Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Cinderella stories
I've been asked to guide the prayer time at The Roca tomorrow evening. This basically means getting things started, wrapping things up and sharing a very brief homily. The theme lately has been 'Prayers from the Bible.' Hannah's prayer from 1 Samuel 2 has been on my mind for the last month or so. Here's what's been percolating in my brain.

Everyone loves a Cinderella story. Few can resist the universal story of the scrappy underdog who rises from obscurity to rise above the seemingly invincible foe. The story of David and Goliath has become the archetype for this story in contemporary culture. However, the story of David and Goliath is not an isolated event in either 1–2 Samuel or the Scriptures as a whole. It is but one example of the great reversal of fortune that lies at the center of the books of Samuel.

The seeds of this story are planted in the song of Hannah. Yahweh celebrates the underdog. A barren womb gives birth to a priest and prophet. A common man searching for his lost donkeys finds himself a king. A baby-of-the-family shepherd is likewise made a king. Yahweh makes the ordinary extraordinary.

Not only this, but Yahweh also humbles the proud and mighty. The family of the priest Eli is brought to a disgraceful end. The mighty king Saul loses his life in battle, as well as his dynasty. One by one, the princes of David—first Amnon, then Absalom—meet untimely demises for their wickedness. Even the great king David, at the apex of his political success, is humbled for a time because of his moral failure.

Yahweh exalts the needy and humbles the proud. In a similar fashion, the author of Luke-Acts begins his narrative with a miraculous birth and song about the Great Reversal. Throughout Luke, the gospel writer displays Jesus as the “Anointed One” who heals lepers, touches outcasts and makes disciples from common fishermen and hated tax collectors. “Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last,” proclaims the Anointed One.

Yahweh invented the underdog story. It is the story he calls us all into. Though we are broken, insufficient and inadequate in every way, it is Yahweh who makes us more than sufficient and more than adequate. In the midst of all the rollercoaster stories of 1–2 Samuel--all those characters who are down and coming up, and those up coming down--the author gives us the secret for understanding it all: “Yahweh does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks on the heart.”

What do you see? Do you see garbage? Yahweh sees royalty. Do you look in the mirror and see something common, ordinary, lowly and needy? If so, then, good. Because this is the stuff from which Yahweh makes heroes.

posted by Peter at 12:19 AM
| | permalink |