Monday, April 29, 2013

Easter 5 C

Rolling Down the River


If you write stories, or tell stories, you know there is more than one character… if there is a good guy there has to be a bad guy… to oversimplify it.

But in most good stories there are many characters, and some of them are really unexpected. As an aside, you don’t have to be alive to be a character… ever read Huckleberry Finn… It is the story of a boy, a runaway slave, and a raft… the raft is as much a character of the story as Huck.

Moby Dick is as much about a whale as a sailor…

A more modern example would come from the movie Titanic… sure, there are the main and supporting actors and actresses…. But one of the characters, with its own personality and storyline, is a giant boat… the Titanic.

I’m just trying to say that sometimes we see the story from only one side… we don’t take the time to think about what it all means from the point of view of the minor characters, or the bystanders.

We have been talking about Disciples, about Apostles, about Followers of Jesus, be they the more famous like Peter and Paul, or the less known, like Dorcas… But throughout our storytelling we have not focused on the other side, on the crowds, on the people who were watching this all unfold before their very eyes.

What would it have been like to see the world through the eyes of a Jew in Palestine, or through the eyes of a Roman Gentile living in a foreign country, when there was a religious movement taking over… what would you notice first? What would draw your attention? What would it mean?

With the Kids

Passing Love (pennies) even the smallest thing can make a difference….

Fleshing Out the Pennies

One of the things that really got to people, and we cannot stress this enough, was Jesus’ message of love. Think of it this way, these people all went to church every day… whether they were Jew or Greek, Roman or Babylonian… and the main thing that they heard said over and over is… God is with you.

God loves Romans, God will help us conquer the world, God is Roman… God loves Jews, God rescued us from Egypt, God will rescue us again… The Gods love Greeks, the Gods have always been with us….

You get the idea… Religion was just like human nature… it was based on the idea that God loves me more than you, and if I do what God wants, God will reward me… plain and simple…

No one ever went out and said, you know what, God does love Romans, and Jews, and Greeks, and Samaritans, and Women, and… and… and… And what God really wants from you is not obedience, it is not national pride, it is love… go love each other, help each other, pray for each other, heal each other, comfort each other, feed each other…

Now, we have heard this for a few thousand years so we forget… I want you to just for a second, put yourself in the mindset of someone who has been told their whole life that they are better than everyone else and that God only loves them…

Can you see how interesting it would be if all of a sudden this stranger did something nice for you? Or someone from a different tribe or race all of a sudden helped you? You would want to say, why did you do that? And they would tell you…. And it would make you think!

The Banquet

So Peter is off cavorting with some Romans… well, maybe he is preaching to them, and healing them, and baptizing them… and he gets back to town and there is a session meeting; and the session says, what are you doing? How could you even talk to those people? Don’t you know what they have done?

But Peter has had a vision… he has all of a sudden been able to see it from the other side… he gets what the Romans are all about, why they are like they are, and, more importantly, he is finally convinced that Jesus is right… God loves everyone.

Ever have this happen in your life? I have… I have met someone who I find really annoying… I get angry at the way they do things, I cannot understand why they would do it that way… all kinds of things… and then all of a sudden something clicks… I start seeing it from their point of view… and everything changes… I get it….

I don’t really know what the Romans who were in Palestine thought, or the Greek traders that sailed the Mediterranean… but I do know that they had never thought about things the way Peter and the Gang were teaching… and the apostles had been hanging out with Jesus for so long they just took this stuff for granted….

And not everyone was on the same page… we see that in the fact that the other apostles are not really happy with Peter…

Sometimes it takes seeing things differently… sometimes we have to be able to get outside of ourselves… there is probably a lesson in here for us, eh?

Miramichi Presbytery meets on Saturday. How many 30 year olds want to give up a Saturday off and leave their kids and go to a day-long volunteer meeting? There is an example of the church not seeing the world through someone else’s eyes…

And there are a ton of them…. Like a million things we all do every day that we either take for granted or assume that everyone sees just like us… but it simply is not true.

This Jesus guy came and changed things so dramatically that it woke everyone up and made them pay attention. I wonder what we would have to shake up to get the same reaction.

Blessing by The Buddha

May every creature abound in well-being and peace.
May every living being, weak or strong, the long and the small
The short and the medium-sized, the mean and the great.

May every living being, seen or unseen, those dwelling far off,
Those nearby, those already born, those waiting to be born,
May all attain inward peace.

Let no one deceive another, Let no one despise another in any situation,
Let no one, from antipathy or hatred, wish evil to anyone at all.
Just as a mother, with her own life, protects her only son from hurt,
So within yourself foster a limitless concern for every living creature.

Display a heart of boundless love for all the world,
In all its height and depth and broad extent,
Love unrestrained, without hate or enmity.
Then as you stand or walk, sit or lie, until overcome by drowsiness,
Devote your mind entirely to this, it is known as living here life divine.

Buddha Heart

Jesus lived at what has been called the Golden Age of Religion. He was not alone, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, all of them lived at a time when everything was changing… and they saw that God had always been different than most people understood… that God was bigger than any one nation, any one people… and that God wanted us to see the world from the point of view of love, acceptance, and understanding.

Now, as I have said before… this is not an easy path. Buddhist Monks give up everything, and go live in the ice covered mountains of the Himalayas so that they can focus on this stuff and get it right…

But it is the path we are all on. We are the ones who are supposed to move beyond lies beyond hurt, and see everything and everyone as loved by God.

The people in India, when Buddha came out with these things, didn’t get it any more than the Romans… I want you to know that… but there were still those who were surprised… who heard the message and saw the followers and knew there was something different going on here.

There is something different about us too…


So you want to know where we are? We are that small group of people who believe in the message of Jesus. We are the minority who think that God works through love and not through forceful power. We are the ones who the world looks at and is surprised by.

But if we are truly going to live out our role as followers of Jesus’ Way we do have to start realizing how different our way of thinking is, and we have to start seeing the other people out there for who they really are… they are not wrong, they are not the enemy, they are loved by God for exactly who they are…

So what do we have to say to them? How do they fit into our story? Where is our vision of the future leading us? These are the questions we all need to explore.

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