Disrupted Expectations

A Sermon for the 4th Sunday in Lent: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41

 

I am 64, and Angie is just a few years younger. We understand why our children are the right age to raise children. Towards the end of last year’s Razorback football season, Michelle and Russell got tickets to a Hogs game. They asked if we’d keep LG. Of course, we would; what a silly question. Our answer was an exuberant yes. And we had a good time. At 2 LG kept us going. She got to us about 10 that morning and didn’t stop till she dropped asleep just about 9 that night. I slipped out to come here for Sunday morning about 7:30. LG was still asleep, and I am not sure when she got Angie up except that I’m sure it was earlier than Angie’s expectation. I got home, and they were off on some 2-years-old adventure. We packed her up and took her home. I’m not sure who was happier to see Michelle and Russel more, LG or Angie and me. We had a good time. But we were done. LG is all toddler disrupting every expectation, we had. We were glad to get back to our usual expectations.

About a month ago, we picked up Angie’s service dog in training, Burt. He is a mastiff shepherd mix. You have heard me say he is like having a 120-lb. toddler in the house. Just his size and exuberance has disrupted our expectations. On top of that, his arrival introduced a new player into the pack. Little rivalry has shown up. If Nugget comes to see one of us, both show up. If Nugget wants his head scratched, so does Burt. If Burt wants his tummy rubbed, so, does Nugget. Together 200-lbs of canine disturbance has been injected into our carefully choreographed daily expectations. Progress is being made. Not every canine move is now matched with a competing move. However, I have noticed it is a lot harder for Angie and me to see the disruptions than we thought it would be. And it is even harder for us to figure out how we should respond; where do we make adjustments? where do we enforce existing rules? What is really hard is to for us, is to change our expectations of what is right and our related behaviors. I feel just a touch, no more than that, I feel real empathy for the Pharisees and authorities in this morning’s, Gospel story because Jesus has arrived on the scene and has completely disrupted all their expectations.

The story begins with one of my favorite bible verses Jesus’ disciples asked him,

Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

 Jesus answers:

Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. (John 9:2-3)

A quick side note. We can all understand how the man’s parents might have sinned, at least we think we do, but that will come in a bit. But how in the world does a fetus sin? Well, it turns out it is a bit of Jewish Midrash speculation, think bible commentary on Gen 25:19 the story of Esau’s and Jacob’s fetal growth and birth, which was difficult enough to cause their mother, Rebekah, to plead to God (Sakenfeld). Why this is one of my favorite verses is Jesus’ response to the disciples’ question. It is the thinking of the day that any kind of suffering is the results of some sin or another (Ellingsen). Jesus rejects that idea completely saying: (and this is a little bit of a different translation)

Neither this man nor his parents sinned. But in order that God’s works might be revealed in him it is necessary for us to work the works of the one who sent me (Vena).

Sin was not the cause of the man being born blind, neither was some mysterious divine need. He was just born blind. Now ~ now it is necessary for us, for Jesus and his disciples, to work the work God has given Jesus. Rejecting the notion of a connection between life’s suffering and sin, is the first disruption Jesus brings.

The Pharisees and authorities proclaim that Jesus is a sinner because he healed on the Sabbath (John 9:16). Jesus has previously argued, that if you can circumcise on the Sabbath, you can heal on the Sabbath (John 7:23). This is a rather broad argument. But here the sin is not just general healing but physical kneading, making the mud, and kneading is explicitly forbidden (O’Day). This accusation is very specific, and Jesus rejects it too.

Now the Pharisees, the leaders, some of the people and the, as of yet, uncertain, disciples seem to be thinking both the man and Jesus are sinners. The evidence against the man is that he is blindness. The evidence against Jesus is a violation of Sabbath rules. If you think there seems to be more than an incidental disagreement about the nature of sin here; you are correct, there is. In 1st century Israel, everyone understands sin is defined by moral behavior revealed by one’s actions. Jesus disrupts the world’s expectations by defining sin as a theological behavior, one’s relationship with God, specifically, accepting Jesus as a revelation of God  (Harrelson) (O’Day). It is a far bigger disruption, affecting many more expectations than healing or keeping Sabbath.

