Sunday, July 31, 2005

August 7, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +12

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 or 1 Kings 19:9-18
Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b or Psalm 85:8-13
Romans 10:5-15
Matthew 14:22-33

Issues of inclusion continually crop up. Are we all slated to walk on water or just a select few? Is it one favored member of the family or are all important to the story? Is this all GOD's story or are we all partners in it? Do we justify exclusion because of the results we don't know how else to explain? Just how universal and deep is our faith are we when it comes time to turn the other cheek or otherwise attempt the impossible?


  1. Matthew 14:22-33

    Courage. We are not all water-walkers, at least mostly we are not. There are moments when it does happen.

    We are all encouragers of one thing or another. All you Barnabas and Barnabette types take note, there is a world full of recruits available to the "Take Heart" ministries so needed in a fearful culture.

    We can reach out to all those going down after getting into the storms following what were considered reasonable decisions. While we can acknowledge the doubts that come along we are also freed to remind folks that, given their experiences, they have come a remarkably long way along faith's journey.

    After Jesus and Peter enter the boat, there is no reason not to encourage them to try it again now that the waters have calmed.

    The good news here is not simply that Jesus is recognized as a "Son of God" but that courage has been evidenced, heart has been taken, learning has gone one, we need not give up after one failure.

    I keep awaiting the finding of a new old textual remnant that has it going this way:

    Jesus: You of little faith, why did you doubt?

    Peter: You're right. Let's try this again.

    Jesus: OK. Let's go back to the mountain and pray, then we'll give it another try. Although you do need to understand that walking on the water is no proof of anything other than an ability to be one with the water, to be one with the storms of life. It doesn't confer wisdom or authority that wasn't already present. Along with enough bucks it will get you a gourmet coffee.

    Peter: Oh, praying undergirds this. Let me make a note.

    Jesus: Make all the notes you want. Without the prayer they aren't worth the paper they are written on. Let me repeat, "You of little faith . . . ."

  2. Matthew 14:22-33

    If you are into movies as a metaphorical way of investigating scripture, you may want to check out the recent Walk on Water.

    A line from their trailer goes, "In a world of conflict, can a new generation forgive the sins of the past?" Is not forgiveness a sign of an ability to walk on water over the chaos of the deep past?

  3. Romans 10:5-15

    To name a name is to know the essence of that which is named. To name the name of Jesus, literally, gets us into the danger of not everyone who literally names Jesus enters the presence of GOD. To name the name of Jesus, metaphorically, gets us into the danger of seeking GOD's presence on our own.

    As we set about following the Way of Jesus, if not the spelling of Jesus, we live in the risk of the better danger. All who seek will find a generous response. This response is worth the risk.

    How do we assist one another in this journey, but by telling that which we know. Here we will speak of Jesus' Way and experiences of Wholiness Spirits. This is the inclusion we proclaim -- we have been welcomed and we, in turn, welcome.

    There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, Gay and Straight, Iraqi and American, or any other duality. All are on the journey, swift or slow, to GOD. Let's hurry up and enjoy one another.

  4. Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b or Psalm 85:8-13

    Sing for what can now be seen as providence. Once it could only be seen as disaster, but now, through the lens of steadfast love meeting faithfulness and righteousness cavorting with peace, we can glimpse a blessing in the midst of true disaster.

    This doesn't mitigate the troubles and or redeem the losses. This simply gives us a perspective from which to stand and take another step.

    What would this world be like if we had memorials to providence rather than to victors? to mystery of everyday living rather than to mechanical beasts?

    Consider what song you are singing. If it is too optimistic, get real. If it is too pessimistic, remember providence.

    Either way, lets continue to be a righteousness that goes ahead of GOD, making a path for GOD's presence. That's pretty good enough work.

  5. Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 or 1 Kings 19:9-18

    In a pit or in a cave or just standing on a corner, there can come a sudden question about who we are and what is happening to us and around us. This can strike whether we feel chosen, called, blest, favorite or if we have experienced being left out, rejected, unlucky, second-class.

    There is not much escape from such moments. If we are fortunate we have a community of trusted folks with whom we can check our sensibilities. If we are alone we are thrown on our own resources, our memories, our hopes, a whisper, an echo of a far-off hymn.

    May you be given the gift of a plethora of options for such moments in your life when it feels like wandering and numbness are setting in.

    May you be given the gift of a friend who notices and walks alongside.

  6. Romans 10:5-15

    We are what we do.

    What do we do and what is the basis of our doing that keeps us doing what we do do well?

    These have to do with community (the law) and heart (the Christ) working together. This has been imaged as "good cop" and "bad cop", foreground and background, inner and outer, and several other "thises" and "thats" that complement one another.

    One of the differences I experience between some form of literalized fundamentalism and creative progressivism is that of flip-flopping between the two poles to see how to keep things under control and that of rubbing the two poles against one another to see what sparks fly.

    Rub well.

  7. Matthew 14:22-33

    You of little faith. Why did you doubt?

    What's that next line that shows up in chapter 27? Oh yes, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

    This doubt business goes to the heart of things. Adam and Eve did it, Cain did it, Mary did it, even God did it. Why it is almost part of love, part of maturing, part of new life. It may be behind Jesus' second resurrectional visit to the disciples, specifically to acknowledge the doubting process and to offer more than propositional faith. Practice and experience are crucial steps to move through doubt that a simple berating for not having made it to some particular level of testing at the right grade will never overcome. When it comes to faith we leave all manner of GOD's children behind because we don't pay attention to categorizing and practicing the experiences that lead to faith. Christians have much to learn from the Buddhists in this regard. Contemporary American United Methodists have much to learn from their own early traditions that have been left unattended for generations.

    Finally we are all in the same boat. Recognizing we are all in the same boat we can stop being blowhards about faith (no wonder the wind stopped). If you can't handle everyone being a sinner, can you affirm that we are all doubters?

    This may not be so much about Jesus the water-walker as it is the humanity of all of us. Sort of a strange way to find comfort in the midst of whatever storm is brewing or blowing around me. How is it with you?

    This ability to doubt and continue is bedrock material for progressive prophets. How else see through the blowhards [whether you are the latest in line like David Seamands or Robert Novak or the next in line like _____(your name here)_____] of our time?

    Perhaps remembering that we are all in the same boat will keep us all a bit more humble and realistic and willing to learn through the doubting process.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.