By Bishop James Tengatenga
I have just finished reading Kierkegaard’s Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing. This book talks about the importance of preparation for confession. Preparation for an encounter with God. Putting oneself in the right kind of frame of mind desiring nothing but God. Putting oneself in a position to receive the one thing that is needful. However, the readings for today go to town in the preparation for delivering God’s mercy, in fact delivering God, to his people. We talk a lot about the recipients of God and seldom talk about the preparation to be the vessel through which the means of grace flow. Think of all the things that Aaron has to go through in his ordination – clothing, cleansing, anointing with both oil and blood and then seven days in the presence of God. All this to make him fit to be the priest that he is called to be. On the eighth day more happens. Aaron is commanded to make sacrifices for himself and for the people. As he was to offer the sacrifices for his people he also needed to make offerings for himself. Only then was he worthy to be the vessel through which the grace of God flowed “he blessed the people and the glory of the Lord appeared to all people”. Those of us whose calling and “job” it is to bless others have a tendency to get used to it all that we neglect to follow the orders and directions and all the “pain and trouble” it takes for us to be truly worthy of that calling. Not that we can make ourselves worthy by “works” of obedience, but that a little care and a little preparation and lots of obedience makes all the difference – accoutrement and all. In Mark 6, Jesus’ disciples put themselves in a position to be used of God through obedience. Very different from Aaron and his sons: they were ordered to take nothing save the clothes on their back. No accoutrement; just obedience! As Marks tells us “they drove out demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”
In what other ways do Biblical characters (and in the tradition of the Church) prepare to be the vehicles for God’s grace? How, besides sermon preparation, do we prepare for blessing others?
Oh God of grace prepare me to receive your grace so that I can be fit to share it with others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Bishop James Tengatenga is the Bishop of Southern Malawi