This week’s lectionary is full of questions. Each part of the conversation among the LORD, Samuel, and Bethlehem’s elders leads with a question. (1 Samuel 16:1-13) Each question probes an obstacle.
"How long will you grieve over Saul?” the LORD asks Samuel, wanting Samuel to move on to bigger and better things.
“How can I go?” asks Samuel in return, fearing an egotistical, vengeful ruler’s wrath.
And finally, “do you come peaceably?” ask trembling elders, wondering what will come of Samuel’s visit.
With the questions come answers. The LORD assures Samuel that the unfolding future gives cause for joy and confidence. Samuel receives just enough guidance to put one foot in front of the other into God’s plan. To the elders’ question, “do you come in peace?” Samuel answers a simple, “yes,” and an invitation to worship. Eyes wide open while the family assembles, Samuel scopes out the spiritual gifts in the “body.”
The gospel lesson this week also holds a question. But this time it is from a leadership group finding it hard to take a man at his word. “…So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet." They did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight.”
Questions can express feelings, clarify meanings, challenge truths and even provoke action. Recently in that same town of Bethlehem, the graffiti artist, Banksy opened a hotel with the worst view in the world.
Full of the artist’s whimsical, dialogue provoking art, entering the hotel is like entering a question.
Asking good questions leads as much to good relationship as to good answers. Perhaps the former is even more important than the latter. When questions are true and authentic, they open us to be illuminated with new understanding. There is room to sing a new song with Samuel, with the formerly blind man who now sees, with neighbors who yearn for a word of hope.
…… everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Ephesians 5:13-14