Loyalty

“Loyalty is still the same, whether it win or lose the game; true as a dial to the sun, although it be not shined upon.”  -Samuel Butler

“I’ll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty.”   -Samuel Goldwyn

“If only I could be the person my dog thinks I am.”  – Anonymous

The call to discipleship given in this Sunday’s Gospel reading (June 27, 2010) is one that provokes the listeners to greater loyalty.  But if we stake our faith in our ability to be loyal, we are missing something crucial.  Perhaps this is exactly why Jesus talks about it–to contrast our inability with his perfect loyalty?  For all the while he calls others to follow, Jesus has set his own face toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).  Those along the roadside will soon witness a loyalty like none the world has ever known.

Jesus, may your loyalty be greater than our inspired example; may it be our salvation.  Amen.

We’re All In This Together

For seven verses in our First Reading assigned for Sunday, June 20th, God goes on and on, listing all the ways the people have been rebellious.  The list is long, diverse, and not pretty.  Read it carefully; can you find any of your own actions in the list? 

Rebelliousness? 

Thinking you know the way better than anyone else (even God)? 

A holier-than-thou attitude? 

Yet God’s hand (verse 2) has been stretched out continually, which is a poetic way of demonstrating a posture of blessing, or a motion of gathering.

Last night a particularly destructive storm found its way through our area, and in our community, for the first time I can remember, the weather siren sounded for a full two hours.  We spent the evening in the basement, and after the last warning expired, we tucked the children in safely–much later than usual.  Not everyone was so fortunate.  But on the news reports this morning, I heard one emergency worker say, “I drive around and I see broken things.  I do not see broken people.  That’s all that matters.”

The final two verses in our reading is where the list of sins stops, and the actions of God are enumerated.  God will not destroy, but will keep peoples together, as a wine is found in the cluster (verse 8).  Whether it be external and unforseen weather events, or our own self-destruction, God’s will is preservation, blessing, a settled soul.

God of mercy, are you still ready to be found by those who did not seek you?  Amen.

Hair, Tears, Oil and Forgiveness

The Gospel reading for Sunday, June 13th is a powerful story in its own right.  The details show us that this is no fairy-tale, but a parable in real life.  Really–who could script this kind of daring reversal of so many social mores?  We’d have the tendency to pretty up the details, don’t you think?  (I can hear the Hollywood producers now:  “Not so much ointment.  Let’s find a dishtowel to use, not her hair.  Lots less kissing!  Tears, well, I guess they’ll be effective.  But let’s anoint Jesus head, not his dirty feet.”)

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus reclines at the table, fearlessly participating in the breakdown of almost every dinner rule, risking the embarrassment of himself, his host, and the male guests…all for one sinful woman to express her gratitude in the way she wishes. 

Gracious Lord, may your total forgiveness mean more to us than keeping up appearances.  Amen.