Matthew made an editor’s rookie mistake.
He has Jesus say,
about those who don’t listen
“even to the church”
that they will be as “Gentiles and tax collectors.”
Well, guess what,
Jesus hung out with Gentiles and tax collectors.
Jesus melted the boundaries between
him and them.
So this ever-so-famous proverb
probably does not come from the lips of Jesus,
or at least not in exactly the way
Matthew quotes him.
Instead, this is a proverb of the very early,
I want to tell you how Matthew’s imaginative
rendering of Jesus
is so much like us and COVID-19.
But to do it,
we need to begin with a very brief historical vignette.
Thirty years after the Romans executed Jesus,
there was an horrific war.
You’ve heard me talk about this before
because it is such a major event in our history –
the kind of major, world-shattering event
we didn’t learn and never talk about.
It began in 66 CE
when there was yet another Jewish uprising.
It was instigated by Judeans and Galileans
that believed God
wanted to purge the Promise Land
of the dirty, filthy,
pig-eating gentile Romans.
These revolutionaries believed
that if they started the war
God would finish it.
Many of them believed that a Messiah
would be involved in the final outcome –
either in the midst of the war
or at the end
to usher in a New Age.
In either case, the Romans would be crushed.
Not so much.
The Romans decimated them.
The Roman legions methodically
any and every remnant of resistance
For example, it is reported that the Romans
burned local children alive in Torah scrolls.
Symbolically, as well as literally,
eliminating their past and future in one violent act.
When all was said and done,
by the year 70 CE,
just three years after it started,
the Romans completed
their scorched-earth strategy.
The temple was leveled and burned,
the only remains of which we see today
as The Wailing Wall.
The only Judeans and Galileans to survive
were those who fled to other regions.
The original generation of Jesus-followers
who were mostly Jewish,
also perished or fled.
They took with them
the future of what became Christianity.
The Jewish-Roman war is why,
instead of remaining a small,
concentrated sect of Judaism,
the virus of Christianity
as Romans would come to know it,
escaped and spread across the empire.
This is the context in which to read Matthew.
Around the edges of the smoldering Holy Land
a remnant of Israel huddled.
The religion could have easily died out
right then and there.
The line between survival
and extinction became razor thin.
Consider this too:
The very purpose and focus of Israel,
as it had evolved to that moment in history,
was centered on a specific place.
The Passover story,
a piece of which we heard today,
concludes with the people entering the Promise Land.
The Promise Land was fulfillment
and physical evidence
that the Covenant
between God and Israel
Take away that land,
take away that temple,
take away that king,
take away that priesthood,
and there was nothing left.
So was the Covenant true?
It was a crisis,
a hollowing out of the religion and hope.
How could there be a covenant
if there is no land and no temple,
and the filthy, pig-eating Romans
continue to occupy and desecrate the promise?
Here is how close they were to extinction as a religion:
Even the Hebrew language
almost disappeared in that historical moment.
of living within other people’s empires
and being required to learn other people’s languages,
Hebrew was a fading tongue.
Most of the people were illiterate anyway
and what kept it alive were scribes and priests.
They were then killed in droves.
From the year 70, when the war ended,
to the year 100 or so,
Judaism was reborn
out of a small, vulnerable remnant
in villages just beyond the edges
of Judea and Galilee.
What we know today as rabbinical Judaism
was born among those ashes.
In the midst of all that chaos and tragedy
a community of Jewish-Christians
made their case for Jesus
to become the new Moses,
to become the new Israel.
What we know as the Gospel of Matthew
is not one person,
and was not written by one person.
It represents a community of believers
who took great pains
to tell the story of Jesus
in the image of Moses and Israel.
The Matthew Gospel
is quite different
from the other three that way.
Well, why should we care?
What has this little insignificant history lesson
have to do with us?
Christianity became what it did,
and has continued to take root in new soil
all over the globe
precisely because Jesus-followers –
often in very small groups –
brought the stories and teachings of Jesus
to life in their time and place,
and with a relevance
to their particular circumstances.
