Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Year A Proper 22 Wed Judge Yourself

Year A Proper 22 Wed Eucharist, 11 October 2017
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, Virginia
“Judge Yourself”

2 Kings 22:14-23:3
I Corinthians 11:23-34
Matthew 9:9-17

Today’s readings are all over the map. I could go in 100 different directions, but in 5 minutes in the early morning I will not make you suffer through that. I won’t make me suffer through that.

The other day, my daughter asked me a silly question. She did it for her punchline, but I did not know that at the time. She asked me, “If all the laws were taken away, what would you do differently?” I stopped and actually thought about it. I filled time with some hmmms and “Good question.” Then I said, “Probably nothing. It is not laws that make me try to be good. I try to be good, and pretty much everything works out.” Finally I just added, “What would you do differently?” She responded, “I would go up to Kroger and take a bag of candy.” I was surprised, and also delighted that that was all she would do. TBTG! “Just one bag?” “A GROCERY BAG, Dad!” Still, even with a whole grocery bag, I was surprised and pleased that all she lusts after now is candy.

We all, though, should be doing regular self-examination of where we are in our spiritual lives. All the readings today look at that. Do we even know what we are doing?

The King in II Kings, King Josiah, had read God’s book of law and was condemned and in a solemn assembly confronted the people with how they had strayed.

In the Gospel reading from Matthew 9, the same. People were judging Jesus and his disciples for whom he chose to be with. They were so busy measuring the splinters in others’ eyes they missed their own logs.

Lastly, in First Corinthians, he speaks eloquently about the Eucharist, Communion, and how we do this to remember Christ. There were some, however, who were using this for a Fast Food joint and not a holy time. And tucked away in that passage is where I am focusing today.

Last night I saw this in action. I was at a meeting at the Seminary and was leaving just as a reception was starting. A student walked by, and the person I was with knew him. The student had a paper plate mounded over with food. “No time for parties, I have work to do. In the early church in Corinth, that is exactly what was happening. People showing up, with no time for their Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and leaving after that got all they could. No reflection. No self examen. The words Paul uses are these: I Cor 11:31 “But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged.”

In II Kings, the king’s contrition brings the people back from the brink. In Matthew, Jesus admonishes the judge-y church-y people with this, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

So often, still we miss the boat. We look at the outward appearances, but God looks on our hearts. So often we play the little kids’ “NOT FAIR” card thinking that is spiritual maturity. A comedian put it this way, “The only time you should look in someone else’s bowl is to make sure they have enough.” Very true.

A practical take-away, if you do not have a regular and consistent time for self-examination, try this before you go to bed. 1) Where did I see God today? 2) When did I feel apart from God today? If you want to get serious, write it down and look back every week or month. You might learn a thing or two. Amen.

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Blessings, Rock