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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Proper 27 (RCL) Life in a Mine Field

Teachers and preachers, feel free to use this piece with a simple accreditation. No further permission is necessary.

Haggai 1:15b-2:9;,Psalm 145:1-5,17-21;2 Thessalonians 2:1-5,13-17;Luke 20:27-38

Have you ever wondered what it must be like to live in a region strewn with mines. There are - still - in this world places where this is true. One of the bitter fruits of war, mines lie buried just below the ground. Hibernating. Just below the surface. Dormant. Not waiting for a season to burst forth in a blaze. Just for enough pressure. Lying in wait. Some have called these 'killing fields'. To the untrained eye these mine-laden fields look deceptively serene, bucolic, tranquil, almost beckoning you to come and play. One who unwittingly runs through the tall grass does so at their own peril. Often, sadly, the dormant bulbs of war explode in a flash, changing the lives of the runner and their families and friends forever.

What must it have been like for Jesus = in all those public appearances? He knew that he had enemies out there. No matter where he went, there always was a possibility that someone was lying in wait for him to misstep. Whether it took a moment, a month or a year, that misstep could cost him his life, his ministry, his family, his followers, perhaps even his own faith.

Look to scripture to see the OBVIOUS minefields: when he was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, the coin trick question of whether it was right to pay taxes to Rome, the reaction to any number of the parables- like the one about the Pharisee and the tax collector in the Temple.

Luke's Gospel today reeks of the set-up in a mine field. The Sadducees, who didn't believe in resurrection in the first place, posit an highly unlikely 'hypothetical' situation. According to Mosaic Law, if a married man dies childless, any of the decease's surviving brothers can marry the widow in order that there may be surviving heirs.

A different culture,a different age. To me, it seems odd but I'll take this at face value. They then continue: Supposing a married man with seven brothers dies and the widow marries each brother in succession but has no children by ANY of them... and then SHE dies.

By now I'm seeing red flags: danger ahead. This group of Sadducees then put some very bewildering icing on the cake with the subsequent question: In the resurrection [which,you will recall, they DON'T even believe in], whose wife will this woman be? After all, she's HAD seven husbands.

Jesus sees the minefield and is prepared to enter it. He has studied and knows the Law. Somehow he carefully wends his way through dangerous territory - as he did with the coin toss.

To put it into current language and analogy Jesus replied: You can't compare apples and oranges. Marriage - as the Law - is for this side of life. On the other side of life no one needs marriage because "the Law" is not relevant. They don't have to haggle about inheritance issues. They are all children of God, all beyond earthly death, rules and regulations. He is not God of the dead but of the living, because - simply by being His, all of His children are alive.

That was a tricky answer to a tricky question. Jesus made it through that mine field, but we can question whether He came through it unharmed. No matter what his answer would have been, one or many would have taken offense at it. And when each of them went back to their peers and relayed the interaction.... well, you know what happens when you pay the game of 'telephone': the phrase the last person heard rarely matches up with the original sentence. He was bound to make some enemies that day and to sustain some injury. Jesus had no think tank with Him to put a positive 'spin' on this or any of the other encounters He had.

So, despite the probability of sustaining some injury - of body or reputation - Jesus went out anyway. Day after day for an estimated 3 years. Knowing the danger He walked the walk. For the sake of them, for our sakes as well. Ultimately, He paid the supreme price on this side of life.

In a peculiarly amazing parallel, in this world at this time who is it that - knowing full well the consequences of stepping on a land mine - goes out every day to attempt to clear them? Either those who have lost limbs already due to mine explosions or their widows. People who have already lost something go out again, risking losing again - and for what purpose? So that others, complete innocents and children, will not lose their lives in the here and now.

Abiding Love is a fearless commodity. You have the strength to risk much if you love much. Jesus, the embodiment of Love, went out there and asks us to do the same. We will leave this place, having been asked to again take up our cross and follow Him. Through life, through loss, through mine fields of every sort. And no matter what happens out there, we will be alive because we live in Him. Amen.


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