Sunday, January 08, 2006

January 15, 2006 - Year B - Epiphany 2

1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20)
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
John 1:43-51

The call to new life and new relationships comes at the strangest of times and in the unexpected of places. Are you dozing off during a sermon? A call could come then. Are you just tootling along life's byways? A call could come there. Are you already showing your patriotic allegiance to some state or tradition? A call could come then and there. Are you simply following the path of least resistance in a culture? A call could come there and then.

As you pay attention to your schedule for this week, know that you could be called out of some previously scheduled event or, where there is nothing scheduled, a surprise fulfillment may suddenly be visited upon you. Simply anticipate additional growth this week, whether your horoscope suggests it or not.


  1. John 1:43-51

    Discipleship is active, not passive. Jesus finds Philip. Philip finds Nathanael. All of this very much in the mode of "this is the house that Jack built".

    Presuming you have been found somewhere along the way by Jesus or another disciple descended from Philip, the question before you is which next "Nathanael" you will find.

    This is not always a simple, straight-forward matter. There may be huge resistances to your invitation to "come and see" that you cannot and should not attempt to overcome. Whether the question is one of a source of goodness or something else, to short circuit the question is to cause the same harm as helping a butterfly from its cocoon - it won't be able to spread its wings and flutter on to continue the species. We need to simply be present and open with our invitation at each opportunity available. "Come and see." "Come and see." "Come and see." "Come and see."

  2. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

    Here it is helpful to remember the story of Jesus with an adulterous woman (don't forget the man's part - it takes two to adulter). What does it mean to be united with a prostitute? If we are not joined with all people, as was Jesus with prostitutes and tax collectors, we are not able to be of one body and spirit with them as we move toward their resurrection, and ours.

    It is all too easy to use this passage as a division between us and them. But, insofar as Paul also knows we do the things we don't want to and vice versa, we need to be careful here not to draw too broad a caricature of a sinner (one that doesn't have a face like our own) lest you give into a temptation to throw a first stone.

    As a temple of the Holy Spirit, a keeper of the token of Belovedness given and received in baptism, continue being brought back to your best image of a preferred future and enter again upon that path without judgment of self or others. It is this forward imaging that moves us best, not a tight control upon that which is ultimately mysterious and transformable.

  3. Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

    The end of verse 18 - "I come to the end--I am still with you" and "I awake--I am still with you" is reflective of the creation story. It is evening (end), it is morning (awake), it is good (still with you).

    Somehow or other, this comes to be felt a privileged position that would allow us to dismiss other parts of creation--also still with G*D. So the Psalm continues on to perfect hatred, rather than wholistic pleasure. Somehow or other, this hatred is supposed to confirm that one is with G*D. How fundamentalistic, how certain, regardless of the religious tradition one is in.

    Now comes the tricky part, to be satisfied with each evening and morning. May this participation in the evolutionary process gentle us. No matter the evolutionary path, we are still with G*D so we might as well start enjoying the journey rather than cutting it off at some arbitrary creedal point, or other. History (evening) is in the making. The forming days (morning) can already be had. Both, as dichotomous as they appear--are still with G*D.

    How do we not prejudge the days yet forming, though not yet existing, and simply say "Thanks" and "Welcome"?

  4. 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20)

    An old story tells of a farmer who had a mule for sale. He claimed that this mule would obey any command it was given. One prospective customer was somewhat leery of this claim and decided to put the farmer and his mule to the test. So he said to the mule, "Sit down." But the mule just stood there. "Sit!" the customer yelled, but nothing happened. He turned to the farmer and said, "You claim this mule will do anything it is told, but I can't get the mule to sit down." The farmer just smiled. He reached down and picked up a two-by-four, then walked over and hit the mule in the head. "Sit," he said. And the mule sat right down. Turning to the shocked customer, he said, "first you have to get his attention." [This version found here.]

    Sometimes a "bolt from the blue" conversion happens when we finally hear something for the “first time”.

    Chinese water torture is the popular name for a fictional method of water torture in which water is slowly dripped on to a person's forehead, driving the victim insane . This form of torture was first described under a different name by Hippolytus de Marsiliis in Italy in the 16th century . Supposedly the torture in dripping water is the slow rate at which the water flows. The victim can almost predict when the next drop will fall and a sense of tension builds up. When the drop finally does fall, a sense of shock and relief follows, only to be replaced with more tension about the next drop. The release of tension (no matter how small it is) prevents the victim from withdrawing inside himself. As this does not require interaction on the part of the torturer it can be done continuously. [Wikipedia article]

    Sometimes, degree by degree, a shift in awareness, direction, and behavior happens.

    Whether you hear a call the first time, a third time, or a forty-ninth time, rejoice greatly for you are now joined to the great prophetic tradition of revealing the real state of affairs and helping people change course as its consequences become clearer and clearer. Don't forget this same process is applied to the state politics as well as religious politics.

  5. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

    "We are not our own," presupposes both community in general and active community in particular.

    There are, oh, so many who would take this as a way of beginning to act on behalf of someone else, to use it to take over that someone else by claiming it is in their best interest. And, oh, so many who avoid taking responsibility for themselves, for that is somone else’s obligation. This is how we get into all manner of difficulties from simple misunderstanding to war. Our body (their soul) is a temple that requires their mind (our idea) to be the organizing principle.

    The Spiritual Formation Bible puts it this way: "The bread of sincerity and truth that Paul advises us to eat nourishes the spirit much like a loaf of bread satisfies hunger. What happens, then, when sexual immorality replaces integrity? When overindulgence replaces self-control? The body is not separate from the soul; what nourishes one nourishes the other. What destroys or degrades one destroys or degrades the other.

    "If you were asked to speak to young people in your church about sexual immorality and the sanctity of marriage, how might you paraphrase or expand the argument Paul gives here? How much of your own lecture do you need to hear?"

    How do we talk about and listen to community relationships beyond various codes of behavior punishable by guilt, exile, or penal punishment?

  6. John 1:43-51

    There is a surprise in finding and being found. This comes from the experience and resignation to it that that which is desired will remain only a desire. When such arrives, from whatever direction, even if sought diligently, there is surprise, joy and thanksgiving.

    Just prior to this accounting, Andrew, one of John the Baptist's disciples, found Jesus and went on to find his brother Simon Peter. Andrew experienced the two great commandments in this finding, God and neighbor (even if G*D show up as Jesus and neighbor as brother).

    Now, Jesus finds Philip and Philip finds Nathanael. There is unexpectedness and even resistance in the being found. Earlier Jesus has responded, "Come and see" in regard to how he was living. Now, Philip repeats this gentle invitation unladen by promises and cant. You've got questions, we've got experiences. Let's see how they inform one another.

    May we continue this tradition in our invitational approaches. Simply say what you've found, what happened when you were found, and invite others to, "come and see" what they may find and to explore their experience of being found.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.