Today is Ash Wednesday of 2012. I read Psalm 51 this morning, and was impressed yet again by both the powerful transparency of David’s admission of sin and his confidence in YHWH for reconciliation and proclamation. But, his confession of sin and the orientation of such toward YHWH impressed me. Passionate, lean, and honest to the depths of his being, David recognizes that, using the contemporary idiom, “at the end of the day”, it is God alone who perceives the egregiousness of David’s sin. Even in his rendering of the outcome of biblical concupiscence (51:5), David acknowledges God’s remarkable comprehension of the former’s sinfulness: to the depths of his being.
Yesterday, I bought a “dandelion digger.” I have had an ongoing disagreement with our mowing service as to who is responsible for the eradication of weeds. Their viewpoint is to spray weed-killer on the offending plant: end of story. My view is that they need a second step: pull the offending weed from the ground. Which they steadfastly refuse to do, my landlord’s demands notwithstanding. So, rather than wait for these gentlemen to receive their pink slips (forthcoming, I am told) in order to explain this responsibility to their successors, I purchased the tool.
At the time of the purchase, I had no idea why the shaft of the tool needed to be so long: maybe 7-8”. This morning, away I went, shoving the tool into the lawn, bringing up the nasty weed. I soon noticed that the roots were of varying lengths. I felt the roots break in the ground, and heard some snap. Then, in some softer soil, the tool penetrated deeply: I gently pulled on the dandelion, and out came an intact root with a length greater than that of the tool shaft. Mind you, this dandelion had no flower on it at the time.
First, I am intensely aware of the grace of God in Jesus Christ using this little exercise in frustration over weed removal to reveal the depth of my sinfulness, even when its phenomenal and public expressions lay dormant. Second, no matter what my efforts may be: my sin is greater than my capacities to root it out of my life. Finally, it is the mercies of God that can penetrate deeply into my life, with a capacity to both reach to the bottom of the tap root of sin and to inform me of how pervasive sin is in my life.
I would add this: for all of my propensity for activism that grows out of an evangelical faith in Jesus, my participation in the missio Dei is bounded by the depth of my sin, or conversely, confined by my limited appropriation of God’s grace to me in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, God’s mission won’t be hindered in the slightest way by my sinfulness, even with my conscious, repentant efforts for faithful and joyful servanthood among the nations with God’s people.
Of course, this also includes my administrative and ecclesial production. Here, I am also in prayer for my sisters and brothers in the Fellowship of Presbyterians. All of the proclamations and organizational services will be necessarily bounded by sin and our limited appropriation of God’s grace to us in Jesus Christ. From a largely intuitive consideration on my part, our praxis and reflection upon being and becoming missional as churches can only develop constructively with responses similar to those of David.