February 17, 2019

God wants ALL

Passage: I Corinthians 15: 12-20, Luke 6:17-26

Turn us from falsehood and illusion, that we may find the blessing of new life in you
through the power of Christ. Amen.

We have this theory Scripture is only for those who believe..in God, in Jesus, in resurrection. The problem of resurrection in Paul’s continued letter to the church in Corinth was to also point out resurrection is not limited to any of the above. Resurrection, by any standard, is a radical transformation when the reign of God on earth within the confines of ALL humanity has been completed. Resurrection has nothing to do with politics or religiosity but instead is a deeply personal response to the love of God revealed in Jesus but accessible to anyone and everyone. As is Jesus’ sermon here in Luke. As opposed to Matthew’s sermon on the mount this is Luke’s sermon on the plain. This Lukan interpretation is far more raw than what we might like to hear. And Jesus is teaching within the confines of no one. He is on the level with everyone present not lifted higher than disciples or populace. And here again we encounter the prophecy Jesus offered to the attendees at the synagogue in Nazareth: Jesus is sent to bring good news to the poor, to the hungry, to the reviled.

For the reverse, God’s judgment is on the rich the sated, the comfortable. Unfortunately, most of the time that’s us. We are not poor, we are not hungry, and I doubt any of us are every truly reviled. This interpretation is a bit unsettling because we are used to a more watered down version where we can fit in with those who are often on the outside. Not here. Jesus is taking his ‘follow me’ from last week to an entirely new level. Not just fishing for people or followers but leaving everything. This gospel passage is supposed to make us uncomfortable on the simple level God is asking us to become poor, to become hungry, to become reviled. Not necessarily in the physical sense but in a very deeply spiritual sense. Hungry for God. Poor in our egos. Reviled for being a pronouncement of gospel living.

This is Jesus telling these crowds many of whom were the poor and the hungry that God is demanding all. Not some…all. Just like resurrection is never half-hearted, Jesus in his own resurrection is still present to us here in this place. What he wants to know is whether we recognize him in his being with us? The author and tentative theologian Marcus Borg termed Jesus as a spirit person. One whose spirit appeared to the disciples after his resurrection in such a way they knew it was him but in a very different form, in a very different way than if he was simply a resuscitated body. We cannot express or explain resurrection except to know when it has been experienced. And Jesus in his own resurrection will continue the words he shares with us this day. Jesus died so we might die to our own self-seeking egos. Jesus died so we might live a new life that is empowered by God’s unending and ever-generous love which can be found in faithful communities like this one.

But in order to remain that kind of community God demands everything: to have nothing BUT God, not as an afterthought at the end of a long and busy and tiring day. We dare not…we cannot ignore the prophetic voices in these passages calling us back and forward to God leaving complacency behind.

God has given us here at St. Bartholomew’s the extravagant gift of being bearers of the Word of Jesus. Not keeping his words hidden inside or in the words of a future parable under a bushel basket. If we dare to be all that God asks of us if we dare to become those kind of followers that know what resurrection is
in spirit, then we will be poor and hungry because we will finally realize that all we ever really needed was God. Amen.

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