The Bachelor Franchise and Abraham's Faith (Pentecost 12C)
Pointing Toward Sunday, August 7, 2016, Pentecost 12C: Luke 12:32-40; Genesis 15:1-5; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Another season finale, another couple to live happily ever after. Their fairy tale has been found, with millions to witness.
The eligible bachelor/bachelorette always seals their final decision with the statement of faith: "I just need to follow my heart." However, with 32 seasons in the (fairy tale?) books, the audience has grown savvy to where the heart usually leads. According to Wikipedia, only 8 out of 32 Bachelor franchise couples remain together and three of those couples were formed within the past year (give it time).
It seems the heart is a poor trail-guide.
When God initially promised a son, Abram (Abraham) didn't follow his heart - he trusted God's word. But, after eleven years had unfolded and he continued childless, Abram lost sight of God's word and began to follow his heart (among other organs). At the age of 86, he conceived Ishmael through his wife's handmaiden, Hagar. It would be another 14 years before Isaac, the child of promise, was born.
The Bachelor franchises "make like Abram" in attempting to speed up the promise and thus to eliminate faith and perseverance. Rather than wait, seek and date one person at a time, the contestant simultaneously pursues 25 relationships, judging the most promising relationship through a process of elimination. The final couple is aware of the suspect nature of the process, often describing their hopes for after the final rose as the chance to "just be normal."
But "normal" doesn't make for good TV. ABC will never create a spin-off entitled, "The Spouses."
And much of the life of Christian faith consists in normalcy. The Gospel for Sunday speaks to the normal anxieties of life from which all the nations (and we ourselves) seek relief. Jesus teaches us to trust our Heavenly Father whose good pleasure is to give us the kingdom and all needful things with it. "Do not be afraid, little flock...(but) be dressed for action and keep your lamps lit." We do not know at what hour the promise will become reality, and so must remain attentive to the most vital matters.
There is no reality show that will allow us to speed up this process with any hope of success. We do not "follow our heart." We look to the character of the Promisor and trust that our heart has been found and is vouchsafed in Christ.
Jesus is not passively extending a final rose to you, hoping you will accept it. He has given us the kingdom, in dying and rising on our behalf. Through Christ, God has accepted us, thorns and all. May you find this state of affairs acceptable!