Saturday, July 9, 2011

Handsome... And Flawed

This week's Morning Prayer readings has included the unhappy transition of power from Saul, who balked at the command to do a mass slaying of Amalek and all in Agag, to the ruddy handsome youngster David, who was tending his father's sheep when Samuel came 'round to Jesse's door in search of "the one" to lead Israel.  When I studied these chapters in my Education for Ministry seminar, I was instantly struck by the jealousy and resentment building in Saul and the damn near Warner Brothers-like scenarios of Saul trying to off David.  It was like the Biblical version of Wile E. Coyote vs. the Road Runner.

David slays Goliath, Peter Paul Rubens 1630

Saul, once out of favor with God, seems not to be able to do anything right and the beautiful David can appear to do no wrong.

And we know from the Christmas hymn, it is from the root of Jesse through David that we have the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

David in the outset appeared to be perfection.  But as with all human characters in the Bible, stick around the story long enough and our human hero is going to do something that tarnishes him and reveals his flaws.   David  kills the Philistine Goliath, gains a reputation as a warrior, and enters into the covenant with God promising that his House of David would rule for eternity.  All is good and then he stumbles.  According to the story, he was walking around on the roof of his house when he saw a hot babe named Bathsheba.  Overcome with a need to have her, he sent her husband off into a battle in which he was set up to die.  How convenient for King David!  And the perfect man turns out to have a streak of scumbucket in him.  Nathan, the prophet, has the unpleasant task of calling David out.  Lucky for Nathan, David didn't do to him what a later King Herod would do to John the Baptist!

These handsome, important, and very flawed individuals in our ancestry as humans seeking after God are keys to the larger revelation of where we've been, where we are, and where we are going.  In the United States, we invest so much in our political leaders, especially if they have a dashing smile, a comforting speaking voice, and the classic "good looks."   If they have intelligence and ideas--hey, bonus!  But what we really want to know is, "Do you look good? And do I think you're the kind of person I could kick back and have a beer with ya?"  It's only after they've been in office that the veneer wears off and we realize they're not perfect.

And then we are disappointed.  Disillusioned.  And some of us just drop out at that point.

This is the error of mistaking the human for the deity. 

I met a friend for coffee as is my wont and we chit-chatted about a variety of things.  He and his wife were going to see a movie and invited me along.  I declined in favor of taking myself on a much needed walk around the lake.  I needed some physical movement as means of exercise and doing some mental clearing after a week that had felt like a year.   At some point along the way of my walk, the word "relationship" cropped up in my consciousness.  A few more strides along the path and looking out over the water, I realized the relationship that was foremost on my mind was my relationship with God.  

I'm not talking about something personal and exclusionary, because that is not how I believe God loves and operates... especially when God is operating in the person of Jesus Christ.  I'm talking about how God is always seeking relationship with each of us, and it's not more for one and less for another.   It's always an invitation to just open the eyes of your heart and know that there is a force of enormous love that you can be part of and remain with if you allow yourself the luxury of saying, "Yeah, I'm for that!"   Even when you are a handsome and flawed individual.  Even when you fail at something or succeed at something... that force is always there to give the Love you need.   It is endless and abundant.  It is free... and it is freeing.

That freedom, and that relationship, makes other things more manageable.  It helps to keep me sane in a sometimes crazy world. 

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