Monday, October 31, 2005

November 6, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +25

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 or Amos 5:18-24
Psalm 78:1-7 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20 or Psalm 70
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Matthew 25:1-13

Choices bring with them two realities. One - they are chosen on the basis of some combination of inertia from past choices and expectation of future realities. Two - their consequences on a line of tradition or limitation on perceived next options can never be fully known at the time of the choice.

As we move into this week we are sensitized to the pushes and pulls that will bring us to a new day. A mystery of awareness of choices stands before us. May we joyfully enter into choosing beyond the hobgoblin of consistency and the wraith of wishful-thinking.


  1. Matthew 25:1-13

    Choices come all along the way. They continually need to be made and remade. Nothing is settled, once for all. We see this in our political and economic life. We see this in the advancement of science. We see this in our own habit patterns as we keep an old one going, or begin a new one.

    As we move along it is important to recognize a dual choice is always being made at any single choice moment. And what a choice moment is a moment of choice!

    We choose for ourselves and we choose for others. These are not equivalents. They do not constrain one another. We can make a choice without demanding all others make the same choice. We can appreciate the choice another has made and yet go another way. The gifts we have are simply different.

    Suppose you were invited to a party. Are you the type who would drop what you are doing and live in the moment? Are you the type who would consider the provisions you would need to have at hand to cover the projected needs of the party? This might be a time to look at the Mary and Martha story again and see, on the one hand, five Marys and, one the other hand, five Marthas. Is this really a choice between hands where one is put on a pedestal and one is cast into the fire?

    How does your praise life go? Do you jump in with both feet and dance up a storm as though praise will never run out? (are you a praise sprinter?) Do you quietly grin and meditate and grin again, savoring each bit(e) of praise? (are you a praise marathoner?)

    Then, finding you have used up your energy as the life of the party do you "humbly ask for more"? finding you have energy left to help with cleanup after the party do you find that to be another opportunity to grin?

    How dull heaven without those who leave chaos in their wake and extravagantly burn their candles for the brightest possible light for our present party. How short heaven without those who care for the details that keep the party going as long as possible.

  2. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

    All Saints who have gone before are defined as those who shift our grief structures.

    Where once we held deep within us a death instinct we now find an impulse to life. These are matters that go beyond our consciousness. Our fear of engagement with the powers that be fades in the presence of these Saints. Our joy at pushing past our own limited salvation to that of all grows in the presence of these Saints.

    One important source of encouragement is our experience with the Saints, whether past or present. We are revived in their presence. We move from death orientation to that of life.

    Count your blessings. Know there is a Saint behind each one.

    In addition to our thankfulness for Saints of old we are encouraged to so live that we become Saints in our time on behalf of the new.

  3. Psalm 78:1-7 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20 or Psalm 70

    Usually we think of a voice as active and an ear as passive. Hear that here it is the voice that is still and the ear that inclines. This reversal is the energy that moves the generations forward as the voice is still ahead and our inclination tilts toward it. We have a choice about continuing to incline toward what the voice still has to say or settling for what we have heard so far. May you choose to listen beyond what has so far been heard that the unheard might yet be heard.

    Let's see how Wisdom's theory goes
    - desire for instruction leads to keeping laws
    - - keeping laws assures immortality
    - - - immortality brings us to God

    For want of desire, God is lost. What are you desiring so much these days that when you are involved in it you have no notion of time ("peace is when time doesn't matter as it passes")? Choose that which brings forth this lack of sense of time (loving what you are and do), that moves us into divine space.

    To incline our desire is to recognize our dissatisfaction with the limits of today. We hear better is yet to come than where we have arrived and feel the present as threat rather than arrival. And so we recognize how far short of immortality we are and how laws do not draw us beyond our present limits but hold us here. We call out, "Come, O God!" - "Come, Messiah!" - "Come Wisdom beyond our present difficulty!"

    Choose well in which direction you incline your ear. Does present law or future openness offer a larger God with whom we might play?

  4. Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 or Amos 5:18-24

    Joshua set a choice before the people. Follow the Lord and me or get your own leadership together.

