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.]


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