Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Lk9v1-2 "power and authority" "demons and diseases" "proclaim and heal" both-and. You need both, to defeat both, to do both. I want to render this triplet of pairs as a comprehensive description of ministry, or at least to say with more precision what Jesus is invoking in bothing these. Particularly, what is authority when it is distinct from power?
🏛 Authority exousia ~ qualification and permission , ability and license , method and mandate , weaponry for the hand to hand skirmish and artillery backup . Dear self-identifying imposters, we move with authority, we are sent with a purposive commission, over-and-against the noise of spiritual anarchy, we are in charge now.
⚡ Power dynamis ~ the signs and wonders grow to a prominence in Luke's Acts. Christianity must engage power, the power of Power Evangelism, power vs power, against the cosmic powers of this dark age Eph6v12. We must believe that the power of the God who sends us, the power which is within us, power which is infinite but granular, relevant and acute in any given moment, this power is greater-than the powers we observe which control people in the world. God's power for freedom is greater-than every financial power and debt, every tendril of family shame, every bond of guilty duress, every system of parasetic politicking that leeches life from the body - these all have real power, they have power to hold and control, but they are each a power which is less-than.
Star Wars' formula is so successful for so reflecting the zeitgeist and so richly giving definition to the vocabulary of contemporary longing. Whilst it arrives at a nonsensical mysticism, having it's good&evil cake and eating it through incoherent balance, Star Wars does appreciate the universal experience of captivity, the long expectation of a begotten saviour and the role of power. Power from beyond, power to move rocks Mt17v20, power to grasp concepts Eph3v18, power to convert hearts and to hope. Hope requires power. Christians, we channel cosmic electricity which is more-than, in all things more-than, into every given minutiae, more-than.
Lk9v3-4 'take nothing'. This command has been round the peripheries of vision the last few days, it strikes me as important for my spiritual maturity in 2018, and centres on the near-impossible task of clinging to nothing in life, ministry and marriage but Jesus. What are my staff, bag, bread, money? What do I need to renounce, untie, leave behind? What does it look like to trust Jesus with everything in my context? What do the PJs need to leave behind together? How do we practically personally prophetically lean into simple trust? I don't know the answers to all these questions but I feel sure these questions must shape my and our conversations these next few days. Pray for us, that we would cling to nothing but Jesus.
Lk9v5-6 📤 "Leave." Christians, when is it persevering to quit? When is it loving to leave? When is it right to be ruthless? Agile evangelists believe in pragmatic providence, nimbly knowing that all timing is God's timing, they weather rejection lighty, relishing to suffer with Christ, they fail early, fail often, fail forward.. Bootstrapped and unsentimental, they move fast and break things. But who is called to that? https://xkcd.com/1428/ There is a tension between disruption and compassion, adventuring and caring. But if I was to assess the deficit in my life and in the church at large it would call me to be more barrelling forth, at the expense of less noodling at home.
🧖♂ "Dust" Dust's dustiness is a musty stasis, the detritus of life, the flakes of decay, the aroma of death, which clings to disuse, which settles on and settles for and settles down. No church should be dusty, and not by neurotic vacuuming, but by being-unsettled. The Christian is a kite in a hurricane, ours is a faith of the great outdoors, thieves cannot break in and steal, moths will find nothing there ~ we are romping through town, anti-static, and squeaky clean.
Lk9v7-8 Perplexed. Perplexity happens when self meets world and things are not as expected. It strikes me that we might catergorise two types of perplexity - egocentric and allocentric. The later is genuine confusion about how things are in reality, coupled with a desire to understand better, birthing the virtues of humility, curiousity and exploration. Egocentric perplexity is a form of outrage, an incredulity that reality - and therefore God - has not conformed to the understanding or will of the I, the Great Self, leading to the vices of hubris, anger, and a demanding and controlling spirit, as we see here in Herod - 'John I beheaded!'
I pray for myself specifically that my perplexed outrage, frustration and entitlement would be transfigured into perplexed surrender, openness and trust.
