Today Lutheran (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton issued a press release supporting Secretary of State Kerry in his work with negotiations between Israel and Palestine, to encourage him to continue to press for a settlement. When I read it I thought: I don’t really have any faith that the negotiations will give Palestinians a deal that will improve their lives. The settlements continue to be built and every day Israelis are moving to the West Bank to live on land that I always thought would become a Palestinian state. It’s nice of Bishop Eaton to write, but it’s a lost cause.
Then I read the story of Samuel choosing a king for Israel. Or rather, Samuel discovering who it is that God has already chosen to be king. And I was reminded that God does not see as I see. God does not look at the outward appearance; God looks at the heart.
(Now, here I will refrain from a long diatribe on my belief that the leaders of Israel do not have their hearts set on peace.)
And the story continues. Samuel looks at all Jesse’s sons and does not find the one whom God has chosen. All the obvious possibilities are exhausted and still no king.
As you well know, God’s choice for king is none of the obvious choices. God chooses the least likely—David, the youngest, the least experienced, but also the one God infused with God’s spirit.
So, maybe I need to trust that God can do the impossible with the least likely resources and join Bishop Eaton in her hopeful encouragement of Secretary Kerry.
I won’t go into all the ways David disappointed God and failed to be the wise and good king wanted for Israel. God is stuck working with us humans and none of us ever meet God’s desires for us, for a world ruled with justice and mercy.
So I will give the negotiators a chance and trust that God has plans for the Palestinians, even when I cannot see them.
O God, you have more faith in us that we deserve. We repeatedly disappoint you; we fail to live out your hopes and dreams for us. But you do not give up on us. In these days, be with the leaders who are working for peace in so many corners of the world. Give them strength and the vision to see the world that you desire for all your people. And give them the courage to act on this vision. Amen.
If you want to take action, write an email thanking Bishop Eaton for her support of the negotiations. http://www.elca.org/About/Churchwide/Office-of-the-Presiding-Bishop Click on "contact us" at the bottom of the page and fill in the email form.
To read the letter: Text of the February letter to Kerry is available at http://download.elca.org/ELCA Resource Repository/Letter_to_Kerry_Feb2014.pdf and text of the March letter is athttp://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/2014_Ecumenical_Letter_and_Signers.pdf.