land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

a reflection on Sundays gospel Oct 7 2012

Mark 10:2-16 Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. The following is a sermon or statement prepared for St. John’s today by the Rev. Peter Jenks on today’s gospel lesson. When the Bible supports what I think and do, when it justifies me and those I love, then I hoist it like a flag and feel like charging forth into the world to make things better. When the Bible challenges me, my actions, and the lifestyle I have enjoyed, then I find it easy to use educated critiques to show how things can be interpreted in many different ways. According to today’s gospel I have committed adultery. Also, this week, according to the gospel, I have committed murder by wishing the death of those who attacked and shot Anne Williams' (a parishioner here at St. John's) son-in-law in New Orleans, this last week. I am not going to heaven because of my righteous deeds, nor my politics, ideology, nor philosophical perspectives; nor my gender, race, sexual orientation, education, nor even my religious denomination. And likewise, I am not going to hell because of my shortcomings, sins, associations, or votes. The kingdom of God is at hand, nearer than the clothes we wear, closer than the secrets we keep. I, and we all here, are at the entrance to the mystery of love, forgiveness and life. It is our choice today to find a way to rise up and enter, or remain fearful. I want God to do what I think right and to agree with the plans that I have made for myself and the world in which I live. With such a desire I can sit and pout and become cynical and judgmental when there is not an appropriate response to me. I want to be heard, understood and have an effect upon the direction of things. The love of God, the forgiveness of Jesus and the living pulse of the Holy Spirit is not deaf, like the newspaper, television or computer to which I also try to speak my wisdom. I have been heard, understood, and the rage at injustice from my perspective has been deeply felt by God, and with such I have joined the great assembly of history shouting “crucify him, crucify him”. My children do not always understand what is most important to me, and have not always done or followed what I thought to be the best path. I have participated in a failed marriage, which will always be a part of who I am. I have remarried, knowing full well what the gospel has pointed out today about adultery, and yet joined again in another marriage with full abandon and dedicated delight. My finances are challenged, my politics flawed, my judgments sometimes quick to condemn, and yet I still will rise to come to the cross of Jesus. We are not going to heaven or hell. We are rising with Christ as we rise to accept forgiveness and to forgive; we are entering into the court of God’s kingdom as we honesty accept what we have done, left undone, and realize we have absolutely no right or reason to be here other than the desire of God to have us here; we are walking the streets of the heavenly city as we find the strength to sing when no one else dare’s, and dance when no one else seems to be able to move. Or we continue to rot and stew and decompose in our own wounds, our old hurts and patterns of control, and fear. This last week I saw a video of a group of penguins at a zoo. All of the penguins were huddled together standing looking around at things, while one young bird decided to hop, jump, skip, and dance all around. It was a joyous and very funny sight to watch. This one bird continued to dance while the others stared at her. I want to be the one to dance with such joy. This last week I found myself singing a hymn while I was walking through the church and then went to unlock the door. I opened the door still singing and noticed two people walking by. I quickly took a breath and for a moment stopped, but then continued at a quieter tone. I was embarrassed, I wasn’t even sure I knew the words anymore. It is not the Bible I need to justify my actions, it is the love and joy I know or want to embrace within my heart that keeps me trying to sing, but I want to do so better next time when I open the door and see people walking by looking at me. And whether the other penguins of my world are watching or not, I am entering heaven this day not clothed with my goodness, but wrapped in forgiveness. Yes, my heart has been hard, but is being melted by the song of God’s love. We’re here. Amen

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