Thursday, January 20, 2011

3 Epiphany

Thoughts towards a sermon:

Readings are here.

Once again the Gospel relates one of the call stories - though it differs from last week in the setting - now they are in Capernaum instead of by the Jordan River. Jesus has apparently taken up residence in this small town whose economy was based in fishing and agriculture. Recent archeological findings show that the town was made up of sturdily built houses of basalt (like we find in our rocky outcroppings along the coast) with roofs of small logs, sticks and mud (remember the healing of the paralytic where his friends tore up the roof to let him down by Jesus?). Prized possessions were small mills to grind grain and olives for flour and oil. There did not seem to be a wide disparity of social classes.

I don't often think of Jesus as having a home -- mostly in the gospels he seems to ramble about with his followers depending on the kindness and support of women for his food and lodging. But in the gospel of Matthew - they spend a lot of time in Galilee where they would not be far from home. Peter could easily return to look after his wife and mother in law. Peter and Andrew seem to work for others, as they own nets but no boat. James and John work for their father who most likely contracted with wealthier investors. This story makes me wonder about those who stayed home to support Jesus and his followers. Perhaps there is a ministry of stability that makes it possible for others to do their ministry of reaching out.

We are continuing with Paul's letter to the Corinthians. After the nice things about the Corinthian Christians that he said in the part we read last week - he begins his critique of them In this portion he is saddened by their divisions - this one over whose baptism is better. He is sort of funny in this letter - starting out with "I thank God that I baptized none of you" and then having to back track, oh except Crispus, Gauis, Stephanas and maybe a few more!! I like these segues in Paul's letters - they make him the most real of all the Bible people. He ends this section saying "the message of the cross is foolishness" - what does he mean- how can it be foolish. But looking at it from the point of view of might makes right, or wealth proves you are blessed, or he who dies with the most toys wins -- a God who dies powerless on the cross seems very foolish. A message that God chooses weakness and shame in an honor/shame culture instead of power and might and wealth - does sound very odd.

Lately I have been intrigued with the psalms. This one speaks of seeking one thing - to dwell in the house of the Lord forever, to seek him in his temple. At one time this might have meant an actual place - the temple in Jerusalem but what does it mean now. Sometimes I come into the church building when no one is around, and just sit -- this particular building has a very spiritual sense for me. I know altar guild members often report they are most able to pray and be present to God when alone setting up the altar and preparing the church for our worship. So it could be a place even now. I also believe the whole earth is a temple of God as well as our bodies - so it may be that we seek to dwell within the world and within our bodies as temples. When I walk the beach I feel that sense of holy space - a grand temple that brings awe and terror and peace in its own way. In many ways the ocean is a metaphor for God for me -- a place that gives me life and can easily take it away. If we look at our selves and our earth as a temple of God - how would that change us? Respect for the earth as holy place, respect for our bodies as holy places? What about cities?

Today we have the Annual Meeting - if we live into this idea how would it change our meetings?

There has been a plea for more civility in our public discourse. Could I start by treating each encounter with another as holy space? Acting and speaking with the sense of God's presence in the midst of us?

1 comment:

Grandmère Mimi said...

In many ways the ocean is a metaphor for God for me -- a place that gives me life and can easily take it away.

For me, too. I love waking along the beach, with the tide flowing in and out which reminds me of God's felt presence, which ebbs and flows like the tide.

I'd like to be present to hear your sermon, Ann. Your thoughts are lovely, and I like to hear you put them all together and speak them.