Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Second Sunday in Lent: What's on your agenda?


And for our reflection today:
If there was an alternate title for today’s reflection it would be
A look at Jesus’ day planner…what we’re getting around to here is that Lent is a time of self examination, of spring training, of spring cleaning, of putting things in order…and we’ll get there by looking at an experience of Jesus….

Jesus’ actions and sermons have started attracting the wrong kind of attention…so some Pharisees come to warn him….that Herod wants him dead…notice this…the Pharisees tend to get a pretty bad rap in the New Testament, We miss that in many ways, they were natural alkies of Jesus and his cadres.  They believed that the Temple was not necessary, that the God lived in the WORD and that God was wherever the WORD was. And like the Protestants who would come later, they tended to get a little bit self-righteous, take it a little far. In fact, for us ministers, they’re like our Jewish cousins. They are not priests. I am not a priest. They are teachers. I am a teaching elder. After the fall of the temple, they kept Judaism alive. They are the direct ancestors of today’s rabbis. Our neighbors and colleagues.

SO Jesus tells them to take Herod a message. (Does he figure they’re going to talk to him anyway?) And what is the message?

Today: casting out demons and performing cures
Tomorrow: casting out demons and performing cures
The third day: finish my work…

That’s his plan…

Bu then this…he must be on his way…why? A prophet cannot die outside of Jerusalem…

OK….politically, when Herod the great died, he divided his kingdom in 3 parts…Antipas (Herod) had the Galilee, Philip the Golan heights and Archelaus, Judea and the big cities. But he was a screw up. SO Rome put their own man in there as procurator, as governor. And that would be Pilate.

Does that mean part of Jesus’ agenda was to be killed by Rome? (He’s still in Galilee according to Luke…he’s got to get to Jerusalem…where the seat of power of the EMPIRE, the temple and Rome, ruled.

Jerusalem was to be the blessed, Yerushalayim shel zahav, Jerusalem the gold…as you approach it from outside the city, it appears above you, shimmering in the sun like gold…it is the city of peace….But it was not…and it is not.

It is occupied, corrupted by that occupation and oppressive…unlike John who went from Jerusalem to the wilderness, Jesus knows he’s got to go  to Jerusalem, to the belly of the beast, so to speak…

And you hear in his voice the sound of a scorned lover….how often have I…..?....and there’s that beautiful image of  a mother hen spreading her wings…and we, the chicks…

Like Heschel said, a prophet speaks from LOVE…he is of the people speaking to the people.
Your house is left to you….in other words, I’m leaving…

And he ends by foreshadowing their Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem…

Jerusalem remains powerful for us…the Book of Revelation uses the image of a new Jerusalem, a Jerusalem redeemed and restored…(Bruce Cockburn sang
Let's hear a laugh for the man of the world
Who thinks he can make things work
Tried to build the New Jerusalem
And ended up with New York
Ha Ha Ha...)

So the question is so what?
Okay…two things… first…what would it mean to love your city, or your country, like Jesus loved Jerusalem? What would it call you to do? In these days of the most, shall we say, interesting, Presidential primaries in years. What is our responsibility? I’m asking you to think about it …I can’t tell you..

But here’s the second…take a  look at Jesus’ planner…he knows exactly where he wants to get to…and he knows what he has to do before he goes there…

Is it possible for us to have that same kind of clarity? So for this week’s Lenten exercise…

What is your Jerusalem? What will it take to get there? What do you need to put on your to do list for today and tomorrow in order to get to the third day?

And I wonder, if we’re clearer where we’re headed as a community, does that make us clearer as to where we’re going as individuals? Or if we clarify our individual destination, does that impact our community commitments?

Maybe you can tell what’s on my mind these days…try thinking about it this week…see where that takes you…


1At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you."32He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

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