Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

© 2008 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

How does the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, “Archbishop of All Nigeria” declare his power? How do the primates who are his chief allies declare their power? How did the Lambeth Conference of 2008 declare its power? In each case, by making unwelcome demands on those with whom they disagreed.

I rejoiced in 1998 when bishops of color at last became the majority of the bishops of the Anglican Communion. It was understandable when they sought a way that to flex their new muscle, preferably a way that would cost them little at home, such as an issue about which few at home had any disagreements, but an issue where those who formerly lorded it over them might be brought to task for violating a biblical principle not in dispute in the vast majority of the Communion.

Scapegoats rarely volunteer. They are anointed. Thus lgbts came to center stage.

Talk seriously off camera with almost any “reasserter” and she will tell you that gays and lesbians are merely the presenting issue, not the core concern of those making most of the complaints about lgbts in the Communion. The re-asserters disagree on many issues, including whether to have women as priests and bishops and whether the church should be high, low or broad….. Disapproving of homosexual persons has great utility: it unites the opposition as no other issue does at this time.

+Peter Akinola got his picture on the cover of Time as one of the most influential persons in the world. He and like-mind primates outside the United States initiated their own “anglican” missionary structures, violated historic episcopal boundaries, and consecrated as bishops conservatives who defected from The Episcopal Church to operate in the same geographical territory from which they had left. Meanwhile, they poach people and seize property held by TEC. They hope in the long run to be granted the official “anglican” franchise in the United States.

That’s would formidable power, if not almighty power, if they can bring it off.

Do they show any mercy towards those with whom they disagree? Absolutely not.

In contrast, “O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity.”

Showing mercy requires more power than does exacting the full penalty of the Law.

Exodus 17:1-7

Integrity and Oasis ought to call their float in the next Pride parade Massah and Meribah, “Is the Lord among us or not?

Understandably many in the lgbt community have no time for God or religion, certainly not for the deities in whose name they have suffered fierce bible abuse.

One of the most successful acts at Lambeth, I am told, was the show “The Seven Passages,” in which students from Western Michigan University demonstrated the lives of over 100 lesbian and gay Christians living under the threat of the scant seven passages from scripture used to bully and intimidate lgbt persons.

Few straight Christians have read the short book Leviticus thoroughly and attentively. It’s like reading the U.S. penal code. Not an easy assignment even for lawyers. Perhaps one of the major lgbt Christian distinctives is that many of us have actually had to read Leviticus for our very survival, the whole book, not just the reductions placed in Bible tracts to educate an entire generation as to God’s alleged disapproval of homosexuals.

“Is the Lord among us or not?” the Israelites taunted Moses. “And if so, who would want to have anything to do with him?” ask many lesbians and gays.

Old Opium in a New Sniffer

My silly fairy friend kept the 11 p.m. Vigil
with his Cardex, like a prayer wheel,
mumbling over the names of 435 "holy" queers
and 37 of their chapters,
while 17 candles flickered before a plaster Mary
and lace draped the pokler-chip host,
as if my friend really believed in Resurrection,
or more preposterous, believed that Jesus,
even if resurrected,
would have anything to do with us.

-- Li Min Hua

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16

Somehow it seems easier to believe in the “mysteries of ancient times,” in the wonderful works God has done” for ancient Israel than it is to expect God to work miracles in our day. If we want great displays of nature tamed, we look to Hollywood.

God got lots of mileage per miracle in the hearts of those who witnessed the Exodus for the Israelites from Egypt. Psalm 78 was written several hundred years after God used miracles to effect their escape, and today, we are at least three thousand more years from the time of the psalmist, and will still be reading the psalm..

“Do it again, God! If you are annoyed that so few worship you anymore, put on a new show that will bring back the crowds.” I sometimes mutter in my prayers, when I think God is nodding off.

“Don’t do that, God,” I interrupt myself. On second thought, I am not sure I want to live with what I pray for, God.

Philippians 2:1-13

In the most crucial moments, Jesus turned down the opportunity to impress us with his Godly power as God had allowed Moses to do. Jesus walked on water to save his disciples in the ship, not by impressing them with his strength, but by showing them they too could walk on water if they brought enough faith to the challenge. Jesus did no miracles to save himself.

[He] did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death--
even death on a cross.

That is Attitude! Let this mind, this Attitude, be in us.

Matthew 21:23-32

The Gospels are filled with trick questions. The trick question in Matthew for today comes from the Israelites’ central committee, disturbed by Jesus’ growing popularity. “By what authority do you do these things?” they demand. If he says, “Because I am the son of God,” the leader will consider him a blasphemer because they are not willing to grant him that authority.

Jesus says he‘ll answer their question if they will answer his, and he gives them a trick question which they are unwilling to answer. “Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?"

"If we say, `From heaven,' he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, `Of human origin,' we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

“I do not know” is their face-saving way of saying “I won’t tell you.”

They have reached a temporary stalemate, but we know this part of the drama ends at Golgatha. Temporizing tactics can only delay, not prevent that conclusion.

May we too have Attitude like Jesus. Through Christ we are joint heirs to God’s realm. God has given us equality, even those of us who are despised and rejected. But we must not treat equality with God as something to be exploited, We must empty ourselves and take on the form of a slave, and became obedient to the point of death -- even death on a cross.

Early autumn somehow seems a lot like spring and Holy Week.



Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Louie. Through you comes courage for me.

LouieCrew said...

Thanks. These texts spoke to me quite differently when I returned to them during worship today, so much so that I wondered whether I had used the correct choices when I wrote this reflection several weeks ago.

I am also dramatically influenced by experiencing the texts corporately. Today the preacher in my parish did a splendid job connecting the choices called for in these texts and the choices we as citizens are called to make in response to the current financial and political crises. She bade us to 'choose life.'

I was also especially struck today by the end of the Gospel reading: Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes and the queers are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.... [They] believed him, andd even after you saw it, you did not change y our minds and believe him [John the Baptist].