Lk9v9-10 "who* is this!?" Herod's WTF. There is something very unusual going on, extermination-as-usual isn't working, rule-by-force is unravelling. This comic turn riffs on a diabolical incomprehension trope. The baddie in his lair flies into a rage as it dawns on him: the swarm is breeding faster than we can swot them. Luke places this scene-change cutaway in between the sending of the 12 and the sending of the 72, and nestles it beside the feeding of the 5000. 🔢📈 Do the math fam. The emphasis being twofold:
- As a Holy Hydra, beheading John draws the blood of the martyrs, which is the seed of the church, this Kingdom movement is stronger than death
- As a Godly Grey Goo, this Kingdom movement is exponential
➖ So 2018, in my life, what should die?
✖ So 2018, in my life, what should multiply?
Lk9v11-12 "now the day began to wear away"...'"or we are here in a desolate place". I have never noticed before the emphasis placed on weariness and desolation at the beginning of this story, and it is interesting to note that with these two phrases there is an acknowledgement of weariness with both time and place, with process and product, with duration of time elapsed and with the barrenness of where that time seems to have led. If you are weary with where you find yourself, or if you are weary with the means by which you seem to have to try to get somewhere - know this: Jesus is an infinite spring of life within the finite, he wants to set up tables in the wilderness to feed you loaves and fishes. He makes something out of nothing. He can redeem your days and your places.
Lk9v13-14 "go and buy" is contrasted with "sit in groups" ~ perhaps I am heavily over-reading this juxtaposition in this context, but I am convicted that the comparison otherwise and generally is not nothing. I'm interested to consider the posture of faithful communion over-and-against the posture of market-exchange.
💱 "Go and buy.." I have been recently stirred by Alastair Roberts' account of gender in the context of modernity, and I find his very compassionate essentialism to be rich, provocative and vital. The rendering of the liberal individual as the primary unit of our universe and economy renders all labour and commodity as fungible and alienable. We are a hypermobile workforce that knows only exchange value. We go and we buy, transient consumers remunerated commensurably. We go and we buy. When the going get tough the tough go shopping. We go and we buy. Poverty is measured quantitatively and solved quantitatively. We go and we buy.
🧘♀ 🧘♂ "sit" See _How to Be a Poet_ by Wendall Berry begins "Make a place to sit down. Sit down. ..." https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/41087/how-to-be-a-poet To sit is not nothing. Be still and know that God is God. And, sit in a group, y'all, quakers gonna quake. As Leibnitz fears and Harman relishes, a circle of men holding hands is a thing, it has thinghood, and so we are so irreducibly thung to cast ripples in eternity by sitting in groups, for communion, and against the marketisation of everything, marketisation which is the source of poverty.
Lk9v15-16 Verb tables for the day.
(That we might set before others).
Lk9v17-18 🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞 We exceed excess, we broke the brink, to more than mar a margin, for more and more than more-than. We left a land littered lots and now gather to defrag the fragments. We're Mosaic mosaicists, we reframe residue as the substance of superabundance.
Lk9v19-20 But who do you say I am? Apt after conversations with P this weekend on the foundational questions we are to ask ourselves and others, the who what where when why and how. The who is the only one we know the answer to, and this is our starting place and our source. Here Jesus asks the foundational question, and though I know the Sunday School answer, I seek to really know the answer to the 'who' question in a new way for the new year. Jesus is the Christ, is the answer - and in some ways the answer for me is also that the Christ is Jesus. In this previous season it has felt easier for me to speak in terms of the cosmic Christ rather than the historical Jesus. I seek to know deeply what it is to recognise that the Christ is Jesus. Part of this is to ask - what in the words of the Jesus of the gospels speaks to my depths? How does this flesh-and-blood Jesus speak by the Holy Spirit to me in the present? How does Jesus not only say what I am supposed to do in the abstract, but actually impart the strength to be able to do it - that is, the How as well as the What, Why and Who? Come Lord Jesus.