We see how the man’s neighbors, some Pharisees, and even his parents step away from him when the controversy arises. However, they have actually stepped away from him much sooner. Anyone could have helped him by giving him some meaningful thing to do, some purpose for life well before Jesus ever showed up. No one ever did (Kubicek). Karen Lewis drags this disruption right into the middle of our lives. She notes the questions we might ask:

  • Why should we help those when it hasn’t proven to help their performance?
  • What will the blind man now truly contribute to society?
  • What kind of results will he actually be able to produce anyway?
  • Isn’t he just a drain on our society?
  • Wouldn’t he then use up funds meant for hard-working folks like me?
  • Shouldn’t we dole out monies to people who can prove their worth?
  • Shouldn’t we make sure to take care of the ones who demonstrate that they can give back (Lewis)?

It sounds like an argument in many legislative chambers whenever supporting the marginalized is the subject of debate.

Everyone in Jesus’ day thought, and many people today think, sin is a moral behavior defect. We may argue about a specific moral action, say some sexual expression or another, or some financial scheme, but we rarely, if ever, debate the nature of sin. So, if sin is not a moral behavior defect, what is it? Jesus teaches that sin is all about our relationship with God; specifically, our accepting him, Jesus, as the one sent by God. This means that Jesus takes away the sin of the world simply by being here, and his being here means that through Jesus we can change our relationship with God. It is an invitation for us to allow ourselves to be transformed by the divine love that comes to us in the incarnate Jesus (O’Day). It is an invitation to see how Jesus’ world, how our world, marginalizes people, who are different than we expect, by legal and cultural subtlety that deny them the opportunity to support themselves or to be the image of God they are, with dignity (Vena).

In a blog this week Steve Pankey wrote:

The authorities’ unwillingness to see their stubbornness is most dangerous, it is easy to see only what we want to and this means we miss the good and the bad in our midst and also that the way of God is out of [our] sight (Pankey).

My Lenten questions for us are:

  • what are we, what are you, unwilling to see that obscures the good and the evil that surrounds us, that surrounds you?
  • What are you so unwilling to see, you accept that the way of God is out your of sight?

The Lenten challenge is:

  • are you willing for these expectations to be disrupted by the arrival of light of Christ?

 


References

Ellingsen, Mark. Lectionary Scripture Notes. 26 3 2017. <http://www.lectionaryscripturenotes.com/&gt;.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 26 3 2017. <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/author/bruceepperly&gt;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Kubicek, Kirk. “Light! Lent 4(A).” 26 3 2017. Sermons that Work.

Lewis, Karoline. Dear Working Preacher On Being Found. 26 3 2017. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=4706 1/3>.

O’Day, Dail R. New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary The Gospel of John. Vol. VIII. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015. XII vols. App Olivetree.

Pankey, Steve. On being blind. 26 3 2017. <wordpress.com/read/feeds/333491/posts/1312346053>.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

Vena, Osvaldo. Commentary on John 9:1-41. 26 3 2017. <workingpreacher.org>.

 

 

 

 

 

Shame to Prophecy

A sermon for Proper 16: Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, Hebrews 12:18-29, Luke 13:10-17

Saint C’s is a centuries old congregation. The building is majestic, built of massive granite blocks she towers over the town. The patina of her copper sheathed steeple has been the landmark by which people oriented themselves longer than anyone can remember. Her members are proud, all the community leaders are members, their families have been attending for generations. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, bankers, business owners are replete at any service. Sunday ushers have worn pale gray morning coats that are carefully passed on from one generation to the next since her founding. St. C’s is a magnificent church.

Charles has fallen on hard times; actually harder times, all his life has been hard. He grew up poor. School was not valued in his family. As a young adult, he was able to get by on hard manual labor, which there was plenty of until the day he was hurt on the job. His medical treatment tended to the immediate injuries; however, there was no follow-up care. The lack of money, transportation, family or neighborly support, and willing doctors all conspired against him. Unable to work it wasn’t long before he became a shameful dishonor to his family. He left. There wasn’t any place for him to go, so Charles lived on the streets. He subsisted on meager coins that people would give him, mostly to get him along down the road. He rummaged through trash for food that had been thrown out. He rummaged the county trash heap looking for scrap he could sell for a pittance. The bright spot in his life was church. Every Sunday he would find one group or another to worship his Lord with.

No one ever knew why; no one ever asked why, but one Sunday morning, when a dark gray sky framed the world, the morning’s first sun rays lit up St C’s towering steeple like a shining beacon and drew Charles to her. He waited until the stream of people thinned out; straightened his ramshackle coat, did his best to fix his hair with his hands, and made his way through the front doors, down the right side aisle, to a vacant pew up front. Someone pointed him out to an usher, who went to the head usher, who stopped the procession in the side hall and called the police. The response was quick. Four officers made their way down the center and right aisle. One from each side approached, there was no conversation, they simply took hold of him by each arm, lifted him from the pew and dragged him out by the center aisle. Charles didn’t resist or struggle; all he did was cry, “All I want to do is worship my Lord!  All I want to do is worship my Lord!” When the shameful presence of a street person gone, St. Curmudgeon began her regal worship.

 

Centuries upon centuries ago Luke shared another story of shame. A woman crippled for nearly two decades, unable to walk or stand up straight comes into Jesus’ presence. He calls her over, gently lays his hands on her and tells her “You are set free from your ailment.” It’s curious language for a medical condition; you’d expect or Jesus to say “healed from” or “cured of.” It’s almost like her condition was some sort of being, and in 1st century Palestine such conditions were considered to be the affliction of a demon (Epperly). It’s also curious to hear that she “was straightened up” as the Greek more correctly reads, implying divine action is involved (Jacobsen).

The synagogue leader objected, and accuses Jesus of breaking the Laws governing Sabbath. In fact, he is taking advantage of a very narrow understanding of the 613 rules governing Sabbath, which is as much a day of delight and serving the purposes of God, as a day of rest (Hoezee). The leader’s behavior appears to be a public effort to shame the woman, the crowd, and Jesus. It doesn’t work and in the end, the leader is publicly shamed when Jesus notes its allowable to release oxen or donkey to go drink. In releasing the woman, Jesus brings honor to her and to God. The crowd gets it as they rejoice at “all the honored things” Jesus was doing (Pankey).

Jesus also honors the woman when he calls her “daughter of Abraham.”  Recognizing her as a daughter of Abraham creates a moral obligation to restore shalom, peace, wholeness of life, healing (Jacobsen). Being freed from her infliction, demonic or medical, also restores her to the community. A closer look at most of Jesus’ healing and you will notice that most, if not all of them, result in a restoring of the person to their community. It’s such a prominent notion I believe that restoring people to their families, and community should be part of a modern practice of medicine.

 

There is a prophetic element in this story. It is revealed not in Jesus’ words, but through Jesus’ behavior. The power God offers Jeremiah is known in service, mercy, healing and reconciliation. It is important, and perhaps a bit unsettling to understand God offers the same power and calling to us (Helmer).  It is even more unsettling as we recognize the urgency implicit in God’s telling Jeremiah “today I appoint you…” (Bratt). There is urgency in our call also.

Once you’ve recognized the prophetic element in Luke’s story we might just wonder “What is God, Jesus or the Spirit is calling you to do?” [i]. This question is far more expansive than we might realize. In Jeremiah’s day God’s reign is not limited to Israel; in our day our prophetic calling is not be limited to our church, our neighborhood, or our community; our calling may take us to places and to people in whose presence we are not comfortable (Nysse).

Yes, it is quite a shock to realize how God’s vision is so much more expansive than our vision. It is natural to doubt our abilities and to fear the way ahead. Remember God reassures Jeremiah “Do not be afraid for I am with you.” It is also helpful to remember all this is really sharing your relationship with God, just as it is, not as what you imagine everyone else thinks it should be, and then inviting the one you are with to come and see.

 

[i] Borrowed from African Bible Study Method

References

Bratt, Doug. Proper 16 C | Jeremiah 1:4-10. 21 8 20016.

Ellingsen, Mark. Lectionary Scriture Notes Proper 16 | Ordinary Time 21 | Pentecost 13, Cycle C (2016). 21 8 2016. <http://www.lectionaryscripturenotes.com/&gt;.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary Pentecost 14 – August 21, 2016. 21 8 2016. <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/author/bruceepperly&gt;.

Helmer, Ben. “The Power of the Spirit, Proper 16 (C).” 16 8 2016. Sermons that Work.

Hoezee, Scott. Proper 16 C | Luke 13:10-17. 21 8 2016. <http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/advent-3c/?type=the_lectionary_gospel&gt;.

Jacobsen, David Schnasa. Commentary on Luke 13:1017. 21 8 2016. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/&gt;.

Lewis, Karoline. Daughters of Abraham. 21 8 2016. <workingpreacher.org>.

Nysse, Richard W. Commentary on Jeremiah 1:410. 21 8 2016. <cep.calvinseminary.edu>.

Pankey, Steve. “[New post] Honor and Shame.” 21 8 2016. Draughting Theology.

 

Anointing, Love and the Poor

 

A sermon for 5th Sunday in Lent; Isaiah 43:16-21, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8, Psalm 126

You know the story of Jesus’ feet being anointed. In one form or another, it is in all four Gospels. In John, the background is Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Grateful, Martha and Mary have Jesus over for dinner. Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with a full jar of expensive spikenard, a fragrant lard, and wipes them with her hair. ‘Wipes’ is the same verb John uses to describe Jesus wiping off his disciples’ feet at the foot washing (Harrelson). Mary acts from the same true love; that Jesus will act from (Hoezee). Her anointing Jesus is her version of Martha’s confession “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (John 11:27, Gaventa and Petersen). Judas objects, he wonders out loud why the money spent to buy the spikenard wasn’t used to feed the poor. If we can hear that, without prejudice, because we’ve heard the story before, we might think his has a point; it is a realistic, practical, sensible question (Rice). Bruce Epperly writes that he was struck by

how simply unexpected most of the actions of this scene were. It was unexpected that someone would use such a costly amount of perfume to clean someone’s feet (Epperly).

 So, I wondered what else in this story is unexpected.

On Monday, a colleague of mine blogged how his parish had acquired some spikenard essential oil so that we could smell what that dining room smelled like the evening that Mary anointed Jesus.

[They]bought a small bottle of nard oil, and poured it into a small dish, and I swear to you, I can still smell that … awful stink to this day (Pankey).

I was surprised by the difference between their experience and the biblical account. So I texted my colleague who chalked it up to a cultural difference; possibly connected with the once a month bathing routine. Then I looked up ‘fragrance.’ Webster’s simple definition is: “having a pleasant and usually sweet smell.” However, lengthy the synonym discussion uses terms like aromatic, odorous, has a strong, distinctive smell whether pleasant or unpleasant (Webster’s). Well, that explains that, but something was still nagging at me, so I read the story one more time.

On this reading the last verse jumped off the page: “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me” (John 12:8).

After Judas’ criticism of Mary’s action, John tells us Juda’s character is shady, that he is a thief. Judas is feigning concern for the poor. Jesus’ response commends Mary’s act, and seems to speak directly to Judas, quoting Deuteronomy “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me” (Deut. 15:11).

All the cross-reference verses refer to the advantages of giving to the poor. Isaiah wrote:

Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? …. Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house (Isaiah 58:5).

Jesus’ quote comes from the definition of Sabbath. Deuteronomy connects keeping Sabbath to the celebration of Israel’s God, who frees slaves, and a wide range of circumstances, including economic debt, which could drive someone into slavery. It notes the release from debit every seven years. It pays special attention to the lenders’

cold calculation and hard-hearted stinginess [that] are the polar opposites of the joy and freedom celebrated in the Sabbath. The proper Israelite response … emulates God’s response. …. any others risk becoming an oppressor, … against whom the oppressed … “cry out” as the Israelites … did against the Egyptians (Gaventa and Petersen).

 Judas is not speaking from his concern for poor; he is using the poor to level criticism at Mary with disingenuousness moral indignation (Rice).

This is one of the places where we should be very clear what Jesus is saying to whom. Jesus is not justifying poverty. Poverty is not God’s will. Jesus is on the side of the impoverished and oppressed. Jesus is not validating poverty Jesus is eradicating poverty (PérezÁlvarez).  A collage of verses around Jesus’ quote that goes:

Do not entertain a mean thought. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so. Open your hand to the poor and needy. Remember that you were a slave.

 reveals what it means to think of your community as “brothers and sisters” (Harrelson).

I want to touch on the valid point, Judas disingenuously makes, about using the money that bought the spikenard to feed the poor. It gets presented as an either or duality. Actually, we need both the practical, feeding the hungry and the extravagant, anointing Jesus; we need the sensible and the mystic (Epperly). As Paul argues, we need all the vast variety of gifts we have been given (1 Corinthians 12). They enable us to complement each other in our singular work in continuing Christ’s ministry. We never need faux righteousness and justice derived from a sham concern for the poor; or the propagation of a contrived sense of fear of immigrants, or another faith tradition, or trade treaties, or the impoverished, or whoever the sinister ‘they’ may be.

As this prescribed time of introspection moves into its last weeks, as we continue our self-examination, reading and meditating on God’s word may we find the will to reject the temptation to act with meagre care born out of false pretenses and find the grace to give what simple gifts we have from love that reflects the love between Jesus and God.


 

References

n.d. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/&gt;.

Ellingsen, Mark. 13 3 2016+. <http://www.lectionaryscripturenotes.com/&gt;.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary – The Fifth Sunday in Lent –. 13 3 2016. <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/author/bruceepperly&gt;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. The Lectionary Gospel John 12:1-8. 13 3 2016.

Lewis, Karoline. Simultaneous Smells. 13 3 2016. <workingpreacher.org>.

Lose, David. Lent 5 C: The Unexpected God. 13 3 2016.

Pankey, Steve. The power of nard. 7 3 2016.

PérezÁlvarez, Eliseo. Commentary on John 12:1-8. 13 3 2016. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/&gt;.

Rice, Whitney. “Gestures Made of Love, Lent 5(C) – 2016.” 13 3 2016. Sermons that Work.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

 

 

Live Sabbath, bring shalom, and know shekinah

A sermon for Lent 3: Exodus 20:1-17, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2:13-22

Knowing the philosophical and/ or religious beliefs of those you are negotiating with is central to the negotiating process. Beforehand no one thought world leaders would let zealot nationalists drag Europe into a world war. Not to many years later, no one really believed Hitler would actually start another European inferno that would once again put the world at war. The United States was surprised when Iraq did not run to democratic capitalism after we vanquished Hussein; we never thought Sunnis and Shiites would ever let their sectarian feud turn into a cataclysmic conflagration. Our negotiations with Iran challenge our understanding of Iran’s social and religious context, which will determine not only the negotiation’s outcome, but its fruits. (Brooks, 2015) The context of the other has always been central to negotiating, to getting your story understood. It’s true in this morning’s Gospel reading.

Most folks focus on Jesus’ rampage through the Temple, or his prediction of his resurrection. We hear them as unique events. But there is so much more. The Hebrew term ‘she-ki-nah’ refers to the present of God. (Jacobson, Lewis, & Skinner, 2015)  (Orr, 2004) In the Old testament shekinah is always on the move; from walking in the garden in Eden, to in a whispering voice calling Noah and Abraham into covenant, in Exodus as fire and cloud on a mountain top, and in covenant in the Ten commandments, then in a tent, then to Shiloh, then to Jerusalem and the Temple, to Babylon and back – twice, and in the New Testament shekinah move back towards earlier an Old Testament loci of individuals in community. Jesus’ tirade in the Temple is all about shekinah, all about the presence of God. He is one in a long tradition of challenging the Temple as the only place to be in God’s presence. (Jacobson, Lewis, & Skinner, 2015)

Jesus is challenging not only where God is, but the entire notion of the Jewish establishment’s relationship with God. Regardless of their outward appearance, Jesus is challenging whether or not the Jewish establishment, centered at the Temple, keeps Sabbath. This is more critical than our religious – legal perspective leads us to believe. We think, they are breaking the law. But, the Ten Commandments are not a foundation for case law; they are the description of living a free life in covenant community. A key way of knowing you are in covenant community is keeping Sabbath. (Jacobson, Lewis, & Skinner, 2015) And one way of knowing this is if you are at shalom (Hoezee, 2015) if you bring shalom, to all your life touches.

Shalom is often translated peace. And that is a good beginning; however, beyond the absence of external or internal disturbance shalom is a completeness of health and soundness in your relationship with God and your neighbors. (Orr, 2004)

Keeping Sabbath that brings shalom is in the details of the longest of the commandments. Note who is to keep Sabbath: you, your sons and daughters, male and female slaves, which includes servants, your domestic animals, and any guest, foreigner, or alien in your home. In short everyone, all flesh, of every status, is to keep Sabbath, everyone, all flesh, of every status, is to live in shalom. So now we know who and what, but why? How do we get to this understanding?

It turns out there are two sets of why; one comes from today’s version of the Ten Commandments, and the other from Deuteronomy’s version. (Deut. 5:6- 21) Exodus calls us to observe Sabbath, as a day of service to God given to worshipping the Lord. It is grounded in the creation story; God created in six days and rested the seventh, making it Holy, therefore we keep it holy, in keeping Sabbath. However, Deuteronomy, which represents a different theological perspective rather than a point in time, is based in Israel’s salvation from slavery; Israel rest, we rest, to remember salvation. (Orr, 2004) We, everyone, also rest to ensure those in any form of indenture, just as the Hebrews were in Egypt, get a break. Six days of work, is not a command to work six days, it’s a restriction, and no one should work any more than six days. (Sakenfeld, 2009)

Let’s review; Jesus throws a fit in the Temple to draw attention to the fact that the Temple does not bring shalom to the people, therefore is not keeping Sabbath, and therefore cannot be shekinah, a place where God dwells. But it looks like they do keep Sabbath, what is going on?

Let’s go back to the beginning: I am the LORD your God … you shall have no other gods before me. A little vocabulary; I expect you hear ‘the Lord’ as a title, and the word big g ‘God’ as God’s name. It’s the other way ‘round. (Strong’s) The use of the word ‘God’ not as a name affirms The Lord is not saying that there are no other gods; just that Israel, and now we, are not to be in a godly relationship with any other except The Lord. (Petersen & Beverly, 2010) And so yes, this is all about idolatry. And “other gods” may be any person, place, thing, or ideal believed to be more or as important as The Lord; it could be money, property, fame, power, or whatever may be the primary shaper of the Jewish establishment’s daily life. (Fretheim, 2015) And it’s revealed in their relationships, how they treat, their neighbors, even to the least of them. Jesus throws a fit, because something other than The Lord is shaping the day in day out life of the Jewish establishment. He is challenging them: “Where is shekinah?” He chastising them for keeping others away from shekinah. The gleaning I take away this morning is that the Ten Commandments, the fifth commandment in particular, is in fact a biblical foundation for economic policy and practice.

Sabbath, the time of work and the time of rest is to bring shalom to all so all know shekinah, the presence of God. Work and rest that bring peace and wholeness to all flesh bringing all to shekinah is the Lord’s economic polity.

Today is Sunday, a Christian Sabbath. We gather here to worship The Lord our God, to know shalom, to be shekinah. But it is not our destination, so much as it is “a place we’re sent from in order to meet, and partner with, God in everyday life.”  (Lose, 2015) It happens to be Lent, a time to repent, to begin changing our relationships with God and our neighbors, all of them. It’s time to see when was the last time you thought about how your beliefs, priorities, and actions kept Sabbath, brought shalom, and lived in shekinah? It’s an all-consuming change, that it involves all aspects of our lives especially economic, and political. It challenges us to give up fixations, like our political obsession with sex, and seek the far more complex ideal of biblically based policy and practice of economic justice. And it’s not just our personal lives, we seek to transform, we seek to reform the day in and day out lives of our society, of our nation.

Jesus knew well the philosophical and religious beliefs of the Jewish establishment. His negotiating style, pitching a fit in the Temple, worked for him. As for us, what the Lord requires:  (Deut. 10:12, Micah 6:8) is to live Sabbath, bring shalom, and know shekinah.


References

Brooks, D. (2015, 2 27). Converting the Ayatollahs. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/opinion/davidbrooksconvertingtheayatollahs.

Ellingsen, M. (2015, 3 1). Lent 3, Cycle B. Retrieved from Lectionary Scripture Notes: http://www.lectionaryscripturenotes.com/

Fretheim, T. E. (2015, 3 1). Commentary on Exodus 20:117. Retrieved from Working Preacher: http://www.workingpreacher.org/

Harrelson, W. J. (2003). The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press.

Hoezee, S. (2015, 3 1). Old Testament Lectionary Text is: Exodus 20:1-17. Retrieved from Center for Excellence in Preaching: http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/thisWeek/index.php

Jacobson, R., Lewis, K., & Skinner, M. (2015, 3 1). Sermon Brain Wave. Retrieved from workingpreacher.org.

Lewis, K. (2015, 3 1). Dear Working Preacher An Embodied Lent. Retrieved from Working Preacher: workingpreacher.org

Lose, D. (2015, 3 1). Lent 3 B: Igniting Centrifugal Force. Retrieved from David Lose: http://www.davidlose.net/2015/03/lent3bignitingcentrifugalforce/

METZ, T. R. (2014, 12 7). Sermons that Work – Finding comfort vs. being comfortable. Retrieved from The Episcopal Church: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/

Nave, O. (n.d.). Nave’s Topics. 2008: WORDsearch Corp.

Orr, J. (Ed.). (2004). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. WORDsearch.

Petersen, D., & Beverly, R. G. (2010). New Interpreters’ Bible, One Volume Commentary. Nashville TN: Abingdon Press.

Sakenfeld, K. D. (2009). New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon.

Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. (n.d.). WORDsearch.