Swept to Big Purposes
Like many, I have been watching the 2010 Vancouver Olympics off and on for the last several days. Much as I would like to pretend otherwise, I have found myself to be a bit of a sucker for a euphoric flag raising ceremony or a powerful biographical vignette or an emotive speech or any of the other carefully crafted media productions intended to produce some kind of transcendent sense of being Canadian. It’s been unsettling to see how manipulable I am! Medals won by people I do not know in events I have virtually no interest in outside of two weeks every four years suddenly have the capacity to make me feel like an important part of a grand and momentous red and white wave of fulfillment, meaning, and purpose.
So after a day off spent watching a fair amount of Olympic coverage, my spirits and sense of national belonging rising and falling with Canada’s results, it was good to read these reminding words about identity, citizenship, vocation, and purpose from Walter Brueggemann’s Prayers for a Privileged People:
You accompany us and we are swept to big purposes: chosen race, royal priesthood, your own people, receiving mercy.
But we, in our restlessness, do not want to be so peculiar.
We would rather be like the others, eager for their wealth, their wisdom, their power.
Eager to be like them, comfortable beautiful, young, free.
We yearn to be like the others, and you make us odd and peculiar and different.
Grant that we may find joy in our baptism, freedom in our obedience, delight in our vocation.
The same joy, freedom, and delight that so marked or Lord, whom we follow in oddness.