Caretakers of a Mystery (Lenten Meditation)

Throughout Lent, I will be posting short meditations on the Daily Office readings. Please journey and pray with me through these readings. To read previous Lenten meditations click here.

Monday, March 5
I Corinthians 4:1

Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.

Servants are orderly things. Mysteries are not. A servant follows directions and follows in footsteps to find the straight and narrow path, tidily swept clean of the inconsistent, the incomprehensible and the incoherent. Mysteries, on the other hand, follow crooked roads filled with brambles, wandering through the uncut forest, trafficking in the darker places of divine love.

And mystery is the habitat of God, so often so far from the houses of God where the servants live. Mystery is the labyrinth where the infinite breaks through into the finite, where grace breaks through the expected, flaunting its unscrupulous love and frustrating the wisdom of the world, where knowing trespasses into that lovely cloud of Unknowing.

To be a servant of Christ seems plain enough. But what does it mean to be a steward of God’s mysteries – of things unfathomably divine, of Love so confounding it seems irresponsible, even frivolous?

Are we to be shepherds to the night’s stars? Gatherers of the tides into gates? Caretakers of the unfathomable cosmos?

Perhaps it is nothing quite so fanciful. Perhaps, in our context, to be a good steward of God’s mysteries is to resist that ever-present temptation to systematize God and to categorize Christ, to make sure we don’t blaze the straight and narrow path in such a way that only we can travel it.

Generally, we want our lives to be orderly things, not mysterious. probably because so much of our existence teeters on the verge of nihilistic chaos. We want to know who is in and who is out – who in this world is the “we” and who are the “they.” We want orthodoxy and we want it to be ours. But the mysteries of God will not be owned, only experienced.

Perhaps what the echo of Paul is saying today is to be good stewards of God’s mysteries, to allow God the room in our lives and in our churches to be that mysterious, incomprehensible, inconsistent, untamable and ultimately irresistible force of divine love that loves so indiscriminately; and, simply, to give God the space, in our search to know God, to be, ultimately, unknowable.

Perhaps, then, it might be easier for us to shepherd the stars.

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O Unknown and Unknowable God, help us to be stewards of your mysteries, and enable us to resist the temptation to master you. Give us open-hearted souls to see Love in previously unknown places. Give us Pandora’s key so that you may spill out of our systematic boxes no matter how firmly we press on the lid. Burst the seams of our theologies and make our church walls quake under your uninhibited Love. Remind us, reassure us that when those walls fall, you will pull us from the rubble to a more beautiful mystery.

 

About David R. Henson

David Henson received his Master of Arts from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, after receiving a Lilly Grant for religious education for journalists. He ordained in the Episcopal Church as a priest. He is a father of two young sons and the husband of a medical school student.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful thoughts, sir. I will pray on this.