Sunday, 29 May 2016

Just Say the Word: thoughts on the Second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9) with reference to JESUS; the First Week of Ordinary Time; 1 Kgs 18.20–39; Gal 1:1–12 and Lk 7:1–10

Jesus is complicated. So is taking him seriously. It involves a lot of coming and going.

Like in the gospel. Ask him to come and heal my servant said the centurion in the gospel (Lk 7.3). So they (the elders) came to Jesus and pleaded with him earnestly to go with them (Lk 7.5-6). And then the centurion said, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you.” (Lk 7.6-7) Come, don’t come. I don’t know.

Sounds like what Elijah was talking about. “How long will you go limping between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him.…And the people did not answer him a word” (1 Kg 18.21)

That kind of thinking seems to have been going on in Paul’s day, too, when you’d think things were fresh and miracles were happening every day. “I am astonished,” he wrote in our Galatians, “that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Gal 1.6-7).

Limping along, not sure whether I’m coming or going, needing to be delivered from an evil age (Gal 1.4)—that hasn’t changed. And who’s approval am I seeking? God’s or people’s?

Like I said, Jesus is complicated.

‘If any want to become my followers,” he said in one of my morning prayer readings last week, “let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?’ Luke 9.22-25


Deny, take up, save, gain, lose. And more! Last Friday, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.’ Luke 6.27b,28

Denying, taking up, saving, gaining, losing, living, dying AND enemies, hate, cursing and abuse. But, Lord!, I don’t want to. I don’t like them. They’re NDPs—Liberals—Conservatives—something-or-other-ophobes. They’re wrong. They’re agents of this evil age, aren’t they? I don't like that bit!

“If you believe what you like in the gospels and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe but yourself.”
- St. Augustine


And then there was the BCP collect for last week—the one for Trinity Sunday:

Almighty and everlasting God,
who hast given unto us thy servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity
and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity:
We beseech thee, that this holy faith may evermore be our defence against all adversities; who livest and reignest, one God, world without end.

A true faith, the glory of the eternal Trinity, to worship the Unity—all in the power of the Divine Majesty. Like I said, it’s complicated. Who knows what’s coming and going? Are just two minds enough? You could make a whole bunch of different gospels from that.

Yet it’s FULL of God the Father, and of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit. And it all comes down to this:

But say the word…(Lk 7.7)

Jesus, I choose that opinion. I accept that gospel. Because your word is always truth (Jn 17.17), the truth is in you, Jesus (Eph 4.21) and you ARE the truth (Jn 14.6). Jesus, you ARE the Word (Jn 1.1). Jesus, please just say the word and heal my friend, my neighbour. Jesus, please say the word and keep me pointed in the right direction, no matter how complicated things get, coming or going, always following where you lead.

May the life-giving, on-the-right-track, 24-7, healing, comforting, trustworthy, go-to-in-all-circumstances, day in, day out, Word for us always be Jesus.


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