Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Applying the Sexuality Statement in a local context

So, I am currently working on an interesting… challenge. The subject of men on the down-low has been talked about at one of my Bible Studies. So, I decided to face the issue head on. Next Tuesday night we’re doing a Bible Study/discussion using the movie Cover as a jumping off point to talk about the ethics of living a “down-low” lifestyle.
I have to admit this has been an odd topic to explore, being a straight white man and all. I’m still not sure what I will say and where our conversation will go. I do know I’ll focus on building and protecting trust as well as the church’s role in people’s “personal life.” We’ll also look at the biblical verses about homoerotic acts—since they’ve already been brought up preemptively in this group.
Right now I’m re-reading “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust”to mine a little more insight from it for this discussion.
I’ll let everyone know how it goes next week.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sermon: Did you hear about the part?

Did you hear about the party? Did you hear about the party at Simon’s house? Did you hear that Jesus showed up! Did you hear that… someone else showed up!
All the religious folk had got together at Simon’s house. We all wanted to know what kind of man this Jesus was. We all wanted to know what type of teacher he was.
Some, like the followers of John the Baptist, were wondering if he was a prophet. Others, already convinced he was a prophet, wanted to know what kind of prophet he was. In short, we wanted to know Jesus!
And there he was, he came in, and took his place at the table. Finally, we could get to know him!
But! But! But before the wood of his reclining chair could creek, there she was!
We wanted to know what kind of prophet this Jesus was, but that sinner woman got in our way.

Let us pray:
Lord God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations upon all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. Amen

Yes! An honest to God sinner! Right there in the midst of the party—our party—our party where we planned to figure out this Jesus fellow.
I mean, there weren’t bouncers or anything, but, you would think with all us religious folk there we could have at least kept… a woman like THAT out of our party!
Because we wanted to see what kind of prophet this man Jesus was, but she got in the way! She bent down, cried, and wiped her face! Her tear stained face upon the soles of this prophet Jesus’ feet! She wiped his feet with her hair.
And. You know what? This, this prophet Jesus, kind of let out a giggle. Sort of a ---ehhchk, that tickles—a giggle snort.
And then, with the whole crowd of us waiting to know what kind of prophet this Jesus was, with the whole crowd of religious folk kind of awestruck and horrified, at… that sinner woman! Right there out in the open she… she kissed his feet and then poured anointing oil upon them.
I mean, I’ve heard of anointing someone’s head, but… who anoints someone’s feet? That’s just SUCH extravagance! Such a waste!
And we all just stood there, agape as this sinner interacted with this… prophet?
And then Simon asked the question we were all thinking, “if you’re a prophet, why don’t know that you are being TOUCHED—touched… so intimately… by a sinner! A sinner like her!”
And this so-called-prophet, Jesus, responded, “Simon, there are two debtors. One owes 52,000 dollars. The other owes 5,200 dollars. Neither can pay their bookie. If he forgives both of their debts who will feel more gratitude?”
Simon looked a little taken aback—after all a party like this isn’t Pimlico racetrack or something! Talking about bookies is a little… low class… don’t you think?
But Simon responded, “The one who owed more and was forgiven more. That’s the one who would feel more gratitude.”
“Yup,” shot back this Jesus fellow… I mean seriously, what kind of prophet talks like that?
Then, Jesus squirmed around in his chair so he was facing the woman, “Look at her!” he said, “Then look at yourselves! I came here, with everyone all expectant—yet you gave me no water or oil. You didn’t even kiss me!
She on the other hand washed me with tears and hair, she brought oil here at her own expense, and kissed not only my cheek, but my feet!”
We grumbled at that, as you might imagine.

“You say I can’t be a prophet because I don’t see what kind of woman she is!
Well, I’ve watched everyone at this party. By the way she acts the only conclusion I can come to is that she’s a forgiven woman who is just so glad about that fact!
The love she pours out was poured out as gratitude—just like the debtor who owed the bookie much.”
Then he squirmed a little more and turned back to Simon… and well… frankly towards the rest of us, and said to us all, “The one to whom little is forgiven, shows little gratitude.”
The crowd erupted, insulted by his words!
“Wait! He’s talking about us!” said one person.
“Well, if amount of sinning is required in order to express gratitude, think how much gratitude the CEO of BP will feel when he realized God forgives him!” Said another snidely.
As for me, I thought of king David. After all it is written that he was a man after God’s own heart—yet if you read in the book of Samuel you realize this man after God’s own heart was a sinner like all of us. No! A worse sinner than most of us!
He sent his messengers to capture Bathsheba,
He impregnated her,
He tried to trick Uriah into covering up his sin,
and when he failed at that he used his power and influence to kill Uriah and then marry Bathsheba!

Maybe that’s what the so-called-prophet Jesus meant when he said, “the one whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
But, before I could contemplate still deeper the meaning of this idea. The idea that the depths of our sin draws us deeper into the gracious love of God—the so-called-prophet and the so-called-sinner-woman continued their very public conversation.
“Your sins are forgiven,” he said.
And again, the crowd burst asunder saying, “Who but God can forgive sins? Not even a prophet would make such proclamations!”
He didn’t pay attention to us, but said to her, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
And that would not be the last time we would hear Jesus speak the words, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
To a Samaritan leper he said, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
To a woman who had been menstruating for years he said, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
To a blind man he said, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
All these people! All these vulnerable people Lepers, blind men, bleeding women, and sinner women—all these people our society conciders sinners—responded with great faith and trust that this Jesus—a so-called-prophet—was a prophet and more than a prophet.
And later I saw this Jesus. He was in the company of woman—lots of them! Women who were high up in society, and women like the woman at the party, who were afflicted by demons and sins and all kinds of malarkey.
It would seem that the kind of prophet Jesus was, was not obscured by sinners, but expressed by his interactions with sinners.
I’d thought I would get to know Jesus if there wasn’t that darn sinner getting in the way of my experience of him.
But it was that woman that showed us Jesus, because the kind of prophet Jesus was, was not obscured by sinners, but expressed by his interactions with sinners.