Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Servant and the Sinner

It is uncommon to find ourselves kneeling.  O, perhaps we will do it in church where the tradition of humble appearance is eulogized.  But it is uncommon to find our self kneeling.  Stepping lower, it is all the more uncommon to find our self kneeling as a humble response to recognition of a companion’s.. .or an enemy’s… .intrinsic value and exaltation.  Traditionally, the act of lowering can be passed off as an act of doing what Jesus would do.  It is acted out of imitation and sometimes devoid of thoughtfulness or recognition.  With Hosea as our broken example and with Christ as our perfect Teacher, the act of lowering self is not revealed as an act of imitation or piety… .it is an act of berakah
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all,” Mark 10:43-44.  
Matthew 20:20-28.  A protective mother is worried about this son and that son’s position in the Davidic kingdom that will come with Yahweh’s power and overthrow the arm of Rome.  May they sit on your right and your left?  These two are good sons and faithful followers.  Zealous for righteousness and kneeling at every appointed time of prayer.  It is not for me to say, says He, those places go to whomever my Father chooses.  Pause.  Do you want to be great in the coming kingdom? He asks, certainly you may!  Become a slave to the welfare of everyone else.  Exalt all others above your self.  Irony floats about the room.  If any of these followers want to be great, they have already forfeit the heart of a servant.  If they want to be great, they cannot serve.  They must forget greatness….
…And remember the eyes that they look up and into.  Someone else got their feet dirty today.  Someone else, walking through the lively streets of humanity, needs all signs of animosity removed.  The servant listens to the aches and pains of swollen feet and bruised emotions.  He settles Himself in for a long evening of lament.  He talks a little.  Every word and act is intentionally restorative.  “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain,” Isaiah 40:4.  He is washing… .hearts.  
The young woman tells Him of her mother and father… .her abandonment… .her hatred of Yahweh… .her choice to sin… .her enslaving prostitution.   Now she feels sickly and unsightly.  The servant, her spouse, swirls the filthy bowl of salt water with the towel.  He lifts and wrings and releases a torrent of blackened ocean.  There is a tempest of jealousy brewing within.  Woo, says wisdom, woo…  The servant applies the clothe and listens until she finishes the battle cry of her anger and grief.
The servant whispers his wooing in tones and melody.  With variations of agony, soft jealousy and desire.  The heart of the woman blushes, the valley is elated by an inclination that this hard soul is still loved… .by a spouse.  The servant implores, Here am I, have me.  Berakah.  I am your gift.  I am your faithful servant.  The mountains become uncomfortable.  Who could insist on exaltation, on greed or vengeance in the midst of this?  She breaths.  Choices…. .Gomer has choices.
It is the story of the servant and the sinner.  One and the same, I suppose.  Servants were once sinners who became servants to seek and serve sinners.  Hmmm…  Berakah.  The very essence of blessing is to offer oneself as a gift in recognition of the intrinsic value and worth of the one you kneel before.  No false piety here.  It is to listen and speak like a spouse seeking relational salvation.  Sinners turning their hearts around to implore on bended knee like faithful spouses, serving the welfare of all who recline at the table… .even those who would betray us…
It is the story of the servant and the sinner.

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