Num. 17:1-11; Rom. 5:1-11; Matt. 20:17-28
Each of our readings today is a blossoming – a flourishing of God’s power.
In Number’s, Aaron’s rod actually buds, produces blossoms, and bears ripe almonds. Twelve staffs are given, one for each ancestral house. Names from each house are written on them. Moses places the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant. The next day Moses finds that Aaron’s rod has sprouted buds.
Whether this is telling us that Aaron and the house of Levi are chosen above the rest for ritual, or whether this simply indicates Aaron’s power in the Lord, and his leadership potential, it is unclear.
Whatever it means, it is a rarely encountered passage, as it does not appear in the Sunday lectionary cycle. This is my struggle with the weekly Sunday lectionary. You can spend a lifetime in the church and never hear most of Scripture. It is one of the reasons I write these reflections, as I believe it is my duty as a minister to help plant the seeds of God’s message of salvation among us. The daily sustenance of Scripture can be so powerful and helpful.
Another kind of blossoming occurs in Matthew. Jesus foretells his death. The mother of James and John comes with a request that Jesus is not able to fulfill, telling them, “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.” He then shows signs of this blossoming of power in servanthood by healing two blind men.
Paul’s blossoming argument about justification is a continuation of beautifully weaved words around justification as seeds of hope and peace. He offers us a difficult yet reassuring passage. Through our justification, he tells us, not only do we have access to the grace of God, but now are able to boast in our sufferings, “…knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
My prayer is that hope, peace, understanding, and goodwill continue to blossom forth in your life with whatever passage touches your soul. Into this crazy world, with our political news spinning out-of-control-crazy almost every day, guns everywhere, the never-ending news about yet another mass shootings, along with the hopeless and tragic state of educational funding or lack thereof – into this world God’s Word comes with hope for this troubled world. Of course this Word demands our action. But it is a start – a movement – a blossoming of grace.