Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Year B Proper 16 WED 2018 Being True

Year B Proper 16 WEDNESDAY, 29 August 2018 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“Being True” 

John 7:1-13 
7 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. 2 Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; 4 for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 (For not even his brothers believed in him.) 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. 8 Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee. 10 But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, “He is a good man,” others were saying, “No, he is deceiving the crowd.” 13 Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews. 

One of the greatest leaps in maturing is figuring out to whom do we listen. If we listen to everybody, and give each voice equal weight, then we will never get anywhere nor will we do anything. That’s the rub. Growing up is much about whose voices we hear.  
Part of this is innate. Studies have shown that parents can pick their own child’s voice out of the background cacophony. Even more amazing, nursing mothers actually can start lactating at the recording of their own child’s cry. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  
Three times in the last week over conversations, I have heard people say something and I invited them to see it differently. One even said, “That’s a positive way to reframe that.” Often our voices can be negative and self-defeating. Half Full or Half Empty? Which voice do we hear? Or maybe it should be, Who drank my drink? 

Jesus here had to make some decisions. At his brothers encouragement, he was urged to go and make himself known. “Head on down to Jerusalem, Sukkot is happening. Show up, gather a crowd, and if you really are all that, then Jerusalem is where you need to be. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” Sukkot was the Scripture-mandated festival of the fall harvest. You may have passed a synagogue when those there had built booths, and probably stayed in them.  

Jesus did not go at his brothers urging, or even with them. Now he was not lying, or being deceptive to what he was supposed to be about. His call was to worship at the Festival, not to draw attention to himself. Had he gone with his brothers, it would have been to his honor and glory. 

When we go to worship, it is not about us. It should be about God, and giving God the Glory. (Soli Deo Gloria.) Jesus was practicing what he preached if you remember his admonition in the Sermon on the Mount about praying in our closets. 

Jesus knew himself. He knew his time had not yet come. He knew that he needed to bide his days, and when the fullness of time had come he would be high and lifted up. He had to trust that inner voice, the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the timing of God. 

Learning to hear the proper voices is a task, one that takes time, effort, and discipline. Henri Nouwen put it this way:  
The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself, “These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace. 
Life of the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen, p. 59 

We have to speak with our own voice and hear it. If you remember Polonius’ advice to his son Laertes in Hamlet: 
This above all: to thine own self be true,  
And it must follow, as the night the day,  
Thou canst not then be false to any man.  Hamlet, Act I, Sc. 3, Polonius, lines 79-81 

 Jesus was all about being true. True to God. True to his brothers as well as his disciples. And, praise God, true to us. May we do the same. Amen 

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Blessings, Rock