Whether in Africa,
Central and South America,
among Native Americans
and slaves or freed slaves in North America,
and all along the Pacific and Asian continents,
Christians did not simply
adopt what Romans,
and later British, Spanish, and Dutch Colonialist
inflicted upon them.
Rather, they heard in the Gospels
their own stories
and their own circumstances
and their own wisdom.
They adapted what they heard
to their cultures
and their myths
and their interpretations
and their rituals.
In short, like Matthew did,
they made the stories and Jesus,
We’re in a tough spot though.
The stories that are in the frontal lobe of our brains
are Black Panther, Mulan, Wonder Woman,
Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Lion King,
Good Night Moon, Peter Pan and the like.
the frontal lobe is the computer dashboard
of our brains – where the controls
and decisions for rational thought,
how we emote,
even sexual behavior
all get made.
There are other stories of course,
elves, ferries, and whisperers
who populate the overgrown back-forty in our brain.
But the big, culturally embraced stories
shared by the herd
and that move us more or less
down the cattle chute,
are now digital, splashy,
bigger than life,
animated special effects we love to watch
whether we believe them or not.
In the moment,
if done well, they are believable
because we suspend our critical judgment
while engaged in
or engrossed by
the movie or book.
Jesus not so much.
He is still appearing nightly on parchment.
To my way of thinking,
every movie made with Jesus in it,
is a caricature:
and without the complicated motivations
that real-life humans get tangled up in.
Because writers and directors
feel compelled to literalize the gospels
and suck all the imagination out of those stories,
Jesus doesn’t compare well to Simba,
T’Challa, or Ariel.
He seems, well, he seems like a decoupage –
an antique character pasted on a modern surface.
From all those other stories,
and bedtime books
we can easily absorb the wisdom
or moral conveyed within their plots
or by their characters.
But Jesus –
as a living, breathing,
big-time story in our lives –
struggles for freedom.
For us, Jesus has been under lock-down
for a very long time.
He is under quarantine inside
17th, 18th, and 19th century redaction.
Not only is he safer there,
we are safer keeping him there.
Letting him out might cause a Jurassic Park moment.
Hey, that is actually a very apt metaphor.
The movie Jurassic Park
depicted an island paradise
where people could be transported,
and from the safety of their safari vehicles
could observe dinosaurs
brought back to life via cloning.
The Church has been Jurassic Park –
with our lovely liturgies
and spectacular buildings and windows,
and rarefied music.
Just really lovely.
And we could gaze at Jesus
encased in amber
and feel good about the whole thing.
What if Jesus got out?
Now there is a story worth telling!
What if Jesus got out of quarantine
and somehow appeared in the frontal lobe
of YOUR brain?
Would it be like the Velcirators
or T-rex busting free
and wreaking havoc in your life?
That is our challenge.
Bust Jesus out of lock-down
and allow him to be powerful
in the ways that he might exercise power
in our world.
Here and now, not in the first century,
but in pandemic-riven,
United States 2020.
Let him loose in your life
and then tell the story about what happens.
Now there is a spiritual practice to get behind.
I almost stopped there.
But let me just add that the story doesn’t tell itself,
and Jesus doesn’t just roll off the page
and make sense.
WE have to reel him in,
and re-create him for our time,
in our circumstance,
and within the language and parlance of our culture.
It is not Matthew’s Jesus we need to hear and tell,
it is OUR Jesus that needs to be spoken here.
Well, thank you for listening.
I invite you to animate your Jurassic Jesus
and share with the rest of us
the story that ensues.
In the meantime,
the peace of God,
which, as the old hymn says, is no peace,
be with you and us each day.
We are Christians,
but the reason we talk about
the Judeo-Christian tradition
is that we were Jews first.
Jesus, who is the central figure of our religion –
the Wisdom Teacher, Gautama, or Messiah…
the HUGE One at our center – was a Jew.
If we desire to know where Jesus was coming from
then we need to know and feel
the biblical narrative that lived under his skin.
If the empty tomb is the primal Christian moment
then the burning bush is the primal moment in the Hebrew Testament.
There are other rival primal moments though,
unlike in the New Testament,
but Exodus 3:1 through chapter 4:17
is the core primal narrative to which Jesus was rooted.
