[Uucf-bible] ***SPAM*** commentary on weekly lectionary excerpt from John:
RevRonRobinson at aol.com
RevRonRobinson at aol.com
Sat Mar 20 14:04:30 EDT 2010
As part of a recent emailing from my local church about some of our
upcoming activities and issues in our wider community here, I wove in a
commentary from the lectionary reading for this coming week from the gospel of John
about Jesus, Judas, Mary, Lazarus, and Martha. I thought I would pass it on
for Lenten reflection and conversation here. Please feel free to share on
this, on the virtual monastery reflections and archives on the website for
the UUCF and to pass on others you come across here as well as we move
through Lent and toward Holy Week and Eastertide.
If you would like to read more from which this following excerpt came you
can go to my Planting God Communities blog at
_www.progressivechurchplanting.blogspot.com_ (http://www.progressivechurchplanting.blogspot.com) or to
receive emails from our church just let me know.
One of the common texts from scripture for this coming Sunday has in part
this, from the gospel of John:
"Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha
served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a
pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped
them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray
him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and
the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the
poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal
what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so
that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor
with you, but you do not always have me.”"
So there you have human nature, I suppose. There is Lazarus, raised from
the dead, sitting at the table with Jesus, eating with Jesus, in his own
home, but no one says a word about how amazing that is, no one is still going
on and on about this transformation, this renewal (it isnt a resurrection of
course, not in the same vein as Jesus' later, but that's another
commentary); it is still so amazing and yet everything has gone back to the relative
status quo so quickly. Maybe it is one of those cases where to look at the
transformed one, to notice her or him, would put your own need of
transformation into stark relief and you can't stand that; maybe we just have to
have that status quo, homeostasis, restored. Lazarus quietly a miracle in the
presence of the miracle maker and what does our Judas side fixate on, to
complain about? Mary's hospitality to Jesus. Can't have that either.
I know there is that troubling passage. Jesus has a way of troubling
things. The poor will always be with you; but he won't be. That social justice
side of us, God forbid I sound like Glenn Beck, wants to say thank god for
Judas naming the elephant in the room; but then the even quieter side of us
wants to say, there goes Judas again; yes we know there is always something
we need to do better for others, but there are times when the best, most
immediate way you can change the world is to fill that world with the
fragrance of perfume, unexpectedly (especially if you have a still raised from the
dead Lazarus in the room, the real elephant in the room nobody is
mentioning). Hmm, like putting your own oxygen mask on first before you can help
others breathe in emergencies?
So here in our own area where we live and be the church in the poorest
unhealthiest part of town we have "the poor" with us always; someone gets a
job and moves on somewhere else into their own place and their rented house
goes empty then someone else moves in, paying or not. It is so easy to think
of people as "the poor" without names and histories attached; I don't want
to pick on poor Judas, Lord knows history has done that enough, but he
reminds me of someone making a site visit here where we are, talking of
statistics and stereotypes. He reminds me of me too. Meanwhile there are the
miracles with names, Lazarus and Jesus, one getting attention and one being
ignored, in his own home.
Funny what people see and don't see, fixate on and ignore.....
....We had a young man shot in front of the Chicken Hut in a crowd of
people out after 2 am when the dance clubs close, and that is tragic, and mob
mentality set in and people wouldn't talk to police, again, and got in the
way of the first responders, again, and much was made in the media and online
of people walking up to place their orders with him still lying wounded or
dead. And that shouldn't be. And yet that is what people see instead of
seeing what the people here see and don't see everyday. You have heard me
before: a litany of things absent, so that the Chicken Hut, small as it is,
becomes a gathering place for young people who want to continue being
together but have no where else to go; Lord knows all the community centers we
just closed in our lowest income areas couldn't be opened and adopted by
churches and businesses to offer midnight basketball, a place to crash, etc.
There are no movie theaters, few if any places like Chicken Hut to go to so
that the one place gets the crush of people, and it isn't like they could
have gone home and ordered in pizza to unwind cause you can't get pizza
delivery. But the commentators don't see all that, or all the other aspects of
the lives of those making bad decisions for sure. Did I just call them Judas?
The attitude is that if you are living here in the first place you get
what you deserve; if you are out on Memorial Drive on the southside at that
time and something like that happens it is a terrible commentary on society;
but when it happens here, well then it is a commentary on the individuals
involved and doesn't have anything to do with society because that's what
they get for living here; the goal is often to help people get on their feet
so they can high-tail it to the other side of town or the suburbs, onward
and upward, let those behind suffer because they didn't get on their feet
fast enough. It is one of the stories of the history of how this zipcode
became to be struggling and abandoned. It is one of the reason why we have
added a Fourth R to our list of the 3Rs of Community Development and Spiritual
Life: remember the original 3Rs are relocation, redistribution, and
reconciliation; the fourth R is Retention; as we improve the community we do it
with and for the residents who are here, and so they won't have to move even
when the neighborhoods are raised from the dead around them.
Even Jesus would soon, he was saying, be one whom they would not see
anymore. Pay attention. Jesus was a peasant, as poor as they come, without even
a home of his own so he made his home with others. Pay attention. See him.
Jesus saw the Roman crosses lining the roads around Bethany, talk about your
fragile gang-ridden neighborhoods with occupying forces and not much
property value; he knew he could be gone at any moment, and so did Mary, who
brought a glimpse of anointing to Jesus while he was alive, a small measure of
the healing and anointing and life he had helped initiate and brought
everywhere he went. Judas might have spread the value of that perfume around to
so many of "the poor" that none got but a fractional amount so he could
say he had helped such and such a number of "the poor." Mary started with the
poor in front of her who had a name and a need. Hers was a miracle too,
such a fragrance, such an act. Lazarus was a miracle. Jesus was a miracle.
And don't forget to see Martha serving up the miracle in the background; no
complaints from her in this story; I like to think of her as in her groove
here, like some Top Chef, living out her passion feeding and orchestrating
the community life happening all around her.
So many miracles, it's hard to see them all. So many miracles, it's hard to
see at all.
blessings, Ron Robinson, Turley, OK, The LivingRoom Church at and as A
Third Place Center
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