Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Lectionary 14 C - Galatians 6:1-16

 Galatians 6:1-16

Jesus said, “If you love only those who love you what good is that to you? Even the pagans do that.” Which means to fully fulfill the law of Christ one must bear the burden of those who you are quite happy to see weighed down. In which case the law of Christ cannot be fulfilled unless you bear the burdens of “those who want to make a good showing in the flesh” in the same way you "do not grow weary in doing what is right” for those “who follow this rule.” Maybe the apostle Paul was too close to the conflict to apply his own instruction about gently restoring those who by their transgression troubled him so. Of course it is true of our time as well when well meaning people passionate about defending the faith as they understand it violate its first principle. Love is the law of Christ. Is it any wonder that those outside the faith grow weary of our witness? If we are to be the body of Christ then to be crucified “to the world” is to be crucified for the world. When we argue over doctrine and dogma and in defending the Gospel fail to live it we are no longer defending the Gospel but violating it. Does it mean that anything goes and there are no truths to be taught? No. But if the fullest expression of the truth is love then love determines how all lesser "truths" are taught, which means Paul might have to recant his wish that “those agitators go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (Galatians 5:12) Oy Vey!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Lectionary 14 C - Psalm 66:1-9


Psalm 66 praises the awesome works of God remembering the rescue through the sea when escaping from Egypt the children of Israel were trapped between an army and a wet place. It is the story told time and again down through the centuries. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord heard your cry and with a mighty arm rescued you from Pharaoh’s grasp bringing you to a land flowing with milk and honey. While it is remembered with shouts of joy and singing it is also the story told when the milk has gone sour and the honey runs out, when enemies are all around, when life hangs in the balance and feet are on unsteady ground. When all seems hopeless remembering in the present the providence of God in the past is how one gets through today and into tomorrow. It is remembering God’s faithfulness that preserves the life that is essential, the life of hope. It is remembering God’s mercy that places the feet of faith on the solid ground of trust. And so we remember the awesome work of God on our behalf, not a passing through the sea on dry land, but God in human flesh passing through the sea of sorrow and suffering and death. In the tomorrow that will be the day that never ends the enemy that will cringe before God will be death itself which like the chariots of Pharaoh will be swallowed up in the sea of victory.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Lectionary 14 C - Isaiah 66:10-14


Isaiah 66:10-14

Isaiah’s vision of the exile’s return to Jerusalem to be nursed and carried on her arm and dandled on her knees was not realized even by the rejoicing of the returning exiles reclaiming the Promised Land because of the opposition and violence and bloodshed that greeted them. (Ezra 4) In our time devout Jews gather at the Wailing Wall to pray for the restoration of the temple as Palestinian Christians weep at walls that surround and separate them from the part of the Promised Land that is their home and all the while God weeps over the plight of all people who love Jerusalem. But in the dream of God’s design those who rejoice in her and those who mourn because of her will both be comforted by her. In the dream of God’s design Jerusalem is for all people a place of peace where the feast that never ends will begin. It may be that we have to do more than pray for the peace of Jerusalem for the dream of God’s design to come true, but not by denying the right of Jewish people to live in safety or by denying the plight of the Palestinian people imprisoned in their own land. The hatred that exists and is the cause of such suffering will only be overcome when each sees in the other the dream of God’s design.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Lectionary 13 C - Luke 9:51-62

Luke 9:51-62

Either the disciples are accustomed to calling down fire on folks or they’re blowing smoke. I’m voting for the latter. But then church folk do get a little hot under the collar when what they believe to be sacred is not well received. Jesus puts out their passion for revenge (and ours?) with a rebuke and the narrative continues with three "on the road" sayings. The cost of following Jesus will be high. No home. No time to bury the dead. No turning back. We tend to have an easier time of it and even if we make sacrifices we are not without the comforts of home or time to mourn or take care of business before doing whatever it is God has called us to do. So we are either “not fit for the kingdom of God” or the text does not apply to us. I’m going to opt for a middle way aka the Lutheran solution. We may indeed have comfortable places to lay our heads and take time to bury our dead and say farewell before following but being fit for the kingdom depends wholly on the One who had the power to call down fire on rude Samaritans but did not. So what might seem as an absolute (…not fit for the kingdom) is actually a rebuke and a rebuke is correction not rejection. And in the Lutheran solution the rebuke of the law always leads one to cling more firmly to the Gospel which is the only way we are ever fit for the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Lectionary 13 C - Galatians 5:1, 13-25

 Galatians 5:1,13-25

Self-indulgence comes in many forms and even the perfectly pious can be bound by it. Granted the more obvious forms are found in Paul’s long list of the fleshly fruits but self-righteousness is just as limiting and destructive as licentiousness. So those who indulge the more carnal desires sell themselves short and pay dearly for what appears to be living large. Those who do not indulge the flesh but are intoxicated with pride biting and devouring one another also pay dearly for the illusion of freedom and do not experience the true fruits of the pious life. But the freedom for which we have been set free is to be in relationship with one another and all people in the same way that Jesus freely loved and gave himself up for the sake of the world. Now it may appear that having one’s hands and feet fastened to wood is the opposite of freedom but that is the way of God who chooses to be emptied that we might be filled. If freedom is defined by living the fruit of the Spirit list then it doesn't matter if you are behind bars or nailed to a cross. So we crucify the desire that would drive us insane as well as the passion to control everyone else for the sake of being free to be bound to others.