Narrative Lectionary, Narrowly Escaped

last preloaded NaBloPoMo for when I’m off the grid…

This morning (which is technically last Tuesday), I was listening to the Working Preacher podcast for the Narrative Lectionary passage assigned for November 15.  I didn’t pay too close attention to the passage as I was planning this fall’s worship, because I knew I was going to be away in Cuba. I think it may be just as well.

As I listened to the hosts of the podcasts talking through the themes of the passage (well, a big chunk of the book of Hosea), I realized that this was one of those “too close to home” passages.  The relational nature of God as parent, God as marriage partner is beautiful.  There is great pathos and warmth in the imagery of God caring for Israel as a child. And there is such deep sorrow and pain in Israel’s rebellion and turning away.

Loving is hard.  Opening our hearts to another’s embrace. Opening our selves to inspection and acceptance… or rejection. Taking turns placing the other’s needs before our own. Getting to know those needs so that we can meet them before they are spoken.

Parenting is hard.  Not really knowing how to help another human move from one stage to the next, but trying  to prepare them for the next challenges. Watching as they sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. Hoping only the best, only good things for them, but knowing the world can be harsh and cold.

Being a loving parent is doubly hard as children grow and understand they have agency. When they learn they can give or withhold love.  When they exercise their independence in ways that feel like rejection. When you know you’ve blown it in big or small ways and just can’t find your way past the hurt and back toward one another.

I wonder if it’s even harder for the God who loves perfectly to receive our imperfect, halting human love in return. How much more must it grieve God to watch us stumble over what should be the easiest part of life- taking care of one another, holding tight to one another, and holding tight to the one who brings us to life? How hot are the tears on God’s cheeks as love and anger and sorrow mingle?

One day, I will do some deep exegesis and preach this passage. This year, life is exegesis, and I pray that my love- halting and human though it is – can preach.

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