Lk9v21-22 📼 "must suffer.. be rejected.. be killed.." If Jesus had a cassette player and recorded the thirteen reasons for his death, would I be on those tapes? Hannah Baker's suicide account is disanalogous is many ways, the series is the darkly seductive tragic glamour of long-form intrigue playing reprehensible suicide voyeurism to baying binge watchers. But. It observes human depravity with a candour, and accurately portrays the dominoes of sin, how thick black pollution is funneled, curdled, and distilled to finally melt the lighting rod in death's pent up fury. We are such walking dead, victims each, pariahs each, and/but collectively culpable. Where does all the pain go? What do you do with the death you inherited? Jesus offers to drain the tank, he is the firebreak, he is the shockabsorber, he is the mop, he is the bucket, he takes all the portions of death we carry and puts himself to death.
Lk9v23-24 I have been dancing around these words a few days. This familiar saying of Jesus has a kind of black-hole quality to it for me - I feel in myself both a kind of magnetic draw and repulsion to these words at the same time, I feel like I can't quite access their depths but I know the depths are there, I teeter on the brink of them, attracted and resistant to the promise and cost of these words that I can't quite grasp, wanting to flee, longing desperately. Chasms of distortion are everywhere about me, and a hasty response to these words is sure to trip me into one of these chasms. Here I am God, a bundle of tension and trying and failure to try. Here I am, caught between death and death, between ego and resurrection, between wisdom and folly, between too much labour and not enough and the mysteries of grace, between glimpses of understanding and uncertain conclusions. I don't pretend that I have yet learned how to take up my cross daily. Part of me doesn't want to learn, but part of me does. Pray for me, that I would fall into the black hole and die daily, in order to be more fully alive.
Lk9v25-26 "gain the world.." 👜👟📱🎰🎸🏘🕹💳🚁 On Thursday to a small group of MW, JW said, of the title of his book, Stuffocation, that he has had no one puzzle over what his title means, we already know. The coagulation of modernity's detritus, a vast tide of preemptively obsolete broken plastic promises, Rem's Junkspace, fruit of a Frommian comportment towards the world via 'having' rather than 'being' How should we then live?
~ So to not forfeit our soul, W proposes "Experientialism" [coined from a more Virgin Experience Days meaning than the Metaphors We Live By meaning] Is this it? Is this all? Because the boomers sold the farm, the consolation prize for millenials is to become connoisseurs of cake and circuses, young and nimble gnostic cyborgs trapped in the long tail, precariat pawns in the palms of the tech tyrants, pliable poodles strung along chasing the next latte for their insta, choreographing a kinfolk community alone with a projection from their scandi ascetic pod, scratching off countries on a wall chart, pissing the world into a bucket list of private adrenaline highs? Experientialism is still trying to gain the world, and in so far as it has an overreactive antagonism towards that material world it will be soulless.
~ So to not forfeit our soul, JS, also on the panel offered that we should rather enlarge our tent (Is54v2?) in a way that only a barrister can say so blithely. As we peer through his privilege, however, there is a dazzling hope in his convicting vulnerability. It is by such an irreducibly very material household, formed and managed at an intermediate scale, humbly owned, generously shared, that the world is being made whole, people being made less proud, less lonely, less damaged and less damaging. And it was unashamedly about Jesus, by Jesus, for Jesus.
Lk9v27-28 I'm currently reading Philip Pullman's 'The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ', in which he re-writes the gospel stories with two characters - Jesus and Christ, brothers standing in for the historical Jesus and the ideology of Christianity respectively. It is an impressive and consistent picture of what it is to live in a totally disenchanted universe, a reductive naturalism in which ideology is layered over the top. I just read Pullman's storying of the transfiguration, reduced to strong light, manipulation and a sense of self-importance. As I think about what it means to try to get outside my own feelings and into reality this morning, I want to behold a fraction of the Christ transfigured, reality transfigured, all the way down and all the way through.
