Friday, July 23, 2004

An article about states rights

Not a bad piece, consume.
I'm reading "in the Margins" right now. I'm not too impressed yet. Terry goes on for about a dozen pages saying how Margin communities should never return to the church, misquoting a bunch of theologians, then turns aroun and says these communities need to be a prophetic voice within the church. Odd that.
More later.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Sermon from family reunion

The Gospel of Saint Luke, the 9th chapter, verses 51 through 56
When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them as Elijah did?” But he rebuked them and he said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went on to another village.

Today’s text is uniquely situated between where Jesus calls his 12 disciples, sending them out to preach and heal, and where he calls his seventy to do much the same. Today Jesus is getting a posse together to head to Jerusalem. Today our text is an instruction on how we, as disciples of Christ, can proclaim the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Today we receive Jesus’ message to his messengers.
As Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem today, he sees before him two of his disciples, the two siblings, James and John, nicknamed the Brothers of Thunder for their temper, who are quivering like a cloud burst in anger at Samaritan villagers. The villagers see Jesus as a heretic, worshiping not at Mount Gerizim, but at Jerusalem, and refuse to let him stay in their village. So, in a self righteous rage, the two brothers threaten to show their lightening by destroying the whole village, they ask Jesus’ permission to do so. And so, with face set toward Jerusalem, Jesus rebukes his disciples for not understanding the fire of Elijah.
As we, disciples of Jesus the Christ, set our faces toward Jerusalem, we shall heed a two fold message within today’s gospel.
First, and most straightforward, is the message, that as messengers of Jesus, we will, from time to time, be rejected. Our message of hope will be rebuffed, misconstrued, twisted, and battered, and so shall we, after all we worship a God who, for his message, was crucified as a criminal. This should neither dissuade us from proclaiming our message, nor cause us to react in anger, because anger only mangles the message of Jesus, after all we worship a God who, to save us, became mortal and allowed us to kill Him.
The two brothers response to being rebuffed by the Samaritans is to forget the nature of the fire of Elijah. These were not flames of destruction, but God’s Holy Spirit coming down in the fiery form of horses and a chariot and whisking him up to heaven. They forgot the words of the prophet Hosea, “God demands Mercy, not sacrifice.“ They forget that being a follower of Jesus is not a path to power and supernatural destruction, but a proclamation of peace and salvation. They forgot “the Son of Man came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
The first message to we Messenger’s of Jesus was taught by the bad example of the Brothers of Thunder, the second message is taught by the example of these, pardon the pun, Bad Samaritans. They were so caught up in their ancient feud with the Israelites, involving where to worship, and what books were holy writ, that they ended up rejecting the Son of God! They refused to accept Jesus of Nazareth, a foreigner, nay more than that, because, “his face was set toward Jerusalem,” instead of Gerizim, they considered him a sinner, and in rejecting that sinner they rejected Jesus the Christ.
This is not the first time Jesus has been rejected. As it says in the verses following today’s text, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” After all Jesus was born in a stable. After all his people were considered by Rome to be a rebellious and backwards people. After all Jesus’ ancestors were the children of the Babylonian Exile and the Egyptian Exodus. The second message of today’s Gospel is that not only are we God’s chosen people, and therefore rejected, but that those who are rejected are God’s chosen people. After all Jesus says “What you do to the least of these you do to me.”
As followers of Jesus the Christ we shall be open and accepting of the foreigner, the exile, and yes, the sinner. We must emulate Christ and be a door, ready to open to those who knock. Whether they have a slight accent and assume all tea to be sweet or they are use a Macintosh computer, whether they have a mental illness or they have different skin color, whether they come from a different country or they come from a different income bracket, we shall embrace them like relatives, for in doing this we are embracing the LORD.
Christ’s message for we the messengers, called to heal and proclaim, as the twelve and the seventy did, is quite simple, put away your thunder, embrace the rejected, and with Jesus set your face toward Jerusalem.