Sunday, July 24, 2005

July 31, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +11

Genesis 32:22-31 or Isaiah 55:1-5
Psalm 17:1-7, 15 or Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21

As we find ourselves in the dark, in the wilderness, hungering and thirsting for a peanut butter sandwich or the meaning of life we wrestle with issues of satisfaction.

Where do you have a satisfied mind? Where are you wrestling? Enjoy them both.


  1. Matthew 14:13-21

    It is GOD's desire that all be fed. Both in the first (Eden) and second (Noahic) creation stories we are told what is permissible to eat. The Mosaic Law outlines what is to be eaten. The prophets are concerned with the justice of who gets to eat and who doesn't. Jesus participates in feasts and wines and dines others. Peter has a wonderful vision of inclusive eating.

    There is enough food. We are missing the miracle of distribution and the wonder of sharing.

    When stomachs are unsatisfied long enough we will eat dirt for whatever nourishment it provides. When stomachs are unsatisfied long enough we will steal bread (if you have not already, read all 365 chapters of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo). When stomachs are unsatisfied long enough policies will be questioned and revolutions fomented.

    Follow what Bread for the World is doing and The Society of St. Andrew and your favorite feeding program (local or global) are up to.

    To be involved with food is to be involved with GOD.

  2. Romans 9:1-5

    For what group of folks you consider to have been left out, left behind, or left over would you be willing to offer yourself -- This is my body, this is my blood, given for you, for reconciliation -- ?

    How dissatisfied are you that war continues -- that same-gender oriented people are discriminated against, religiously -- that distribution of resource values are starving people -- that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer -- etc.?

    Most of us are able to satisfy our mind that we are not needed in any of these, or other, places of pain. It is difficult for us to give up our prerogative of salvation that someone else might enter in. We trust that some larger frame of time will automatically resolve issues. We justify our lack of action by some presupposed lack of power, forgetting the power of our freedom to live congruently with our vision of a better world.

    May you not wish yourself accursed that another's curse might be lifted, for you have known all along that coming at things from the perspective of curse is a curse, in and of itself.

    May you simply set about living as though our current culturally perceived curses are a thing of the past.

  3. Psalm 17:1-7, 15 or Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21

    Are you afraid of making a misstep and having that be the end-all and be-all of your existence? By such-and-such a mistake will you be known? By such will judgment be made upon you?

    That is pretty scary. Having lived a pretty good life, can we be sure we have not transgressed some boundary unconscious to ourselves? Have our feet really held fast to our ideals and not slipped?

    Perhaps we have it backwards. It is not that if we do everything according to Hoyle the game and meaning of life will reveal a satisfactory ending of at least being in the presence, seeing the likeness, of our GOD-partner. But, it is that seeing ourselves in GOD's likeness we travel a path we know to be guarded, never will we get so far away from GOD that we can't return, and so we are free to cry to be seen under light.

    Having seen that GOD is gracious and merciful we are free to be gracious and merciful, to be a source of upholding all who are falling around us and to lift those currently bowed down.

    We are called to risk our satisfaction in order to find satisfaction. What an interesting place is life. Enjoy and participate.

  4. Genesis 32:22-31 or Isaiah 55:1-5

    Whether we wrestle with much or with little we all come to limp a bit. Residual atrophy hangs on somewhere. While alone we are not exempt from stubbing our toe. From some direction we find the wounding of the past being clarified and healed, beyond curing, surfacing through us for ourselves and others.

    Our state of being seems to have its plusses and minuses. Are we going to measure our state of mind by our physique? our resources? our emotional state? our relational base? our spiritual calm? our informational sources? our hopes? Are we going to measure satisfaction by some given combination of these or other qualities?

    At some point we are thrown into mystery. Strangers come along and offer a new way of looking at things. Our own internals rise up to call us to account. From whichever direction, comes a wrestling that takes us past certainty. We can trust neither disaster or plenty to stay the same.

    Give thanks for the wrestles of life. They move us along. And don't forget to bring along a tag-team partner, it makes the wrestle ever so much more enjoyable and survivable. Whether your partner is a stranger in front of you or a brother from your dim, dark past, thank them for sharing the wrestle of life (which may simply be another way of spelling "The Way").

  5. Romans 9:1-5

    A note from The New Interpreter's Study Bible says: "The most natural reading of v. 5 equates Christ with God, making it the most explicit reference to the deity of Christ in Paul's letters (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15; Phil 2:6; 2 Thess 1:12)." This come from the reading, "...Messiah, who is God over all, blessed forever."

    It is so easy to read this as one who demands to be in control rather than to be blessed. It is fruitful to ask about every decision you are party to and each decision you witness of others -- is it to control or to bless.

    If it is to control it will require many more decisions to prop it up. If it is to bless it will set folks free to grow in a variety of ways that are helpful to whatever is meant by "the common good".

    It is sort of like the difference between telling a lie that requires an increasing number of other lies to support the original one or telling a truth that can be consistently repeated. Control/lie/unsatisfaction or blessing/truth/satisfaction. These are the choices ever before us. Do you see them in your understanding of Messiah/GOD, your self, various components of the world around you?

  6. Matthew 14:13-21

    In this world of rabid differences between nearly every creed or non-creed, nation A or B, and even even within families, it is a quite radical understanding to say, "They need not go away." There has been a push for purity within my beloved United Methodist Church in recent years. This has led to threats to walk out by one group or another and those same groups threatening to send others away. The difference seems to be whether they are feeling more threatened or more in charge.

    What a breakthrough it would be for all involved to affirm of the other side, "They need not go away."

    No, I don't think this is a utopian, final state. This will not change the perceptions and responses by anyone, other than their need to use the strengths of one another to build a better world and their need to avoid the weaknesses of one another, thus staying out of the way of blocking unexpected blessings.

    I really wrestle with this one because I am not willing to be beat up any more by folks who have no intention to engage, only to win me over and expect me to kowtow (have my head knocked empty). And yet choosing to either vigorously rebut their false images or to only affirm the wisdom given me comes to be a false choice. My rebuttal does not change them and my affirmation still takes place in the context of their controlling behavior.

    "They need not go away," means more than avoidance or compromise. This is a word of hope for crowd and disciples, for you and for me. Let's listen to it repeated during the day, in the different settings we find ourselves. We may yet learn its quiet lesson in the midst of a story so large and loud that it tends to be drowned out.

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