Thursday, March 27, 2014
We know that Jesus saves, and makes the blind to see. Does this come with a price? What price would you pay to see justice done in OUR world?
Again, I struggle from week to week to make the Sunday morning messages at the congregation I serve mean something. Sure, I can, (and do) tell funny stories that make people laugh and feel good. This is easy for me. Is this doing God's work? Really, I know that what I am really called to do in these talks is let the Spirit move in the congregation.
This weeks lectionary reading is John 9:1-41. This is the story of Jesus healing the blind man. What this really deals with is what happens when we do God's work with God's people, those in His own image.
Jesus heals a man blind from birth, but he does it on the Sabbath. He knows the laws, (He is the Son of God) and this breaks one of the traditional Jewish laws of working on the Sabbath, (Exodus 31:12-17). Why would He do this? I think the short answer is to show that all people are important, and God wants to heal all of us whenever possible. It also allowed him to confront the Pharisees and show them how ridiculous they can be.
Here is the troubling part. Aren't we sometimes junior Pharisees? Don't we take rules and laws and put them before people? I am a lay pastor for the United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church has rules and laws, and they are gathered in a document called The Book of Discipline. (The current Book of Discipline is almost 800 pages long-that is some document!) I like my church, I love my congregation and like having a discipline, a book of rules to guide me.
If you hear or read the news, you know that several preachers ordained in the United Methodist Church have performed same sex marriages, a practice outside the Book of Discipline. These pastors have been brought before courts of review and some have been de-frocked. They have been fired and told that their life's work is not valid. That makes me nervous!
I see Jesus doing things that are outside His Jewish laws to do what God wants done. To heal God's people. I see ministers doing things outside their churches laws to reach people made in God's own image, and then are punished. As a lay minister, I am not ordained, so I can not perform sacraments anyway, ( another rule in The Book of Discipline.) So this does not directly affect me, not as a pastor.
But it does affect me as a sinner trying to understand what God desires. It does shape the way un-churched see how the church behaves. I don't understand why these pastors choose to do what they did, and I can't say that even if I had the authority to marry that I would marry a same sex couple. I tend to respect laws.
Jesus does not want followers who seek to do the law, He expects us to do justice. Sometimes these are not the same.