Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Binoculars

Jesus on the Sea of Galilee
How many have seen the film “Titanic” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet?   Director James Cameron and his team descended three miles in the icy waters of the North Atlantic to see with their own eyes and to photograph history’s greatest shipwreck.

What sank this 45,000-ton floating hotel, with first class appointments, with 29 boilers in the engine room, on its maiden voyage? An author named Carl Warner argued that what really sank the Titanic was a 3-ounce key.

The ship had a crow’s nest, a lookout, and a box containing high-powered binoculars, for the lookouts to use to spot icebergs.  
This binocular box had a secure lock.   Unfortunately when the Titanic sailed from England, someone forgot to leave the key with the lookout.
 
So,a ship that cost millions of dollars – and was carrying more than 2,200 men, women and children -- was sunk by something that only cost a few cents.

If the lookouts had the key to the binocular case, they probably would have seen the iceberg in time.

The binoculars can be understood, in one sense, as the eyes of our faith through which we can see what lies beneath and beyond immediate appearances, i.e., the awesome reality of God in our lives.  

When you hear the name “Jonah,” what do you think of?  Three days in the belly of a whale; or a character who brings bad luck.

The Book of Jonah is a short story: about 1300 English words.   It’s fiction (the bible has many literary genres), with a simple message: God embraces everyone; God only asks that we repent, that we orient our lives to God.

God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, capital of Assyria (known today as Iraq) to preach repentance.   Jonah is shocked, because the Ninevites aren’t Jews.  So Jonah jumps into a boat and flees from God. But eventually God catches up, and Jonah preaches to the Ninevites.

And then the Ninevites shock Jonah: they repent; they turn around and with new eyes of faith recognize the awesome presence of God in their lives.

Our faith, a gift from God, empowers us to relate to God. This faith attempts to answer the fundamental questions of human life: Who am I?

What am I living for?  Where is my life going?  Does anyone care what happens to me?  What do I think ultimately matters in life?

And the content of our faith is expressed in belief statements such as the Nicene Creed we profess in our liturgy.
May the gift of our faith whereby we relate to God, and may the content of that faith which we profess, empower us, as the prophet Micah says, to act fairly, to love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.

May our faith be the binoculars through which we see the reality or presence of God all around us, within us and in one another.

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