Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jeremiah 18:1-11

Pentecost +15 - Year C

Jeremiah 18:1-11

So good of G*D to give direction to a revelation, a looking at the world and seeing new connections. It happens a potter's house is a great place to find metaphors. Any number of them have been noted.

A significant part of this passage is the implication that we might also be called by G*D to specific locations where a revelation might be caught. Consider all that has needed to conspire together to get you to the spot where you are. What important metaphor can you look around and see at hand or listen to right now and hear a new melody? Can you remember to repeat a search each of the next four hours?

Not so good of G*D to give direction to a grand curse, a looking at the world around (one's image) and attending more to a wobble than a graceful of line. A potter's house is also a great place to find fired up certainties whose only possible change is that of breakage.

May you learn from G*D that changing your mind about the good you intended is not a healthy response, no matter what the provocation.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Luke 14:25-33

Pentecost +15 - Year C

Luke 14:25-33

Let's see, Jesus can affront and confound people just by standing still, when invited in, by stopping mid-stride, praying, wandering off by himself, and observing others. An equal opportunity challenger, was Jesus. Observing that trait of his, we would naturally try to get on his good side or at least evade his gaze should it drift in our direction.

Unfortunately, his gaze is as erratic as a prison searchlight should be. Here we are all marching along. A cadence has been set. Then, mid-stride, Jesus throws everyone off stride.

"Is death your advisor?" he asks. Later rememberers of this moment put that in terms of his own death on a cross, but he probably simply said, "What does your death tell you it is important to be about, that you might see life more clearly and act more compassionately?"

The implication of his brother/sister/mother/father talk is that Advisor Death (precursor of the Holy Spirit later sent to advise us) will let us know that there is something more important than family/church solidarity. Blood and Creedal lines are not all they are cracked up to be.

Can you hear Jesus say, "Look around. What is more important for you than simply being in the good graces of the folks standing next to you in this crowd and thinking, thereby, you have pleased me? Why are you following? Get moving!"

It is easy to read the moral of this section as through a Lenten lens, through a perspective of financing the church - give up your possessions. It is appropriate, in light of the prior questions, to ask about where you will "invest" your life. This then reads, "Do you want to join me on this Way to G*D? Invest fully in life (which means risk fully)."

= = = = = = =

On a more personal level, as the Power of Attorney for my mother's health care in a family of five siblings, there is a sense in which everyone in the crowd was just invested with the Power of Attorney for their own and each other's health/wholeness/salvation. And, not surprisingly, everyone took it so that the various component parts could not carry on as they had with their various accepted positions or divisions of labor - sort of a variation on the Tower of Babel where all the different languages become all the different stages and paces of those involved and, as a result, don't easily mesh. It is risky business to have a whole crowd become invested with the equivalent ordination pronouncement, "Take thou authority . . . ."

We are doing well in working together, beyond blood and creed, for a common goal of a comfortable transition to a next stage of life, but this passage has taken on a new glow for me in light of the world around. That actually happens a lot, but this is an easily noticed shift. What new aspect of this pericope have you noticed?

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Luke 14:1-14

on one occasion
the expected did not

an invitation
became a test

internal not external
monitored none the less

without a change in expression
plop - a test


no question
take and heal

note turning point
and teach

a meal is a banquet
to be honored so

relate honestly
eat healthily

don't steal another's place
don't pile your own plate

honor and health
need intentional integrity

which does not expand
power and waist

but extends a beginning
invitation and welcome

to each and all
beyond any one occasion

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

Pentecost +14 - Year C

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

Need an out from being hypocritical? Try Verse 1: Let mutual love continue.

Of course this presumes that some mutual love has been going on within one's selves and/or between folks. Being hospitable is an antidote for hypocrisy, a division within one's self - what is said and what is done.

Life's messengers are entertained when that which has been divided is again joined together. When complicit in torture and we finally stand against torture (physical, psychological, any) we entertain angels. When complicit in not holding one another tight through any of the demon dialogues mentioned in Hold Me Tight and we hold again, forgive, bond, and otherwise keep love alive, we entertain angels. When we cease to be complicit regarding the coin of the realm and its attendant greed, we entertain angels.

Bottom Line - It is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations. (v. 9) This is the better living we anticipate, not after death, but right now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Psalm 81:1, 10-16

Pentecost +14 - Year C

Psalm 81:1, 10-16

Take one

O that folks would listen to me - that I would be understood for what I meant, not what I said or did or didn’t say or didn’t do.

