Don't you just love a good scandal? I mean - as long as it is not wrecking my life it has a certain entertainment value, no? I would love to earmark this as a sign of the downfall of modern civilization, or perhaps trash the feaux reality dramas like Desperate Housewives and GCB. Don't get me started on either of these or the way in which they do more to re-enforce negative images of women - and Christianity - than they do to empower real people who might actually be lacking in their options in life. Anyway, the reality they point to is that both Ecclesiastes and Carl Jung are right. There is nothing new under the sun and our collective conscience does love repetition - both for good and for ill.
Scandals are just plain yummy - whether they are real or imagined. Still, I'm not entirely sure where the need for the narrative of scandal comes from, but I would guess it is something close to schadenfreude - the sick pleasure of watching someone else get busted when you know it could be you. Maybe it is also a way to engage those terrible and wonderful fantasies that we would never admit to even considering - except in the silent chapel of our hearts where we cannot hide from ourselves.
Sometimes a scandal can help us feel superior. Righteous indignation is delicious and potentially addicting. It can also help us to forget the log in our own eye when the speck in our neighbors is getting all the attention.
Sometimes the scandals of our own narrative become so familiar that they do not seem all that scandalous. We just get used to the way Uncle Bob behaves at Christmas or to the stories of the exploits Brother Jim. We don't challenge them because we do not want to risk the loss or be challenged in return. Besides - it's just easier to love people as they are, right? Maybe, but I can tell you that if I ever have an open fly or a Klingon Cave Dweller on my nose, I would prefer you tell me about it than leave me to my own devices.
Some how I've gotten on to the topic of enabling here when what I really wanted to talk about grace, mercy, and redemption. I guess it is unavoidable to talk about redemption without acknowledging the need for it. Whether it is because we enable others or live in denial, we all have a need for redemption at some level.
On this particular occasion, I am thinking about the scandal of Jacob. I've heard the story of Jacob stealing his brother's birthright and blessing so many times that it is kind of like background noise. It reminds me of a friend in seminary who used to have the movie Raising Arizona playing on his TV almost every time I walked by his dorm room. Something about it just made him happy. Anyway, I was reading Genesis with my 8 yr. old daughter tonight, and we read the story of Jacob lying and steeling his brother's blessing with his mother's help.
Wow. Talk about putting the fun back in dysfunctional! As I read, with little to no dramatic flair, my daughter would gasp softly or say, "Oh no!" over my shoulder. It encouraged me to read with more emotion, and she responded accordingly. I thanked her for paying such close attention and helping me to remember how amazing the story is. Then I tucked her in and went on my way.
Then it hit me. Jacob is the one through whom the self revelation of God moved from a person to become a nation, and from a nation to a person, and through that person God revealed Godself to every person.
Then it hit me again. If God can not only make use of, but actually choose to use, someone so selfish, base, manipulative, and easily influenced, then God can surely use me - and God can surely use you.
I talk a lot about participating with God's active presence, but I will confess that I often feel and act like it is all up to me. Thank God for the faith of a child which reminds me that the story of Jacob's scandal is my story! Thank God for the grace and mercy that God has been demonstrating for all of time! Thank God that we live not only in the hope of the resurrection but also in the experience of restoration!
May those who read these words be encouraged. Whatever you have done, whatever has been done to you, nothing can separate us from the scandalous love of a God who is ever faithful and ever encouraging us to greater faith.