unseen and unexpected

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… (Hebrews (11:1ff)

… be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. (Luke 12:32-40)

This is the third day of Operation Healthy Delta; a collaboration of US Armed services, The Delta Regional Commission, local and state governments, and in our area, local churches, and businesses. Medical exams, dental exams, fillings and extractions, eye exams, and some glasses, and wellness/mental health care are provide free of change to any one who walks in the door. It has been and will be an awesome, inspiring experience. The soldiers and volunteers are enthusiastic. The patients are appreciative. And the community at large is generously responsive.

It came to me, most certainly a gift of the divine muse, that this experience is a refection of this week’s appointed scriptures. The first is Paul’s defination of faith as the conviction of things not seen. I know the theological point. But this week I am witnessing a ministry point. 40 soldiers from points beyond arrive and will work 9 straight 10 hour days providing care to people they have never seen before, and will (most likely) never seen again. Many of the services offered include a reference to other health care providers (unknown to the soldiers) at some future time. These medical professionals have no assurance of anything in the future. They have no idea what the future of their hard caring professional labor will yield, and yet they labor on in the conviction that their labors will yield good fruit.  In a world of short term accountability, even in the Church, we can learn.

The Gospel reading concludes with the eschatological line: “… the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”  I have heard it preached, I have preached and taught these words as pointing to the end of time return of Jesus and the restoration of the Kingdom. And yet, there is a right here right now gleaning. No one knows when nor how the messiah will return. We’ve no way of knowing which patient, or volunteer, or soldier is a manifestation of the  returning of our incarnate God. It is my observation that everyone is treating everyone as if they may be unexpected coming of Jesus, if even for just a fleeting moment. In our world of “I anything” we can learn.

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