Friday, October 1, 2010

October 31, 2010. Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost.

© 2010 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Post Script: And be patient, God, with those of us too fat and/or too feeble to run at all, waddling or crawling our way to your heavenly promises. Amen.

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

Unlike mere propaganda, Scripture encourages, yes, even enjoins us to have candid conversations with God.

If God is not answering your prayers, if you are a victim of injustice in a system that rewards your abusers, yell at God about it. This passage gives you a model to use, as do many of the psalms.

Listen up, God!

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you "Violence!"
and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrong-doing
and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law becomes slack
and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous--
therefore judgment comes forth perverted.

Behold! The prayer is efficacious! God not only listens, but answers:

Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.

Look at the proud!
Their spirit is not right in them,
but the righteous live by their faith.

Listen up, lgbt folks. Look at your abusers, those who end their own marriages with prodigality but refuse justice for your holy unions . Their spirit is not right in them.

Listen up, you poor and homeless. Look at the greedy legislators who give tax breaks to themselves but remove from you many basic social services. Their spirit is not right in them.

“Look at the proud!” God tells Habakkuk. Really look at them. Read them between the lines. See what they don’t want you to see: Their spirit is not right in them.

Before my husband Ernest became an international flight attendant, he worked as a ticket agent in the Newark Airport. One evening, the airport was packed with passengers delayed because of bad weather. An African American colleague at the counter next to his busily worked away to re-book several flights affected for a Russian couple traveling on a world tour with their two children.

Many others tried to switch to some of the same flights; her task was tedious and hectic. Yet patiently she typed away while the father seethed at the inconvenience.

In Russian several times he told his family, “Dumb cow! She doesn’t have a clue to what she’s doing.”

Still she typed away for the better part of half an hour.

She listened closely to the spirit in him as he oft repeated in Russian, “Dumb cow! She doesn’t have a clue to what she’s doing.”

At last she received confirmation for the new flights that would speed them on their way. As she handed the new tickets to the father, with a gentle smile, she said “Moooooo,” and in perfect Russian she told the mother, “It has been my pleasure to serve you.”

“Mooooo!” The ticket agent’s father was Russian and she had grown up in Moscow.

“Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them.”


There is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.

Psalm 119:137-144

Is this a simple prayer by a humble person? So it seems.

The speaker is a bit like Robert Browning’s Pippa in the poem “Pippa Passes,” who proclaims, “God is in his heaven and all is right with the world,” yet not as glib. The person has experienced ‘trouble and distress.” On occasion, indignation has consumed the person, but not now, not while praying this psalm.

The speaker in the psalm attributes the quiet confidence to life under the law of God: “The righteousness of your decrees is everlasting”

You are righteous, O LORD,
and upright are your judgments.

You have issued your decrees
with justice and in perfect faithfulness.

In relation to that greatness, the speaker asserts a modest claim:

I am small and of little account,
yet I do not forget your commandments.

This is basic Judaic understanding of how to relate to God through God’s law.

The law was not sufficient for Saint Paul and most of the Christian writers. They felt we could not possibly attain salvation through the laws demands. This reading from Psalm 119 invites us to challenge the Christian perspective. It models how to stand in simple faithfulness and certainty before God’s justice and God’s “perfect faithfulness.”

Be a good Jew today, for Christ’s sake! Jesus chose to be one too!

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

Compare the Queen Lutibelle Version:

Paul, Louie and Ernest,

To Anglicans in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We wish we could give thanks to God for the love all of you for one another, but that love is dramatically decreasing. We wish that we might again boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith, and occasionally we can boast when your endure persecutions and afflictions on behalf of the faith, but too often we see you demonizing other Anglicans, condemning lgbt Christians and threatening them with huge prison sentences, even with death in some provinces. We see you trying to expel from the Communion provinces which have stood on the side of the humble and the meek.

You have become so obsessed with homosexuality that you allow it to distract attention to vital human needs in your own provinces -- where corruption abounds, where AIDS and other diseases flourish, where poverty reeks devastation.

To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make us all worthy of his call and will by his power help us focus ourselves to every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 19:1-10

Suppose Bernie Madoff had climbed the sycamore tree. Suppose he was so excited to have the celebrity Jesus come to his house to dine that he repented and gave back not only all the money he had stolen, but four times as much.

Suppose BP executives climb the sycamore tree. Might they give not only money to cover the losses due to their mismanagement but four times as much, to improve the health and education available to all affected by the oil spill in the Gulf.

Suppose you and I climb the sycamore tree. What unmerited privileges do we hold at cost to others? Might we not only give to those who are harmed by our bounty, but also four times as much, to extend our privileges to others?

Wee little man up a tree indeed!

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven

Or as slaves knew: “Everybody talkin bout heaven ain’t going there.”

See also

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