WWJT – What Would Jesus Think?
Whatever it was, he would have
through the lens of Exodus 3:1-15.
Now the ancients of many cultures throughout history
believed that a story had power:
If you tell the story,
and you tell it well,
and you tell it often,
then it becomes your story.
Then – then – YOU become part of the story,
and the STORY shapes you
and the story SHAPES those who live with you.
In other words, life becomes shaped
in the image of the story.
On the surface of it,
that sounds ridiculous – we’re too sophisticated
to believe that a story has power
when we know darn well that life is shaped by bacteria,
DNA, and physics.
But be that as it may,
we also know in our bones,
in the muddy and gritty experiences of our lives,
that the ancients were right.
The story we tell shapes life.
This could be a sermon about getting in touch
with whatever story we have hitched our life to –
the story or stories that are shaping who we are and life around us.
That is a pretty big deal,
and discovering our story
is an essential chore of spiritual practice.
But I am sticking to THE story today
because the one evangelical bone in my body –
the mandible bone of the preacher –
thinks this story needs to be the core story
of our primal narrative as Christians.
As I tell you about it,
it will become obvious why it was also
the primal narrative of 18th and 19th century slave theology
in the United States.
We would do well to re-enter this story ourselves.
Anyway, just remember that the story we tell
shapes the life we live
and shapes life itself.
In the story of Exodus 3:1-15,
we learn right up front, at the very beginning,
what the differences are
between God and human beings.
Understand please, this is the very first appearance of God
in the whole of the Biblical narrative.
We heard about a few things that God did in Genesis
but until this moment with Moses,
God has been behind the curtain.
It is here that God inserts godself
smack dab in the middle of things.
that while we are used to thinking
that the Book of Genesis
is the beginning of the bible, it is not.
Genesis is a prequel –
like the three Star Wars movies added to the first trilogy
to explain how it all began.
Genesis came later,
much later in historical time
and was then added as a preface to the Exodus story.
But the biblical story
really begins with Hebrews in slavery in Egypt.
The story begins by telling us about
an increased cruelty and oppression
heaped upon the slaves
because Egyptians lived in fear of the Hebrews
who had grown to out-numbered them.
All tyranny lives in fear of the oppressed
rising up to overthrow the tyrants.
We read about the same fear among white slave owners
in the colonial United States
and in the pre-Civil War South.
So 3:1 is the first appearance of God in the bible.
First impressions make a big difference.
Let’s look at what we learn about God
right from the beginning.
What strikes me is that, unlike us,
God knows how to create heat and light without fuel.
We, on the other hand, are consumers
from the first moment we slip from the dark.
Our fuel-efficiency is pretty poor too.
But we learn that with God,
as with all energy,
it changes form
but is never destroyed.
Isn’t that the First Law of Thermodynamics or something?
Right there in the burning bush
we have an example of God adorned
in a basic law of physics.
So we, who are consumers of energy
meet God, who is the source of energy.
And then we learn that God,
making a first appearance in the bible,
has in fact been around for a long, long time –
even longer than the story:
“I am the God of your fathers and mothers,” God says.
But now, here, in the second paragraph,
is where we learn the most important things about God –
most important to us human beings, that is.
Right up front God tells us what happened:
First, God says, “I saw the misery of my people.”
Second, God says, “I heard their cry
as they were being beaten and whipped by their taskmasters.”
Third, God says, “I know their suffering.”
I want to stop with this one
and just stare at it for a moment.
”I know their suffering” means
that God suffers too.
How did our story ever come to include a god
that was impervious to pain and above it all?
Fourth, God says, “I became present to them
so they might be delivered from their oppression.”
And finally, fifth, God says, “I acted,
so that they could be liberated
and be given an abundant alternative.”
I became present
whether in Exodus, Ruth, Matthew, or Paul,
we will find one or more of these five characteristics of God.
If we don’t, then it is a different story
we are reading.
This is NOT the story of a god that just hangs out
up there or out there
as an amorphous energy –
that is the story of a different god
from the God in the Exodus story.
