Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 6 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

Today’s Scriptures: From the Book of Common Prayer

Psalm 24, 29, 8, 84

Leviticus 8:1-13, 30-36

Hebrews 12:1-14

Luke 4:16-30

Today’s Question:

Who do others see when they see you?

Today’s Reflection:

As a person who works with teenagers, I have the opportunity to observe the development of persons. During these formative years, they try various identities and peer groups in the process of becoming the person and personality that fits them. The passages today contemplate the identity – and identity crisis - of God’s followers. The passages help us consider who we are and how we become the person we are in relationship to God.

In the Psalms, the author(s) relate to the status in rank of humanity.  The Psalms 24 and 29 establish God as the highest power and authority over all creation with the ability to make all do his will despite otherwise seeming to be inanimate creation. Psalms 8 and 84 describe humankind’s position in creation using some of the verses I find most comforting in the Bible. Psalm 8:4 asks in wonder, “who are we that you even acknowledge us?” You, God, are so great and we are so minute. Nevertheless, you have allowed us a position of rank over the rest of your creation.

The Leviticus passage describes the ordination of the priestly order in Hebrew history.  The elaborate process with specific steps demonstrated the dedication of the priests to the lifestyle demanded of the religious leaders of God’s people. Following the process showed that they could keep up with the law and be faithful leaders for the people. In the time of the law, fidelity to the law provided stability and order in the society and a faithful connection to God.

The Hebrew’s passage reminds us of the change from the law to the New Covenant through Christ as it refers to him as the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith,” indicating a change in the way we come in relationship with God. The passage continues with a description of discipline and the purpose behind it. Discipline on the people individually is a part of that new relationship and new identity. God deals with us individually as his children rather than through a priest, for God’s love falls directly on each of us. Being called a child of God gives us a particular identity that matters in the world with a set of expectations motivating our behavior.

In Luke, Jesus’s own identity gets questioned by the residents of his home town. The people of Nazareth cannot see beyond the familiar. They have known this man from childhood and have watched him grow up in his father’s carpentry shop. Despite the wise teaching and the news of his remarkable actions, the local people cannot how this humble man could be anything but a carpenter.

If even Jesus could have such an identity crisis, what kind of identity do we have? When people see me, do they see a person who embodies the love of Christ and lives a life that models his teachings? Our witness to the people we see on a regular basis requires us to be a prophet in our home. Being identified as a child of God demands that we follow the Father’s rules and become the people he calls us to be.

Today’s Prayer:

Let us find the identity as children of God and give us the strength to live up to those expectations.