Friday, June 27, 2014

church and empire vs vulnerability

I'm preaching/presiding at a local congregation next week and the texts are rough.  They are the Romans passage where Paul goes on and on about doing what he doesn't want to do, and not doing what he wants to.  He says that nothing good dwells within him.  Then the gospel text is from Matthew where Jesus says that no one can know (God) except through the Son, and we who are burdened should come to him, for Jesus' yoke is easy and the burden is light.


I've been struggling with finding the right connection and gospel proclamation that isn't trite from this.  But I have an idea....

Jesus yoke is not the kind of burden less freedom that sends us trolloping through fields of wildflowers.  Following Jesus, taking up his yoke, is acknowledging we have a freedom from empire in Christ, and we are called to bear the burden of joining in justice seeking, peace making, servant leadership, empire resisting discipleship.

And this is HARD.

seriously.  Have you ever decided that you want to be an ethical consumer, shopping for organic local produce, and homemade community sourced soap only to realize that your old navy sweater was made by children and women in slavery in Indonesia?  "I do not do what I want to do, and and I do what I don't want to."

Or, that time you said I'm finally fully aware of my addiction to sugar, and I'm going to stop eating it at all - right after I finish the ice cream I bought this morning...  "I do what I hate, not what I want."

and joining in the community of christ which bears the yoke of justice communally, we are recognizing that our struggles won't be gone, yet they won't be as pertinent to our desire for bringing the kingdom here and now.

and that's how I  start a sermon...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Holy Trinity Devotion

James is serving his last night on our Church's council tonight, and asked me to write his devotion for him.  This is what I wrote:

This coming Sunday is Holy Trinity Sunday.  In the gospel Jesus sends his disciples forth to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. More than a doctrine, the Trinity expresses the heart of our faith: we have experienced the God of creation made known in Jesus Christ and with us always through the Holy Spirit. 

Sister Liz and I have a friend who is currently writing a story about the Trinity reimagined as a whole and perfect family.  God is the Father, Spirit is the Mother, and Jesus is the child.  In her imagining, she tells a story where throughout the Gospels, whenever Jesus goes off to pray, he is really reuniting with him mom and dad, to gather around a meal and have a conversation around discernment.  Our favorite part of this newly imagined story is around when Jesus is 12 and goes missing while hanging out in the Temple.  

Our friend writes that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are journeying with a crowd of friends and family to Jerusalem.  Jesus is an older boy, and is so excited because during this trip, he will be allowed to sleep in the tent with all the other boys - not in the same old boring tent with his parents.  After all the campfire stories and jokes are spent, Jesus climbs into his blankets to get some rest.  But his dad, God the Father, sneaks in and silently draws Jesus outside.  They quietly walk about a mile away where mom the Spirit has laid out a lovely picnic of so many of Jesus' favorite foods.  And they all sit to eat.  While they are eating, God and Spirit tell Jesus all about the history of these people, and the plans that they have to adopt all of them into the holiest of families when them.  Jesus will get millions of brothers and sisters to enjoy!  They talked and shared and laughed and engaged all aspects of family life all night together. Just before the sun came up, Jesus was sent back into camp to tuck back under his blankets like the other boys.  While walking home, Jesus passed a group of Priests discussing Scripture on their way into town to the temple.  For the first time, Jesus really understood what they were talking about.  He was brimming with insight and information that he could share with them that he excitedly ran to walk with them and began telling them everything he knew.  They were so intrigued that they pulled him with them into the temple to share all day and all night.  Best thing to ever happen to a 12 year old boy, right?  And we all know the rest of the story - Mary and Joseph, his foster parents, left Jerusalem, thinking Jesus was still off galavanting with the other boys and noticed he was missing later the next day...

This imagining about the Trinity is really all we have.  Scripture doesn't define it for us, we are simply told that these three entities exist.  So my question for you tonight is this:  what aspects of the Trinitarian family would you like to spend more time engaging in your living and your prayers?  Do you want to notice the movements of the Spirit more in your listening?  Is it hard for you to embrace the playfulness or boldness of Jesus?  How would it feel to talk to God like you talk to your Mother?  or Father?  Think on that for a moment and I will end our devotion in prayer.

God of One and God of Three. Your Holy Trinity celebrates the wonder of relationship with you while leaving us distinctly dissatisfied with our limited understanding of what you are.  But we know that you have welcomed us into your holy family through the waters of baptism.  Grant us the grace to know that is enough, and the imagination to see the possibilities and truth of what that means.  In your Holy name, Amen.