Proper 12 – Year C

Hosea 1:2-10; Psalm 85; (or Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 138); Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19); Luke 11:1-13

“The most interesting thing about a postage stamp is the persistence with which it sticks to its job.” – Napoleon Hill

                Can we wear God down, getting God to do something that at first glance was against God’s better judgment?  What kind of a God would that be, giving in to the best lobbyist?  A disciple asks Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).  He first gives them what we now call the Lord’s Prayer.  Then he tells them a story about a man who wakes up a friend at midnight asking him for provisions for a late visitor he has.  The friend at first refuses, then gives in because of his persistence.  (see Greek below)  By analogy, that sure sounds like we can get God to change his mind if we just keep pestering.  But there is something else going on here.  God is our very best friend.  God is our parent (Luke 11:2).  God is not an enemy to be feared.  God is not an abusive parent to be feared.  The message here is the approachability of God.  We can be telling our needs to God day and night, even at midnight, knowing that God is always there for us.  God does not consider it any imposition.  God is not ignorant of our needs.  We are.  That is why in the Lord’s Prayer we say “Give us each day our daily bread.” (Luke 11:3)  “Bread” stands in for any of our needs: a job, our health, good relationships, peace.  In the Lord’s Prayer we don’t spell out the specifics.  Maybe we are ignorant of them, but God is not.  We can go to God at any importune time.  We are not wearing God down.  God just likes to listen to us.  It’s like pillow talk between lovers.  God not only loves us, he likes us.  In the end God is for what is best for us, not necessarily for what we are asking.  Prayer is primarily a time to learn.  When all we get back from our prayer is silence we think God is not answering.  However, the first language of God is silence. God’s voice is the sound of sheer silence (1 Kings 19:12).  We also can learn to speak that language.  Listen!

Greek

                Luke 11:8 says that the friend will get up and give him bread because of his “persistence,” indicating this is how we should pray.  That translation gives the impression that we just need to keep at it, and we will wear God down.  But the Greek word is much bolder.  It means something like shamelessness, importunity, impudence, boldness or shameless persistence.  This is an amazing God who wants us to be impudent with him.  But what good parent ever resents the brashness of the little child?

Haiku

Brashness at midnight!

Such reply in sheer silence.

God’s bread for today.

 

 

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