We know right up front
that God is a god who sees,
Now enter human beings.
Moses is the original Prophet –
a religious leader who is equal parts social critic,
political activist, and spiritual guide –
and he is also the prototype of human relationship
We notice that Moses does something smart
straight off the bat – he hides his face.
He knows, as we all know,
that being in close proximity to God
is like Icarus flying too close to the sun.
We can’t survive such intimate,
So Moses covers his face and turns away.
But Moses goes downhill from there,
and that is part of the beauty of the narrative:
Story don’t lie.
It is actually a very funny conversation
that gets lost in translation.
It goes like this.
”Moses, I want you to go back to Egypt
and tell Pharaoh to let my people go.”
We have to picture the look on Moses’ face
because Moses is an escaped assassin
with a price on his head –
put there by Pharaoh who felt personally betrayed by Moses.
It was a personal vendetta thing.
God could probably have knocked him over with a feather.
Moses finally responds:
Uh, you know, I am not really up to the job.
I am not powerful enough to face Pharaoh like that.”
Objection number one.
“Not to worry Moses,” God retorts,
“I will be with you and I am powerful enough for both of us.”
“Well that’s nice, O burning bush, but exactly which god are you?
I’m I dealing with a Sun, Rain, Fertility, Earth, or Wind god?
I mean, Pharaoh is a god too,
and he has lots of gods working with him.
I can’t go up against all of that power
without knowing who has my back!”
Objection number two.
”Aw, go on Moses, just go back to Egypt,
gather all the elders around you
and tell them that “I AM” sent you.
You can tell that to Pharaoh too.
Tell him I am is not ‘a’ god
but ‘I am’ THE God.”
“Well, I certainly appreciate you your ‘I AMness,’
but somehow I don’t think they are going to believe
that I am on a first name basis with THE God.”
Objection number three.
If we use our imagination, we can almost see
Moses backing away slowly from the bush
a little more with each objection.
This is where we run out of story
in today’s reading.
But because it is THE story
I am going to tell you how it ends.
God says, “Oh, don’t worry about it,
I’ll give you lots of powerful magic.
Here watch – “
and God does several very cool magic tricks.
While Moses must have been impressed
he may still thought he could smell a rat.
After all, why doesn’t God deal directly to Pharaoh.
Was this I AM god unsure it could prevail over Pharaoh?
Moses surely had plenty of survival instinct like most human beings.
He didn’t make it out of Egypt in the first place
by acting as anybody’s fool.
So Moses says, “Oh Lord, I would love to do what you ask
but really, I have a speech impediment – a very disturbing disability –
and clearly you need someone more articulate than me.
The fourth objection.
At this point God might be getting impatient
and wondering about what kind of partner Moses would be.
”I told you,” God says, “I will be with you
and I will put the words you need
right on your very tongue.”
Moses is running out of excuses.
”Oh Lord, you are so generous,
but why don’t you send someone else?”
The fifth objection.
This time there is anger in God’s voice.
”Look, you little weasel,
I will send your brother Aaron with you.
He has the gift of gab enough for both of you. Now go.”
All five objections are over-ruled so Moses finally has to go.
The whole thing ends up pretty well
following some dramatic moments of suspense.
But this beginning,
which may have been written
as a liturgical recitation of some kind,
is the core of the narrative.
It presents a pretty clear contrast between God –
and acts –
with us human beings –
It seems pretty obvious to me
that we have forgotten the power of the story we tell,
or been convinced that we live in a universe
that only has one story to which everything is subject –
a kind of story bubble.
Capitalist economics is one such story bubble –
we’re in a dog-eat-dog world,
and greed is the invisible hand
moving all human behavior,
so the best thing we can do
is be a winner.
Fundamentalist religion is another story bubble –
we have the truth and those who do not believe our truth
are enemies of God.
Our task is to be powerful enough
to make human society conform to truth
and so bring about God’s blessing.
Scientific determinism may be the biggest,
most powerful bubble yet today – it says that since
there is a cause or causes for everything in nature,
whether known or unknown,
and we exist in nature,
then all human action is likewise determined.
So what is your primal narrative?
It really does make a difference
because conscious of it or not,
you and I are acting out the story we have been given
The story we tell,
the one we see ourselves as living in,
is hugely powerful.
And not to put too dark a tone to it,
we better know what story we are in
or which story we want to be in
because there are a whole bunch of people
telling us which story we are in –
and doing so, to appropriate our stories
It seems to me that if our spirituality
actually has any meaning or importance to us,
that the Judeo-Christian story
is one we would want to lean into –
to see it as our story.
I do not mean literally – I am not a fundamentalist.
I mean to understand what that story tells us
about God, ourselves, and the kingdom
that God dreams for us to create on earth.
It is a story that has power
and could have more power
should we opt to live into it.
Well, as they say,
it’s just a story –
a story that each of us is living one way or another.
But it truly matters how we read it
and what version we embrace because,
under the power and influence of story,
it will become the world we live in
and the people we become.
I appreciate you being with me
I hope it offers a fertile place for your own thoughts.
Peace be with you.
I don’t want to preach today,
instead I just want to share some thoughts.
Jesus gave us a true gem this morning,
or I should say, Matthew’s memory of Jesus
gave us something special.
So by way of my grandfather
I want to talk about this story of Jesus.
By all accounts my granddad was a peach.
I never knew him,
he died before I was born.
As a dentist in his small,
average American town for those days,
he cared for some people that pushed him
beyond his comfort zone.
I know that
because of stories handed down in the family.
But I also know,
because my dad told me in a quiet moment,
that my grandfather belonged
to the Klu Klux Klan,
known as the Indiana Klan in those parts.
Now the way my dad explained this to me,
was that back in the day – my grandfather’s day –
the Klan was like a political party
and it had a social dimension
because “almost everyone” belonged it.
I checked that out, and indeed,
Indiana has the dubious distinction
of being the state with the highest ever
From 1920 to 1925,
30% of “native born white men in Indiana,”
as it was recorded,
belonged to the Indiana chapter of the Klan,
and the Governor and over half the legislature claimed membership.
”Everyone was in it,”
I think was the phrase my dad used to explain it.
My dad had a childhood memory
of being with his father
in a downtown building
when a Klan meeting let out
and being scared by the procession
of men in robes
coming down the dark stairway.
The mind has lots of tricks.
Because my granddad was a good guy
I embraced my dad’s explanation
for quite some time.
Then, one day, the dissonance
embedded in that explanation
agitated me enough, so that
I started thinking about it more.
The heart of the Klu Klux Klan
is racism and bigotry –
against African Americans,
Jewish Americans, Roman Catholics,
and nearly any immigrant
from anywhere other than northern Europe.
It did not matter if “everyone was doing it”
there is no way around the darkness
at the heart of that beast.
You do not become part of evil
without first having that evil within,
or getting poisoned by more of it
while being part of it.
My grandfather may have been a wonderful guy
to his family
and some members of his community,
but there is no easy explanation or excuse
that will dissolve the ugliness of his association
with the Indiana Klan.
”Everyone was doing it” is a rationalization
meant to put its dissonance
with everything else we know
My point here,
is not so much about my granddad
but the importance of listening to dissonance –
of allowing ourselves to feel the rub
between what we think
and have been taught
and what we experience
and what we practice.
Let me repeat that
because it is counter-intuitive:
It is GOOD
when we allow ourselves to feel
between what we have been taught
and our actual experience,
or between what we believe and espouse
and what we actually practice.
When there is a crinkle and a rub
that makes us uncomfortable,
it is better to pick at it
than to leave it alone.
So again, my granddad
may have been a peach of a guy
to his family and some people in the community,
but his participation in the Indiana Klan
tells us something else as well.
Allowing myself to be uncomfortable
about my own father’s rationalization
about his father – because it didn’t really jive
with my knowledge and experience of people –
caused me to acknowledge
my granddad’s participation in evil.
We all have filters, right?
I mean we all have lenses
we’ve crafted or been given,
that explain the world and the people around us.
There are macro filters
like science, religion, politics, and economics,
and there are micro filters
like family culture, neighborhood consensus,
and personal prejudices and superstitions.
When we feel a dissonance
or agitation about something
we can’t quite put our finger on,
it is probably because
we are calling into question
the trustworthiness of a lens or filter
we’ve been seeing the world through.
In such moments, our instinct
is to turn away from the dissonance.
Our knee-jerk reaction is to deny
the discomfort and move on
without thinking too much about it.
But having the courage and curiosity
to wonder about that dissonance
and explore the agitation
is the gem this story about Jesus holds up to us.
But we have to pay the price of entry
in order to see this gem up close.
In order to even see the gem embedded
in this story from Matthew,
we may have to question
one or more of our filters
There is an orthodox Christian lens
that looks at Jesus
only through God-and-Perfection
Anytime there is a story
in which Jesus says or does
what seems distinctly ungod-like
or less than perfect,
a corrective lens is asserted
that finds an explanation or rationalization
that likely strains credulity
but leaves in tact the orthodox lens.
If we will get curious
and muster some courage,
the insight in this story
is actually low hanging fruit.
This story of Jesus
gives us a glimpse
of a human being struggling
with his own bigotry
along with the lens of his cultural and theological assumptions.
If Jesus is perfect
we do not get to see this moment of enlightenment
brought on by Jesus listening to the dissonance
is between what he says he believes
about the universality of God’s love
and the bigotry held within
the spiritual practice of his own religion.
I would go so far as to say,
this moment of dissonance
and Jesus’ willingness to listen to it,
may be the turning point
in the life and ministry of the messiah.
Here is the story behind the story
that tells the story.
It begins with Jesus ignoring the woman.
But that is not all.
His bigotry toward her is pretty obvious.
He as much as calls her a dog –
in fact, he does call her a dog.
A mother, desperate to save her child,
Now consider what we know
about the plight of peasants in those days.
There was no social safety net.
No medicine, and without any money,
there was not even access to spiritual healers.
It was a social caste system
that left poor women utterly powerless.
It was a society that placed children
on the absolute bottom rung of the ladder
where their value was measured
by their potential for labor.
If you were a female child,
your value was in eventual marriageability.
As a matter of fact,
a poor female child possessed by a demon –
or with mental illness if you prefer –
was truly a life without value or worth.
She would have been completely vulnerable
to all forms of human cruelty.
The mother, as most mothers do,
loved her child beyond value.
She would have been beside herself;
woeful in her fear
about what would happen
to the daughter she loved.
I am guessing that most mothers,
and fathers too,
would chase down any and all options.
So, despite the social and ethnic wedge
that stood between them,
the mother goes after Jesus.
She is poor, so she had already learned
not to be too polite –
that would get her nowhere in the first century.
Instead she charges into the crowd of men
That’s important: she shouts.
She yells at Jesus to stop and “have mercy.”
My image of this moment
is of of Jesus as a deer in the headlights.
He is accosted by a strange woman
We should remember too,
that “mercy” was a special feature of
Jesus’ stump speech.
So, just to fix the scene in our imagination,
this an aggressive outcast woman
publicly begging Jesus for mercy.
The first thing Jesus does is ignore her.
How human: Ignore it and hope it goes away.
I’m good at that, how about you?
But his disciples did not allow
an avoidance strategy.
They begged Jesus, and I quote, ‘get rid of her.’
”That’s harsh” Jesus might have said to himself.
But still, he concurred.
“Look lady, I’m not here to help Canaanites.”
He probably motioned her to leave, as in “shoo.”
“If you want to know the truth lady,
I was sent to help the lost sheep
among my fellow Galileans and Judeans.
I got nothing for you.”
Now to put a really fine point on this moment,
we need to recall what Jesus said
just prior to this event.
In Matthew’s version of the story,
Jesus has just said:
“…What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart,
and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions…”
Granddad, is that you?
Something dark slipped out
from the heart of Jesus.
In fact, Jesus’ treatment of this women
contradicts everything he just preached.
Remember what I said about dissonance?
One source of it is the rub between
what we say we believe or value
and how we actually behave.
When there is dissonance, pick at it.