Lk9v29-30 💡❕ "altered.. dazzling white" Four of us walked through Piccadilly Circus a few days ago, the vast screen has changed in the last couple of months to an even more glowy seemless liquid 11 million pixel expanse of magic. C returned from Barcelona with patiently captured pictures of sun glinting in the tinted panes of Sagrada Familia. Moths to a flame, magpies to glitter, the human heart knows that the universe is luminous at its core and yearns for it. Jesus' metamorphosis is not an exception to the rule, but an illustration of the real: you are made of light, and you were made to blaze brightly. If Dn12v3 Ph2v15 are "mere" metaphors what are you left with? "Mere"ing metaphors is desertion of our post in the semiotic battlefield and embezzlement of the words of God. If metaphors are mere'd, light does not lose its power, it is simply released to serve another master with that power, coopted by other agents, as we outsource meaning-making to Hollywood we cede the keys to the gates of wonder.
🙏🔌 "..as he was praying.." Prayer is touching the live wires of reality, fingers in the sockets of eternity, the laying on of hands to a Van de Graff spirituality, God's great Tesla coil. As Vanilla Ice said in Mt6v6, when you pray, turn off the lights..
Lk9v31-32 I find myself comparing this moment with that in the Garden of Gethsemane Mt26v36-45. Here on the Mount, the disciples are shaken from slumber to wakefulness, whereas later in the Garden, when they most needed to be awake, they slipped into sleep again and again. On the Mount the prophets speak of the moment of Jesus' departure, but the Garden, it was the moment of departure itself. As I think these last few days about lapsing and relapsing after spiritual breakthrough, and about things that seem misaligned and wrongly timed, there is much to recognise in the picture of the disciples asleep at the crucial moment, though they had v27 seen the kingdom of God. And God continued to fight the battle despite them, their legacy was fruitfulness nonetheless. May it be.
Lk9v33-34 ⛰ "we are here.." We've been here before, to the Mount of Transfiguration. It is an event that bears revisiting, a many varied wonder each time, in my biannual pilgrimage: 2013 2015 and 2017 And if we read the remaining NT in order, as I am inclined to, incl John, but less Acts (hard to enrich at 2verses/day) and Romans (texted last year), at 2 verses a day, 6 days a week, we'll return to the Mount of Transfiguration at 1Pt1v16 in something like August 2022. DV.
⬇ "we are here.." and it is "good that we are here.." says Peter. Here. Is it good? I'm a bigly fan of the notion that we should be a "We are here and this is now" sort of a people https://goo.gl/soc7zn Over against nowhere places, placeless places, escapism and the virtualisation of place. We should be here, and very here. Fully present and exclusively present. Phones away at the dinner table. Here, in your constitutive finitude and glorious singularity. Be here. And take time and make time for your hereness. Fabricate an architecture of undistraction.
⛩ But, ever so subtly, Here, which is better-than a nowhere, becomes better-than a somewhere else, here-by-comparison. Here becomes not just the holy ground of God's universe, but holier-than ground, superstitious sacred space. Weaponised hereness. Protectionist parochial localism's narrow horizon and bland racism. Siloed thinking inside a familiar box. A go home stay home theology of fortified castle hereness. Here-huddled in a shrine to the self-related stasis of the eternal present. A shelter in the storm, pausing muting harried time. A symbol of your status, that you have arrived, forever preserved in a gallery of your own making.
🥫 Wherever your here is, it is in relation to everywhere else and everytime else. There is no pickling of the god-encounter, no backup here-and-now, no caging of the spirit, no resting on your laurels. The Kingdom is a happening, perpetually. Architecture serves this only as it is nimble and hospitably allocentric.
