by Jess Nelson
December 15: AM Psalm 41, 52; PM Psalm 44; Isaiah 8:16-9:1; 2 Peter 1:1-11; Luke 22:39-53
In psalm 44 the psalmist cries for God to awake and save them from their suffering. He reminds his reader that God has been so very faithful in the past, and he seems confused by this season of suffering. In light of everything I see in the news right now, I identify with his cries for God to come. Lord when will you come? When will you take away our pain, our sins, our suffering?
As he always does, Jesus tries to teach us how to live in the waiting of this world. In the Luke reading he calls his disciples to pray. Jesus models this behavior by crying out to the Lord to remove his cup of suffering. I am reminded, as the story continues, that God does not always answer our prayers the way we intend him to. Instead of removing the cup and the cross, God the father sends an angel to strengthen Jesus in his suffering—in his waiting.
After praying, Jesus returns to his disciples and finds them sleeping. In an echo of the psalmist crying out for God to awake, Jesus calls his disciples to awake. Do not ignore the suffering. Act. And so the disciples respond—but with violence. Now awake and called to action, one of them cuts off the ear of a servant; the rest ask Jesus if he’s ready for them to attack. I imagine Jesus shaking his head, realizing they’ve missed his point altogether. He called them to prayer not violence. In his grace, Jesus responds by restoring what their sin destroyed—healing the servant’s ear and forgiving his disciples’ sin.
We often encounter suffering in this world of waiting for Christ’s return; our scriptures today remind us to stay awake: To Act. But like the disciples in the garden, we are not left without instruction. The writer of 2 Peter describes this holy action. He reminds us that we are called to partake in “the divine nature” (vs4) by being virtuous, knowledgeable, self controlled, steadfast, godly, filled with brotherly affection, and filled with love (vs 5-7). Psalm 41 describes righteous action as “considering the poor” (vs 1) and maintaining integrity (vs 12). My prayer for our community is that, unlike the disciples in the garden who awoke and chose violence, we will awake to a world in waiting with holy action, reminded that God will strengthen us in our wait.
Image by Cliff (used by permission via Creative Commons).