Comments on the texts of the Revised Common Lectionary
from a Progressive Christian perspective.
Judges 4:1-7 or Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18Psalm 123 or Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 121 Thessalonians 5:1-11Matthew 25:14-30What has been put into your hand? To what are you putting your hand? Whether passively or actively we have opportunities to have our word of peace, our intention of peace, to be our act of peace. May this week bring you to awareness of your opportunities to heal and be healed of the violence around.If you find you are able to make it to Eau Claire, WIsconsin this Friday and Saturday for a Kairos CoMotion Event with Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, "Forgiveness as Power: Transcending Violence" late registrations are still available through our Kairos CoMotion website or letting us know you are coming.[Note: I don't know what is going on that this posting isn't acting as per usual. Blessings on the electrons and all else.]
Matthew 25:14-30I appreciate a note in The New Interpreter's Study Bible, "Regrettably the parable again co-opts imperial structures. The ‘rich get richer’ pattern encourages disciples to be faithful and ready, But the Gospel has criticized this imperial practice (19:16-22). The parable focuses so much on its message that it overlooks these larger concerns."For some there is no larger concern than so focusing one's life, in religious terms and modalities, that more disciples are made from investing our gifts in their lives. This emphasizes the doing part of our faith structures over the contemplative, maturing aspects. There is a certain frenetic activity that is encouraged here over, also important, "work" that can only be done in withdrawal for prayer and preparation.Sometimes I see the worthless, third servant, thrown into the outer darkness as following the creedal Christ into hell to be a witness there, a disciple to the outcast reminding them of GOD's continued presence even here. Can you envision Job as this third servant? How about yourself (or is this a special charism you hope someone else will receive)?As important as these troublesome parables or allegories have been for many down through the years, there is a place for revisioning them from a post-resurrectional view, a pentecostal experience, or in ordinary terms among the already left out and the already left behind.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11Those in the dark, intentionally or not, get caught in the great hypocrisy - claiming peace when violence abounds. "Peace", thus used, is the greatest coverup of the greatest sin. For tainted and counter-productive “peace” we are willing to lose just one more and then one more.Seeing false peace requires many concomitant gifts that bolster one another. Paul's list of those gifts, that, when used in concert, allow one to catch a glimpse of true peace under the fog of false peace contains: sobriety, faith and love (paired), and hope (of wholeness, not just anything). What would you identify as a peace-revealing constellation of gifts?At base, we understand, beyond the generations-long setbacks, that we are destined for salvation, "the arm of the moral universe is long, and it bends toward justice" [MLK]. So we are encouraged and so we encourage one another. Put on the good stuff. Pull back the mist of false peace. Pursue that which builds up.
Psalm 123 or Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12When dealing with violence (here spelled, "contempt"), the antidote is not stronger redemptive violence, but mercy. Admittedly this is not effective in the short-term, but the question must be raised about what would be. If we try the redemptive violence in the short-term in order to open the option for mercy to come, our experience is that we get bogged down in redemption protection and never get around to the mercy, for when would it ever be safe to let one's guard down?When it comes to a thousand years equaling one yesterday the whole concept of short- and long-term flies out the window. We either are on the way to being who we desire to be or we are not.An interesting question comes, how to deal with GOD's contemptuous violence toward sinners and other creations that don't or cease to measure up. How does one show mercy toward GOD. I keep going back to Bernstein'sKaddish (sample) to hear the human soothe GOD's fevered brow and to bring rest and sleep to an over-stressed deity.This issue of violence and mercy go back to the Creator and are in our very bones. How long we have been playing this game! How long before our heart is wise enough to regularly choose compassion?
