Pentecost Last - November 25, 2013 - Year C
Context: The United Methodist Church trying Frank Schaefer for celebrating his son's marriage to another male -- son and son-in-law -- a patriarch's dream, except for legalistic religious types appealing to some letter-of-the-law type of "justice" with nary a pinch of human kindness, much less mercy.
How can this passage in this context not be a condemnation of everyone along the way who was swayed to vote for discrimination by some fear of losing members or money or their own privilege?
The shepherd has become the wolf, and a self-devouring one at that.
At times like this it is tempting to wait for a "Lord" who punished folks into exile to become self-dismayed and bring them home (blaming things now on another set of folks). [How do you read G*D gathering back folks G*D had driven away?]
This temptation is unworthy of folks made in an image of steadfast love and merciful justice. We need to call it for what it is, serial injustice upon one officially condemned group after another -- same tactics, different targets.
We need to get over some "Lord" being our righteousness. We have integrity inherent in our bones even if we do cover it up all too often with an overlay of officiousness and expediency. To be zealous for judgment is to be blind to mercy.
A second context is LovePrevailsUMC.com sitting in on a Connectional Table meeting that was so boring the leaders had to plead for an Amen after characterizing Jesus as an "adaptive leader", the latest highest praise a functionary can muster. The whole meeting was sad with members nearly dozing off if not browsing Amazon. Energy was at a minimum and communication was all about branding rather than doing/being.
It is tempting to sic a righteous G*D on such unrighteous waste of time, energy, and resources. Again, this temptation is not creative enough for folks who have tasted of good and evil.
"Woe," cry the shepherds who don't know where new grass is. "Woe," cry the sheep sacrificed one-by-one. "Woe," cries a G*D caught in a self-designed trap.