Sunday, March 12, 2006

March 19, 2006 - Year B - Lent 3

Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

This week we might look at what clarifies the blockages of life. How do various limits help and restrict spiritual growth? Where does freedom help or restrict spiritual growth?

What linkages do you find between religious, personal, economic, political arenas of your life?


  1. John 2:13-22

    One of the best stewardship analysis tools are checkbook registers (if anyone still uses them instead of a bank statement) and credit card bills. Here we begin to see what a person's priorities are. "Show me the money," is not just a cry for "more," but an admission of applied values.

    Here we find money to also be an excellent gauge of one's sacrificial life. Where do you put down coins of the realm to assuage your guilt and shame? Compare that amount with a tithe of your income. How does that work for you?

    One of the dynamics that can be at work here is a focus on the external behaviors and our willingness to own up to any number of peccadilloes to avoid awareness of an unmentionable/unforgivable sin.

    Imagine, if you will, Jesus cleansing your checking account.

    If you can so imagine, you may be up to being able to hear a bit more about a resurrection for your life in this world after conversion from the suffering (shame) and death (guilt) of your past/present.

  2. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

    The message about the cross is foolishness.
    The message about the 10-to-613 commandments is foolishness.
    The message about loving G*D, self, neighbor, enemy is foolishness.
    The message about negotiating from strength is foolishness.
    The message about preemptive violence is foolishness
    The message about tax relief for the rich is foolishness.

    Foolishness, like beauty, seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

    So, what foolishness are you intentionally participating in these days and what foolishness are you illuminating as long-term stupidity.

    By our foolishnesses are we known.

  3. Psalm 19

    In the face of law upon decree upon precept upon commandment upon fear upon ordinance there is still plenty of room for things to fall into the gaps of what is not yet covered and a new law or decree or etc. A God of the gaps is not very satisfying. Living just waiting to be caught at something you hadn't anticipated is not a satisfying was to spend time.

    A reset to clear whatever went awry in a code too cumbersome track down is a good thing. A reset for whatever has gone astray is important to keep the system in good working order. Sometimes we find our drive filled with spyware and it needs to be cleansed. Little-by-little, Jesus found that money took over the sacrificial system and a reset was needed. Little-by-little, Moses found that a sense of trusting I-AM was covered over by concerns about what was left behind and all the different ways in which neighborliness went out the window erased erased the community building he was doing and a reset was needed.

    Chase moneychangers. Reset. Bring ten words. Reset.

    In this lenten season may you find your reset process to be blessed.

  4. Exodus 20:1-17

    The spiritual growth commandment is #4 - participate in Sabbath. In resting or trusting in the image of creation we find both the awe of being a partner with YHWH and the humility of being in solidarity with our neighbors.

    This is the spot where we learn more about ourselves in relationship to G*D and Neighbor. It is this opportunity to at once rub up against both the One Who Is and sisters and brothers that we find the spark of life being fanned into a flame.

    Without Sabbath there is no partnership, just our task to name and take dominion. Without Sabbath there is no larger context within which to structure our social relationships for the well-being of all concerned.

    This is even acknowledged within the Lenten timing. Our Sunday Sabbath is exempt from Lenten disciplines. It is here that we enter into the larger realm of meaning - partnership with G*D and solidarity with small and large communities.

    Here is an image that might be helpful in further meditating on this so the nature and name of G*D is not Commander in Chief, but "Thy nature and thy name is Love".

  5. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

    There is a temptation here to see our proclamation of "Christ crucified" as trumping all other proclamations, including the proclamation of creation, "It is good", and the proclamation of resurrection, "Peace be with you". There is a temptation here to view our finally getting the irony of G*D's weakest being G*D's strength as the fundamental piece of authority to make us extra wise and able to triumph over all other stages of faith.

    An important corrective comes four verses later (29), "so that no one might boast in the presence of God" or preempt G*D's freedom and lord it over one's neighbors.

    Look back on church history and count the ways in which pride in the cross has led to war and torture. G*D's foolishness in using this spiritual jujitsu of weakness against strength is very tricky for us to use and usually shows our foolishness as foolishness, not wisdom. Saints are able to carry this off, but we never trust them to actually lead us in this wisdom until they are safely dead.

  6. John 2:13-22

    What is an acceptable sacrifice in an urban setting? From days of yore the standard was something of your livelihood - a sheaf of wheat, a lambkin. Tradition kept those items going as appropriate sacrifices even past the time when folks had a connection with them and their attachment to one's survival.

    To keep an archaic system running it now takes the intermediary of money. Now urban folks could buy their farm produce and we could pretend all was still in balance. Sacrifice, however is never based on the externals, but the internal dynamic of friendship. One will lay dow their life for a friend. This is the covenant, our friendship with GOD. Buying a sacrifice is like getting your friend a gift certificate instead of paying attention to their likes and dislikes and gifting them with something that took thought and time.

    It was the disciples who tried to do religious talk about this scene. They remembered language like, "zeal for God's house". Ahh, the assumptions and projections that remembrance conjures. The religious leaders at least asked "Why?" and expected an explanation.

    Jesus' picture is his connection with life as it might be. This is a reconnection of sacrifice with lives, not money. This is a reconnection of my life with all the parts of meaning and a willingness to take on meaning through one's own life, not the structures that have been handed down. A challenge to us is to connect with the leaders and institutions of our day with this same sense of personal, even physical, identification and direct action to reset the agenda so our rituals reflect our experience, not the experience of folks in days gone bye or on the terms of religious, political, economic or other isolated leaders.

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