Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer thoughts: Oblation, Camping, Disciple/Apostle?

Illustration #1

The Prayer of Oblation
A consumer society tends to pray for its needs, and the needs of others. It will be grateful for all the blessings that have been bestowed. It will ask for forgiveness and praise God for the wonders of God's doings. In prayerful silence this society is even capable of adoration and asking nothing of God other than to be there in the presence of the holy. These are typical of the kinds of prayer we know of in classical Christian thinking. The one kind of prayer we tend to forget though is the prayer Amos also resisted. It is the prayer God requires of us when it is time to do the very thing we're most justifiably afraid of doing. God needed Amos to tell Israel some very sobering truths. But it had to be done. And so finally Amos offered himself as an oblation to God for God's a word that prayer is; "God you can count of me to do whatever you need to have done!". Now that is a rare prayer indeed!

Illustriation #2

Camping season
It is the season of camping. After a long day of swimming and hiking and perhaps some crafts done with the other young people, the children gather around the campfire. There they sing songs, and tell stories, and then it is not unusual for instructions to be given as to the tasks that lie ahead in the day that is to come. Thus the next day, there are more adventures, knees are scraped, more fun and games, more swimming, hiking and crafts and then back to the campfire to charge up and restore the weary campers' spirits. It is a little like the rhythm of our spirituality. Our life gives us an ample number of scrapes, and vigorous adventures and challenges that we live into day in and day out; week in and week out. Then comes the moment when we recognize Christ in our midst. Sunday! We gather at the fireside of God's Holy Spirit with God's holy people. We sing our songs, we listen to God's stories; we'll hear instructions for what is expected of us and thus we're off again to do the work God has given us to do. It is in this cycle of life that the ancient pattern repeats itself from apostolic times until now.

Illustration #3

Disciple to Apostle
I suspect that the lawyer followed Jesus a good long time. In fact following Jesus wasn't all that hard to do. Anyone can follow a great man and watch the signs and wonders that he does. But then when it comes time to put the Man to the test, the tables are turned. Here is where the Great Man tells the lawyer about a Samaritan of all things. A Samaritan! A despised and rejected Samaritan; one well outside the salvation circle of the "chosen ones". But it is this one who becomes a neighbor to the unfortunate victim of a senseless crime. Thus a follower is challenged to be an apostle..."Go and do likewise"! Who do you think won that test?
We too can follow Jesus only so long. Eventually he looks at us as much as to say, you've followed me long enough as my disciple. It is time now for you to be my apostle. Thus Jesus tells each of us as well; "Go and do likewise"!

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