Thursday, 15 June 2017
Lk3v1-2 This could be the desert, this could be the time. Already I am thinking of ways to cheat feeling thirsty. Maybe now is the time to be thirsty. Now is the time to be cut to the heart. Now is the time for the word of God to come. Now is the time for history not to repeat itself. Now is the time for true metanoia. Come, word of God. Teach me the courage, discpline & generosity to receive your word.
Lk3v3-4 Election Day, an unrepentant country will get the politicians they deserve.
We repent the divisive rhetoric of blame and shame.
We repent mispent wealth and privelege abused, banal cynicism and tax avoidance.
We repent self-righteous leftism and saving faith in state giantism.
We repent opaque machines of bloated self interest.
We repent the glee of too eagerly consuming twitter's cynical rumour mongering.
We repent ethical outsourcing and the privatisation of everything.
We repent the creep of cruelty, the idolatry of personality.
We repent everything escapist, everything smothering, everything untrue.
We repent complicity in systemic pessimism and limited ambition.
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts..
Lk3v5-6 Shall. Will. Repeated five times in these two verses - the done deal of God. Those valleys, those mountains, the crooked and the rough, all that and whom are now yet unredeemed? They are gonna get redeemed. It will literally happen. All things. Shall. This is the source of true hope, true lightness, true freedom. Lots of chat about hope this morning, as our political landscape shifts about us [God, we invite you in] but true hope bounds forth from this perspective of God's reality: every valley shall be filled, all flesh shall see the salvation of God. No really, it shall happen! What a strong and stable reality we actually live in, as Jesus speaks to us in today's other reading: "abide in my word...& you will know the truth, & the truth will set you free" Jn8v31-32. Abide in this: the crooked shall become straight. Rough places shall become level. Shall mate. Julian got Jesus right - All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well. Amen
Lk3v7-8 Do you ever feel John's rage? The excoriating arid heat of palpable fury, fury at those who should know better, fury at the church-raised over-educated ever-so-busy, fury at the cosy comfortable privileged ambassadors of turgid laissez-faire Christianitised blah. Fury at those who mingle vague social concern with an utter lack of urgency, fury at those who brew a sloppy semi-faith that's neither hot nor cold, a merely linguistic affair of intriguing philosophical complexity and delicious escapist ambiguity. Fury at those who idly mingle curt de-churched bitter bickering with aloof Guardian sardonic posturing with truculent self-pity dabbing solipsistically at a putrid self-inflicted wound. Fury at those translucent moral entities who export vague guilt without hope and who always told-you-so. Fury at the vipers, a brood who breed intergenerational viperhood, curdling toxic misinformation with self-interested fantasy.
Wrath is coming. Everyone knows this. D-Day is always on the horizon. Judgement Day is always imminent. At every moment we are on the eve of making an account for ourselves.
John asks "Who told you to flee..?" Rather as God asks, "..who told you that you were naked?" Gn3v11. What have you 'told' your friends?
- Run from God's wrath?
- Deconstruct 'God's wrath'?
- Face God's wrath with repentance through Christ?
~ If you're going to run, run from sin 2Tim2v22, and run towards God Pr18v10
Lk3v9-10 Axed. Uprooted. Destroyed. Reading John Stott's 'The Radical Disciple' this week he ends his final book with some thoughts on the deaths we must die as disciples: the role of dying in salvation, discipleship, mission, persecution, martyrdom and the practice of literal mortality. Of 2Cor4v10-11 he says: 'This extraordinary statement declares that we can experience both the death and life of Jesus simultaneously.' This is my prayer, that I would check out of the painful process of the axe at my roots. That I would always be being cut down, that I would always be growing new life.
Lk3v11-12 "Teacher, what shall we *do*" What does repentance look like? It is a doing. The gospel of repentance is active, personal and political. Faith is works, and works is a doing is a giving.
"Whoever.." The revolution starts with you, double tunicker. Before you get stoning Two Jags, take the backup plan out of your own eye. God is your piggy bank for a rainy day. God is your but-if-not. God is your come-what-may. Note 'whoever' is an if clause, predicates radical generosity on abundance, but calibrates abundance as being within everyone's reach.
"Two Tunics.." If one tuxedo is enough for Obama.. ~ Your untaxable personal allowance is one tunic, and above that threshold the tax rate is 100% (but perhaps tax is an unhelpful analogy here). As entrepeneurs, if you are to be a disruptor, keep your life lean and nimble. How do you measure abundance? What do you have two of?
"..share with him who has none.." It's more blessed to give etc. It is more interesting. It packs a better punchline. Giving is more fun for all involved. And giving changes everything. The true truth of all-as-gift-given rendering all-as-gift-givers is the essence of Christianity, the definition of grace, the mode of its infection. When the Kingdom of God comes, Capitalism won't work, and Communism won't be necessary. Capitalism is fueled acquisitive avarice to stock-pile more-than-one. Communism flatten this property theft to the counter-generous universal unownership of less-than-one. Both are structured responses to the lie of scarcity.
Lk3v13-14 Money. John makes clear that different people need to hear different specific things about their attitude to money. Everyone agrees greed is wrong, but John puts his finger on more subtle ways that money gets under the skin: falseness, disatisfaction, legally sanctioned exploitation, thinking oneself more entitled than others, treating 'what I can get away with' as the measure of a.legitimate attitude towards money. These are not just attitudes to point out in the world at large, but which jostle under my own skin. Come Lord Jesus.
Lk3v15-16 "straps of whose sandals I'm not worthy to untie..." 👞👞 Coming soon is the one man who is not actually too big for his boots. Jesus, the cosmic CEO who pulled the whole universe up by his own bootstraps. Jesus, suited, booted and atop the sheer cliff of the company hierarchy that we find ourselves in. Jesus. He is not like other prophets, he not an extension of a vague continuum of do-gooders and well-wishers. The one who comes after me is wholly other.
"He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and Fire.." 🔥🔥 These are no mere props to his cuz in the family business. John is in End-Is-Nigh mode: We baptise with water pistols, Jesus brings the artillery. Jesus will mess you up. As Grenfell Tower hurls harrowing visuals into public consciousness, as if we were in any fuzziness about fire's fearsome potency. Baptism into Christianity is not the arrangement of tea lights around a fusty icon, it is man-as-powder-keg furiously ablaze, utterly and horrendously undone, the screaming hissing wood, the crackle and white-hot roar of a soul consumed. As Tim Farron has just said so publicly, this fire demands my life, my soul, my all.