Who are you?


This was to be my “blog” for August 28th; it is based on the common lectionary for that Sunday, the 15th Sunday after Pentecost.

If you like what I write or would like to use what I write in some of your writings, please contact me. I use other sources that are not always marked in my writing. My e-mail address is TonyMitchellPhD@optimum.net

Have a good week!
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I am not a fan of the television show “CSI” or any of the other new crime genre shows.I think that they tend to oversimplify the analytical procedures used in forensic science and they glorify the process beyond what it is.This is not to say that the methods used in the shows are incorrect or not accurately portrayed; it is just that most of the analytical methods take longer than one hour.But, on television, the crime must generally be solved within sixty minutes for the show to stay on the air.

So I don’t watch “CSI” or any of its spin-offs.But, if the television is on, I know when the show is starting because of its theme music.The theme for the show is The Who’s “Who Are You?”Though I know the words and why the song was picked, I am not so sure that many of the people in the younger generation, for whom the show focuses, do.But my discussion today is more on the question the song asks rather than any crime that might need solving.

I was reminded of the song because of the Old Testament passage for this particular Sunday.Moses, tending the flocks of his father-in-law, encounters God via the burning bush.Moses’ reaction, as ours would be is, “Who are you?”God responses with the cryptic “I am who I am.”This phrase, in Hebrew, is the basis for Yahweh, the term often used to mean God.

As I said, Moses’ response is probably what we would expect and what I think we might say if we were in a similar situation.I also think that we would respond in much the same manner that Moses did when God asked him, Moses, to do something in His name.

Instead of “Who are you?” the query becomes “What gives you the authority to ask this of me?”And Moses also starts, as we would, to find reasons why he is not the person to whom God should entrust this task.

Nothing Moses does in this scene from the middle of an Arabian desert should seem strange or unusual.Granted, standing there watching a bush burn but not being consumed is rather strange and unusual but Moses’ responses are what we would expect because they are the responses we would give.When we encounter someone new, we are apt to ask who they are.And if this friend of ours should ask us to do something we often ask “by what right they have to ask or tell us to do that.”

When Hurricane Katrina first approached the Gulf Coast and authorities were telling people to leave, the response, for some, was this later response.Many choose to stay, feeling that they could ride out the storm as they had done many times before.Many also stayed because they had no other option.

But those, who had been given the opportunity to leave, found themselves faced with a storm stronger than anything they had ever imagined.Those who so quickly refused to head the warnings of authority quickly found out that there was no possible rescue because such an attempt would endanger too many lives.

What we have, with these two different groups (those that had the ability and opportunity to leave when they had the chance and those who had no ability to take advantage of the opportunity before them) is a clear reflection of the Gospel.Those without the ability to take advantage are those whom we need to be with, helping and assisting.Those who have the opportunity but refused on their own free will are like Peter in that moment following His declaration that Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus had asked His disciples “Who do the people say that I am?”He followed this up with a direct question to the disciples, “Who do you say I am?”Peter was very emphatic in his declaration that Jesus was the Messiah, the fulfillment of God’s promise to His promise.But in the very next paragraph, the Gospel reading for today, Peter tries to stop Jesus from moving onwards to Jerusalem and the completion of the mission.Jesus asks Peter “by what authority he (Peter) has to stop the mission?”

This is the dilemma we are faced with when we are face to face with Christ.We know that without Christ in our lives, we are condemned to death.We know that with Christ, we are promised an everlasting life.But we must give up everything that we own and are in order to follow Christ; it is something that not many of us are willing to do.Every time Christ made this type of announcement, the number of those following Him grew smaller.People were not willing to follow in His footsteps if it meant giving up what they had on earth.

But, if we are to follow Christ, we must live a new life.No longer can we live in a world where violence is met with more violence.No longer can we live in a world where people take advantage of human misery and suffering for their own profit.In Paul’s letter to the Romans for this Sunday, he noted that we should feed and take care of our enemies.Rather than respond in kind to oppression, we should respond with love.

Clarence Jordan, the founder of Koinonia, tells the story about the time his daughter was being harassed by the school bully.Mr. Jordan stated that he was ready to forget all that he was saying and preaching about Christian love and use worldly methods to deal with this young man.But his daughter told him to let her solve the problem in her own way, to use Christian love.As she told her father, every time the boy came around, she gushed and proclaimed how glad she was to see him.Finally, the boy became so embarrassed that he quit coming around and harassing her and when he saw her coming, he turned away.By responding in love and kindness, the harassment stopped.

If, in a world of hatred, darkness, and despair, we bring some light and hope through our love, will the world not be a better place? If we respond to the Gospel message by bringing help to the oppressed, the sick, the needy, and lost souls of this world, will not the world be a better place?We have seen through this week what happens when people lose hope, when the promise of the future is bleak and dark.We are standing on the road and Jesus is asking “Who are you?Are you My disciple, willing to carry my cross and take the Gospel into the world?”

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