Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Year B Proper 22 WED 2018 Be Here Now

Year B Proper 22 WEDNESDAY, 10 October 2018 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“Be Here Now” 

Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Luke 7:18-35 
The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’” Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, 
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,     who will prepare your way before you. 
I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.) “To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, 
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;     we wailed, and you did not weep.’ 
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” 
Kingdom work is difficult. Kingdom work takes time. Kingdom work is full of surprises. Kingdom work is about Kairos, not Chronos. Kingdom work follows cycles and seasons. Kingdom work requires faith, and even then, it is full of doubts.  
I know this because I have lived, often attempting a life of faith, and I know because I am reminded in today’s reading. It is all about the long game.   
  I had a friend once who had worked in long range planning for his denomination. He was looking at geographic and demographic trends. Once at a conference he was conferring with a Catholic priest in a similar job. He was asked how many years he looked out by the priest. He responded 10 to 20. He asked it of the priest. He said 500. They know how to play the long game. Our faith attention spans are far too short. 
  But when we play the long game, we get tired. Listen to the Psalms. Weariness is often a part of this life of faith... 
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?     How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul,     and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!     Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;     my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.  But I trusted in your steadfast love;     my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord,     because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13, NRSV 
 Have you ever felt like that? I have, and John did. John was tired. He was in prison facing death. Imminent death. So he needed to be sure. Are you the One, Jesus? He sent his disciples to be sure. And Jesus did not give a yes or a no. He only responded quoting prophecies from Isaiah. “...the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.” (see Is. 25, 39, & 61) 
 I cannot tell you how many people I have sat with who, while knocking on heaven’s door, needed a little reminder. John was not faithless, just human. And even then, hear what Jesus says. He was as great a man as any that ever lived. 
 But some would not know a snake if it bit them. They would not know a preacher if they were forced to question their righteousness. 
 Jesus quotes a little line here, calling us to do the right thing at the right time.  
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;                 we wailed, and you did not weep.’ Be in the Here & Now. There is a time for everything, says the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, and we have here a children’s sing-song reminder. Don’t be a party pooper. There is a time and place for everything.  

Be here now.  
If for no other reason, not a one of us is promised another day. Jesus only had to remind John of the promises he was fulfilling, and it was as good as yes. It brought John in his final days back to faith, back to the Here & Now. Thanks be to God. Amen

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Blessings, Rock