Hypocrisy is pretty human.
I hope I am not speaking out of school
when I suggest that you may have had some experience
with hypocrisy yourself.
I know I have.
All of us violate our own values
and veer off the walk of our talk.
But the question for Jesus – and for us –
is what to do about it?
“Go away lady, you are not my concern”
sounds so awful to us but we can rationalize it
like my dad did for my granddad.
Jesus feels completely justified
in ignoring this woman
and for asserting an immediate distance
You see, Judeans and Galileans
saw Canaanites as morally unclean,
and ritually filthy.
Keeping a distance
from such low-life
was integral to the practice of good faith.
For Jesus, social distance
from a Canaanite
was practicing good hygiene and “good faith.”
Plus, she is an unattended woman
and so Jesus had plenty of reasons
not too get close.
Social and religious policy
dictated that men
not enter into conversation
or deal with in any way, an unrelated woman –
especially one that was not with a man.
Again, that was a matter of good hygiene
and good faith too,
because a woman might be
on her menstrual cycle.
If a man touched a woman when she was menstruating,
he would make himself unclean.
Making himself unclean
would separate him
from the company of other men,
and any religious activity.
So you could not associate with women
you did not know.
And then, on top of all that,
there was the reputational issue.
Jesus just wanted her to go away.
Clearly Jesus does not want to help her.
He may even be disgusted by her.
His compassion was not aroused,
nor his mercy.
He was likely repulsed
and closed off
by the cultural and religious
lens he wore.
On top of all that,
everything in the culture
justified and reinforced his rejection of her.
”Everyone does it.”
But Jesus seems to have listened
to the dissonance
and recognized what we so clearly see
from our historical distance:
his first response,
while very much part of the normalcy
of his moment in time,
is the wrong response
when seen through the lens of God’s love.
Friends, we need to pick at the dissonance
when it arises within us
amidst the current political moment
and in the rising up of people of color
insisting that the impact of 400 years of slavery
now be addressed and reconciled and healed.
We need to pick at the dissonance within us
whenever we feel defensive about our privilege,
victimized in our whiteness,
hostile or afraid or mistrustful of any class
or category of human being –
as if Canaanites are somehow different
We need to listen to the dissonance
between the universal love of God
and the normal and routine prejudices
bigotries, and fears
held within the lenses we’ve been given
or crafted for ourselves.
So if what I am saying is disconcerting
or agitating in any way, good.
Pick at it,
follow what you know
about the universal love of God
and our call to be agents of that love.
Our vision…a Trinity Church known in the community as a welcoming home to everyone, responding effectively to the needs of our community, in collaboration with fellow Episcopalians and other faith communities
Our mission…to strive in our daily life and parish life to respect the dignity of every human being, and to treat each person entering our doors as if that person is Christ.
We are striving to be as open as the table Jesus hosted, in solidarity with the people of Geneva, and an accessible partner to others who share our sense of the gospel.
It also means we have opened ourselves to the future, and not only moved but adopted a new way of being church from the more traditional model. Join us at Trinity Place, 78 Castle Street in downtown Geneva, NY.
Trinity Place, An Open Space for Growth, Wellness, Healing, & the Arts
“Open Space” means open and inclusive, welcoming the Geneva and FLX community to use our space, and to partner with us in building an inclusive community for spiritual inquiry and wellness.
“Growth, Wellness, Healing, & the Arts” means we are pointed toward a particular dimension of life, specifically that which strengthens the relationship of body, mind, and spirit.
Trinity is a Christian community of worship and spiritual practice welcoming all, and an Episcopal Church in particular. However, we welcome all spiritual traditions and those who have no particular spiritual background but are engaged in a mission consistent with ours. We are looking for partners in mission not members (although we love to welcome new members too).
Trinity’s historic building and our adaptive reuse plan has been named and embraced by The Landmark Society of Western New York. Among thousands of worthy historic sites and projects, Trinity’s was selected. Follow this link to read more: https://landmarksociety.org/2019-five-to-revive-announced/
The Rev. R. Cameron Miller is our rector, which means the resident clergy leader. In addition … Read more