February 15, 2017
By Timothy Haut.
Scripture: Psalm 119:37 (NRSV)
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
give me life in your ways.
1 Corinthians 3:19-23 (NRSV)
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,
‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’,
‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are futile.’
So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours,whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
Leighton Ford once recalled seeing a man on a busy sidewalk pacing back and forth with one of those sandwich-board placards. It said on the front, "I am a fool for Christ's sake." As he turned to walk the other way, the sign read, "Whose fool are you?" This week's Epistle from 1 Corinthians repeats Paul's vision of the contrast between the wisdom of the world and the foolishness of God. "Foolishness" comes from the Greek word "moros," from which our English word "moron" comes. In the opening chapters of 1 Corinthians, this word appears over and over again. The question is posed to us, too. What sort of truth will we seek? Whose fool will we be?
Recently someone on the UCC Confessing Christ discussion page remarked about their despair in the state of the world, especially after a very strange and, to many, ominous election. "What is there to do?" he lamented. His answer: "As soon as there is some light on the sky, I'm going to walk the shore and look for shells." Our Christian witness seems so powerless, so ineffective in this world where wisdom is defined in terms of material success, self-importance, dominion over others. Indeed, Jesus' command to take up a cross and follow him isn't a very attractive selling point in a post-modern world. It seems foolishly inadequate, self-defeating. But here's the thing. Jesus came to remind us that our citizenship is not primarily in this realm of power and bluster, wealth, and glamor.
"You belong to Christ," Paul says, "and Christ belongs to God." So we follow the path of innocents, artists, mystics, saints, fools —those who have glimpsed through once blind eyes that there is One whose brightness shines most truly in our hearts. He whispers rather than roars. He walks softly through overgrown paths as if there were something more important there than in the palaces of power. He gives us joy even in troubled times —fools that we are. He invites us to go to the sea and gather shells, to listen to the ebb and flow of the tide to remind us that we are part of something older and deeper than the foolish world understands. He asks us, sometimes, to be still. To breathe. To let some distant music lift us up. To love, to love, to love.
God, let the light shine on the sky so that we may leave our foolishness behind and follow the path that Jesus has shown us, seeking shells along the way.
This week's author is the Rev. Timothy Haut, who is the Pastor of the First Congregational Church (UCC) in Deep River. He has been a pastor in the Connecticut Conference for 45 years, tends a garden, and has a one-eyed dog named Bug.
February 15, 2017