By the Rt. Rev. Jim Mathes
Several years ago, Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, made a speech in which he memorably described investors exhibiting “irrational exuberance.” That might be just the way that Michal, the daughter of Saul might have described David’s leaping and dancing as the ark of the Lord was brought into Jerusalem. In another time in Jerusalem, others might have said the same thing about Stephen as he lived into his diaconal vocation, “full of grace and power,” doing “great wonders and signs among the people.”
But this is as it should be. David’s rejoicing was rooted in thanksgiving. At least for a time, peace was at hand. And Stephen knew the risen Christ. He could sense the power of the resurrection as he brought the good news to the people.
Investors in the stock markets evaluate risk and reward. They buy and sell. But David, he bet everything on God’s providence and promise. Perhaps this is why the Psalms are attributed to him. They so often seem like they belong on the lips of a grateful ruler, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” And the arrested but unrestrained Stephen would likewise echo the psalmist: “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust’.”
Like David, Stephen bets everything,his life whole,on Jesus. Some called it blasphemy. Others might say it was irrational exuberance. Stephen does what the rich ruler cannot do. He gives it all up for Jesus.
How much am I willing to give for Jesus and the gospel?
What does it look like to be irrepressibly exuberant in my discipleship to Jesus?
Almighty God, the source of all that is good and true, teach me to be complete in my devotion to you, following the way of Jesus which is irrational to the world but perfect in your sight, through Christ our Lord. Amen
The Rt. Rev. Jim Mathes is bishop of the Diocese of San Diego.