Monday, September 06, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Today’s text

Luke 15:1-2

The tax collectors and sinners, however, were all crowding round to listen to him, and the Pharisees and scribed complained saying, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'


Tell me, Jesus. How did your church become narrow and judgmental? You weren’t, and you paid a high price for your failure.

Deep unrest roils the souls of many U.S. Christians and churches. They are exercised by the imperative to protect the country and its children from the perils of gays or liberals or Islam and even from quieter Christians who are less adamant (or convinced) of such moral judgments.

Ironically, so many who fill the pews of American congregations have more in common with the Pharisees than with you. Right and wrong, good and bad, holy and secular are precisely parsed in their souls--one to be avoided the other embraced.

That’s what the Pharisaic spirit does, and it appears n every age, faith and society. But it is uniquely bothersome when it’s found among those who confess your name. They should known better

You embraced the secular, the bad, the wrong, a host of messy souls who populated the wrong side of the social divide. You didn’t tell them to go take a shower before they got too close.

And they liked you, too. They elbowed each other out of the way to hear what you said. They leaned close lest a stray word drop ungathered in the dust.

They wanted what was in you: the radiating Spirit of divine welcome that does not judge but draws into the gravity of an all-possessing love.

I have felt that welcome and long for it the more. Moments appear when we stand near a soul in whose presence all pretense fades, all concerns of judgment or rejection disappear. Soul encounters soul. Communion occurs, and self-consciousness flees like a lost dream upon awakening.

The life of needing to being judged and judging others--also ourselves--is the dream (the nightmare) that disappeared in those messed-up souls. It fled your presence.

So they flocked to you, seeking to be with you--soul to soul--divine welcome and human neediness wrapped up in a single embrace.

Yes, it’s true. The dream--the nightmare--of judgment is a human fiction, created from the need of threatened selves to imagine that some of us are better than others. Some are to be feared and kept out lest they spoil the lot.

Bu tin your presence, Jesus-- enfolded in that single embrace, illusion disappears in the warmth of morning light that drives off the shadows of night, and we see: the judgment of He who is Love is all that matters.

Only messed-up souls can know this, so they come to you, not the Pharisees, as do I.

Pr. David L. Miller