Gracious God, you love so radically that you cause division to develop because we can’t grasp how wide is your embrace. Be with us this night, as we invite you into our lives to push the boundaries of our experience so that we can grow into the grace filled vessels of your love for all. As we walk this night may our journeys be filled with discovery and hope, for we walk in your name, one God for ever and ever.
Prayer Over the Gifts
Gracious God, in the radical wideness of your mercy and love, open our hearts and minds to see beyond the limits of our visions and the confines of our certitudes. Grant us the grace of gratitude and the uncomfortability of your disturbance, so that we can see the breadth of your embrace for all of your creation. We ask this in the great mystery of you, one God forever and ever. Amen
Oh God, we have been challenged, and have explored and wrestled with your word and the incomprehensible wideness of your love and embrace. May this sacrament be for us a reminder that like the fire of your love we may never contain what is uncontainable, and we will never be able to understand the mystery that is you. Walking in your embrace may we share the vastness of your presence with a world that struggles to live with the concept of unlimited love. We ask this in your most holy name, one God forever and ever.
Not sure about you, but if some religious leader said this to me today in these words, I would be quite hesitant to hook my wagon to the train….
First because I would think twice about that individuals theological education, and
Secondly because I think the wagon train is doomed to fall apart before it ever got out of town!
It is a far cry from the cute little baby in the manger outside of Bethlehem, with the heavenly hosts of angels singing and the Prince of Peace shining in the stars!
So what is here….how do we understand such a blatantly startling group of sayings?
Many will use literal interpretation of the text to “prove” that the bigotry, hatred, narrow-mindedness, miopathy and pathology are all supported by just reading this text.
And even with in that scary proposition there is truth….
Hook your wagon to Jesus and we have to be ready for one heck of a trip!
Hang on my friends….
but let me share an insight with you…
We can’t use this to create a box for God to fit in!
It won’t work! And there isn’t one big enough for it to fit!
You see my friends we must be careful in how we encounter this text.
We don’t believe in or practice literal interpretation of Sacred Scripture.
The best of the Catholic tradition says the Bible is inspired not literal.
To that end we have to look at the who, what, where, when and why?
We have to look at the story, and the context, and
we have to be willing to wrestle with the ambiguities that will arise and the mysteries that will be revealed.
If we look just at the Gospel of Luke and just at a few chapters before and after this passage….one thing becomes painfully clear…
Jesus did ruin a lot of sacred paradigms of his day.
Cure on the Sabbath, The Disciples picking wheat as they walked through the fields, the Samaritan that helps the wounded one, being touched by one unclean and the list goes on…..
But a paradigm is a belief that has become a method of thinking.
And a belief is nothing more than a thought that we keep repeating to ourselves over and over and over again.
Finally that belief becomes our thought and our thought in turn becomes our behavior and then our behavior is ritualized and in that process it often becomes the sacred norm.
Luke’s Jesus has one clear message. Our God is a God of love, compassion, courage and determination. If we love, and love deeply,,,then we will be walking the edge and that edge has one destiny…the Cross. And many times, that invitation to love will take us to the edge of conformity.
When we stand with the poor, the vulnerable, the mistreated, the misunderstood, the social outcast, the anawim…the little ones of our world…we will be crucified, misunderstood and scorned. But God’s love will triumph!
You can’t soar with the eagles if you are picking shit with the chickens!
But here is the challenge…how do we know if what we are standing on…what we are doing is Gods will or some pathological norm we have developed.
If we cause division is it caused by our own ego or by God’s love and commitment?
It’s a simple question….what are we trying to control?
Are we opening doors to how God is being in the world,
or are we trying to contol the world and our God so that it fits our limited vision of how we believe it should be?
Ask anyone living through the wild fires of the West….and one shortly realizes, that to think we have any control is a joke.
The winds of the Holy Spirit will blow where they will!
We can not control God’s love, it will consume.
And if we try to limit, control, manage, and manipulate God to fit our own little, preconceived carefully constructed boxes of belief, then we are engaged a futile battle of ego.
The truth and inspiration in here will crush anything we build…
it will smash our certitudes,
break down our laws,
and ruin our nicely defined beliefs and systems.
Ultimately it will lead to the Cross,
when our certitudes are nailed on it,
and our paradigms of absolutism are whipped, beaten and bleeding,
where the chains of uniqueness and arrogance are broken….
there, broken, helpless and vulnerable, we will see the face of God,
and there in the shadow of God’s wings…
we can be lifted to see our God with new eyes.
I leave you with this thought to ponder this week. Maybe, just maybe the Gospel is meant to sometimes disturb us a bit….
Maybe it is meant to shake us from our complacency, our certitude and our arrogance.
I edited a poem-prayer, written by a famous British sailor of the 16th Century, Sir Francis Drake:
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
because we dreamed too little and too small,
When we have arrived safely
because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord,
when with the abundance of things we possess
we have lost our thirst
for the waters of life;
Disturb us, Lord,
when having fallen in love with life,
we have ceased to dream of eternity;
And in our efforts to build a new heaven and a new earth,
we have allowed our vision
to be so small that you can’t breathe your Spirit into it.
Disturb us, Lord,
to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
we shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
the horizons of our hopes and erode the shores of our certitudes;
And there, push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we pray because you are and always will be
One God….forever and ever! Amen
This is my hope, that we will all be disturbed by God’s grace!