G*D seems to feel that having brought folks out of Egypt that G*D would never again have to face the cry, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately. Well, imagine that, G*D and G*D’s image seem to have a lot in common.

Never in G*D/Israel connections has so much been offered to so few.

It would appear that if praise is going to be freely given, there must also be the possibility of not following every command performance to give gratitude.

Take two

Yesterday my mother had a stroke (bleeding kind, not clotting kind) in a very difficult spot. Surgery intervention is out. Doctor’s prognosis is not good for recovery. As a family we are working on our response. Thank goodness she was as independent as she was to have the appropriate things in place for not playing the resuscitation game.

Hear this Psalm in a mother’s voice -

Sing aloud to Mothers Anonymous, our strength; shout for joy to every Mother of G*D.

I am your Mother, who brought you up out of every trouble you have gotten yourself into. Open your mouth wide and I’ll put another gingersnap in it.

“But my children did not listen to my voice; even my favorite would not follow my wisdom.
So I gave them over to the school of hard knocks, to follow their own counsel.
O that my children would listen to me, that each one would walk in my ways!
Then I would quickly subdue their enemies, and turn my hand against their foes.
Those who are after my young-ones had better watch out, for a mother’s wrath brings doom forever.

But my prodigal dear, I will still feed you with the finest oyster stew, and with crumbcake from scratch I would satisfy you.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jeremiah 2:4-13

Pentecost +14 - Year C

Jeremiah 2:4-13

If G*D were domesticated we would be wrong to stray. A tenting G*D, however, both wanders away and intentionally moves on. In such an image we also wander away, when we are not intentionally moving on.

While G*D’s complaint about those G*D brought on Exodus has some legitimacy of folks no longer being on the same page, a question must be asked about who has wandered and who has stayed the same.

Imagine a Living G*D who has moved further down the line and a people who are still reacting out of the rituals of the past. Might the people be considered to have “moved far from G*D” simply by staying still? This can be seen as a difficulty of our being able to keep up.

One reason for looking at things this way is that G*D is described as a fountain and the people as leaky cistern diggers. A fountain is moving, a cistern is still.

So, from the other side, our danger is not hewing to past movements of G*D, but failing to keep on moving with G*D. Courage friends. It is time to strike out again for promises larger than can be held in today’s hands.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Luke 14:1-14

Pentecost +14 - Year C

Luke 14:1-14

What a gift - silence. In its presence all is possible, renewal and healing are approachable through new avenues.

To be bound up in our joints is to not be able to move. It is like the childhood game of Statue, at some moment we take a shape and are frozen. A word in the midst of our silence is needed.

Jesus question about the lawfulness of healing or curing implies that the law can be construed, if not literally quoted, to restrain the bringing of new life. In the face of such laws sometimes the best one can get is silence so that a good can be done.

It must be noted that acting in the midst of silence runs similar dangers as being in a closet. Sometimes a glimmer of intended integrity can occur, but it is always in the context of a danger of someone coming out of a trance or later remembering and seeking revenge.

In other contexts, a meal, that same silence holds dangers even for those who are privileged. Determining the etiquette of space not always self-evident. It is all to easy to usurp someone’s space and you will pay for it, then or later. Jesus’ comment about assuming a lower place is the equivalent of acting in the midst of silence. There is freedom in both silent space and lower place - freedom to act, freedom to model better living, freedom to expand love.

At a non-traditional wedding yesterday, I was privileged to read a translation of 1 Corinthians 13 by one of the partners. It began:
If I speak in human language or in that of the messengers, but do not have love (the love that is passionately committed to the well-being of the other), I am a resounding piece of copper or a clanging cymbal.
They felt it important to say more than the standard “love” and assume everyone present would know what they meant - the love they wanted to participate in and that Jesus demonstrates in this pericope is “the love that is committed to the well-being of the other.”

You may want to write that down so that every time you hear someone talking generically about love, you can remember the kind of love in which you are looking to participate in your space, your place.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Pentecost + 13


= = = = = = =


= = = = = = =

teaching what is teaching
teaching what is teaching
shifts power
teaching what is teaching
convicts certainty
teaching what is teaching

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hebrews 12:18-29

Pentecost +13

Hebrews 12:18-29

Living G*D’s are always dangerous. They leave chaos in their wake. Rules are made and remade. Rituals come and go. What will satisfy a Living G*D won’t satisfy a reformed Living G*D that recognizes the previous way of doing business was no longer satisfactory for either G*D or creation or creature.

