Southpoint News – Week of April 7th, 2019
When I first imagined the themes for Lent, I chose “Spotting Transformation” as last week’s title. I imagined us collectively looking for change in the world around us. After working with the passage of the prodigal son, however, my own vision for Sunday shifted. I realized that Jesus is pushing for a change of vision within us.
In Luke 15, Jesus is tucking into some comfort food around the table with some local homeboys when the Pharisees and teachers of the law show up. They notice he is at the table with people they consider inappropriate – unclean people. “Sinners” is the label used to describe them. These religious leaders began to talk among themselves about Jesus, “Look at him! How can he welcome those people to the table.They are such sinners.”
Jesus’ responds to their distain by telling them the familiar story of the prodigal son. By telling the story, Jesus reframes the identity of the people with whom he breaks bread. He casts them not primarily as sinners, but as beloved sons. Jesus tells the story to confront the religious leaders way of seeing: “These men you see around me, that you identify by the name “SINNER”, I see them differently than you. I see them as SONS. These men are beloved sons. They are so beloved that I became flesh so I could sit at this table with them. That’s how precious they are. It is my delight to be at the table with them. It’s why I’ve come.
I wonder how God might want to transform the way we see this week? Who do we look at with contempt and disdain? What table companions would we consider off limits?
Jesus includes another son in his story – an elder son. When Jesus sees the pharisees nattering away under their breath, he doesn’t write them off as self-righteous traditionalist. He sees them also as sons. He puts them in the storyline, too, as the elder son. The Father in the story loves this son as well. Loves him for his faithfulness, his loyalty, his steadfast service. God loves these responsible, religious leaders trying so hard to tow the line, keep everything in order, and make sure the father’s house is kept safe.
Jesus affirms the sonship of both groups – the “sinners” he’s eating with and the “saints” criticizing him. They never, for a moment, stop being sons. They are both beloved sons of the father, and that makes them brothers to one another. He allows the tension between the brothers to stand in the story. But by telling this story, Jesus is subtly and subversively remaking community. He is communicating his vision that he wants both groups, the people labeled sinners and the people labelled saints WITH HIM at the table.
It’s a transformative shift of vision. It is a theological shift Jesus makes as he redefines, as he does so often in the gospels, who is IN, and who is OUT.
It’s easy to feel brotherly, sisterly love for folk who share our ethical sensibilities, or mirror our personalities and preferences. But what about those who color far outside of our theological frameworks? How do we see them? Can we let Jesus recreate the bounds of community for us?
At the end of May, Brian, Art, and I will be going to the General Assembly of the CBWC. Last year, a group of churches from Alberta wrote a petition to the board of the CBWC, demanding that two churches who have welcomed LGBTQ into membership be disciplined.
The CBWC has decided to host a workshop at the General Assembly around the question of membership. After the workshop, there will be table top discussions. We will be sitting at the table with the church members from Alberta that have petitioned we be disciplined. In their eyes, I, the pastor, am guilty of breaching purity laws by allowing us to share membership around our table with people they deem “sinners”. They are operating under the theological conviction that we should withhold the grace of full membership into community from folk they deem unworthy. We as a church are operating under a different set of theological convictions, and we believe these lovers of Jesus into our community. We go prepared to tell our story. How will they label me? Will I be Anne, a beloved daughter of God? Will I be the progressive, liberal feminist, watering down the truth of the gospel? How will I label them? Will I see them as beloved sons of God? Will i see them as self-righteous traditionalist misusing scriptural passages to justify further harming those already left out and on the margins? What eyes will we use to see one other?
What eyes will you use to see people this week?
Roots is a space for youth and young adults to go deeper. Deeper into God. Deeper into Friendship. Deeper into one’s self. Every Monday night @ 8;30, Anne and Craig’s home. This Monday we will be playing games!. Popcorn and tea always on tap. Gifts of munchies always welcome.
Next ALL OUT – Good Seed Sunday
On April 28 we will meet at ARocha for our annual onion planting extravaganza!
Bring snacks to share!
Lent 2019 – “VISION”
*the faculty or state of being able to see.
*the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Is. 43: 9
Week 5: Sunday, April 7 – “The Sight for Sore Eyes”– Anne preaching
“With abundance-liberated vision, we can risk. We can risk rest, in the face of pressing need. We can risk and audacious plan, with our credibility at stake, amid fears it might be our only shot. We can risk great sorrow, trusting we’ll be held. We can risk your delight, trusting its own worthiness, and the worthiness of the world to share in it. W can risk a painful path of healing from whatever has us in its grip. We can risk a hard conversation, or a joke that might work if the timing’s right. We can risk a song.” – Scott Dewey
Week 6: Palm Sunday, April 14th – “Appearances Can Be Deceiving” – Anne preaching
“Prompted by holy curiosity, we’re sure to discover there’s always more to the story.” – Ryan Taylor
April 15th – April 20: HOLY WEEK
If our vision had cleared a bit in lent, it is about to be scattered, distorted, and lost in Holy Week. But this takes us way back to the beginning of what we learned in the wilderness: “Things aren’t always what they seem”.
April 19, Good Friday: “Darkness re-presents us with the reality that we cannot see everything. Let alone control most events, people, and situations…Learning to trust in the dark, we trust that God is moving in all the places that we cannot see or manage.”
You are invited to drop by and walk through the Stations of the Cross @ Kingfisher Farm on Good Friday between 10-2. The stations are scattered through the woods and property of Kingfisher Farm. It is a meaningful and accessible way, particularly for children, to experience with our bodies and hearts the story of Jesus’ death. Walking this journey with Jesus opens us up to a greater awareness his love for us, and opens us up to a greater compassion for our God who suffers with us, and for the suffering of our world. Walking the stations of the cross is a chance to practice faith-filled seeing.
April 21, Easter Sunday: “Beyond Our Wildest Imagination” – Anne preaching
“May the resurrection be experienced here today, as enemies are moved toward reconciliation, exclusion becomes embrace, and as voices of criticism and hate are transformed into encouragement.” – from the Liturgy of Sacred Sight
Bring a handful of flowers with you and a celebratory treat to share. We’ll decorate the cross with our flowers and feast on food and sunlight. He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
April 28, Good Seed Sunday Celebration:
We will be gathering at Brooksdale to plant onions together. Bring snacks to share!
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