Friday, June 17, 2005

June 26, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +6

Genesis 22:1-14 or Jeremiah 28:5-9
Psalm 13 or Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18
Romans 6:12-23
Matthew 10:40-42

Again and again the issue of hospitality and welcoming come to the fore. We could see the whole story from Genesis to Revelation and beyond through the lens of welcoming us to the next bit of life to come.


  1. Matthew 10:40-42

    What a relief, no good deed goes unrewarded. This is a basic stance toward life.

    The reverse is the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished. An interesting example of blowback is found in an article entitled, Case Studies of Incidents and Potential Incidents Caused by Protective System.

    Either of these approaches has its danger of entitlement to a reward or avoidance of involvement. As we proceed it is helpful to remind ourselves that we are actors because, like all prophets, a call has come that cannot be avoided. It is not a question of the result of our deeds, but the careful proceeding to listen for what is needed and supplying it, whether rewarded or not or even punished. A sense of non-attachment is even more helpful than all this talk about rewards.

    This kind of talk sets up the threat of competition of goodness. Is it not sufficient to simply welcome someone? Anything more gets us in dangerous water.

  2. Romans 6:12-23

    Gotta Serve Somebody by Bob Dylan Lyrics Audio (Real Player) sums up one of the many choices this passages puts before us. Do you know someone who can sing this from their heart? How far from Wisconsin are they and what are their fees?

  3. Psalm 13 or Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18

    There seems to be a gap between our frailty and misery and our dream of steadfast love, sometime, somewhere, putting an end to our sense of forsakenness.

    Through our lifetime we entrust a whole series of idols to keep this dream alive. It's a wonderful picture, being rescued in the nick of time. It has a long heritage.

    And yet our experience is that of angels with flaming swords, no rescue by going back. Exile transforms our insight and energy into rigid rules and survivalism. Even an exodus paradigm separates the tribes and the tribes from the indigenous. Internal betrayals are rife. Crucifixions keep cropping up to lay us low.

    It would be helpful to practice experiencing steadfast love in the midst of all this, as our ground of being, rather than it being separated from our present, only coming later to set everything right that can't be set right without destroying its character.

    If the hospitality of steadfast love is not present right now to show mercy to every experience, helpful and unhelpful, then it is very close to simply being a figment of our imagination, a bite of pickle at bedtime, a spot of spoiled cabbage only good for haunting.

  4. Genesis 22:1-14 or Jeremiah 28:5-9

    Peace and Welcoming are only proved in their doing. It is one thing to pronounce peace and another to live it. It is one thing to announce a welcome and another to demonstrate it. Both Peace and Welcome are demanding masters. They are such large visions with so much detail within. It is best to be a bit humble while visiting these holy ones in these holy places.

    How does one bring about reconciliation and welcoming in the midst of a view of life based on sacrifice and "redemptive violence"? Obviously it take a new word from the outside that sometimes needs to be repeated and repeated before it begins to be seen as a crack through which new life can come.

    An anthem that comes to mind here is Anthem by Leonard Cohen, Audio File - Lyrics.

  5. Romans 6:12-23

    Hospitality, like humility, gets a bum rap in a world where only "the" outcome is important, where victory at any cost comes first.

    We go through all manner of rationalizations and justifications to sanctify our inhospitable actions. We seemingly cannot avoid calling down the angels to protect ourselves. When we have been treated inhospitably long enough we lash out to use the very techniques used against us.

    This temptation for easy redemption, through violence, makes all actions such as the Truth and Reconciliation movement in South Africa that much more remarkable. A radical hospitality of truth-telling AND reconciling action does improve the pain level of people so we can pause, catch our breath, reorient ourselves, and choose a long-term view, a view long enough to allow us to choose mercy.

  6. Matthew 10:40-42

    It is helpful at this point to remember this is a conclusion to a longer story.

    We began this section with disciples being called. Their call was into being put on trial (finding the consequences of their call and persevering nonetheless). The positive result of their living out their call is that others will see and be offered choices just as Jesus brought a sword of division or clarity of purpose. This same choice that others find will be a tool of continual evaluation regarding the disciples initial call and living out of that call -- will they persist in finding life by giving it away?

    Now we come to the larger conclusion, rather than specific instances. Call is welcoming, a uniting of creation and creator. This gets played out in a three-fold process of a prophetic and progressive proclamation of a brokenness and separation -- an appropriate and righteous response of individual and community to the identified issue of arbitrary division -- resulting in a smooth and willing reassessment, revisioning, and resolution of injustice.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.