Shake it off
You have stept out of your place, you have bine rather a husband than a wife and a preacher than a hearer and a magistrate than a subject.
Those words burned Anne Hutchinson’s ears as she was convicted of heresy and “lying” in 1637 by a General court for preaching as soon as one accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he goes to heaven. Behavior does not keep one out of heaven. These were shocking to the leaders in the colonies.
There was great distrust of Hutchinson because of her influence over women. There is as we know a long history of anger and frustration of women in the church. From Eve in the garden. Puritans thought of women as being weak of faith and intellect. They were temptresses and scripture declared they be submissive in accordance with the Bible. She was banished humiliated her family moved to Rhode Island.
You have stept out of your place Mr. Jesus.
When people step out of their boxes, it is often met with ridicule, anger and distrust on both sides. The Common English Bible's interpretation is the people were repulsed by him. Pretty strong language. In fact, who does He think he is wafts through gospel. When the crowd identifies Him as the carpenter, Mary’s son, they are implying He is illegitimate. So if He is illegitimate, then His ministry, His teaching in fact everything about Him is illegitimate.
They close themselves off to Him so he cannot heal or teach. They don’t believe Him and He is appalled by their unbelief. So He left.
Have you ever been told that you have stept out of your place? Not those words exactly but phrases like, “you’ve changed” “you didn’t use to like fill in the blank-football, beets, mystery novels” or “you think your better than us”
All code for there is a picture of you I carry in my mind and when you change it is as if you have taken that picture out of my hands and ripped it into a million pieces. If I don’t know who you are, how can I know who I am. And if I don’t know who you are because you have changed, maybe you will stop loving me. Or you will leave me or you will mock me or any other such million or’s that float around in our heads.
Hurt and anger descends on both sides. Relationships rupture. Feelings are hurt. Words are said and hearts are broken.
Jesus like Anne Hutchinson and all the others through history have upset the status quo and we don’t like it. We want our Jesus meek and mild not the appalled, horrified Jesus. Jesus didn’t just disrupt the status quo with his peers, he continues to disrupt it.
Jesus stomps away muttering under his breath “Nitwits, knuckleheads.” He mimics the crowd, “Isn’t that Mary’s son?” Still feeling the sting of rebuke the shame still hot on his face. As he approaches the disciples, he straightens up, “I’ll show you. C’mon we’re getting out of here. We’ll go where we are wanted.” And with that they are gone.
In 1990 I attended Mark's class reunion and met a former classmate David Butts. He had was wearing a beautiful custom silk suit and his date was drop dead gorgeous. When I asked Mark who this fellow was in high school, he responded no one really like him and he was an outcast. I thought to myself, who has had the last laugh now?
I would love to know how Mr. Butts shrugged off the insults and the taunts to become a successful business person. He had what emotional fortitude. The spine to think I don’t care what others say, I am going to be my own person.
People like that are fascinating. They have a drive, determination and indeed passion to break out of the stereotype of who others want them to be. To rise up and strike out for better things, a better life. Jesus promised the people standing around him the very same thing. The problem was they were so hung up on who He was, they couldn’t see or hear who He thought they could be. People worthy of being healed, nurtured and cared for. People who are loved no matter what just as Anne Hutchinson preached. People who are capable of doing great things if they could only open their minds and use their imaginations.
We have the same opportunity everyday that was given to those new followers of Jesus. We just have to be willing to shake the dust from the stories we have been told about ourselves and write new ones. One of the fascinating things about this story is Jesus doesn’t let the people define him, he chooses to define himself. It is the ultimate freedom, to be truly who God wants you to be and be willing to follow wherever it may lead. Risking rejection and ridicule because ultimate freedom comes from a relationship with God and embracing who we are wholeheartedly.
What is a weekend?
In today's readings the focus is on the Sabbath. Deuteronomy reiterates the Ten Commandments but with commandment of keeping the Sabbath holy, God adds, all people are to have time off. So if we think about it, God gave us our first labor law. We know through history people worked seven days a week with perhaps Christmas Day off. There were no trips out of town or holiday time away with friends and family. People worked themselves sometimes literally to death. The fall-out from all of this was the rise in alcoholism and child neglect. Society was filled with the lost and broken due to lack of care and attention God commanded of us.
Weekends are a relatively new phenomenon. In Downton Abbey, the Dowager Countess asks over dinner, "What is a weekend?" What we have taken as a joke, she was perfectly honest in asking. It is the 1920's at this point in the story and the Countess was born in 1840, a weekend was a relatively new invention. It came from working people going to a friend's house at week's end. Friday evening until Sunday morning. Perhaps you remember the world stopping on Sunday. Then it changed. Suddenly in the 1970's stores began opening and Sunday became like any other day.
Fast forward to 2018, and people do not even take holidays off. Employees are constantly wired for work. The expectation is we will always be available no questions asked. It has become the norm to work all the time. In fact, we believe there is something wrong with us if we are not in perpetual motion. Even retirees have schedules that would put most 20-somethings to shame.
As the school year closes out how many of us recall on the last day of school running out of building feeling free. We had time off. Time to play, and imagine. To think and to read. The weeks stretched out in front us with glorious possibilities. I for one think we need to reclaim those feelings to take time to think and read and imagine. No matter our age.
God's command to rest on the Sabbath is a welcome respite from all the shall not's in the Ten Commandments. This one is "Thou shall rest." Good advice from the Man himself who even managed a day off after creating the world and all that is in it.
Today is Holy Trinity Sunday and if a rector is lucky enough, he or she will not have to preach. The lucky one has either an assistant assigned to the day, or just takes the day off and finds supply. Why? You may ask. The simple reason is the Trinity is not easily explained and when the Church grapples with these concepts, more often than not, they are explained a mystery and we move on. So moving on is what I am going to do.
For the call of Isaiah is more interesting to contemplate. A huge temple, think four or five football fields in size, incense filling the space with clouded scent and Seraphs. Yes Seraphs are captivating and high in the angelic realm-second in line. So who would you want guarding the temple? Cute angels and rosy winged cherubs or something a little more commanding? Seraphs are not rosy cheeked angels, they are winged lizards, dragons who fly around and proclaim loudly, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. So loud in fact the rafters of the temple shook Why? Because our God is a great God.
Isaiah has been chosen by God to lead the Israelites and in the first five chapters of Isaiah we find, as usual, they are misbehaving. God wants them straightened out and no one is willing to do the job. Finally after Isaiah hems and haws, says he is not worthy, he is filled with sin, he relents and tells God to send him.
How many of us have felt like Isaiah? Someone asks you to do something slightly out of your comfort zone and the first response is, "I can't do that. I'm not smart enough or rich enough or creative enough or... you fill in the blanks. Well I am here to tell you, you are all of those things and more. God doesn't need people who are sinless, he needs people who now how sin feels. He wants real people not cardboard cut-outs of disciples. Why? Because who can better understand the trials and tribulations of humanity than those of us who have stumbled and even fallen? We can lead because we are not called to perfection, we are called to follow the risen Christ. A Jesus who knows how it feels to be human because he was. He understands what it meant to make mistakes, because he did. Remember the Syro-phoencian woman, arguing with Jesus until he changed his mind. That's who Jesus calls, people who will not blindly follow but will question and yes even fuss at being called.
I love the call of Isaiah not because of dragons and puffing smoke but because I see a little of all of us in Isaiah. Tentative, nervous, apprehensive but realizing God wants us no matter who we are or what we have done. All are forgiven...now the work begins.