Sunday, November 13, 2005

November 20, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost Last

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100 or Psalm 95:1-7a
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

It is easier, I suppose, if unrealistic, to work the analog work of salvation (tuning it in and having it grow through a variety of stages) in a digital fashion (your either on or off, in or out, at any given moment).

As we look around this week we can see things in process or as completed. In some sense this is the old argument about predestination in new clothing. Remember that our latest wisdom/knowledge is that life is pushing more life into existence. There is no accounting for the way in which the past is rolled into the present and something new called the future arrives.

Pay attention to where you apply the on-going perspective and where you cut things off. This will give some idea about whether you are acting out of an understanding of a Living GOD still at work and people continuing to be able to make new choices or whether GOD is bound by the way GOD has been revealed at sometime in the past, an idolatry of that revelation has been made, and folks are to always be known by who they were at the moment just past.

I believe I have made my bias clear and ask what you understand your bias to be.


  1. Matthew 25:31-46

    Hear this note from The New Interpreter's Study Bible: "This judgment scene (and others like it in chap. 13) has several troubling (and not easily resolved) features. It bullies disciples into faithfulness. it celebrates the imposition of God's empire while the gospel criticizes imperial strategies. It upholds God's justice, but the vision of harsh condemnation is at odds with the presentation of God's inclusive mercy (5:43-48) and with the acknowledgment of God's covenant faithfulness to save Israel (23:37-39)."

    The issue of bullying continues in the church of our present day. We see it revealed in the machinations that lead pastors/congregations rejecting from "membership" those who, to the glory of GOD, are homosexual in orientation and practice. In days of yore (and still to this day) we have wrestled with this in terms of Gentiles and Slaves and Women and Children and Poor and any other category of otherness you can think of such as divorce, smoking, or use of alcohol.

    How might a "sheep" feel as they traipse off to green pastures and recognize "goats" grazing on burnt grass?

    If they are a sheep from the Empire they would feel justified and pleased to be a "sheep". If they are a sheep of Jesus' fold they would weep and go to be with and find the "goats", even as they had been found; they would refuse their benefit and go to share life in solidarity with the goats, to be a Lamb in their midst.

    So are these Empire sheep we are viewing or Jesus' sheep? Where is your identification?

  2. Ephesians 1:15-23

    " you come to know GOD."

    What! this is a process?

    Wisdom and Revelation are still coming clear?

    Hope will be further clarified?

    Would that we would take this journey seriously enough to honor the stages of one's own life and the differing stages of the lives of others (including the elements). We are still coming to know, to understand, to live with the presence of a Living GOD and a Living Self and a Living Neighbor.

    May we continue to “come to know”.

  3. Psalm 100 or Psalm 95:1-7a

    In the midst of life as usual there comes a choice about how to respond to the variety of experiences we have.

    In the midst of whatever the disaster-of-the-day might be we can choose to see the hand of an avenging, punishing God at work or an opportunity in which the steadfast love of a God might be revealed through our response.

    These Psalms push us to praise GOD. The choice here is whether we find some appropriate genuflection (an external response relationship directed toward GOD that we might be noticed and GOD might sometime or other come do us some good) or some communal interaction (an internal response relationship directed toward revealing GOD's presence right here, right now).

    Question of the day: What in the world does it mean to "praise" GOD? How much of this is GOD inflation and how much is GOD application?

  4. Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

    The New Interpreter's Study Bible has a note: "The result will be a restored experience of public justice."

    As you look around you do you see issues of private justice or public justice. In some sense this is the question of whether we are putting band-aids on individuals and groups of individuals or finding the root causes of that which plagues many.

    One of the core values we have lost is a concept of public justice. It has been turned into a "whatever you can get away with" mentality. Justice is now oriented toward the theory of profit for the rich, particularly the corporation, not a prophetic empathy with the poor. It is oriented toward carrying forward prejudices and pronouncements of the past, not a participation in growing into a better future.

    Are there those who are publicly lost? This is a justice matter that cannot be measured by trickling profits or propping up historic institutions.

    Are there those who are publicly injured? This justice matter can't be assuaged by private insurance or schism into separate but unequal institutions.

    Are there those who are publicly weak? Justice is not served by the whole political system that is oriented toward lobbyists and massive infusions of wealth from a few or toward rogue news organizations that bring a preordained political slant.

    Can you think of an issue that doesn't end up being a matter of justice in this trinity of lost, injured, weak? In an interconnected world it doesn't matter which arena you are working in. What does matter is that you keep "public justice" always before yourself and the rest of us.

  5. Ephesians 1:15-23

    The Contemporary English Version has verse 23 read: "The church is Christ's body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything" and notes an alternative reading, "The church is Christ's body which completely fills Christ and fully completes his work."

    Working with English is sometimes so limiting. How do we express a crucial complementarity such as the relationship between Church and Christ? We tend to get caught emphasizing one or the other when, again, both is needed.

    You may want to think about your own relationships with others and the way in which the give and take moves beyond those categories. Offering and receiving make no sense without a receiving even while offering and offering even while receiving and none of that is easily held together in language that does not have more ambiguity and poetry in it than our usual conversation holds.

    For now, pay attention to every alternative reading you can. It is here that things come alive. It is here we are reminded that life happens between our perception and our expression of it. Take courage from the image of the church completely filling Christ. What, now, will hold you back from being so filled with Christ that you go ahead and bring life to life, no matter the risk.

  6. Matthew 25:31-46

    When is shaped by now.

    When humanity comes to be human (otherwise read as: When the Son of Man comes in his glory) there will be a recognition of consequence.

    There is a consequence for seeing ideals such as:
         That which builds community will eventually flourish further.
         That which avoids community will finally falter and fade.

    There is a different consequence for seeing
         That which refuses connection with its evil or blessing side is not yet in touch with itself.

    Hope: Humanity will recognize these two within itself and willingly choose both saint and sinner, both sower and reaper, both past disaster and future hope. In choosing both they both will find their time to be sheep, their time to be goats. Ol' "Solomon" done got it right. There is a time to plow under the previous year's residue to plant the seeds for tomorrow. There is a time to let the land lie fallow, open to the weeds.

    Until then we cycle back and forth, penduluming nowhere. Until we deal with this duality and stop accepting only sheep, we sow a breeze and reap a whirlwind.

    Just how far can we go in arguing with scripture?


Thank you for blessing us with your response.