AFMT and I watch a number of movies and TV series multiple times: sometimes to fill the quiet, sometimes for distracted entertainment. And sometimes we notice something we’ve never seen or heard before. It has never changed the outcome, it is generally a point of interest, and occasionally a good discussion starter. I’ve had the same experience in reading scripture.
You’d think after decades of reading scripture again and again, especially the lectionary readings for Sundays; I would have caught every nuance of every line. Apparently not so.
David Lose points to Jesus commanding the crowd to unbind him and let him go. in the story of Jesus calling Lazarus from the dead. [i] He notes that Jesus commands the people to participate in God’s work. Lose does this as he ponder if we ask too little of our congregations, and of our selves. It’s a line I don’t recall. It sent me back to Ezekiel’s experience in the valley full of dry bones. I can recall lots of insights about the bones, the valley, ruach, and the restoring life to desiccated scattered bones. I can’t recall any reflection of God commanding Ezekiel to participate in God’s work, perhaps because that is part and parcel of being a prophet. However, in light of Lose’s observation I think there is more to it.
Lose’s use of the word ‘command’ is part of my learning. I’ll admit to being far more comfortable with words like ‘says to’ or ‘invites’ however, they do not carry the imperative of ‘command’ which is Lose’s point. Participating in God’s work is not a take it or leave it invitation, an additional nicety to Christian discipleship, it is an imperative. Participating in God’s works does not earn us any kind of credits. It is a mark of how belief in God, Jesus, the Spirit, defines our lives. It is an answer to a question I heard the other day: You believe in God; so what?
Lose also writes that our participating in God’s work is often not big things, as in losing a not so long ago dead man, but in many small ways, that lose folks from the darkness that binds them to life less than God’s desires for all people. As Christ’s disciples it is our obligation to participate in the divine work of setting them free.
[i] | David Lose, Craft of Preaching, Dear Working Preacher, Present-tense Salvation, Wednesday, April 02, 2014 10:56 AM, http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=3135