Thursday, August 21, 2014

Matthew 16:13-20

Pentecost +11 or Community Practice 11
August 24, 2014

Matthew 16:13-20

Interpretation of the data can be spun in any number of directions. And yet one way of looking at it begins to make more sense than other views. This is an everlasting issue seen these days in how data regarding weather changes is understood. Are you an affirmer of human effect on the environment or a denier?

How is it that the disciples sorted through eternal questions to settle on Jesus as a messiah? They would have known the measuring rod of ridding Israel of the Romans and establishing political/economic/military dominance as keys to such an affirmation and yet there is so little that could be used to document this as Jesus' self understanding.

We could go back to the set-up question about the "Son of Man". This title was quickly and easily connected with new and old heroes. When asked about their current hero, how could the disciples not give a title and "Messiah" would express their cultural desire.

How might we respond in this day to a question of how we identify our desire with Jesus? There will be a strong contingent wanting to do the Christian dominionist thing of conqueror. There will be some who want to keep Jesus very spiritual. Others will stake out a variety of other understandings.

For now we are back in a pre-Pentecost struggle of power against power, placing our bets, and investing our energies to be on the winning side. Rather than take this affirmation as a resting place or rocky foundation, we might better look at it as one stage of development that must be worked through in order to move on.

Eventually, stage by stage, we come to larger visions. If we hearken back to Pentecost at this point we might respond that Jesus is an opener of closed doors and a re-binder of people who have been divided by experiences expressed in different languages. These mercies will lead us toward a continued engagement with the world rather than an overcoming of it.

For the moment erase all this certainty of triumph and rocks and keys. Be a bit more lowly in your desire and simply say that Jesus is one teaching me to more clearly see G*D within my life and within the lives of others, including those so easily and temporarily called an enemy. For the moment consider the function of an alchemist who has found the transformational element of mercy, not condemnation. This cannot be captured in a title, but a movement.

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