The Best For Last: a Reflection on Psalm 89:1-18, Deuteronomy 8:1-20, Hebrews 2:11-18, and John 2:1-
Human nature is truly mystery, yet often definitive. We are prone to do good things and more often than not to “do unto others, as we desire done unto us.” Yet, the human spirit can behave darkly. Alexander Hamilton was keenly aware of the dark side, if you will, of humanity when he notes in The Federalist (No. 6), that “men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious.” Although Hamilton framed his comment in the notion that humans will design markets or construct government frameworks so that they would recognize their flawed nature, thus building systems and institutions that would curb sin and foster virtue.
Jesus shocked the crowd at the wedding in Cana when he turned water into wine. The party host had run out of wine. And the wine Jesus made was surely the best. The comment was made that most hosts use the lesser wine in the beginning and only bring out the best at the last. Jesus’s first miracle was virtuous. His miracle demonstrated what the best of human nature is to be; always altruistic and self-giving.
Marcus Borg, a leading progressive theologian and scholar, died January 21. He loved God. Professor Borg did not love the Bible. I think that Marcus Borg saved his best work for the end of his life. Christians are not to worship the Bible, but the One who is the subject of it.
God’s last and best act of creation was “human.” We are chosen and God made a Covenant with us. Some have received that. Others are still searching. We are to engage the hearts and minds of the seekers at whatever cost. As we speak and do God’s work of serving the least, we need not fear. God is our protector.
We are to observe, with diligence, God’s commandments. There were ten in the beginning, but Jesus summed them up as one…”Love God and others.” God leads us stubborn Christ followers the long way home in order to test us and humble us. Perhaps people’s resistance to the Good News is the fact that testing and endurance are fundamental to a relationship with the Divine. Yet, Jesus was tested in order to show human that because of his testing, he can assist us…help us….encourage us….in ours.
Conventional Religion is so not helpful. The boxes it stuffs religious behavior and experience in are liberating, but imprisoning. The rules of righteousness and judgmental expressions surely work contrary to the abundant life Jesus promises.
Unconventional religion always saves the best for last. Speaking out for justice hurts, but the best will always emerge in the end. The hungry are fed….the homeless sheltered…the sick healed…and the mourning comforted.
Oh it hurts to endure to the end. Jesus did. And so can we.
Scripture Readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.