You thought the threat of fire next time was tough to bear up under, that’s nothing compared to the blaze of requirements of this reformed Living G*D. In retrospect it seems that it was easier to deal with animal sacrifice for behavioral issues than it is to deal with doctrinal sacrifice for theological issues.

To circle back to the gospel lesson, can you hear Jesus talking to both the Living G*D of his tradition and the reformed Living G*D he was experiencing - and using the term hypocrite? You can’t really talk about hypocrisy of priests without also talking about the hypocrisy of the power they represent or mediate.

Give thanks or else, is not a comforting word. Blessing on you for being able to give thanks by simply seeing life beyond wrath and calling out those who limit us to a fear-based approach to life. Blessings on you for being able to give thanks even while seeing the end of life as subservience and randomness and colluding with it. Blessings on you for being able to give thanks while convinced there is no hope and nothing to trust. Simply blessings on you for your thanksgiving, regardless of its etiology or degree.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Psalm 71:1-6

Pentecost +13

Psalm 71:1-6

Peterson's The Message translation of verse 1:
"I run for dear life to God, I'll never live to regret it."

This is probably, literally, a running in fear. But put the emphasis differently and "dear life" takes on a quality of life we claim as desireable.

What are you running for?

For dear life, away from something fearful to you, and by default your running takes you toward G*D?

For "dear life" which is sufficient in itself and is always found in G*D (you don't have to go anywhere or even toward something).

It is in this second reading in which we find our regrets fade away. If we have acted for "dear life" in the occasions we find ourself, we have life in such abundance that no regret will steal some of it back.

Yes, the Psalm goes on to put the onus of our salvation on G*D (and, of course, the blame if we don't sense it). The Psalm goes on to praise, praise, praise.

Hear again the first verse, "I run for dear life within G*D, I'll never live to regret it."

There are many paths to "dear life." May your "dear life" bring you joy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Pentecost +13

Jeremiah 1:4-10

It would be helpful to extend this passage to verse 19. Left where it is, Jeremiah is given words, but when further queried by G*D Jeremiah responds in pictures and is then given words to describe the scenes. This distinction between the doctrine of words and the experience of pictures is important for those of us who dabble in biblical metaphor.

Most of us can confirm that there has been an energy within that has been working its way outward and now cannot be restrained. It is a gift that now seems it couldn’t be otherwise. This gift must have been with us from before we were even thought of (read Azimov’s Foundation Series). It is of such intensity that we will now hold to it through thick and thin. And so Jeremiah rises and stands.

My hope and prayer is that more folks would have this sense of being part of something larger and be about the business of using their gift to engage a larger community in making the changes needed for all involved to continue. Stability is not the hallmark of a long life, appropriate adjustments mark the successful individual and culture.

At the same time that there is good energy here, there will be trouble later with Jeremiah being dismissed and ignored. And now at a much later date, there is the danger of taking Jeremiah's images too literally and to mean the same thing in days to come. There are none who can hold the whole world in their hand (or mouth). In the words of a song by Bob Franke, we are all bottom-feeding catfish, “for everything falls, after all.”

Jeremiah looks realistically at the world around him and sees transitions of power. If you were to look around you, what would you identify as shifts in power - might they have to do with identity politics of gender, race, culture, orientation? might they have to do with political and economic consequences of their philosophies being taken to the extreme? might they have to do with a lack of resources (both amount and distribution)? might they have to do with a fear that we are going to fall, after all, and so our task is to live well with reality rather our denial of it in favor of one religious insight or another.?

Luke 13:10-17

Pentecost +13

Luke 13:10-17

A question has arisen regarding whether Jesus can be hypocritical? A good bit of this depends on how one sees Chalcedon - now calcified or not? A reference book I find helpful is John Hick's, The Metaphor of God Incarnate in which he describes the difficulties theologians have today, regardless of their stripe, in justifying the divine/human uniqueness of Jesus and Christ. Hypocrisy is a justification of the past and a fear of changing it.

One story that comes to the fore is when Jesus dismisses the Syrophoenician woman and her daughter, only to recognize his hypocrisy when hearing her response. In the gospel lesson for this week, those who hear Jesus response are not able to recognize their own hypocrisy and to change directions.

Having light feet is one helpful way to reduce one’s hypocrisy level. Folks whose feet are stuck in one concrete or other and whose mouths deny this reality, seem unable to dance away from hypocrisy and reform their lives.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Luke 13:10-17

Pentecost +13

Luke 13:10-17

Life brings opportunity after opportunity to respond to what is before us, rather than what is already past. A built-in response, even from such a revered place as doctrine, seems to continually miss the mark. If we substitute any systemic response for that of paying attention to what is needed now, we eventually run afoul of the hypocrisy demon.

To know a rule without the ability to recognize when to use it and when to ignore it begins to put us in a box that will eventually, in turn, be used to put everyone else in a box and relate to them as less than human (otherwise they wouldn’t be in a box).

So it is that Jesus [read, “you”] is able to see a woman in need of an encouraging word (a first step toward a healing word - a healing word that would allow a scan of a larger horizon than the dirt at her feet).

Jesus could have joined others in the hypocrisy box, simply by having his eye on G*D’s judgment and rule from yesterday that would constrain us today. Instead, Jesus actually saw a woman first, rather than a set of rules that would dim her in his eye (each layer of rule further obscuring her presence and reality) and perhaps make her invisible. Instead, Jesus was looking around him with an eye to G*D’s mercy. Instead of dimming the woman, she began to become brighter and clearer. Jesus was able to see the straightness in her bent form and to call it forth.

It is noteworthy that the issue of hypocrisy is connected with shame. The approach to rules first, rather than mercy, is meant as an insulation from engaging life. The rules simplify our life and we all participate in them to some extent (they do keep traffic moving). And to be caught out, when we thought we had our protection up, failing in basic care for one another, we are ashamed - partly for the good we could have done, but didn’t, but mostly for having trusted our rules and finding that they didn’t keep us from getting called out - the Living G*D we thought we had under control is moving on leaving the husks of rules behind.

It seems our lives are complex enough that there is hypocrisy in every life. At stake is the amount and the arena of our hypocrisy. A part of our task is simply to be aware of the many avenues through which we are hypocritical and to begin lessening how much we have in a particular arena and to reduce the fields in which we are active. This is both individual and communal work.

In this story shame will lead to revenge for having been shown to be out of touch. An important question for every day is how we gauge our hypocrisy level. Can we even see that we have one? Is it high enough to keep us blind to the needs of people as we “should” all over them? Is is low enough that we can better see folks and move toward them with mercy? May you be blessed with a bit less tolerance for rules for the sake of power than yesterday and a bit more mercy toward all than you thought you had - and the same tomorrow.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Pentecost +12 - Year C

I came to bring fire
but I didn't

baptism absent
and so I wait and wait

people project peace
coming from me
but no

are as natural
as the generations are long

cloud on the horizon
rain is coming
oh my

seems stable
but given enough time

seasons spin around again
never the same

I didn't
bring a fire

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Pentecost +12 - Year C

Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Blessed are those who are persecuted for their faith. Twice blessed are those who later have someone join them to continue faithfulness in the face of persecution.

Should you pay attention to the host of ancestral models, everywhere you look there will be a challenging forerunner in the faith. While you won't be breaking any new ground, you may be able to heal some old ground simply by continuing the ancient tradition of taking any consequence that comes along by way of holding to any of the myriad ways of justice and release from captivity (your own or someone else's). As long as there is a continued need for justice to be enacted, there is an ancestor still uneasy apart from your joining them on the journey of life.

The promise here is not that we will be the final iteration of faithful folk that will complete all those who go before, but that we are on the same journey. Should we not complete a task, we will have the privilege of joining a cloud of witnesses, encouraging those who come after us to pay attention to the justice needs of their time. This is helpful in that there is a benefit from simply running as faithfully as we can. We may find ourselves blessed with the completion of a task. We may find ourselves blessed with taking that task one step further along the way to completion. Either way, we find ourselves blessed simply to do what is ours to do - regardless of the outcome.

So, who is your avatar in the faith? Gideon, Deborah, David, prophetesses? To note this person is to discern the arena of your faithfulness. May you go pro in your field of faithful endeavor. You may still be an amateur in some other arena, but improving your ability to be just in a particular life issue is possible and desirable.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19

Pentecost +12 - Year C

Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19

Hey, G*D, stir up your might, get out of bed, run here, and save us!

You've done it before. Time to do it again. Your indolence is responsible for our peril, so get a move on.

We're finally and really sorry - yes, we know you've heard us say that before, but there really is a wolf at the door this time, dressed in pig's clothing no less, eating the fruit of the vine - so help us now and we'll tell everyone what a great gal you are, uhh, great guy, uhh, great god you are.

If I were G*D, I'd go back to bed. But, the persistence of these bloody mosquitoes (images) is great. I guess I'd get up, but grudgingly. Would I believe them? Nope. I know them too well, they are in my image after all. They will continue to want what they want when they want it. So, let's set up the toys for them to knock over again - someday, they'll grow up, at least that hope is still holding, though it is fragile.

How about you? Will you get up for such as are running the world down while expecting a miraculous pick-me-up at the end?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Isaiah 5:1-7

Pentecost +12 - Year C

Isaiah 5:1-7

Must be the Dog Days of Summer, Jesus is looking to burn up the earth, Isaiah is prophesying destruction for a vineyard, the Psalmist recognizes similar destructions have fallen upon the land and pleads for new light, and the letter writer to the Hebrews recounts a cloud of persecutions witnessed. The sweat of our brow is soaking inward, softening the mind and clouding hope.

It is hard enough to do justice when comfortable. When the hot stickies of Sirius joins with the heat of Sol, it is easy to let a bit more of justice slip away - who has the energy to do elsewise?

It is hard enough to be consciously moving toward being G*D (righteous) when comfortable. When the heat humidity index hits the danger level, we hide further away from our self and one another - who has the fortitude to resist absence of intention, we can hardly move ourselves?

So it is that no matter what our call, it is trumped by such little water droplets in warm air and by the driest of heat rising beyond the bearable.

But we know that, so why don't we factor it in to our rhythms and our awareness? Can you look just one more time at what is going on around you and to offer a cup of cool water to someone in need, a refreshing word of support to a whole group prohibited from simply being? Yes, you can! Bloodshed can be stanched by justice.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Luke 12:49-56

Pentecost +12 - Year C

Luke 12:49-56

Division and separation are creation-long experiences. Formless void and darkness are separated from light, a garrulous and day-long absent G*D is separated from said image of same and they from their garden chatting place, languages are separated one from another, unclean shellfish are separated from clean sheep, Samaritans are separated from Jews and Gentiles, and the list of separations can continue and continue to today's religious-right identity politics of separationing gay from straight.

Yes, Jesus continues, and even provokes, division and separation. His attempts at clarifying meaning seem to automatically provoke. With Jesus as forerunner of our faith, it is little surprise that we continue to provoke one another to the point of division after division and separation after separation - how many Christian sects are there - as many as the stars in the sky or sand in the ocean (a promise to Abram and Sarai fulfilled?).

Instead of presuming there is no way around some of our disputes (even though the best that might be done is to manage them, not to dispel them) there is here room for us to ask some clarifying questions. What are our divisions? Are you sure? Is there somewhere greater to which our current separating smallnesses might be led? If we are just disputing to dispute because what we are disputing about doesn't really amount to a hill of beans in a larger reality around us, the refining fire of this recognition will exacerbate our stress immensely.

Can we look at ourselves with the same clarity we apply to clouds? Who among us is a nimbostratus? a cumulus? a nacreous? What clarity will resolve long-standing divisions and which will finally bring a needed separation? These are questions for whole religious traditions, as well as a congregation/parish, and an individual.

I expect that dealing with an issue of clarity will also have its dark side as it expands a yearning to have simple resolutions to complex issues. Clarity can also energize precipitous action in the expectation of dealing with ongoing polarities, once and for all.

Said anew, "You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to clarify your present time and your present life?"

This issue of clarity is the issue, not the fire next time or instituting our own current personal or cultural bias.

Friday, August 06, 2010

or not

Pentecost +11

do not be afraid, y’all
a good pleasure of the universe
is present
ready or not

this treasure tugs
at our heart and hearts
anticipating only readiness
like it or not

much has been given
entrusted even
much is to be given
required or not

no solemn assembly
can avoid harm and do good
no ritualized offering determines
justice or not

beauty shines forth
honor replaces sacrifice
health is purposeful
thanks given or not

this moment clarifies hope
expanding love well beyond faith
toward a preferred future
seen or not

gazing into Sagan numbered stars
digging a deep and firm foundation
conjures promises and possibilities
prepared or not

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Pentecost +11 - Year C

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Take 1

By faith Abram and Sarai set out. If you are not up to the faith standard, there are still hope and love and additional ways to journey.

Try this variation: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the love of things not seen. Even without assurance that hope will be fulfilled, one can still hope and still love.

Whether by faith, hope, love, or some other path, we can still desire a better world than we currently find. Of course it will require changing ourselves as well as the world, since we are still very much connected. It does open the possibility of modeling the changes we desire.

Whether working from a position of assurance or hope or love or something else, have at it so that you can be grounded in this place and not need some other in which to live and move and have your being - here is enough.

