Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Year B Proper 26 WED 2018 Lines
Year B Proper 26 WEDNESDAY, 7 November 2018
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
Collect: Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
Drawing lines is an age-hold hobby. Who is in and who is out. And the people who draw those lines, on who is acceptable and who is not, tend to put themselves on the inside of the line so they can keep so many out.
One morning when I was a teacher, we were talking about Kristallnacht, the night when the NAZIs smashed the glass in synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses. The night of “broken glass” was were the term Kristall comes from. When I mentioned the date, November 9th through the 10th of 1938, one of the students actually said the words: “Ah man, they would have to do it on my birthday!” I was aghast. It was the definition of self-absorption. It was the height of immaturity. It put self and self-righteousness at the center, and then applied the application of the rules to how others lived. 60+ years later a child took offense that the NAZIs used his birthday. And before I draw a line here, I remembered he was a child.
Children seek to make sense of their world. They put things in boxes and categories, often wrong ones because they have no context. They have no frame of reference. That is why it is so important to expose children to the myriad of possibilities out there. If not, it is so easy to close them down and let them think their lines and boxes are right.
Like my student was offended, was the leader of the synagogue any different? He took offense that Jesus would do good on the Sabbath. God forbid!
But we do it, too. How one dresses, how one acts, how one colors their hair, what ornamentation, or lack of any of these things puts folks in or out. We draw lines, and too often it is to protect our fragile self-images. We hold our identity with such fragility that we have to separate ourselves to maintain our preferred status.
Last night we see images of lines, many of them very long so that people could vote. Some drastic things took place. Some are dancing today. Some are in shock. Over 100 women will be part of the next House class which will be led by the Democrats. That is huge. The Republicans maintained the Senate and even gained seats, but there were some squeakers in those races. My hope is with these outcomes that there will be fewer lines that divide us, or it might be greater lines from the gridlock. My prayer is that whatever may come, I am in line with Jesus.
And how was Jesus on lines? Jesus chose to be on the side of the ones excluded, the ones forgotten, the ones who seemed “the Least of These.” And sided with them, and he did something about it. He stopped stonings. He raised the dead. He performed miracles to bring wholeness and the ability to be included. The world is still drawing lines of who is in and who is out. Which side of the line do we choose to be on? Which side of history do we choose to be on? Let us not miss the miracle or miracles that happen in our midst because they do not fit into our self drawn lines of what is to expected or acceptable.
Whenever you see a line, which side will you be on? Which side would Jesus be on? Amen