Amos 524

#$.35 is the reflection for December 6, 2015.  With only $.35 Mark Kurowski shows that God is faithful. How do $.35, an old couple, a crazy man, stars, and sand tell us that God will break into our own personal history? Listen here in this reflection:  Download it into your phone.   #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Prophet #JohntheBaptist #Tiberias #JobSearch #RosaParks #MLK #AngryGod #MercifulGod #Luke3

For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   12/6/2015 The 2nd   Sunday of Advent.

Please pause this audio and read Luke 3:1-6.

         “Bo-ah-own”; Bo-ah-own is how the word sounds in Greek that means “one who cries out.” In the Bible, it is a technical term. It is the term that is used when Abel is being killed by his brother Cain. It is the word that is used in Deuteronomy 24:15 as a title for the poor laborers who cry out to God because their wages are not being paid. The “one who cries out” finds its deepest meaning in desperate prayers to God. In the Gospel of Luke today, on the lips of John the Baptist, the words that are said simply mean this: “God hears you cry out. God is on the way.”

         I often tell my spiritual direction clients that I know that God is ready to do something when I feel most ready to give up. I don’t mean just reassurance either.

When I was a young man, I lived in an apartment near downtown South Bend, IN, my home town. It was a house that had been separated into two rather drab apartments. My first two rent payments were in-kind services to repair the place and make it livable. I laugh now, but I put up paneling, repaired plaster walls above the back door, painted, installed faucets, etc.. All the knowledge I had was in the form of confidence that I could figure it out and ask a lot of questions at the hardware store.

         In front of my apartment on the first floor was a porch on which I stood one day drinking my last cup of coffee. Seriously, I had literally $.35 to my name and I was wondering where I would get the money to pay the rent that was going to come due. I remember reading my Bible that morning, walking out on my porch, and opening the newspaper which I had purchased with my final $.35. There was no internet back then, so searching for a job meant you bought a newspaper and looked in the “want ads”. To say I was in need is an understatement.

         As I was looking at the want ads, wondering who would hire a guy who dropped out of college, I saw an ad for an island jockey at a gas station. As it turns out, it was the last gas station in town that had someone come out and pump your gas for you. For those who are young, that must seem crazy that people used to come out and pump your gas for you, but that was the job. I knew that I could get the job if I could only get to that gas station before someone else got the job. So, I looked at the address in the job listing and looked up. It was when I looked up that I realized that the gas station was the very gas station that I could see from my porch. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Blessed be the Lord.

         When I think back on that time in my life, I can recall that my frame of mind was such that I believed that the Lord would give me what I needed. I trusted that where I was and what I was doing was on a pathway that God had set for me to preach the Gospel. When I was down to my last $.35, I just said a prayer and knew that God would come to my aid. I got that job, even though I never thought I would settle for pumping gas for others. I got another job because I pumped gas for a leader in the community. I made the rent. Since that time, I have had to be reminded of the fact that God hears the one who cries out. God hears and God acts.

         How did I know that God would work out something in my life? I knew because we have a long history of God working in our lives. Our fathers and mothers, the Jews, Israelites, Hebrews, Abrahamites, they heard God and believed. It became so. You and I are the stars in Abraham’s sky. You and I are the sands on the Abraham’s seashore. You and I are Abraham’s multitude of nations. Every new person who believes is another star, another grain of sand, and another nation.

         At just the right time, at just the right place, in just the right way, God comes and delivers. We may have to go through the darkest valley along the way, but ought to fear no evil. Look at John the Baptizer. He was in the arid wilderness where no one went. It was a place of wild beasts, unstable people, demons who possessed folk, and a place with no food or water to speak of. Out in this place, God was easy to see. In fact, to those who are crying out, God is easy to see.

         The question I have is, when we cry out, do we cry out to God and are we ready for him to answer? Do we know that the picture of God as the unforgiving, stern taskmaster who demands obedience with no mercy is someone we just do not know? I do not know that person. That is not God, that is the Devil. The scriptures are full of how God wants us to live: the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy from Matthew 25. But more than that, the Scriptures are full of instances where there is a God who is “slow to anger, rich in mercy.” This is the God we serve.

         There are Elizabeth and Zechariah; two old pious Jews who were too old to have children. Yet, in their old age, they were blessed with a child, albeit a wild child, a prophetic voiced child. Imagine what the teen age years were like with him! “Repent! Make your parenting straight! Prepare a highway for your teenager!” Sure, I am joking, but what a blessing it must have been to Elizabeth and Zechariah to have a child who is as pious as you. We do not know, but probably, John was a prayer answered, but not in Elizabeth and Zechariah’s time, but in God’s time.

         Here comes the Baptizer, telling people that God is ready to do something great. The blessing child came from God, for God, when God’s plan needed him. He came, not in some fairy tale, but in A.D. 29, when Tiberias was Emperor, Pontius Pilate was governor, and Annas and Caiaphas were high priests. God broke into history to have the child deliver his message. This isn’t a make believe thing. It is history. It is fact. It is God breaking into human history, announced by John the Baptizer that we need to be ready for God to come in full human nature.

         God breaks into human history all the time. He puts Rosa Parks on a bus when she had been trained, knew what she needed to do, and had just had enough. He put a young preacher in that town where Rosa Parks was going to refuse to move to the back of the bus. That preacher had all the charisma and prophetic voice that was needed to deliver a message that said, “Let my people go.” It is a message that we hear over and over again in our culture, even though it comes in different ways, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” For God hears the cry of the poor. Blessed be the Lord.

Yet, here is the key. God works his will so that his plan of redemption for the world can be done. From $.35 newspapers with a job for a young man called to preach the Gospel to national movements that needed a spokesman in the form of a young preacher who took up the cause of a woman on a bus, God is active in our lives. I was prepared because I just knew that when the money was running out, the Lord would come through. Rosa Parks was prepared because she knew that when she was put in jail, someone would come to defend her cause. We were ready.

We were ready because we are in a long line of history where God breaks in, moves a heart and motivates a soul so that action is taken to relieve the cry of the poor. We simply need to remember who we are. We are not some commodity in a consumer driven market place. We are children of the living God! We are the ones who have been given the task of announcing that from small ways to big ways, God breaks into lives and makes a difference. God cares. God values us. God loves us. God trusts us with his mission. Jesus wants us. Jesus desires us. Jesus comes to us.

That is the message of the Baptizer. Are you ready to be forgiven? Are you ready to have mercy given to you instead of harsh judgment? Are you ready for an advocate who will break into your life to love you, care for you, and have a relationship with you? If so, then John is singing your tune and Jesus is your man. Get ready. Amen.


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