This week’s texts look a lot at what it means to be faithful. Mark 10:17-31 wrestles with is it enough to follow all of the commandments. The man who questions Jesus seems so confident: “I have done all of these things since I was a boy.” I can picture this person, for whom these choices have come easily. I do not doubt that he is born of some kind of privilege–spoiler alert, he is! It is easier to be nice to people when you have enough to eat. It is not hard to follow the commandments when you have everything you need.
The man says, I can do more, challenge me! So Jesus obliges and says, “Go and sell everything.”
Give up my privilege, the man thinks? Inconvenience myself? Feel less secure?
The man goes away sad, because he is so wealthy, perhaps too wealthy to follow Jesus.
One time I hit a Jaguar, and the owner told me, in pitying tones, “I’m sorry the car is just worth too much not to fix.”
What does it mean to be faithful to God?
Job’s question is different, he is slogging through a long time of distress and disease, Lord we all know how that is. And so he wants to find where God is so that he can complain straight to his face. I love the honesty of this demand. I want to find God so I can tell God straight out what is wrong, the fear of God seems to have disappeared.
I love how one can be faithful to God and still yell and scream and moan to God. I love that God understands that we humans have to verbally process where we are at, I love that God invented confession specifically as a sanctified and holy medium to get that work done.
I also love that God has appointed Godself as our one and only judge, so that we do not have to feel burdened by that work. Something accentuated by this part of Job’s story, I can almost here Job sneering about it here: God wants to be the judge of me, find, give me a full hearing, please God, so I can make a full complaint and argument. Give me a chance to at least state my case God, because I’ve got a lotta woe to lay at your feet God and I can’t wait to get started.
During the course of the pandemic I have been writing a lot of what I like to call “angsty prayers” or when I’m nice I call them “psalm-like prayers” and they are a lot of what Job is talking about–a simple laying out of what is wrong at the feet of God. We do it not because it necessarily fixes everything, but because it’s a way for me to stay faithful–to admit that God is in control, and to lay it somewhere where it won’t hurt anyone. So on most days, I’m with Job, give me my day with Job, I’m happy to lay out a case, so that I can at least kvetch and get it off my chest. Because, it is truly another way to be faithful.
Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny Presbyterian church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY since 2020 and blogs prayers & Narrative Lectionary at http://www.katyandtheword.com She is also the co-founder of the fledgling TrailPraisers inclusive Worship. When she is not dreaming up projects and ideas, some of which creep into the church, she plays with her three boys-boys or goes and visits her husband at the library, while he works, to read.
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