Sunday, October 09, 2005

October 16, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +22

Exodus 33:12-23 or Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 99 or Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

Occasionally we stumble into a new thought but mostly we are creatures of what we have seen and heard. Ordinarily we are called to confirm what has been and to skitter away from alternative choices. As we flow through this week ahead there will need to be decisions about how we will respond this day that is different from all other days.

May you find yourself supported by others and supporting others that we might move beyond our current caughtness in less than helpful, yet so oft repeated, knee-jerk jerkiness.


  1. Matthew 22:15-22

    Effusive praise of another is a good way to set a trap. When you find yourself being praised know there is a trap going on - if not from the other directly, from your acceptance of it as your due. It's very presence leads us to responding with a "Whew, I could use a break" and taking a step back from wrestling with seeing and responding in a truthful direction.

    When all about you are praising your wisdom, you had better sharpen what wisdom you have to catch your own response to such praise and thus catch part two of the catch.

    One praise point is assuming you can choose between a dilemma's horns. They are equally sharp. In turning toward one you leave your backside open for the other to stab at will.

    In this story, and again today, hear the wisdom of not choosing a partial choice. Is anything, including Caesar, not GODs? Is there anything GOD needs to proprietarily claim and can't do without? Its all the emperors clothes tax. Its all GOD's creation. None of it is the president's, its the people's. None of it is GOD's as that way lies idolatry.

    It would be interesting to note the various dilemmas we insist on resolving this day and to take a deep breath and say, "Both" and to repeat it, "Neither", and then look around and see what opens up. We might even catch a glimpse of a smiling Jesus nudging Buddha in the ribs and in an aside say, "Listen to that, would you. They caught the catch." and notice out of the corner of our eye the saints and avatars of the various traditions nodding agreement.

  2. 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

    Being an imitator can bring rote repetition of outward behavior. It can also bring a standing on the shoulders of the imitated to take things further. Are we reproducing or resembling when we imitate? This is an important distinction to make. Are we headed back to some ideal time of orthodoxy or building on that which has come down to us and moving its spirit forward in the realities of this time?

    Paul understands that he has proved to be faithful in responding to his conversion. In thus setting his example, he has encouraged folks to follow further on his path but acknowledges that through their picking up on his example and carrying it on in their way that they have supported and expanded that on which had modeled himself. The implication is that those who imitate the Thessalonians imitating Paul's imitation of a risen Christ revealing the image of one whose nature and whose name is Love, add to the support and expansion Paul continued.

    So, today, support and expansion of Love goes on through our adding to this tradition in our own time and space. This is not simply a waiting for things to play out but an active participation in the salvation process that saves from wrath right now and lets the future care for itself. A living and true God deals with the choices before us now, not those made by our ancestors in the faith or those who may fail tomorrow.

    Expect a choice again today that will allow us to reveal the inner dynamic of past choices and anticipate a congruent, yet outwardly different, choice tomorrow. This expectation is not based on the number of points that are absolute in location, but that trace a similar arc of compassion and mercy.

  3. Psalm 99 or Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)

    GOD - lover of justice, has established equity. And our participation in matters of justice, as a partner of GOD, is what?

    GOD made the heavens. To participate in equity is a heavenly endeavor.

    GOD will judge people with equity. Our choice is to cause the need for this judgment or to participate in equalizing, evening out, salaries of CEOs with cleanup crews. When CEOs get tax breaks and cleanup crews have their less than living wages cut and we sit on the sidelines -- we let GOD down, we let our neighbors down, we let ourselves down. Time to stand up and and claim GOD's equity.

    You say you weren't faced with this decision today? Look again. Until this inequity is changed we are complicit in its extension. We simply turned our face, held up our newspaper, as we rode the el past the tenements. To ride with EL is to re-turn our face, repent of our self-imposed ignorance, and intentionally use equity as our perspective on life.

  4. Exodus 33:12-23 or Isaiah 45:1-7

    We hear a lot about GOD's self-understood character, how GOD sees GOD. I, GOD, am going to do this and this and this and this.

    Hear the beginning of an excursus on God's Character from The New Interpreter's Study Bible

    "Exod 34:6-7 has a long history. Its closest parallel is found in the Ten Commandments (Exod 20:4-6; Deut 5:8-10) in the form of a comment on the commandment against idolatry. In the Ten Commandments passages, however, the threat of judgment comes first and the promise of mercy next. In Exod 34:6-7, God's love and mercy are first recited in a catalog of divine attributes. God's mercy extends to the thousandth generation; judgment reaches to the third or fourth generation. There can be no doubt that the listing of the qualities of divine mercy is deliberate, intended to underscore how, above all else, the God of Israel is gracious and loving, forgiving and merciful, even (and perhaps especially) to repentant sinners."

    This references the next chapter but seems fitting as a way of reflecting on the purpose behind all the "I" statements from GOD in these readings.

  5. 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

    Your living as an understudy of Jesus shows wherever you are - Healing and feeding and partying and challenging ossified rules. It is clear what part you are studying to play - Herod, Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, Peter, Thessalonian congregation member, Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, Anna, tax collector, Pharisee, Syrophoenician woman, etc. etc.

    Is the part you are studying clear to you? Did you choose it? Has it chosen you? Is it type-casting or a real stretch for you?

    Enjoy your part.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.