This morning was a morning of surprises. At one point, I had stopped and was giving Scout a drink from her water when I looked up to see this rainbow crossing the sky ahead of me. I honestly don’t believe it was there before I had stopped. Maybe it was, but it wasn’t until I looked up at that moment that I saw it. Not 15 minutes later, we were walking down the path when I saw something surprising in another way – there was a coyote about 20 yards down the path from us – just walking along and then it ran off into the bushes before we got there. Scout immediately picked up the new scent and was trying to figure out where it had come from.
My reading this morning came from Mark 5 – three stories of healings – the freeing of a man of possession (and a weird story of the demons running off into a herd of pigs), a healing of a woman who had an unhealable hemorrhage (where she is healed not by direct action of Jesus but instead by just touching his robe), and then the bringing of a young girl back to life (when the crowd laughed at Jesus when he said that the girl was only sleeping). Not that any miraculous healing is “normal” but these three especially so – none of them go as people would “expect” them to. The first healing is not celebrated as much as people are angry and afraid about what happened. The second happens seemingly without Jesus “making it happen” and the third happens when people don’t believe that Jesus can do anything about it and they think he is crazy.
The longer I walk in faith the more I realize that God is about surprises. Try as we might to want God to follow our path or for Jesus to act in a certain way or for the Spirit to blow in a certain direction…time and time again life shows us that this is not how the Holy works. The Spirit is always moving in new ways. God is always up to a new thing. Jesus is always surprising the people of his day (and us still today).
I am grateful to be living in the midst of two denominational worlds who both affirm this truth in different ways. My Presbyterian connection speaking to how we as a church are once reformed, but always reforming according to the Word of God and the call of the Spirit. And my current UCC context holds to the truth that God is still speaking. Surprises in both. Amen.