" Now when the Apostles as Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God..." Acts 8:14.
I got very excited when I read this passage yesterday. It's this week's reading from the Revised Common Lectionary.
I remember when I took "Spiritual Formation" during my first two semesters in seminary. It was here that I learned one of the great secrets of church -- the Revised Common Lectionary. No really, I don't think I knew of the Lectionary's existence before then. And in case you, too, have been living under a bridge, I will explain in abbreviated fashion that the Lectionary is a set of suggested readings that some churches (Catholic and Protestant) adhere to each week. Typically, there is an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a Gospel reading and an Epistle (or other New Testament reading).
I like simple, so I began using the Lectionary as the basis for my readings in the morning. And I also preach from the Lectionary (a topic which deserves its own post). (Which reminds me of the candidacy mentor who warned all of us, don't preach from the Bible; no one wants to hear that stuff.)
So back to the passage from Acts. Holy Cow, the Samaritans accepted the Word of God. That's a big deal. A big surprise. And I wonder why Luke didn't add something like, "And you know, it's interesting, because frankly, the Jews had written the Samaritans off years ago..."
I started to think what situations in my life are the equivalent of "Samaria accepted the word of God." I found that yesterday, when I was feeling anxious or impatient or frustrated, this little voice in my head would say, cool your jets. Samaria accepted the word of God.
And it reminded me that we serve the God of the Impossible.
Now then, years ago I would have used this verse and the little epiphany around it to start making a multitude of claims related to what God was going to do for me, making carefully formulated requests, convincing myself that they were indeed very likely to occur because Samaria had accepted the word of God, so anything was possible. And though I confess that to some extent my mind is still leaning in that direction, today, "these days," it shows up more like, I don't know everything. (Heck, I hardly know anything.)
That fact used to terrify me. I think I had invested a great deal of time and energy into being the answer lady. Is it parenthood that causes this strange phenomenon? Is it vanity? Is it bossiness? I think I have always been pretty bossy. I can remember one of our neighbors saying to me when we were "tweens" -- "Tammy, you're so damn bossy." (Ah, this also deserves its own post).
If Samaria accepted the word of God, if the unexpectable can and does happen, if God is up to things of which I do not have an inkling, if I am the world's worst predictor of the future ... I dunno. That all feels very hopeful to me.
I don't have it all figured out. Thank God I don't have it all figured out. Now I can go back to learning and praying and expanding my mind and allowing God to stretch me.
This week I am taking a class in Dallas. When I started seminary in 2010, the thought of leaving my family for any length of time to attend class in Dallas seemed like a deal breaker. I knew it was inevitable. And I couldn't imagine how I would be able to pull it off. And here I am.
Samaria accepted the word of God.
So I think I'll see what other surprises God has in store for me today. And I think I'll be thankful.