Friday, February 3, 2012

Working at the Margin

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him. John 7:1-13

We live on the end of the road and at the margins between land and sea. A little thumb of land at the end of New Jersey, surrounded by ocean and bay, we are at the edge of things and the sky at night sparkles with stars which are bold and true since we lack any ambient light. This time of year it is a very quiet place. Most folks don't seek out the winter ocean, and only think of this as a summer destination. But it is home, this hidden from view place and our lives might be on the margin but we are not lost to God. There are some extraordinary gifts to be found at the margins, the hidden places, the spots where God whispers and we can be calm and listen.

Jesus was being hunted and was cautious about going to an important religious celebration for that reason. He knew violence was inevitable, but was careful to keep it away from his disciples. He went to Jerusalem, but stayed on the sidelines, in the margins and at the edge of the crowd. Knowing it wasn't his time yet, he went privately and found a spot where he could be calm and listen to God's voice speaking love and encouragement. We all need to find the place in our lives, a marginal forgotten place where God dwells and speaks softly to us. That place away from the celebrity and loud conversation, the forgotten corner where hearts can mend and God can transform us.

Today I ask for peace and calm so that I might listen to God. May we hear the loving words in the intimate, forgotten places in our lives, and in the people and situations we have set aside, shut out, waiting for the seasons to change. May we all be courageous as we live on the margins, knowing that God has more for us to do, and our Creator will provide the strength and transformation we need to minister to all of creation.

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