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Weekly Reflection

(09-20-2002)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Please read Judges Chapter 6 in your Bibles.

I love this story. It’s hilarious. No, really it is. The part that is funny is when Gideon is in the wine press beating out the wheat! In the wine press! Get it? Let me ‘splain it to you. The Midianites were nomads who made their living by raiding more agrarian peoples. When a crop had been harvested like wheat, the Midianites would send a raiding party to steal the harvest. Gideon was afraid, so he hid in the wine press to beat out the wheat. In those days wine presses were pits dug into the earth not shallow barrels like in that “I Love Lucy” episode. So there he was beating out the wheat, which is separating the kernel from the chaff, in a pit. Everyone knows that to beat out the wheat properly you need some wind to blow away the chaff when it breaks loose from the kernels.

Gideon must have been very frustrated and feeling a little foolish. He must have felt like I felt when I’m trying to fix a computer. I’m sure that he wasn’t getting anywhere in his task. He was probably sweaty, dust-covered, and angry (like I am when I’m trying to fix a computer). So there he was this big chicken in pit when an angel from God appears and proclaims perhaps with a smirk on his face, “The Lord is with you mighty warrior!” Who says that God and angels can’t have a sense of humor? Gideon was ready to snap (like I am when I’m trying to fix a computer). so he snapped at the angel, “But sir, if God is with us then why has all this happened to us? Why are the Midianites stealing or destroying everything we grow? Where’s this God that did so many mighty deeds in Egypt that our ancestors told us about? What has God done for us lately?” Gideon was whining and filled with self-pity. So then the Lord responded as if he hadn’t heard or with some sharp sarcasm, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of the Midianites. I hereby commission you!” Gideon continued to whine saying that he is just a big nobody and his family is just a bunch of weaklings. Then God told him something that made all the difference, “But I will be with you…”

Again and again in the Bible, God chooses those who seem the most unable and least likely to carry out God’s purposes in the world. God chose Gideon who was just a scared farmer and since God was with him, Gideon went on to deliver Israel from their oppressors. Through Gideon, God gave the people peace once again. God calls us as well to work for justice and for deliverance from oppression. There are no more raiding bandits that literally come in and steal our crops, but people are certainly still oppressed. There’s oppression in the home, workplace, classroom, church, and community. There is especially oppression in the world against the poor and defenseless. It is overwhelming and we might want to jump into a pit to hide from it all. There’s not much that one person can do.

But God has already told you something that makes all the difference: “I am with you.” You know, that was all that Jesus had to go on as he marched to Jerusalem to the cross and to his death. Still he went. Gideon also followed God’s call with just that assurance. It may seem hopeless when we look at all the oppression around us, but God calls into hope. We may fall into the pit of despair, but God lifts us out and sends us. So we go with the assurance that God is with us. We work against oppression not counting the results, but knowing God is at work in what we do. God’s reign of justice and peace is coming and is already. Live as if you too are a part of God’s reign. Live in the promise of God’s presence among us.

Pray that God will give you the courage to live in the faith that God is really with us.

Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Scott
412-682-6886

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