Friday, September 17, 2010

Opening My Mind To Learn

Luke 16:1-13 Lectionary Passage for Sunday, September 19, 2010

Of all the lessons I’ve gleaned from in the stories of Jesus, before this week I can’t remember much that I learned from reviewing this story of the manager who was a crook. A creative crook, but a crook none the less! As I took pause and gave the story a chance to question me, I realized that I had not learned much from this story because I had not opened my mind to believe that a crook had much to teach me. Or even a story about a crook. Seeing my closed-mindedness, I decided that I could not afford to close my mind’s door anymore to any lessons to be learned from this story.
The crook got caught and had little time to act before he was on the streets. He was in the moment of crisis willing to be honest about his lack of ability to make an honest living. He did not begrudge it, he just took the talent and ability he had, used it to develop his social support network, and therefore secure a future for himself, while in the process gaining some immediate cash flow for his boss and some immediate savings for his customers. He turned a crisis into a win-win of sorts, though through crooked means. Jesus must have shocked his listeners as much as he surprised me this week. I have lessons to learn from people and situations. I can, like the crook, use the tools of creativity and resourcefulness as means to a better end. I want to stop my judgment and dismissal of others. I want to be unafraid of learning life lessons from people which are different from me, or, maybe even more importantly, see that there are people which I have seen as far different than me, that are closer than I thought. I haven’t scheduled a prison ministry for the edification of the unincarcerated yet, but who knows?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Invitation To Joy

John 8:1-11

I have no historical proof, but suspect that the atmosphere created by Religious elite like those in this story did not prove to cultivate an atmosphere conducive to growth in their faith community. Perhaps they needed a religious author to give them some instruction in a new book: ‘Methods of Church Growth- after stoning doesn’t work.’ Vicious reminders of one’s guilt don’t instill in many the need to pursue a life path like that of the author of the accusations being hurled at them. Imagine that. The contrast in this story between the religious elite’s accusations and condemnation and Jesus’ offer of dignity and invitation to joy is profound. Jesus is not about to play along with their game of uneven ‘justice.’ How unjust is it to bring this woman naked before the crowd, accuse her of being caught in the act of adultery, oblivious to the fact that this infraction of the law requires two persons. Jesus, the only innocent one in the bunch, is the only one to not shame this woman by looking at her in her public humiliation. He will not let anyone here think of themselves as less of a sinner, and they have to drop their stones and walk away. She does not, and we do not, need to be accused or have stones thrown at us. Condemnation is not in short supply. But dignity is. Jesus offered her a shred of dignity in which to clothe herself, and something more. He offered her an invitation to a new life. A life where relationships are secure, where joy can be found in commitment. He did point to the boundaries when he said go and sin no more. But it was not a condemnation, it was an offer to live in the boundaries of the road that leads to a committed relationship and the joy that is found in enjoying life together in covenant love- a long journey with a life-long friend. One who will never leave you or forsake you. Jesus still offers we, who have been found in the pain and brokenness of a world filled with little lasting commitment and with selfish ‘love,’ to begin again. This is part of the process of taking steps in our life recovery program. Here is where we don’t offer stones to kill, we offer stepping stones to life. The boundaries were etched by the finger of God on Mt. Sinai, but our sins were like the words that Christ wrote on the dirt- easily washed away, blown away. Christian community is like a twelve step program- the place of joy involves making decisions, taking responsibility for our lives by making steps toward our wholeness and joy. God can empower us, but has given us the ability to choose our own path. Consider scriptural moral boundaries as the roadmap to the reality of joy. We can choose our script, our map wisely, with a reality in mind. Reality TV- bad script, bad news. Reality in God’s roadmap to Joy- good script, good news.