Take 2

Yes, yes, yes, faith is directly connected with assurance and conviction. That is exactly the problem. Anything outside of faith must be prohibited for assured faith is convicted and convinced that it is the totality of what is possible.

Faith is the source of approval, so faith must be secure for all time.

It is in this sense that faith is connected with an other-worldly heaven. Faith and Heaven - between the two of them there is no other option than the option of what is currently understood to be faithful and heavenly by those who control access to either (as either implies both).

Watch out for an unashamed God insisting on faith and offering a heaven, someday. There you will find an idol, secure, never-changing, ever pure. There you will find Crusades and Inquisitions.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23

Pentecost +11 - Year C

Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23

Time to stand and deliver - no not robbery, or hard work and a positive attitude, or a birthing technique - thanksgiving as participation in life.

This thanksgiving way of life ought to be sufficient by itself. Does it really need some quid pro quo of salvation to improve it or make it worth doing?

No, thanksgiving doesn't need any frosting to make it palatable - it is, in a very real sense the whole of a dessert course. At the end of a meal or a day, it is thanksgiving moments that are retained in the memory and satisfy the soul. So often we begin days and meals with high expectations we shape into ritualized thanksgiving. But until they have been concretized and brought home in dessert and dream time, they are but techniques designed to soothe sound and fury (see verse 3).

Yes, start with a blessing but don't end until it has been transformed into a thanksgiving.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

Pentecost +11 - Year C

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

Right thinking is concerned with getting rituals correct.
Right action is concerned with getting justice correct.

There is nothing to keep these from working together. However, the witness of religious history is that religio/politico rituals keep trumping elementary justice, religious laws keep trampling lived experience. Were this not the case, the prophetic tradition, a third of the TaNaKh, would not have the continued presence and power it has.

In this adversarial setting, G*D has seen a larger picture, "though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow". And so a question: given this eventuality, to what are we called to attend and practice?

Do you want to participate in the "snow/wool" conclusion or the "scarlet/crimson" resistance? If the former, here's the agenda:
  • do no harm
  • do good
  • seek justice
           rescue, defend, and plead for
           the oppressed, orphan, and widow

This is importantly different from other approaches such as the General Rules of the United Methodist Church:
  • do not harm
  • do good
  • attend to the ordinances of God
           public worship, Word (read or expounded), and Lord's Supper
           private prayer, searching Scripture, and abstinence

Again, these can work together. However religious prohibitions/ordinances, in our day against Gay and Lesbian Christians, seem to keep tripping up that which is for the "good of the land", the commonwealth of G*D, and a healthy connection between thinking and action.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Luke 12:32-48

Pentecost +11 - Year C

Luke 12:32-48

We are still echoing the issue of testing in the prayer the disciples asked for without knowing what they were getting into. There are several hooks into the testing motif in this passage. For today we'll look at the test of independence or interdependence. Here is an extended quote from Richard W. Swanson in his Provoking the Gospel of Luke.

Sell your possessions.

Give alms.

This second bit of advice is palatable enough. Giving alms is an expected part of Jewish life. Every Sabbath includes the giving of tzedekah; every year includes structured times to remember the importance of such obligations. The bite comes when these two injunctions are linked to each other: sell your possessions in order to give alms. This envisions a radical sort of interdependence rooted in exchanged poverty.

It reminds me of the Lakota practice of giveaway.

After a death the bereaved family gives its possessions to their neighbors and family. Stated in more revealing terms, the family gives itself to its neighbors. If the family is to go on, the neighbors will have to carry it. Which, of course, is exactly what is required at such a moment. The giveaway reveals a basic truth of human life: no one can go on unless carried by neighbors. This is not a truth unique to a time of bereavement. Death just reveals what is always true: human life is a team sport.

The Lakota know this, and practice it, now as always. Jews know it, too. Worship requires the gathering of a minyan, a group of sufficient size to create a community. Study requires a partner, a chaver, someone who will sharpen the insights and deepen the comprehension, someone who will challenge and support. There is an old saying: One Jew is no Jew. Only in such a community could anyone (notice the number) give up everything and still have everything she needs.

--> "Radical interdependence rooted in exchanged poverty."
--> "Human life is a team sport."

How might these images inform your reading of this passage that gets judgmental and expects everyone to be at the same level of learning and experience at the same time?

  • So is the Prayer the disciples asked for, for them or everyone?
  • Is this extension, for the disciples alone or everyone?
  • Is your preaching this week for the congregation or everyone? [Warning: if your preaching is for everyone, including the congregation, you will likely have some upset congregational members.]