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1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15)
Mel Brooks made the catch-line famous, in his 1981 film, History of the World, Part I: "It's good to be the king!"
(Get an idea with this 4-minute excerpt from the film, set to Mel's own "hip hop" song lyric.)
For Brooks fans, the line becomes something of a leitmotif in his other films, including Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Spaceballs, and The Producers -- not that that has anything to do with anything -- except that I am reminded of it when God, through Samuel, tries to tell the Israelites that gaining a king to rule over them might not be all they think it is cracked up to be!
"It's going to cost you!" is something of a biblical leitmotif where sin is concerned, yet over and over again, we humans are willing to enter the bargain anyway. The Israelites (who play our part in this drama) use the argument familiar to every teenager who has ever been confronted by a parent over dubious behavioral choices: "Well, everybody's doing it!"
What's a prophet -- or a God -- to say?
This God -- the LORD of Israel -- is greater than all gods; this God is the true King above all kings.
Noticeably, the LORD, as the high King, is very close to those who recognize their own lowliness; but remains "far away" from those whose self-attitude is haughty. Those who seek the help of the LORD when they are in trouble will find it; those who maintain an "I got this" state-of-mind are not so likely to find themselves aided by God's strong "right hand."
Ah, speaking of the "fruit" of our own choices!
I have long been intrigued by the fact that God never said a word to these first humans before they exhibited their first sign of guilt; they "heard" God walking in the garden and they "hid" themselves in the trees.
Apparently, not only does the guilty dog bark first, he/she also tucks tail and hides at the first sound of accountability coming!
Does God keep score?
The psalmist asks a question (v.3) that still resonates. How in the world could I ever answer for every single time I "sinned?" (i.e., broke a rule, crossed a boundary, told a lie, hurt another person, etc.)
There is something powerful to consider here about just how forgiveness works. If I can never even the score of my wrongdoing, then sooner or later I would just give up trying -- and sin would progress to its inevitable conclusion: hurt, destruction, and death.
But, if there is a way to "wipe the slate clean" and get a fresh start -- starting over seems like a genuine option. After a time, I know the deep need of my life for cleansing and renewal; I feel it "in my bones."
Honest confrontation of my shortcomings and confession of my sin are the prerequisites of right living and right relationship -- with God and others. Like waiting through a long, dark night for a glimmer of hope and sunshine, passing through the anguish of repentance brings redemption to my soul.
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
How thankful have I been for grace lately?
V. 15 says that "grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving...." Just makes me wonder how thankful I have been for the incredible grace given to me. Have I stopped the flow of God's grace through my life in any way by ingratitude?
"That boy done lost his mind!"
There was a certain young man in my hometown of whom that statement was made regularly when I was growing up. Theories varied as to exactly why Ray Skinner (not his real name, by the way) was crazy -- or if he even was really mentally unbalanced -- but none of us "kids" were ever brave enough to actually talk to him and find out. He was sort of our local Boo Radley, I suppose.
The setting for today's gospel reading is a very Boo Radley-like experience Jesus has with his own family -- those who should have been best-positioned to know him. Jesus is, of course, talking about his "kingdom," which was his favorite subject. He really believed that God had sent him to establish a kingdom that was sort of, kind of on this earth -- but wasn't really, exactly like the other kingdoms of the earth.
Yeah, that was some crazy-sounding stuff right there! No wonder his momma and them came to try to talk him into coming home with them.
Just how crazy are the demands of the kingdom of God for those who would claim to follow Christ today? Are we "brothers and sisters" of our Lord Jesus?
by the Rev. Dr. Delmer L. Chilton
They were wrong to try to stop him, but they were wrong for the right reason. They loved Jesus as a son and brother and they wanted him to be happy, they wanted him to be successful, they wanted him to fit in, they wanted him to be safe, they wanted him to come home; if not home to Nazareth at least home to traditional values.