Sunday, March 05, 2006

March 12, 2006 - Year B - Lent 2

March 12, 2006

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38 or Mark 9:2-9

Jim Taylor's Sharp Edges column today is entitled "Contradictory Values." This gives us a lens through which to look at the scriptures for this week. What contradictory values show up in your life.

Read Jim's column and browse his archives for further helpful perspectives.


  1. Mark 8:31-38 or Mark 9:2-9

    So what are we to say or not say about the locus of our faith or life. Apparently we talk differently among ourselves than with others. Though, some folks don't seem to be able to make that distinction and have only one speed or one message. Internally we say extravagant things. Here we speak of Messiah and Satan on a first name basis. Externally we don't get ahead of their experience unless we want to sow destructive seeds.

    A frustration is that on the inside of too many congregations we no longer talk the extravagant talk. We are so easily hurt, so spiritually fragile that we dare not talk about the emperor being naked or a text being evocative.

    Check out what you talk about and with whom. Where do you press points? Where do you push the boundaries?

  2. Romans 4:13-25

    We are not always consistent about our presentation of law and faith. We sure do like to be able to use the law to our advantage and so we work hard at wordsmithing (yuk on that construct) public statements of the religious organizations we are a part of. We understand that what is said and how it is said are related matters, but no matter how smoothly a harsh statement is made it is still hurtful. So we work hard at what is said.

    At the same time, when the law is not to our advantage we tend to swing over to faith talk so we can proceed to act in accord with our conscience.

    Hoping against hope we legislate, legislate, legislate. Hopefully we will get it said clearly enough to change lives.

    Reckoning faith as righteousness is a last resort of those who are out of resorts to legislation. Faith acts as if lives were already changed.

    In what arenas are you a lawist and in which a gracist?

  3. Psalm 22:23-31

    Praise of G*D is given for actions of release, freedom, and care for the poor, the earth, the dead. Praise is never devoid of specific actions. Praise is not just praise, but praise comes in response to care-full behaviors.

    In this light, praise is not just oral praise based on intellectual constructs or emotional/personality typologies, but also has a healthy dose of emulating behavior. If G*D is to be praised for matters of deliverance, are we not called to participate in deliverance of others and creation from the bondages they find themselves in? Our highest praise, then, is an imitation of G*D's intentions and actions.

    So, praise well by your choices to be a partner in releasing the memory of folks gone by, forgiving the lives of people right now, and setting up a deliverance of those yet to be present. As we participate in these actions we exponentially increase the quality and quantity of praise.

  4. Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

    Anytime we get into conditional covenants (the proof of the covenant is in some improbable future) we find ourselves conflicted. How long do we stay with hope? How soon do we fall on our face laughing that we ever considered being a party to this farce?

    Of course we can always fall back on the equally difficult to prove issues of testing (we are just being tested so never think twice) and plans (God has a plan in mind that will come to pass simply because it is God's plan and God is all powerful and unchanging). Of the two testing is the easier concept, but neither is very satisfactory and require an inordinate amount of denial of experience.

    Abram and Sarai did pretty well, all things considered, with hanging in there well past any reasonable time frame to see a promised result. There was a little side-track through Hagar to the side (but how can we honestly dismiss Hagar and Ishmael so - only if we are so captured by some storyline that what happens to people doesn't matter as long as God comes out of it smelling like a rose).

    Here then is the covenantal conflict - between our love of G*D and our love of neighbor.

  5. Romans 4:13-25

    The New Interpreter's Study Bible has this excursus:

    "Abraham is cited more frequently in Paul's letters than any other historical figure except Jesus. By Paul's day, Abraham was honored as the quintessential believer who had worshiped the one true God in the midst of idolatrous peoples. His stature had been embellished by legend, miracles, and quasi-deification; and his grave in Hebron was regarded as a holy place. Rabbis taught that God ordained Torah 'for Abraham's sake' and that he kept it perfectly even before it was given on Mt. Sinai. A eulogy to Abraham in Sirach 44:19-21 claims that he had no equal in glory . Abraham was a bold choice on Paul's part because Jewish rabbis taught that Abraham had been justified because of works. Paul demonstrates that Abraham was justified apart from both law and works, and thus was proof of justification by faith."

    Again competing forces show up. Abraham/Jesus. Law/Grace. Works/Faith. It is easy to go for one of a pair rather than both. A part of the practicality United Methodists claim in their theology is the bothness of covenants, of starting points and outcomes. Seeing the connections between seeming choices actually enhances both parts of a choice. May you continue to appreciate such enhancement without being overwhelmed by it.

  6. Mark 8:31-38 or Mark 9:2-9

    Get behind me, Satan!

    Come alongside me, Moses and Elijah!

    The disciples refuse to hear of difficulties and get flustered to the point of gibbering. This is the response of the Satan in any religious tradition -- taking statements to the extreme and limiting the glory of clarity. We find this in any imperial, authoritarian, or fascist system.

    Getting caught between "civilization and backwardness" is not a new story. You may want to watch this video of Dr. Wafa Sultan. Do you see Jesus in a teaching moment in this clip?

    How might we call the great reformers to our side to be willing to "look toward Jerusalem" and say what needs to be said even if it leads to suffering and death? How can we be quiet about the consequences of violent systems without taking on an irrelevant martyr-complex?

    Satan, Moses, Elijah, or Jesus -- lets say what needs to be said as clearly as we can. It probably takes more than cryptic little snippets such as these reflections. Where in the world do we speak beyond ourselves?


Thank you for blessing us with your response.