Monday, June 20, 2016

Luke 9:51-62

Year C - Pentecost+6 or Community Practice+6
June 26, 2016

This pericope will be the text of my final Sunday time at a 9-month return to the pastoral ministry. 

"As the time approached when Wesley was to be re-retired, he determined to follow a vision of Peace Beyond Understanding too easily translated into religious idolatry of place. "Who knows whether I will be more preaching to myself or to the congregation.

The messengers developed from a 9-month run (some leaving, some joining in) will be entering known difficulties that will put them on edge and doubt their work of preparation. Their temptation will be that of every thwarted suitor or missionary: consign an ideal but reluctant beloved to whatever is meant by hell.

By our very ardor we are spoken to as sternly as we desired to strike others. It will be important to spend time here imaging what “stern words” Jesus used. As quiet as those words may have been (remember how proactive Jesus was with the Gerasene and how gently he left that land when rejected), they were remembered as very bracing indeed. What is more important than winning or revenge? Of such did Jesus speak?

The following interactions reinforce a difficulty with dealing with a weak Jesus not needing an American style of fantasized success: power, money, fame. These reprise the mistake of the messengers asked to prepare a community for a non-Messiah.

First we hear, “I’ll follow by preparing a way.” And Jesus says, “You prepared for the wrong thing. There is no expectation of results or you will be as disappointed as pigs in non-houses make of sticks.

Secondly, we hear Jesus repeating the request to be messengers, none-the-less. And the erstwhile messengers are revealed in their priority to meet social norms before their work of preparation beyond the limits of today. It is to this subtle idolatry of comfortability that Jesus reminds us that there is no returning to any past glory to arrive at new life. Burial is no way to get to resurrection. Resurrection is a state of being ready in this moment, not the painting of a pre-numbered outline. "Your preparation for me is to tell of your own healing and already resurrection in the midst of a dead culture."

In good story-telling fashion, we return to point one and bring in point two. This drives home the message that there is no going home again (Yes, browse your Thomas Wolfe again), there is no stopping of time, particularly with Jesus, for anything that smacks of settling for this reward, that contingency, or some other partiality.

Friends, we don’t stop to settle scores. We advance where we can, We take our lumps. We continue telling new stories until they arrive and build a framework for a next tale less full of sound and fury.

= = = = = = =

time creeps up
on silent paws
as we prepare
for what can’t be
prepared for

in final moments
we set our answer
to a misheard call
mistaking endings
for a begining

and in this mismatch
have ready excuses
why prepartions
need not engage
our life’s story

we miss an arc
and settle for storm
disappointed preparations
follow following and more
preparations anew

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