Monday, January 16

Jesus’ Foolish Politics: Preparing to Hear the Sermon on the Mount

    Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany
    We are in that time between.  It is a time of joy.  The joy of knowing God has come, God is with us. It is a time of enlightenment. We have seen and heard of God come as the human Jesus of Nazareth. My message for us to day is a simple one. Fully entering Our enlightenment, our joy, is accepting and acting on Jesus’ invitation to “Come and see”.  But there is great deal to unpack in this simple invitation. 

    We have a related difficulty. After the coming of God in human flesh, we struggle to live by the light and the path revealed to us by this light.  The story we have walked through, god born of Mary like any other human being, god vulnerable to the machinations of Herod, god coming to the banks of the Jordan as just a normal unremarkable person. According to our passage in john even after the baptism and the heaven opening and the voice and the manifestation of the Spirit like a dove, John still points out Jesus to his own disciples and says hey, you might want to check that guy out, he’s the Lamb of God, and even so still others stick around John rather than going after Jesus.

    We have in all of this the mystery of the Church, the body of Christ in continuity with Israel, not so as to supplant the importance nor the reality of the Jewish people as God’s chosen people. The church is Israel taken up into Jesus of Nazareth, who fulfilled what Israel is, Christ fulfils the law. Also, the church is how the prophesies of the nations coming to Israel and being enlightened is also fulfilled. In this small community, we have this reality encapsulated, we have a member who is Jewish and who knows Christ come in the flesh and we have those who come from a variety of peoples in the world all of whom are blessed by Israel and the Jewish people, having been enlightened by Jesus of Nazareth the word of god Made flesh, the Israel and wisdom of God.

    Our moment comes after a long and varied history of the church in which those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, Christ have missed or not answered, or ignored, or betrayed the call to be the church. We Christians have relied on that which is other than Jesus Christ.

    There is a need to reacquaint ourselves as members of Christ body with the place of God’s presence in our midst. We need to be reminded that when God came in human flesh God did not reside at the centers of power. We need to contemplate and discern the meaning that  God coming in our midst and the manifestations around it, were missed by most everyone especially the powerful. The power brokers and well as the powerful had no idea that anything significant had happened.  Even many of the poor and the oppressed people in Judea and Galilee also had no clue.

    We may wonder what to do in this moment. We may wonder at the failures of members of the church to live out our faith, and to live into the call to be saints, as body of Christ, isn’t so much that we haven’t known what it is, as we the members of the body of Christ have consistently tried to dilute the call and the message by realism or by acquiescence to the powerful. We know it. We celebrate it year after year.  We know the teaching and we will in this liturgy read the sermon on the mount and have the teaching of Jesus clearly proclaimed to us positions other Christians take. But we can’t get mired in the failures of Christians and the betrayals of Christ and the Church, either now or in the past. We need to come again and ask Jesus Christ to show he is staying.  And we need to leave aside our assumptions and presuppositions and truly come and see.

    The Isiah passage we read reminds us that what we have been liturgically waiting for in Advent and Celebrating in Christmas and continue to celebrate in this season after the Epiphany, was proclaimed and anticipated by the Hebrew Prophets. We know well with Isaiah that the world can be a place absent of light and hope.  What we need to remember and see again that it is God who enlightens and offers hope, that the nations and the powers aren’t the means through which God offers this hope and light. This happens through a small and insignificant people on the world stage, the Jewish people that God chose to bring enlightenment and hope. Ultimately accomplished through the Jew Jesus of Nazareth. Of course, Isaiah has only a small glimpse of this, and much of what he says of this one and what will happen either is wrong or at least not literal. That is, we don’t know what we celebrate about the person Jesus of Nazareth merely because Isaiah and the prophets of Israel proclaimed it. Rather after the coming of Christ, the incarnation of the Word of God, we see what the Hebrew prophets saw and yet couldn’t fully articulate. We as often as not are like those around John the Baptist , not seeing , nor recognizing the reality of God with us.