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Monday, October 22, 2012

Keeping it in perspective


10/21

As every Sunday, Teddy is there to greet me as I arrive. Everything is almost ready. Anna has come back again, with Puppy under her arm. And there is a woman visiting from Toronto.

No Marc, so I hope I’ve set the recording mic up right.

Teddy has said that his kids tell him that purgatory is gone, or at least they don’t talk about it anymore. I ask him to hold that thought.  While going through the announcements, I talk about next Sunday being Reformation Sunday and remembering the last two years when I nailed my theses to the church door. (http://west-parkpress.blogspot.com/search?q=11+theses )And pretty soon, ideas start flying and we agree to talk about it after services.

Today’s topic (in Mark 10:35-45 and Job 38) seems to be keeping it in  perspective. Or rather, ourselves in perspective.   

The disciples yet again, are still  not getting it. Jesus is talking about the cross so how do they respond? James and John want to be second and third in command. Want to be Jesus’ right and left hand go to guys. Want to be better than the other guys...The fact that they even ask suggests that they already think they are better..

So Jesus asks if they are ready to drink his cup, share his baptism.What’s he talking about? The cup...it is the cup of suffering, but more it is the cup of salvation. We don’t aspire to be martyrs. Don’t set out to suffer. ( Although I’ve seen some OWS folk at demos who seem to live for antagonizing the police into attacking and enjoy the suffering ...)We do  commit to being faithful..and to follow the road where it will lead... 

When I asked about baptized, someone Hope responds that it is about living his ministry. I say that it is in baptism that we receive our ministries, not ordination. Each of us has a call, a unique life we are supposed to live.  It is also about the Holy Spirit..at Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit declares this is  my son in whom I am well pleased..and it is the Holy Spirit that  sustains us on this path...

The clear image is of servant leadership, and once again, as if we haven’t heard it enough times, the last shall be first and the  first shall be last....

We have been reading through Job, but we haven’t been really following the story..I ask who can give a brief summary and John responds. About a righteous man who is the pawn in a game between Satan and God. He loses everything, but still keeps faith. He believes he can have his day in court and be vindicated. He wants to be heard. This is one of the first explorations of the question, why do bad things happen to good people?  Job has been demanding  of God to know why? and God’s ultimate answer is, where were you when I lay the foundations of the earth?  In other words, you can’t have the full mind of God....remember that.....none of us, no one of us... knows the full mind of God or else God would not be God. 

That foundations of the earth is a graphic image. I remember a geologist showing me a mesa in New Mexico. The eons of each color. Here an ancient sea. Here the time of the dinosaurs, all in plain view... and if you lay a piece of paper on top, that  is the time of humanity... it’s not all about us...

We are reminded that the God who does the big things like building the foundations of the earth is also the one who does the little, like feeding little baby ravens... like in that beautiful song...His eye is on the sparrow.... 

Most of us are just folks trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got....it’s not always good vs. evil, we can disagree, we will disagree, and still be motivated by the  same call with each of our limited knowledge. We need to be understanding of each other on the way. 

After the final circle, we gather in my office. Luther made his Here I stand moment to declare both what was wrong and what should be.  In our day, this year, two weeks before the election, where do we stand? I took the occasion two years ago to make my declaration, say who we were coming back. Reopening the doors. But what do we have to say now? And what’s today’s Wittenberg Door, the Internet? 

We want to say who we are, what our reformed tradition has to offer to this day while inviting our neighbors to add their thoughts. This needs some work. But an idea is coming to life. 

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