Here, in the first book of our Bible, we get a story in which God changes. In a move that is startlingly human, God wishes to start over--to wipe the slate clean and be rid of all the mess. Noah, who we're told was the lone righteous person, gets to be saved, but also has to take up responsibility for saving all the other creatures. After a year and ten days aboard what must have been a noisy, smelly ark, Noah and his family get to set foot on dry ground. And God makes a promise: this will never happen again. Noah may be a hero, but God is the one we're to believe is most changed by the flood.

As God tells Noah that all creation will live in a new covenant relationship with God, a rainbow appears in the clouds as a sign of that promise. Whenever it appears, it will be a reminder of the everlasting covenant between God and all creations: a promise that God will not destroy everything again.

This is a good reminder for me, this week. It feels like so much is precarious and falling apart. Photos of the continuous fountain of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, stories and allegations of deep wrongs committed between Israel and Palestinians (and Turks), posturing and fear of violence between North and South Korea--it all feels like we're barely hanging on. It'd be nice to have a few more rainbow-like signs of promise.

strange beauty 2
Originally uploaded by dmixo6

Rev. Elbert reminds me that rainbows are not material realities, but simple refractions of light on water--the very same water, perhaps, that caused the flood of destruction. Which makes me hold on to the hope that somewhere, amid the very present struggles of our time, possibilities for hope are tucked inside.

I pray that we'll be ready to undertake the hard work it may take to live out those hopes, making them real in our work for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.