Monday, October 17, 2005

October 30, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +24

Joshua 3:7-17 or Micah 3:5-12
Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 or Psalm 43
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Matthew 23:1-12

Looking at life from both sides now is not easy, given the strength of the traditions that push us to a single ready answer to any question. It is becoming more and more important to pause and reflect on what we are doing and how it is really affecting others in the short term and how it will affect our own lives in years to come.

Generally we have a difficult time seeing the negative consequences of decisions made in our own best self interest. Poverty increases and we lose track of our part in that increase. We can see a theory of how we might be better off a decade from now and we can lose track of what sort of world that will leave our descendants.

This is a week of difficult passages. If we face them directly we will find ways to address the joy of living in community beyond myself alone.


  1. Matthew 23:1-12

    Ouch. But I have such wonderful things to share with the whole world. I'm sure, not necessarily correct, but sure that if only the world would try my way they would soon agree it was superior to every other way. I preach what I am sure about (again, not necessarily correct about, but sure about). I suppose I really should try it on myself first and see if even I can follow what I say and, even if I did follow what I said, that it would make a whit of difference in some larger picture.

    What would make a real difference in this world? Well, how about that there was an immediate feedback loop following our teaching/preaching that would show us its unintended consequences and require our flesh to first enact it. Those who proclaim war would be required to be the first to sign up and the last to be discharged. Those who proclaim death to social welfare programs would be required to live a year under the conditions that brought those programs into being in the first place. Those who proclaim church and state should empower one another would be required to live under some other church/state than their own where church and state conspire and collude together.

    Those are biggies. What about little things like living in community and the mystery of a Living GOD?

  2. 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

    We have worked hard at sharing our experiences of GOD. We have striven mightily in the past. Others have seen our toil and benefited from it. Note that it was not the work, striving, or toil that was received, but the urging, support, and encouragement to keep moving on, to not stay stuck in the world as it was.

    In this sense, folks do not respond to the due diligence of our workaholism, our human words, but to the best in us, GOD’s presence/word/messiah, that is also available in every person. This presence/word/messiah of GOD is our connecting point. When it is reveled in we grow, when it is suppressed we falter.

    GOD’s incarnated word is at work in you. Watch out for it will not rest until revealed. GOD’s incarnated word is at work in others. Watch for it lest you miss its support and correction of your present life that you might be more wholly revealed.

  3. Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 or Psalm 43

    We experience desiccation. We experience water springing forth. Both are given. Our context is sometimes one and sometimes the other. Then we set about valuing one over the other, separating them from the mutual informing they can bring to each other.

    Among our responses is hope in the midst of dry times and planting in the midst of fertile times.

    We are certainly capable of working harder and harder to plant more and more when times are dry and then complain that our work didn't bear fruit. It shouldn't have been planted in the first place.

    We are certainly capable of being so weakened or used to the dry that we fail to exert ourselves when the rains come. Hope has gotten us through and we keep hoping when it is time to put down our hope against hope and pick up a hoe.

    As we travel the varieties of life, pay attention to which variety is present that we might be present to it.

  4. Joshua 3:7-17 or Micah 3:5-12

    We step out into the wild waters and they cease. We proceed and wipe out others.

    We retreat into the settled order and it seems to go on forever. We settle and are wiped out.

    We call out Uncertainty and Fear and get the word Go Ahead and Step On It. We call out Satisfied and Peace and get the word Stop It and Get Real.

    Prophets, like progressives, come in a variety of styles. Some have quick answers that let us get away with claiming this is as good as it gets so get behind the program of our leaders. Some have complex responses that keep pushing us to better living than we have so far seen.

  5. 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

    You are witnesses of our behavior, and GOD also. [verse 10a]

    So often we appeal to our good intentions, to GOD having our back, to having followed the rules to justify our behavior. This won't suffice. It needs the witness of those who have experienced the consequences of our behavior in their lives.

    To claim any form of trickle-down theory needs the witness of those currently being harmed by it. We cannot rely on some future betterment if folks are not being bettered in the moment.

    To claim any form of just-war theory needs the witness of those who are harmed by it. There is no collateral damage, there is only hurt people, dead people.

    Instead of thinking about how GOD might measure our behavior, we would do better to ask how those affected by our behavior, right here, right now, are measuring us. In many ways the whole religious charade is propped up by always substituting GOD for Neighbor and never hearing from our neighbor about how we have injured them, right here, right now. We need to hear both parts of the commands to Love GOD and Love Neighbor.

  6. Matthew 23:1-12

    A viable option to calling no one your "Context In Being" or your "Teacher" is to call everyone Sister GOD and Brother Instructor. Yes, those who humble themselves will be exalted, but forget not that those who exalt others will also be exalted.

    It may be that humility is not about putting one's self down, but about lifting others up. Lifting others takes a great deal of practice and sturdiness. This is not best done from a face in the mud position but that of looking another in the eye and cheering them on, giving them a boost.

    We can look at behavior that cherishes community and others and call it self-effacing, but that doesn't do justice to the energy and power it takes to move beyond one's self to bolster another. A trick here is to know what you mean and say it and having said it to carry it through. It is through this standing firm that we are able to encourage others to go ahead that we all might have a better blazed trail ahead of us.

    Once upon a time it may have done to call for others first. But if there is no me here there is no real significance to others being first. When we take our part in the circles of life we, together, gyre higher.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.