Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Kingdom Coming Among Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Wicks

It is such a pleasure to be able to preach at Broadneck this week. I'm grateful to Abby for inviting me to fill the pulpit while she is on vacation.

Picking up on the themes that Abby has been following in 2 Corinthians has been an interesting challenge. Abby has pushed my thinking a lot as I listened to last week's sermon. She challenged me to think about how not only is the "person who is in Christ" a "new creation"; but to look at the truth that in our being made "new creations" by our being in Christ Jesus, ALL creation is made new as well. We become the "yeast" (from one of Jesus' short metaphors) that makes the 'bread of the world' totally different...."new"....than it was before it was present. That difference is that we have been reconciled to God. The broken 'relational bridge' between God and ourselves has been rebuilt. And now that it has, we are to take that reconciliation and tell everyone that it is available to them as well. And here's the kicker...the big suprise in Paul's letter....the one that if we could only grasp in our attempts to share our faith would make such a world of difference: Paul says, "We are putting no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may found with our ministry..." Let me say it again to make sure we (that means me too) get it: We are putting no obstacle in anyone's way. What does this reconciliation look like? It is intensely compassionate. When we look at our Gospel passage from Matthew 12, we find Matthew quoting Isaiah's description of God's servant. This servant, we're told, "will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick."

Think about that. These are images of fragility. And we're told that Jesus, God's servant, has a deep compassion for all that is fragile-in us and in those we're trying to share God's message with. And just to demonstrate how that works, Matthew next tells the story of Jesus' healing of a man who is not only blind, but mute as well. He can (we assume) hear. But his ability to communicate or experience his world is so incredibly limited that we wonder how he got by. And it is about this healing that Jesus says, "if I do this by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come among you."

How often do you and I put obstacles in the way of the "bruised reeds and smoldering wicks" in our world?  How often do we (so often indirectly) say to them, "you can come to Christ, you can be part of our community of faith if you will just......(pick your requirement)." It's a sin we've committed to the theological left and to the right. What would happen if we just shared Jesus' love...and let them sort out what that meant they needed to do about that? What if, instead of making change a requirement of faith, we trusted that God would guide them to the responses of faith that they needed to make? What great freedom would be opened to them, and to us, to celebrate the fact that the Kingdom of God has truly come upon us.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Looking forward to hearing where you go (and where you're led) with this on Sunday, Stephen.

Since we've talked about this type of thing in the past, I know you aren't promoting it...but it may seem as if you're promoting a laissez fair approach to some pretty serious issues - as well as advising against the meaningful and loving engagement which encourages at least some judgment/criticism as one of our responsibilities as fellow pilgrims/travellers.

I'd also like to learn how you think this fits in with the resistence to Empire you've wrote about lately, and the very particular (and nebulous) resistence Jesus speaks of. Seems as though they don't fit together too well for me, especialyl since one could argue who is Empire, who is a bruised reed, and who gets to resist who.

Good luck!