Samson's story reveals that the archetypal strong man has plenty of weaknesses. Women and ... well, okay; women. Lay readers need to pay attention to Samson's being under the Nazirite vow, detailed in the sermon. His loose lips about the source of his strength to Delilah is a breach of faithfulness. It brings him to weakness, and once there, he turns in repentance to faithfulness. Then his strength begins to return.
Jean Vanier, modern day saint and founder of the L'Arche communities, has a wonderful way of bringing together weakness and faith, and then revealing the course of life's journey in faith. I showed a 7 minute video interview with Vanier to the Pot Luck diners. You need to see it - click here.
Coupled with the Samson reading is the story from John's gospel of the lame man at the healing pool in Bethesda. For 38 years, this man has been dragging himself to the pool every time the spring-fed pool gurgles, arriving too late, he says. The belief is that if you can get in the water while the water is stirring, it will heal you. So far, the lame man's deep faith in the healing pool has left him unchanged. Jesus changes that.
Jesus' message reminds us that, like the lame man's 38 year journey to nowhere, true life is found in the weakness we encounter by stepping outside the comfortable, secure boundaries of our lives. Inside those boundaries, we are secure, strong, and confident. Going outside means leaving those strengths behind, going forth in faith, like in Jesus' mission charge to his disciples in last week's scripture from Matthew 10.
True strength, true weakness, true life. Check out the sermon video below, and note the downloads available below the video panel. And be sure to watch the video with Jean Vanier with the link above.
(Yes, that's the pastor in a Hawaiian shirt with lei, thanks to the thoughtfulness of Anita since the Pot Luck was themed "Tropical Paradise." And yes, that's me doing my Samson impression. You can stop laughing anytime now. Thanks once again, YouTube; amazing timing.)