Judges 4:1-7 or Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18We often wait for GOD to get things set up for us. We spend our time and energy attempting to get ourselves in the right position to take advantage of GOD's setup. This attempted readiness seems, more often than not, to have some ritualistic element to it according to the wisdom of the day about how to get on GOD's good side.Barak had it easy. Just go and wait and GOD will manage to have events conspire in your favor. We continue to look for this sort of intervention -- that GOD has things finally set up for us to win (no lottery odds for us, we want to know GOD is not just on our side, but has actually arranged for us to win in the short-run - none of this pie in the sky, by and by, stuff).We find it very easy to be over-reliant upon GOD, exempting ourselves from any responsibility for the events of life. We "rest complacently on our dregs". We can also fall into despair that allows us to simply keep on keeping on in the easiest manner possible -- GOD not seeming to do anything, either healing or violent.Finally the United Methodist Bishops are moving beyond waiting for some deus ex machina and publicly fulfilling some of their teaching function. They recently spoke against a Judicial Council decision denying membership to those who are homosexual read here and are now standing against the Iraq War read here. A question comes about our willingness to join them and push these matters further, with no assurance that GOD's setup is complete. Are we willing to do our part to partner with GOD -- to encourage, push, GOD along and even go so far as to set things up for GOD? Where does GOD behavior become our behavior and where do we need to join saints of old shaming GOD into doing what is right?
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11What is going on in our life influences the way in which we come at a scripture passage -- what we see and hear in it, how it is able to address our life. If we are looking for ways in which it is reflective of or gives us an out from a culture of violence, we will have a particular door opened to our knock. If we are looking for a personal healing, we will find that avenue open. If we are looking for wisdom for a decision that needs making, we will see an opportunity to which we were previously blind.Earlier I found encouragement to expose "false peace" in this passage. Today I am interested in healing. Right off the bat we find an issue of time coming to the fore. We don't need to know, and wouldn't know what to do with it if we did know, ending times. One of the first things we want to know about a time of illness is its expected duration.While there are sometimes therapies to be tried for any number of maladies, there are times when nothing will lead to a cure. We get all caught up in faith issues when we look at healing. Whose faith is operative is an important question at death. In many ways what we have faith in can be the major block to healing or the use of preventive lifestyles. This is why a dramatic willingness of suspension of disbelief is important to the healing process. We don’t need faith’s rules, but its poetry.From a Jewish website: Samuel Taylor Coleridge called drama "that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith." When we sit in a theater, we willingly suspend our disbelief. We know that everything that is happening on the stage isn't real, but the playwright, the actors and the audience all enter into a conspiracy "of poetic faith" in an attempt to bring to life a quasi-reality that will transcend and communicate some perception about life in this world. Unlike other religions, there are no leaps of faith in Judaism. Maybe a couple of steps at the end of a long well-lit boulevard, but no leaps into the dark. Judaism is not so much about belief as the "willing suspension of disbelief."= = =There are so many things that cause us to shy away from GOD's intention of salvation, cure or no cure, for ourselves and for creation. We don't want to get our hopes too high. If Jesus and Paul were brought up in this tradition of disbelief what would it mean in interpreting their words. How important is it to disbelieve in violence as a solution? What drama do we need to understand we are living in to lead us to a poetic faith instead of faith in a fist? How important is it to disbelieve in a need for "good health" before we can be an active participant in salvation? What drama do we need to understand we are living in to lead us to a poetic faith instead of a faith of healthful prosperity?
Matthew 25:14-30Do you know that GOD scatters salvation, willy-nilly, and gathers all that is saved from even the most inauspicious and lost and dark places?If so, what risky investment will you not make in life in general and any life in particular?If not, what rule will you not make up to justify hanging on to what you think you have?If so, you are always on tip-toe to notice this amazing and miraculous process and to participate by being an early adapter to the latest demonstration of mercy.If not, you are always on guard to find the rule that will allow things to go on as they have, even if the good of some has to be sacrificed for the good of the many (naturally including the one on guard).If so, we will cut others in on the deal.If not, we will go it alone.Do you know GOD's journey turns loose of control?Do you know GOD's salvation is available even in deep dark wailing and gnashing places?Whether you prosper or hoard -- salvation is yours. Why not participate in letting loose of resources, entrusting it to the community? This is where the fun of life is, so why hide it away?
Thank you for blessing us with your response.