    As with most crowds they fall back on remembering the best of their heritage so they won't have to change in the present. There were victories along the way (and their subsequent creeds) that were recounted. Conveniently forgotten were the difficulties along the way. To avoid having to really make a choice the folks only remembered the victories and said, "Us, too."

    Joshua caught this wavering and pressed on to issues of jealousy and not-forgiven to test this one-sided response.

    The crowd, as with most crowds, didn't really address this but simply affirmed that they were up to whatever was needed. Anyone here heard yourself or someone else being quite positive when it came to changing a habit. We are so full of big-talk.

    Joshua eventually says, "We'll see. Your real intentions will be witnessed to by your actions". Then comes a test of intentions - actually putting down a crutch you have been using and picking up a new orientation that needs living. This same test is still being put to us. Will we actually live as big as our talk? Well?

    Amos shifts the imagery from material idols to the idolatry of worshipful praise. Again the test is put. We talk about justice as if it is a light mist and righteousness as though trickling down were sufficient when what is needed is a deluge and a flood. Will we actually live as big as our talk? Well?

  5. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

    "Those of us alive will not precede those who have died into eternity." Who is going ahead of those of us who think we have things under control and absolutely know the best way to live? Well, try any given prostitute or collaborator with injustice. How about a starved child, a worthless old coot miserable all his days, or the person who has most injured you?

    Surely it is just the righteous dead who will rise with Christ and our illustrious selves! It is our brothers and sisters in The Way that Paul is writing about! This is encouragement for those of us still left that if we are persistent we will get in with the good guys, leaving the rascals behind!

    I think we can encourage one another with these words. Not one will be left behind. GOD desires the salvation of all and will see to it. We live well, healing and teaching wholeness in Christ, not because we are afraid of missing the boat, but because it has more meaning than anything else.

    On All Saints Day the United Methodist Judicial Council reinstated a pastor who played gaykeeper in a way that attempted to block GOD's desire for all, setting up the heresy that one must be live up to some contrived standard before entering the exclusive fold of "brothers and sisters". May they finally hear that they won't precede anyone.

    Rats, now I have to affirm that even that pastor and that Judicial Council will join me in a new heaven (that is, Paradise/Earth). I also need to affirm that this affirmation does not allow me to passively allow GOD to do all the work. I am called, again and again, to say that decision was wrong/sinful and work to overturn it even if I will later join those who perpetrated such upon the church in a more visible journey within Paradise.

    What "Rats!" moment do you have? Revel in your disappointment and move on to live and teach healing and wholeness in a sick and broken context.

  6. Matthew 25:1-13

    Silly old Bridegroom. Late again. Late to wake up to knowledge being set loose ("Hey, where are y'all?). Late to wake up to the futility of genus-cide ("Oops, here's a rainbow to make up."). Late to wake up to laws and favorite kings being a basis for long-term community ("You, Prophet, its back to work for you.). Late to wake up to embodiment ("Rats, I was hoping it wouldn't come to this."). Late to come to the bridal party (make up your own reason).

    Silly old me, waiting with all my alter egos conversing with one another. Part of me in a hurry to get there, not waiting for milking to be done or burials to be accomplished, just rushing to the party, oil-less. Part of me planning out the needed provisions and deciding on only enough for myself, no feeding of the 5,000, much less the oiling of 5, for me.

    If we weren't led to the categories of wise and foolish we could see each operating out of good decision-making. This is the difficulty with this and all the apocalyptic writings, they lead us to divide ourselves from ourselves and from one another based on some particular value of the moment.

    An ego divided against itself can't stay awake. Perhaps this is to say that a person divided into only their "wise" part, doing their best to reject and repress their "foolish" part, can't stay focused. Tucked safely into another section of Matthew, it could have been that since we know neither the day or the hour that the foolish ones hurrying along snuck in before the door closed while those weighed down with provisions were left behind.

    We need both the wise and the foolish at different times for different settings. May you be wise as a serpent and foolish as a dove. May you think things through and may you let your heart lead. May you keep awake to the foolishness of judging another since you can't even judge which day or hour is the most important.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.