Friday, February 22, 2013

Grace in the pebbles

“You have shaken the earth and split it open; repair the cracks in it, for it totters…”Psalm 60:2 
“After this, Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized…” John 3:22

Photo by Lori Korleski Richardson
During Lent, I have taken to reading the psalms in the evening. Psalm 60 came as the lectionary assignment for last night, full of earthquakes, armies, enemies and God’s wrath. Not exactly comforting bedtime reading.

This morning’s reading from John 3:22-36 brings calm. Jesus is in the countryside, teaching his disciples and baptizing. A side discussion ensues about baptism and how it is a gift of the spirit. It is the only suggestion in any of the gospels that Jesus himself might have been baptizing people, though a few lines later the gospel writer says it is the disciples – not Jesus – who are performing the baptisms.

A couple of years ago, Lori and I traveled to the Judean countryside for a few days. In the morning I sat beside the Sea of Galilee and watched the sun rise. The beach was thick with stones and pebbles, the rubble from the earth split open from centuries of earthquakes and floods. I could easily imagine Jesus sitting on this shoreline, praying as the sun came up.

Nearby were olive groves, and it was easy for me to imagine Jesus and his disciples finding shade there at the noonday. No words were necessary for my imaginings.

I brought back a few olive leaves from the groves, and pressed them in my prayer book. I also brought back a pocketful of pebbles from the shore of the Sea of Galilee. I keep them in an olive wood bowl near my favorite chair at home.

Lately I hold one of the pebbles during my morning prayers. A few days ago, as I held the smallest of pebbles, I heard a small still voice telling me to look for the small pebbles of grace in my day.

I leave you with this today: Hold a pebble in your hand. Find the grace that comes your way. It might be very small, and unexpected. It might be a smooth or rough. But that pebble is a blessing that is yours to keep forever.

Also from today's readings. . .
So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. Although heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord your God, the earth with all that is in it, yet the Lord set his heart in love on your ancestors alone and chose you, their descendants after them, out of all the peoples, as it is today.

Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship.

Deuteronomy 10:12-20

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

No comments: