21 August 2016

Lectionary Reflection—21 August 2016

Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. A woman was there who’d been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and couldn’t stand up straight. When he saw her, Jesus called her to him and said, “Woman, you’re set free from your sickness.” He placed his hands on her and she straightened up at once and praised God.

The synagogue leader, incensed that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded, “There are six days during which work’s permitted. Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath day.”

The Lord replied, “Hypocrites! Don’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from its stall and lead it out to get a drink? Then isn’t it necessary that this woman, a daughter of Abraham, bound by Satan for eighteen long years, be set free from her bondage on the Sabbath day?” When he said these things, all his opponents were put to shame, but all those in the crowd rejoiced at all the extraordinary things he was doing.

October 26, 1881. The time was about 3:00 p.m. The place was the O.K. Corral in Tombstone Arizona. On one side was Billy Claiborne, Billy and Ike Clanton, and Frank and Tom McLaury. On the other side was Doc Holliday and Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt Earp. The two groups were roughly 6 to 10 feet apart. Town marshall, Virgil Earp, said, “Throw up your hands.” Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton drew and cocked their pistols. Virgil yelled, “Hold on! I don’t mean that!”

Then the shooting began.

One of the most famous gunfights in American history was over in roughly 30 seconds. Everyone was either wounded or dead.

Except Wyatt.

That’s what this story from Luke feels like. Jesus and the synagogue leader seem to be battling each other about how things are supposed to be and who’s supposed to be the true leader. The synagogue leader’s holding on to the old traditions and he feels threatened by Jesus and The Way Jesus represents. And the reason the synagogue leader feels threatened is because, if Jesus and The Way he’s leading takes hold, it means the end of the old traditions, his old way of living, his old way of being. The Old Way will have to die (Matthew 10.39 ; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:3; John 12:25). And like most people when we feel threatened, the religious leader lashed out.

“There are six days during which work’s permitted,” the synagogue leader said. “Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath day.” The woman and Jesus weren’t following the traditional rules. But that’s the way Love works. Love isn’t bound to traditions or rules or any of that. Love knows no bounds (1 Corinthians 13.4-8).

“Hypocrites!” Jesus replied. “Don’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from its stall and lead it out to get a drink? Then isn’t it necessary that this woman, a daughter of Abraham, bound by Satan for eighteen long years, be set free from her bondage on the Sabbath day?”

Love exposes our hypocrisies and inconsistencies. We always seem to see the sins of others so clearly but are blind to our own. The hypocrisy Jesus exposed wasn’t their care for the animals on the Sabbath. It was the way the religious community—and by extension, the rest of the community because of religious tradition—saw the woman as being less than human and even less than the animals. Jesus wasn’t referring to the leading the animal out to get a drink. It was that they showed more kindness, compassion, and love to their animals than they did to their own sister “of Abraham.” But instead of repenting of their sin, they highlighted Jesus’ breaking of their religious tradition.

But that’s exactly the unnatural human condition, isn’t it. When someone points out an area of weakness, instead of humbly acknowledging that weakness, we instantly point out the inconsistencies of the one who exposed us. And for a plethora of examples, one only needs to turn to this political season. When the actions of one candidate are uncovered, instead of that candidate taking responsibility for them, a spotlight is quickly shown on the actions of the opponent.

Too often, I feel, we’re more concerned about who created the planet than we are about taking care of it. We’re more concerned about the Olympics than we are about the cities and countries that host them. We’re more concerned about Ryan Lochte than we are about Omran Daqneesh. And if we have to Google the name of the second and not the first…well…you get my point.

In a letter to his fellow monks at Luxeuil monastery, St. Columbanus (543-615 CE) wrote, “Love has nothing to do with order.” The Way of Jesus is the Way of Love. It doesn’t care about the “rules” of humanity or governments or even religions. Indeed, Love pushes against those rules used to imprison the children of God until they break.

When following The Way of Jesus, do we disrupt social and religious traditions? Do our actions and words provoke uneasiness with the religious establishment? Does the Love of Christ compel us to action that threatens the established religious and societal norms? Or are we following the traditional rules?

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

19 August 2016


I’ve been sitting on some news for a while now that only a handful of people knew about. But I can finally let everyone else in on the secret!
I was one of a group of contributors working with Kenneth R. McIntosh for a new study Bible from Anamchara Books—The Celtic Study Bible!

The final release dates have been confirmed:

E-book release dates:
Introduction: 16 September 2016
Matthew: 16 October 2016
Mark: 16 November 2016
Luke: 16 December 2016
John: 16 January 2017
Acts: 16 February 2017

Physical book (all e-book sections):
17 March 2017--St Patrick's Day!

I’m so humbled and honored to be part of such a project. If you have an interest in Celtic Christianity, you might find this Bible a helpful resource.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

14 August 2016

Lectionary Reflection—14 August 2016

“I came to cast fire upon the earth. How I wish that it was already ablaze! I have a baptism I must experience. How I’m distressed until it’s completed! Do you think that I’ve come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, I’ve come instead to bring division. From now on, a household of five will be divided—three against two and two against three. Father will square off against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Jesus also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud forming in the west, you immediately say, ‘It’s going to rain.’ And indeed it does. And when a south wind blows, you say, ‘A heat wave’s coming.’ And it does. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret conditions on earth and in the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret the present time?”

A lot of people don’t like these verses from Luke. “I don’t think Jesus would’ve said that,” they exclaim. “Well, my Jesus wouldn’t talk that way,” others contend. This poses a huge problem. If we find passages that don’t agree with our sensibilities, we’ll probably start ripping out a lot of the Bible (metaphorically speaking). And when we get enough of us together who do that, we might not have anything left in the Bible except the maps!

When we read things like the passage above, it’s supposed to challenge us, to make us think and ask the hard questions. That’s the point. We’re supposed to be having our lives changed by what the Spirit is saying to us through the Bible not changing the Bible to suit our feelings.

So what do we make of the passage above? In my mind, this all ties to the then coming war with Rome. Jesus used the personal pronoun “you” roughly seven times in the passage above, clearly speaking directly to the people standing around him. He said that they can understand the weather but can’t understand the significance of Jesus being with them. His presence is the incarnation of God (see Malachi 4). He’s returned to his people and found them wanting. Indeed! They’re so far removed from God that they can’t even tell when God’s walking among them.

However, some will see and understand. But because of this understanding, their families will be divided. They’ll claim that Jesus was God’s Messiah and that God’s bringing judgement upon Israel. If they want to be rescued from God’s soon coming wrath, then they’ll follow Jesus. Can you imagine the outcry from their families? We don’t have to imagine, though, for they’re recorded in the Scriptures. And the outcome of this division is recorded in history with Josephus’ War of the Jews, which chronicle Rome’s sacking of Jerusalem and Temple.

But what does this tell us today? Is there nothing for us? I think there is. Following Jesus is still divisive—and by essentially the same type of people. That is, the religious people don’t really like the Jesus of the Bible. You know, the one who welcomed sinners? The one who was a “drunkard and a glutton”? The one who had women and other marginalized people whom society deemed “unclean” for his disciples? The one who stood with the refugees and outcasts? The one who said to love God, your neighbors, and your enemies? That Jesus causes division.

And any time someone stands up for peace and reconciliation of all people, there will be division. Any time someone proclaims #blacklivesmatter, there will be division. Anytime someone says that all people should be able to marry whom they love, there will be division. Anytime someone says that we should stop giving our money to the super-rich and use it to help the poor, there will be division.

So, following Jesus—being Jesus—will cause division to a lot of the religious people and a lot of the non-religious people, too. Following The Way of Jesus is not for the faint of heart. But it’s the only way of bringing God’s Realm to our hurting world. It takes courage to follow The Way of Jesus. May the Spirit of God pour out Grace and Courage to be Christ to the world.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC