Lk7v1-2 Heidegger is quite wrong that in being alongside the death of another I am 'just there too'. Being-towards-the-death-of-others shapes our own horizon in revealing our needs, dependency, fear and love. Prayers for those I know grieving this morning, for those with news of serious sickness in those they love, and for us all, to receive the seriousness of the mortality of those we love, & to take those fears and longings to Jesus.
Lk7v3-4 Who was this centurion?
~ An agent of empire? A noble savage? A killing machine, bristly-in-muscle and sleek-of-face? An authority on authority, he is listed on the leadership chart of a brutal regime - a centurion who commands the loyalty of a hundred men, to instill the Pax Romana in a volatile corner of an unstable country?
~ A member of the served classes with servants, the well-to-do waited-on, the middle-management middle-classes? A sensitive diplomat? A controversial compromiser? A synagogue-building appeaser? A faux philanthropist, the soft-touch, good-cop, bread-and-circuses, corporate-social-responsibility, agent of empire by stealth? Or a genuinely good man, a person of peace?
~ A homosexual? A pederast? (If we allow the Gk παῖς pais to carry the meaning that such as Jeffrey John convincingly, if controversially, want it to have, it is intellectually lazy to then be so quickly selective about what we infer Jesus would affirm). Is this centurion best read as a sensitive sentimental man trapped in the role of a soldier? A jealous-lover, a shame-carrying, frightened and far-flung victim of abuse himself?
~ ~ This miracle is as bizarre a proof-text for sexualities, as it would be for military-empires or for forms of slavery. Not simply because these details are incidental, but because these details precisely illustrate this passage's emphasis as the contrast between the Jewish elders notion of "worthy" (v4) and the only effective faith which is the recognition of "not-worthy" (v7)
~ ~ The centurion's beloved servant is not healed as an affirmation of anything the Jewish elders consider as qualifying as worthy, but quite the opposite. Jesus will hear the prayer of a imperially-violent, class-privileged, faux-philanthropic, sexually-broken Phil, if I can only recognise my unworthiness.
Lk7v5-6 Initially reading this, it sounds like the Roman officer is being problematically self-deprecating. I want the story to end with Jesus going to the house to demonstrate that he not only wills the healing of the servant but also declares the officer beloved and worthy. But Jesus doesn't go to the house. I want him to, otherwise it feels to me that Jesus is affirming the officer's statement that he shouldn't. Reading it a second time, however, I realise that this has more to do with how I use and receive statements such as these - I self-deprecate as power play, and try to meet other people's self-deprecation as people-pleasing. I see that the officer had a kind of maturity, confident enough in both Jesus and himself to not need Jesus to do the basics with him. How I long for that spiritual muscle memory - not that takes itself to be independent of Jesus, but the very opposite - so trained in walking the way of Jesus that there's no need for Jesus to keep walking me through the same steps again and again, as though for the first time. For spiritual muscle memory, this I pray.
Lk7v7-8 Power and Authority. Dirty words to we freelance free-range libertarians, to we adolescent agitating anarchists, chaffing at the bit, raging against the machine, untethered from any shackles of responsibility or deference. Power and Authority - it takes one to know one. In Authority <-> Under Authority : I cannot have one without the other, it would seem. I cannot understand the being-in-authority without appreciating being-under-authority.
- *Jesus has all authority* in heaven and earth Mt28v18
- *Jesus gives us authority* eg. over snakes Lk10v19
- *That we might contend with authorities* Eph6v12
and we must.
Lk7v9-10 Surprised by faith. Jesus responds. So often I feel like the Jesus of the gospels is locked in a glass box in my mind, separated from the cosmic Christ of the rest of the NT. I know the historical Jesus responded to people, but those were other people, limited by time & space. I know that the Christ is the way and the content of my salvation, but this quickly becomes something like an impersonal force field. After all these years of reading the New Testament I am praying for new and fresh understanding of the living connections that run between its two halves.
Lk7v11-12 "a great crowd with him ... a considerable crowd with her" ~ Two tribes ala Beat It ala West Side Story, two masses, two bodies corporate, both a humming teaming with emotion.
~ The one a funeral procession on their way to sepulchral caves beyond Nain, a Lacrimosa march. See she nameless that heads the dark column ~ eyes like sluices scarcely stem a crystal tide, sighs an infinite stormy day, harried by grief bent double to the loss of husband and now of son.
~ The other a parade, twelve feet tall and staggering, tied with bright red ribbons tinsel spangled raucous rambunctious.
~ She treads the path that she will untread again.
Lk7v13-14 Crying. What is crying like for you? Some of us cry easily and some of us don't, some can cry publicly and some of us don't know how, sometimes tears are a clear linear response to difficulty, while sometimes tears come out later, after the fact, over some small thing that represents the bigger thing, sometimes we cry over the same thing repeatedly, sometimes we don't know why we cry other than an unnameable quiet desperation, sometimes we cry, like this woman, because life has been brutal and we have no idea how to bear our grief. The gospels record many people crying: Mt2v18, Lk7v38, Lk8v52, Jn11v33, Lk23v27. Jesus' responds each time, with compassion, truth, words and demonstration. In all cases, he works towards resurrection, though in some of these cases resurrection happens quickly, & in other cases not. The substantiality of resurrection is nevertheless central to all of Jesus' response to our tears, & our subterranean grief. When Jesus meets Mary crying in the garden post-resurrection Jn21v11 his words to her are different to those in the interactions above - he asks her why she is crying, offering not just comfort but reasons for the unmaking of her grief - that is, the resurrection of Jesus is the hope for all time that no grief has the final word: Rev21v4 is not a one-dimensional utopias but a ten-dimensional reality built on the foundations of resurrection.
Lk7v15-16 "Jesus gave him to him mother." You are given new life. Then, you are given. Resurrection is a gift, in-itself, for-itself, for-others. You are a gift given, symbol and substance, container and content, you, wrapped up in ribbons, are perpetually for someone. You are gifted. To whom? // v16 Life, new life, which is within you, which in conquering death, is a fearsome force, a prophetic utterance, an affecting interference, restlessly benign, ecstatically in motion. Give your life to others. Give yourself away.
Lk7v17-18 Reports. Rumours. Stories. Sights. Each report contains the Eph3v8 'unsearchable riches' of Christ. Let us not cease to wonder at the treasure we bear.
Lk7v19-20 And so we are back at Lk7's John the Baptist. Today I'm struck again with a force by the couplet: the question by John in v19 is then repeated verbatim by John's disciples in v20. This parroting is a legitimate, effective, and urgent mode of discipleship for these under-directed times. Imitation is inevitable, therefore seek to be intentional in what _can_ be imitated from your life. Teaching your tutees to parrot is pathological only if they parrot pat answers. But *parroting questions*, opens up universes. What questions would you like the world to ask more? "Is Jesus the One? Is Jesus the One?" What other questions do you ask others to ask?
Lk7v21-22 It's ok if you don't like the word evangelism, & all the churchy forms of it you've been taught make you squirm. Just behold what Jesus is doing. And then just speak the truth.
Lk7v23-24 "..and blessed is the one who is not offended by me.."
*"blessed"* happy, lucky, better-off by.. vs. *"offended"*, scandalised, embarrassed by..
~ Who finds Jesus offensive? My mind goes immediately to those who, today would find Christianity to involve a morality too conservative, a sacrifice too great, a philosophy too rigorous, too high a bar, too long a wait, too great a price, too vulnerable, too foolish ~ because they are Gentiles.
~ The statement here, however, is addressed to John and John's disciples. Very Jewish Jews scandalised as 1Cor1v23 at the stumbling block of Christ's liberty. The prodigal son's older brother, offended by too permissive a Jesus, too gracious a religion, too forgiving a judge..
~ To the extent that I am so scandalised by Jesus I forego blessing. More devoted to my own good works, my fragile ego cannot bear the idea that my energetic religious labour counts for nothing. I remain convinced that I have to earn something. I must be allowed to repay my debt. Outrageous and chaotic a universe that would be unleashed if everything was just forgiven. Och, I am so easily offended by Jesus, to quick judge, so slow to wonder, so averse to trusting in the capacity of his grace. And so I forego blessing.
Lk7v25-26 What did you go out to see? Jesus asks this as a kind of rhetorical question, leading straight to an answer. Rhetorical insofar as Jesus seems to want to convince his addressees that the most noble parts of themselves, are more real than the base parts. Initially the question as to whether we're searching for someone in 'fine clothing' might seem like a dig at our worst selves, dabbling 'in the shallows' of the fashions of instagram. But Jesus affirms that this isn't what we're looking for. We're looking for the prophetic, & for that which prophesy for beyond and for. That this isn't obvious is part of our fallenness, but our imago dei is still a more true truth about us, and the seat of our hunger for redemption. We tell ourselves we'd rather watch youtube than read poetry, but it's not in fact true. We tell ourselves that we more naturally crave entertainment than the gospel, & we have to work hard to desire the latter, but this gets something wrong. We are hungry for the glory at the centre of the universe, let us not speak over ourselves and others that this is alien to us.
Lk7v27-28 *Later than:* Chronological mission: The world needs to know. But first. The world needs to know _that they need to know._ How will they know?
~ Christian harbingers, who are conscious of being within an unfolding, and humble to be invisible preliminaries, content to scaffold staggered stages of the Kingdom main event. Christ is always coming, always into Christ-shaped holes, holes given a delineated articulation by John the Baptists.
~ The world is a building missing it's capstone and cornerstone, if only we will draw it. The world is a story missing it's beginning and end, if only we will call it. The world a centrifuge without counterweight out of kilter chronically, if only we will spin it. The church is the world in miniature. We must be and speak a straightening, trust it, embody it, image it: proclaiming by doing by proclaiming the sufficiency of Christ for the Christ-shaped hole in all things.
~ *Greater than:* Hierarchies of greatness: Bigly, exponentially more than. >>> The later wine is better. The past is past, greater things are yet to come. There was no golden age but now. We carry the same truths forwards with resurgent force, on the wind of testimony, with the confidence of concrete history, but never nostaligic.
~ We embody the not-yet.
~ We proclaim a more-than.
Lk7v29-30 The tax collectors 'declared God just'. First, I note that I find this a funny turn of phrase in this context. The ESV notes the Greek is in fact 'they justified God', which, when contrasted with the alternative, namely 'they rejected the purpose of God for themselves', begins to look more like 'they recognised that God's purposes are justified' - that is, they were persuaded by reasons and reality outside themselves, and submitted to it. The people and the tax collectors recognised that the prophetic reality John declared was more true than their own wills, and they put themselves under it. Second, it is notable that the tax collectors here submit to God but the religious leaders do not. With yesterday's news about the Paradise Papers I would say that tax avoiders are comparable to the tax collectors of Jesus' day: seemingly using the leverage of power to play the system for financial gain, at the expense of 'ordinary folk'. As in Jesus day, it is easy to hold them in high contempt. We think them the furthest from submission to God. And yet here, the tax collectors were closer to recognising God's purposes than those in religious authority. Let all of us who hold some authority in ministry hold this fact in our hearts with fear and trembling: let us pray for the 'tax collectors' of our day, that they may 'declare God just', and let us pray for ourselves and our churches, that we would constantly scrutinise where we 'reject the purposes of God' through ignorance, weakness and our own deliberate fault. Come Holy Spirit.
Lk7v31-32 "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep." 🚫🤡🚫😢 *Pharisaism is a numbing.* Definitionally. A bulletproof superego, overburdened with cerebral fortifications and self-made mendacity. Such cannot dance, and cannot cry.
🤖 Like a tinman tank engine, with stiff upper lip rusted into a wry grimace. 👨⚖ Stoic, legal and conservative, conserving all energy, risking no emotion, preserving the rigid justice and perfect peace of stasis. 🙊 Can't dance and won't dance. How do we get this way? 😶 How is it the limber lisson Peej comes again to be creaky curt and counterballetic? 💊 How is it that again I retreat inside the makebelieve mood-stabilisation of glazed-over dull unadventure: aping faith as a language game and mere remembrance, simulating grace by synthetic forgiveness for respectable sins? 🙉 Against my better judgement, despite everything I've been through, forgetting all utterly, I am again a Pharisee, a weary robot couched in a coward's castle of verbiage, dancing nothing, mourning nothing. Why? 🏰 Numb Pharisaism is a safe place to save my pride, a mask of silent aggressive competencies, inert invulnerable inaction, closed from eye contact, deflective of probing questions, busy. 🙈 Busy, busy. *No one must see me presume to dance, no one must see me concede to cry.* No one must see me fail to be the impregnable Pharisee I pretend to be.
Lk7v33-34 Fasting and feasting. I'm interested in how v37, the assertion that Wisdom is justified by all her children, read through Jesus' claims about the kingdom of God is like and isn't like, illuminates the nature of wisdom. I am thinking about wisdom as I prep Eph5 at the moment, & this nugget speaks the same message. Wisdom is attunement to the Real, which feasting and fasting both do, but grazing, comfort eating and fad dieting do not. The latter enclose, entitle, muffle, cover over, and they do not align with the needs of the body or the soul, they are out of place, as per Jesus' previous criticism re dancing and mourning. Prayers for the week, prayers for the season: let's tune up, let's tune in.
Lk7v35-36 "Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” 👼🏻👼🏼👼🏽👼🏾👼🏿
"Wisdom['s] .. Children" 🤰 Ponder wisdom's fecundity. Ponder fecundity's wisdom. Multiply.
🌱 *~ What is wisdom?* Not surely mere dusty truistic platitudes. Wisdom is the very structural glue of truth itself, integrity's lively task force, the substance of sustainability, the blossom, leaf and root of flourishing. Wisdom, as the character of God, is the active personal weighty essence of holistic-being personified, an agile agent of the good, the true and the beautiful, and she is pregnant. Wisdom is the great grandmother of the church, the cosmic adoptress for every lost fool adrift, she calls us to herself, she raises us in the way we should go.. See, for example, Rm8v18-25 wisdom's children display and defend the fruit of wisdom in the care of creation. Multiply.
🤺 *~ What isn't wisdom?* See, Jesus parries with Pharisees, always, with rapier wit tickling the armour of religione, if his "wisdom" is read instead sardonically as "so-called wisdom", as pejorative invective against the counter-wisdom of Pharisaism. Thus with equal force we can say, "unwisdom is justified by all her children.." As in Mt23v15, those religiouse who cry-not and dance-not, they are twice the sons of hell. Twice perhaps because of the entrenching mechanisms of genetic disease, recessive alleles exponentially visiting the sins of the forefathers with redoubled cruelty and dogmatism onto subsequent generations.
⚖ "..justified.." Ponder the reciprocal double entendre:
~ wisdom being justified *by* her children *actively advocating* a case *for* her justification
~ wisdom being justified *through* her children *passively exemplifying* a case *of* her justification.
So we are living justifications speaking justifications for the wisdom or unwisdom we make ourselves the children of. Multiply.
🌐 "..all.." Ponder "all" ~ for it is not all-each-individually, but all-only-in-sum. We children justify wisdom by our collective conduct, all together, all the time, in season and out of season, mourning and dancing with appropriate wisdom. Individualistic holiness is incoherent. Morality is relational. Wisdom's fruit is measured by the health of the whole of society, the multiple.
✖⚔ So, St Mark's evening services has Ephesians on my mind. Wisdom, in the character and event of Christ's sacrifice, makes the two one Eph2v14, every two, every division. Over and against the active forces that seek to disunite and divide the church against the church, gender against gender Eph5v22-33, generation against generation Eph6v1-4, colleagues against collaboration Eph6v5-9. Wisdom is justified by the diverse unity of all her children behaving, even eclectically, as a legible "all", according to the freedom given by a triune and all-wise God Col2v3 Rm16v27, who unites all things under him Eph1v10. So, wise ones, rather than dividing. Multiply.
Lk7v37-38 Thinking this morning about sinfulness and preciousness. Sin is complex, sin is many things: responses of fear, indifference and so on, but it usually involves some kind of disordered desire. Sometimes Jesus calls us to go looking into those desires, to work out what's precious in them, and to pour them out at his feet, like perfume from an alabaster jar. We are bundles of energy, & where we just shut down thoughts & desires, they're just pushed further down into the deeps. Rather, the more laborious task of sifting through sin, looking at what these thoughts & desires tell us about ourselves, including what is precious - & then bringing it all to Jesus. Bring your energy to Jesus, every bit of it - bring every thought, every desire, everything that populates your imagination, bring your seeking, every eros yearning, every connection, all that your heart seems to treasure - for better or worse, bring all that causes you to wonder. Bring all your energy and pour it at Jesus' feet, re-direct it, don't repress it, let it be first transfigured into worship of Him, and then, let Him re-order your energies, using all that is in fact precious and beautiful in them to transfigure reality for good, not for ill. Perhaps all repentance needs this kind of extravagant worship, a true 'turning around', not only as thankfulness for God's grace, but as the very rechannelling of energy that repentance is by definition.
Lk7v39-40 _"If he were a prophet.."_ Things get iffy for this pharisee. Like Mk9v22-23. "If you can..!" As if! F'ing effetes 'if'ing the ineffable. Jesus' prophetic power is not if, but when. ~ v40. O rly. Have I got something to say to you?! .. Send for me bruv. Mention my name in your tweets, oi rude boy.
_"..what sort of woman.."_ Jesus touches the untouchables conspicuously, putting himself in the way of society's disapproval, in plain view provocatively. *How can I do this today?*
Contemporary society treasures a self-identity as a tolerant, diverse, secular, cosmopolitan age, post-apartheid, equal-opportunities. sans-frontiers.. The modern person holds no taboos, no dogmas, no unscientific cleanliness codes. Do we not..? And yet we have rarely been more siloed than in this exponentially divided new gilded age of gated access developments and social media bubbles, demographically stratified by age, education and wealth, brittle to shame by association. There is an underclass which is icky, not the noble rustique of idealised artisanal poverty, not the low hanging fruit of the Victorian philanthropist's 'deserving-poor', but _American Honey_'s icky scourge and unsolvable mass kept in invisible quarantine, lest they sully our illusion of progress.
_"..touching him.."_ Hugging hoodies / grabbing pussies: Touch is contentious, politicised, confusing, precious, dangerous. All while we disembody in so much of life, we remain bodies, touching and touchable.
I want to move from Nothing-Touches-Me mode of embodiment, to being better-in-touch, to being, as Jesus, proactively provocative of society's disapproval, available to the invisible classes, carousing with the infectiously poor, associated with sinners, skin to skin.
Lk7v41-42 So yes, Sarah finds this statement of Jesus difficult to interpret. At one level it seems to be a descriptive claim about what is going on in this particular situation - the woman has a greater grasp of God's loving forgiveness, & thus a greater grasp of God's Being, than the pharisee, leading to greater worship. But the monetary metaphor rubs because neither love nor forgiveness follow the logics of the financial system. One response is just to say that Jesus is using this metaphor casually, all metaphors have their limits, we should just focus on where a comparative analysis of 'debt paid' as a metaphor for grace is helpful, and consciously navigate the problematic disanalogies. I wonder if there's also a critique in Jesus words about our tendency to think of sin as though it were debt. It is precisely because Simon thinks he has little to be forgiven that he fails to worship as he could and should. Surely Jesus isn't agreeing that he has in fact been forgiven 'less' than the woman. Forgiveness doesn't divide like money. They have both been forgiven the whole. They have both been forgiven totally. They have both been given, not 50 or 500, but infinity. Our failure to worship happens when we position ourselves on a scale of 'a bit bad, but not that bad', & so see our forgiveness is small. It isn't small, my friends - we must all go through total renewal, it's just that some of us are better at pretending we don't need to.
Lk7v43-44 💳📉 In this world there are two types of people?: Negative-equity-holders and Embezzlers // Those-who-know-their-own-debt and Those-who-think-they-know-their-own-debt // Sinners and the Religiouse. // The Untitled and Entitled // The Messees and the Messers // Barren-robbers and Robber-barons
~ All have sinned. // All have fallen short. // All are walking dead. // Surely guilt and shame shall follow us all?
In this world there is one type of person?: Profligate offspring haemorrhaging cash // Bankrupt debtors in over our heads // Exponential liabilities infinitely in the red
Fifty denarii, Five hundred denarii, it's a trick question, the value is relative to your perspective on infinity.
~ Christianity knows no refinancing, offers no debt-restructuring.
~ Christianity is FightClub's or MrRobot's debt erasure, all gone.
~ Christianity is the levelling binary of all debts all cancelled.
~ And so, Christianity brooks no hypocrisy, no shades of enoughness, no partiality, no comparators.
🎵🎉Exuberant worship is former-debt-acknowledged, exuberant in proportion to the honesty of your own self-examination.
Lk7v45-46 Oil & kisses speak in ways words can't. Let us worship extra-verbally, let all things declare His glory.
Lk7v47-48 Your Sins Are Forgiven.
👀 1. FOR "for she loved.." The "for" here is not causal in the forgiveness, but corroborating in the observation. Is yours? Is mine? Have I an evidential faith? What proof is in my pudding? What displays outwardly the inner work of my forgiven-ness? Who knows? Who cares? Who sees?
👇2. YOUR v47 " *her* sins are forgiven.." v48 " *your* sins are forgiven" Jesus' forgiveness: declared, explicitly, in a second-person address. You. Thou. Eye-to-Eying you. Ich und Duing to. Full frontal forgiveness. Beyond a theology of atonement in the broad third person applied to the abstract sinner, have *you* heard *Jesus forgives you*?
🗣 3. SINS ARE FORGIVEN Does forgiveness need to be said explicitly? A very recent question between the PJs, (the world's wordiest couple?) // 3a. Whereas an *apology* has a necessary verbalisation, it must be said: the articulation of mea culpa, with precision, cannot be inferred from contrite action only. I must say sorry for this (and not that), this which was my reasonable responsibility to you whom I have offended / aggrieved / wounded / disadvantaged in this measurable and acknowledged way. Without speaking an apology we risk mere emoji-face vague remorse, worldly sorrow, imprecise and lingering shame (and often, by way of over-compensation, or by way of obfustication of the more difficult specifics of an apology, we settle for the disposition of over-apology, perhaps a very British foible?) So,
~ *Say sorry.* I am sorry for x. It is reparative to the other. Repentance makes the healing of a relationship possible.
~ *Confess your sins.* Jm5v16. Confess generally. AA Step 4. Make a fearless moral inventory of yourself. It is reparative to yourself. There is a therapeutic benefit in repentance.
3b. But then. Does *forgiveness* need to be said explicitly? Forgiveness is an active comportment, a forgetting combined with a proactive rebuilding, but must it be worded? This morning I am convinced so. Forebear and forgive Col3v13. Be kind and forgive Eph4v32. Let it go and let it me known that it is let go. Beyond broad kindness and generic forebearance, the speaking of forgiveness is important. Words are vital because the truly Christian life demands explication. Words are vital because the war we are engaged in is one of truth against lies, unravelling untruths and unwriting the lies which keep people hostage. Satan sows doubt into silences, exploits ambiguity, cultivates lies wherever nothing is said to counteract them, culminating in the exquisitely destructive logical conclusion: "He/She hasn't forgiven you because you are unforgiveable..". Never assume forgiveness has been assumed.
*Preach the gospel.* Use words, because you have to.
*Repent.* Use words, because you have to.
*Confess your sins to one another.* Use words, because you have to.
*Forgive one another.* Use words, because you have to.
*Speak God's forgiveness over one another.* Use words, because you have to.
I forgive you. As God forgives you. Because God forgives you and me.
Lk7v49-50 Jesus forgives. This thought struck me with a new peculiarity over the last few days, and leaves me with more questions than answers. Of course the main take home point here is that Jesus is God, but is there anything more specific? I can identify in myself different ways of understanding salvation through the cross. One pitches the Father as the forgiver of sins, and Jesus as sinply the means to this. This model alone runs the risk of making Jesus a mere means. On the other hand I often think of the Pauline articulation of particpating in the death and resurrection of Jesus himself, through my union with Him. This allows Jesus to be the substance of my salvation as well as the means, but this model used alone perhaps runs the risk of knocking the idea of forgiveness out of the picture. Our theology of the cross must be multidimensional, & so both of the models above can be helpful when triangulated by each other, & by other biblical pictures. This morning I'm specifically asking what should I understand by the fact that Jesus himself is a forgiver of sins? Jesus is a forgiver of my sins. Does this bring together participation in Christ with a substantial appreciation of forgiveness? Is this a gateway to understanding the connection between the historical Jesus and the cosmic Christ? Unsure. Thoughts welcome.