Sunday, October 16, 2005

October 23, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +23

Deuteronomy 34:1-12 or Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17 or Psalm 1
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Matthew 22:34-46

There are different ways of approaching the questions of life. One is to have an answer and one is to have several responses.

Which is your usual way of approaching the ponderables? How did you do yesterday -- did you keep on with your usual reaction pattern? If you did, was that the appropriate thing to have done? On further reflection, would you have done well to have come at things differently? If you experimented with a different decision-making process, how did it go? So what did you learn from yesterday that will help you today?


  1. Matthew 22:34-46

    Trying to reduce things to one right answer is always a trap. Far better to have a variety of responses to be chosen between as to which one best fits or stretches the current situation.

    What is the most important political concept? What is the most important cog in a machine? What is the most important person in a family? What form of sexuality is most important? What subject is most important? Which of the four pericopes for this week is most important? Which year of your life was most important?

    As we attempt to listen in to the mind of Christ it is important to hear the balancing act of life at work. We also need to hear the need to go beyond any question asked. There is a corollary between GOD's expansive and expanding love and an expansive and expanding response to every attempt to narrow life.

  2. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

    How does one care for their own children? One starting point is that of recognizing that children are different and need different responses, even in the midst of the same situation. This reality has been overlooked in the realm of religion where we face the temptation to make one answer good for all children at all times.

    It is the appeal to universal answers that keeps getting us in trouble. It is like saying that we are made to be reduced for the Answers (Sabbath) not that the Responses (Sabbath) are made for our moving on to wholeness.

    Here we need to recognize the pragmatism of Paul and our ancestors in the faith who have done their best to be all things to all people -- that is, fit their responses to the situation they were facing to help folks take the next step, not to jump to some conclusion in one fell swoop.

  3. Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17 or Psalm 1

    We flourish, we are renewed; we falter, we wither. In a model of times and seasons we can't simply claim one of them is going to hold sway forever. We look at a thousand days and we look at yesterday. In a model of humans having been made in "our" image, how do you pick the first day of a thousand or claim a specific most recent day to be the most relevant of all?

    Loving and studying the experiences of GOD eventuates in a beautiful, multi-leaved tree. Each leaf for the healing/loving of a particular situation. To narrow all of life down to one leaf to cover all situations is to reduce GOD to a preordained outcome for every circumstance.

    Even steadfast love presents a variety of faces.

  4. Deuteronomy 34:1-12 or Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18

    Moses or Joshua. How do you choose between your kin? Thanks for Moses, thanks for Joshua, thanks for you.

    We are not to bear a grudge against kin or neighbor (see if you can tell the difference between the two -- at some point the only difference is spelling).

    To insist that everyone live up the wisdom I have achieved is to bear a grudge against those who aren't as far along and those who have gone much further. To insist on a particular answer for the testing questions of life is to fail the test, to insult a Living GOD, and to reduce our neighbor to our self. To insist is to slander.

  5. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

    To attempt to choose between pleasing God or to pleasing mortals raises an important question between the commandments to love God and to love neighbor as you love yourself. How are these ranked? How are these interrelated?

    If loving God means not loving neighbor, is this love of God anything other than projection based on prejudice against a neighbor?

    Admittedly "pleasing" God can mean loving God and "pleasing" neighbor can mean kowtowing to "them". If we are talking apples and apples something is not quite right here, other than a rhetorical flourish. If we are talking about apples and oranges this is not helpful scriptural advise.

    How do you deal with holding the two big Jesus-identified commandments together in a way that aids your responses to the questions of life?

  6. Matthew 22:34-46

    One of the best parts of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is the way in which they remember the past to contrast it with what is being spun today. A healthy memory is a key element in trying to stay sane in a world trying to forget what was said yesterday. We are all too easily captive to the moment in a most unhealthy way -- unconnected moment following unconnected moment.

    Prophets connect the dots. Prophets remember what was said to be intended and measure the results against that. Politicians only remember what is convenient to their current desires. Lou and Peter Berryman have a wonderful song about the Acme Forgetting Service. Their politican package forgets their previous indiscretions and their promises, too.

    What, in your life, doesn’t blow every which way? What has a grounding of past, of evaluation of that past, and of creative recasting based on that evaluation? Hold on to that which so grounds you and you will perplex those blind to the breadth of heritage that has come down to us.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.