For Unto You a Child Is Born
January 3, 2018
December 5, 2017
Wedding Banquet Gone Wrong
A Hot Button Issue
70 Times 7
But I Do Know This God
October 8, 2017
You Can Run...
May 9, 2016
In Her Name
March 25, 2016
A New Direction
March 18, 2016
Whose Wife Will the Woman Be in Heaven?
March 15, 2015
Where Isn't Jesus Tonight? A Christmas Eve Homily
December 25, 2014
Is That Any Way to Treat a Friend? Moses & God
March 31, 2015
“this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’”
I speak to you in the name of the most amazing God. Amen.
The art of deeply listening,
Of really paying attention to what someone else is saying
Is not easy.
Especially when we disagree.
And most especially when we do not understand.
I’m not sure exactly why we are all here
Clinging to life on a blue ball of water and dirt
Hurtling through the infinitude of deep space.
And I’m not sure why, deep down,
Our deepest human instinct is toward mistrust and fear.
Toward assuming the worst,
especially when we don’t have all the facts.
Especially when we do not understand.
And I think that, if we really listen to the gospel this morning,
The crux of the story comes
when the crowd interprets the parable
that Jesus has told
through that deeply human lens of mistrust and fear:
“He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
But is that really what this particular landowner would do?
In listening to this parable,
it is logical enough to us to assume
that the crowd listening to Jesus –
which, by the way, is filled with chief priests and Pharisees,
who decidedly have their own agenda –
And we go along with the notion
that the landowner would kill the tenants.
But are we really hearing?
Sometimes, parables come tied up in neat little packages
and there is a seemingly clear correspondence
between the characters and reality.
In this case, it is easy to imagine
God as the landowner
and the people of God as the tenants.
It is easy to see that yes!
The slaves the landowner sent
to collect the fruit of the harvest
are the prophets and the martyrs
that God has sent
to correct Israel’s errant ways.
And that Jesus is the son sent.
And yet… it gives me pause to make all those assumptions
Because it leads to a place
where God throws people out of the kingdom of heaven.
It leads to a place
where God reacts to humanity
with human fear and distrust
Rather than divine compassion and forgiveness.
In reading this story and searching for meaning this week
Against the backdrop of the deepest of horrors
that humanity can inflict upon itself
I find that the only thing I can cling to
is that we do not have to assume
That the answers the chief priests and Pharisees give
to Jesus’ question about the landowner in this parable
Necessarily are correct.
Ask yourself this: Is that the God you know?
Is that the God who loves each of us so completely
That he would manifest himself as fully human
and then sacrifice himself – for what?
Just so we could continue to fear one another?
Just so we could continue to mistrust one another?
Just so we could continue to kill one another?
I may not know exactly what God does do with those of us –
all of us really –
who fail to follow him without screwing up,
But wait – on second thought,
that isn’t at all true.
Because that assumes
that I don’t know,
what it means to be human.
Because, I think, in the Kingdom of God,
sometimes what it means to be human
is to screw up,
and ask for forgiveness,
and most important,
to be forgiven.
That’s the landowner I know.
The divine tender of the fruits of the harvest.
The healer of the grapes
that are easily bruised
and yet yield the most divinely intoxicating spirits.
So, I may not know the meaning of this life,
And I may lose sight of the Kingdom of God from time to time
In the haze of misunderstanding and fear,
And I may despair when the deepest evil breaks through
in humanity’s worst self-inflicted nightmare,
But I do know this:
I do know God.
I do know
that the assumptions the chief priests and the Pharisees made
about the landowner cannot be equated with this loving God.
They were wrong!
God’s vengeance –
if such a thing even exists –
MUST not equate with human vengeance.
We are our own worst nightmare.
The violence the tenants inflict on the slaves
in this morning’s parable is human violence
A divine landowner
would inflict nothing more than the divine violence of love
On those tenants.
The love God has for us is so fierce,
so far beyond our ability to understand…
So far from our own deepest fears
That we can only approach it trembling and through parables.
And in our very human reactions
to a world that we assume is threatening
We have the very human instinct to distrust, even the divine.
To distrust the offer of peace that comes in divine justice
And shore it up with pale human notions of justice.
When we assume that God would respond as we do –
Out of our own deep and inward fears and distrust –
We become complicit in the evil that exists to separate us
From one another and from God.
And it divides us against ourselves –
pitting our humanity against our divinity
That deep unease
felt in the pit of the stomach.
It can be left unexamined and un-understood
Or it can be offered up to the divine
Surrendered into the vast unknown
of God’s abiding love and forgiveness
Forged into the greater understanding
that there is no other to fear in the Kingdom of God.
I may not be sure why we are here,
Or what meaning there is in life,
But I do know this:
It is found in God’s love for each of us.
It is born when we choose to hear each other and understand
And to find away around
or at least to live with our differences.
It is to let go of that deep human fear, just a little more,
And to experience the fiery love of God.
And to risk loving our neighbor for the sake of that love.
Each and everyone of us.
So, where does that leave us a week after the shooting in Las Vegas?
A little farther away from the Kingdom of God?
Only if we fear, is it so.
January 2018 (1)
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December 2014 (1)