September 6, 2020 (Rev. Dr. Dru Johnson)
The reason I regularly sat in handcuffs in the backseat of a police car was simple: I didn’t listen to others.
This Week’s Lectionary Readings
This Week’s Lectionary Message
The reason I regularly sat in handcuffs in the backseat of a police car was simple: I didn’t listen to others. I wanted to do things my way, learn the hard lessons myself, and have absolute control of the train wreck that was my high school years. Even though my life was demonstrably unpleasant on the whole, I naively thought that everything would work out. If handcuffs weren’t a good enough signal, thank God that failing out of high school at 16 was a wake-up call for me.
Psalm 1 is wisdom literature, not really like the other Psalms. It describes a flourishing fellow who avoids the gossip and folks who think they’ve got this all figured out and under control. Instead, the one doing well is the one who reflects on the Torah day and night. That’s right, the creation accounts, the laws about body fluids and sex, and instruction on how to treat people we might be tempted to exploit. Jesus shows up in Mark 4 as the Torah in human flesh. He teaches from the Torah and through it. In this passage, he uses the phrase “listen up” (or a version of it) eight times.
Buddha is the one-in-a-billion guy who supposedly “woke up” and discovered that nothing is what it seems. But Scripture teaches the opposite: that the average dude (or dudette) is super-woke when she trusts that reality is messed up, but not a lie. She listens to God’s guidance and sees how her world is fractured and being rescued by God. She even delights to be guided!
Again, it’s not rocket science. But many of us don’t even know what God’s instructions actually say. We’ve heard it preached but never reflected on it day and night ourselves. Worse, we might know some of what God has said, but we don’t even do it. Or, we think Scripture is just a book of rules for our personal lives. We can’t be the happy woman or man described in Psalm 1 if we don’t listen up!
Mark 4 closes with a rhetorical question asked by a few freaked out disciples who just witnessed Jesus command the sky and sea: Who is this that even the winds and the sea listen to him? The question almost seems to redirect itself: If the winds and the seas listen to him, will you?