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Monday, October 15, 2012

Called to do what can't be done....


10/14

I feel good seeing Teddy on the steps as I arrive at church.  Luisa arrives soon after. Good to see Willa back and Lily and Samantha too.

We spend some time talking about last night’s screening. The success of hard work. And the beauty of the simple story of two men and their friendship. And even some time on the question about bombing and the innocents. And Luisa points out that all of us have decisions to make in our jobs that have impact on others one way or another, even when we want to act like they don’t. And to really wrestle with those decisions is never easy.

I decide not to read Psalm 22 today. It’s the Psalm of My God, my God why have you forsaken me....I’ll go there in Lent, Holy Week, but don’t want to go there today. 

It seems like there’s a heavy aura of judgment over our texts today. But I want to go to Mark If I were the kind of guy who gave titles to sermons, I’d call it Jesus and the One Percent. It’s one of my favorite stories...the story of the rich young ruler...

As we begin, Jesus is heading out on a very specific road or pathway..in Greek, hodos....a way of life, a viable way of living...

The young man approaches not only with wealth, but with humility...His question about inheriting eternal life sees sincere. 

In response, Jesus actually misquotes, or adds to scripture...(fraud is not one of the Ten Commandments,  though it  may well be an important caution for rich young rulers...and coveting is left out....could it be because he already has everything? ) plus, the young man’s question was  Do and Jesus responds with NOT DOs...

And when the young man responds, Jesus looks, he stares, and Jesus loves what he sees....This is the only place in the synoptics where Jesus LOVES....

But when he tells the young man that he lacks just one thing, that he must give all he has to the poor and follow Jesus, the young man has a dual response: he is  shocked and grieved...is it because no matter what he does he loses? Or are we all called to be LOSERS? And of what game?

So it is easier for a camel to pass though the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of heaven....Early on my years in New York I saw an exhibit of microart where an artist who also painter on grains of rice had put a camel on an eyelash passing through the eye of a needle...I lost that image somewhere over the years but it has stayed with me...Commentators try all kinds of ways to finesse this one...but it is what it is...

The point is there is nothing the young man  can do... agency shifts to God....
(in this there is a parallel with Buddhism) ....it depends on  God’s grace, extended to us...For Luther, this is what was symbolized in infant baptism: our vulnerability...nothing can be done to earn it...but we can live it and create it...)

And the fact is, in our business, we need rich young rulers...our ministries depend on them...but on the other hand, it is a reminder that the class issue juts doesn’t go away....even in the church...colonial relationships can be any and everywhere...

For humans it is impossible, but for God, anything is possible..When my friend Janet Edwards was out on trial for marrying two women, the decision came down like this: marriage is between a man and a woman. This case involves two women. Therefore she can’t be convicted of doing what can’t be done. Creative casuistry at its best.

To which we said, that’ski d of our job. To attempt to do what can’t be done...and with God, all things are always possible...

There are three lookings for Jesus  in this passage....once at the young man (Wish we knew what happened to him), and  twice at disciples...he wants to make sure that they get it...

At the end of the day, it’s not what you have but who you are...

And yet one more time....the first will be last, and the last will be first...

For us, Jesus always sees potential...what we could be....

Part of what moved me about Occupy Wall Street was that I had met people who had done EXACTLY this...left it all...people with jobs,lives...walked away and came here because of the power of what they saw happening...

So I wonder sometimes, What presentation of the gospel would it take to get that kind of response? Could we do it?  

I leave that question in the air. We’ll sing kum ba yah (yes we did) and ven aca, Senor...
and then gather round  the table for our final blessing...

We gather in the chapel to review our options. There is impossibility. There is grace. With God all things are..... Jamie makes it clear. Every hard part. Classic horns of a dilemma. We tell her exactly what we want. And that’s exactly what she’ll negotiate for. And we will see. 

It’s turned into a beautiful sunny fall day. A perfect day for brunch in an outdoor cafe. And playoff baseball to come.  

Notes:  Sorry. No images for the camel. Someday I’ll find the exact one I saw....
Marc has recorded and edited the last three sermons. We hope to get them up this week...
Last Sunday for eucharist we used the new cups given by Dan's mother Sheryl. Their presence with us...

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