The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Despair to hope

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click for larger versionEeyow! Last Sunday’s lectionary Scriptures, at first glance, looked, uh … impossible comes to mind.

First, there was David’s lament over the tragic deaths of Saul and Jonathan from 2 Samuel 1. Now there’s good news to work with.

Second, there was Psalm 130: From the depths of despair I cry to you . . .

Then things got brighter. The gospel reading was about Jesus healing a woman with a menstrual problem while on the way to heal a bigshot’s daughter (from Mark).

And the epistle reading was Paul’s admonition to the church in Corinth to give generously to support the starving church in Jerusalem.

I’ll confess, a week ago I wondered if there was some mistake here! What could God possibly have to say through such a diverse set of Scriptures?

And yet, before long, it seemed like life itself. Look again, this time at the emotional progression from one to the next:

1. Here’s David, lost in despair. Not a single word of hope.

2. Here’s the Psalmist, praying in despair – but with some hope that God will hear and relieve his condition.

3. Then in the gospels, the pinnacle of the Bible, the Master pours out hope on everyone in sight. And, as my blogging friend Lawrence in Disclosing New Worlds so well points out, he upsets the social order as he goes – stalling a high-prestige synagogue ruler while waiting on a no-prestige (in the culture of the day) woman with a disorder that prohibited human contact. Ah, Jesus – always with hope, and first for the one with the least earthly reason for it. But back to the sequence:

4. On to the church at Corinth, and Paul gives a challenge to become the bearers of the hope around the world – in this case, through the simple means of supplying money to people in desperate need of it.

See the familiar sequence?

How many of us first sought God in despair, gained a bit of hope as we dared to pray, discovered Jesus there waiting to wash away our hopelessness, then found ourselves commissioned to live in hope everywhere we go? Is this not a metaphor of the inrushing presence of the Kingdom of God?

And how often, in a growing relationship with God, does he take us ’round again and again as we slowly spiral upward?

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Written by Monte

July 5, 2006 at 12:22 am

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