Lk9v35-36 "And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone." I have been trying to imagine what this moment might have been like for Jesus. Trying to imagine gospel stories from Jesus' perspective is not natural to me, especially in stories like this one, in which Jesus seems so particularly divinely Other. It seems too presumptuous to try to psychologise Jesus, I much more naturally imagine myself into the perspective of the confused disciples in this scene. But I am increasingly convicted that trying to think-into Jesus' perspective in the gospels is an essential for us if we are to take seriously what it is to be in-Christ. This resistance to trying to imagine-into the consciousness of Jesus betrays a shallow view of the incarnation, I think, and a failure to engage our already-true union-with-Christ. Jesus did not fall into the world in full God-consciousness, as though he was chuckling to himself in the manger but playing stupid for camera. Jesus, in full humanity, shows us what it is to develop into full God-consciousness perfectly, and for this reason is our model for our own union with God, which we only ever manage in part. What was it like for him to be on this Mount of Transfiguration? Where would he place this in his story, if he were bearing witness to the work of the Holy Spirit throughout his life? How did he experience his transfiguration? There are indeed unanswered questions here, but I am drawn to this line about his being found alone. The moment on the Mount is a moment in which Jesus draws on the resource of the law and prophets that have gone before him, where he is prophetically open to the direct word of God, and where he is witnessed by those he loves. But he is also singled out as an individual, he also stands alone, he also surely must have felt the weight of his life and calling in that moment when the voice had spoken and he was found alone. So too we, in taking up the consciousness of Christ, must know ourselves surrounded by tradition, scripture, community and direct access to the divine through prayer, but we must also know ourselves called out as individuals, know that we cannot hide in the crowd, we cannot simply hope for the best - we are each called to a specific, irreplaceable standing before God, in which, in this sense, we find ourselves alone - that is, that no-one else can live it for us.
Lk9v37-38 👨👦 In this story, I am the son. "a great crowd.. ..my only son" Crowd:Only child. Ratio-nise that. Jesus loves y'all the 99 sheep, but I'm his favourite. Particularly partial selective election. A homing missile honing in on a singular target. The necessarily and constitutively tragic only-child, our only hope [Obi Wan], the last remaining last posted last chance saloon, the cake-or-death, the all-or-nothing at-all-costs one-and-only. God goes after the one that I am, the one lost coin, the one lost sheep, the one prodigal son. You are in his laser sights, the crosshairs of his affection.
👨👦 In this story, I am the father. "I beg you.." And so, this nameless man from the crowd cries out, desperate. A desperate prayer by a father on the brink. This is fatherhood? A task bigger-than you, a unconscionable risk, fathering qua fathering, in the fathering of anything, biologically, spiritually, conceptually. In fathering, we bear responsibility for an other in a context of chaos, in the face of entropy, in spite of our inestimable wickedness, we would dare to father foolishly, apart from Christ. Apart from an immersed and involved, interfering God who bears all and who hopes all and who can heal all, and who works all things for good. We, reckless fathers, bringing forth risk in a roulette of life. I beg you, teacher: Look. At. My. Son.
Lk9v39-40 Evil spirits. E preached on evil spirits last night as we looked at Saul's torment in 1Sam18, concluding with Jm4v7-8, in the Message paraphrase - 'Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time.' After a week where the elusive and vague sense of 'spiritual attack' is in the mix there, wound in with up with sin, sickness, ordinariness and so on, this is how I choose to start the week - a quiet yes to God.
Lk9v41-42 "Generation" What is our generation? What is this Gen Y, Gen Z characterised by? What adjectives would Jesus use, if he were to address us corporately? We watched Hypernormalisation a few days ago. We are faithless and twisted in an organised fashion, on an epic scale, we each and all are collectively and collaboratively complicit in the disorder and injustice, benefactees of violent corruption, willing participants in the charade of government. Perverse and perverted, tawdry internet players and pliable internet pawns, we ape faith in an opaque soup of utter subjectivism, infinite selfishness, unlimited pessimism. // "How long shall I suffer you?" (KJV) Jesus suffers us. As should we, as we face our generation. To be Christ to the world, we weather a dose of this generation as an active choice, putting ourselves in harm's way, in difficulty's path, putting ourselves into the lives of others whose pain is pronounced, whose thoughts, words, deeds are a suffering to you.
Lk9v43-44 There are forms of wonder which don't "sink into the ears", in the ESV's quite lovely translation. There are forms of worship which don't get under the skin, don't stay, don't stick, don't transform. I find myself frustrated that, after, say, a week of insight, worship and unanxiety, it often seems that I am liable to have a week of being out-of-joint and even worse than before. Maybe sometimes some of this is spiritual pushback, but often it's that I've been marveling at Jesus' actions without letting Jesus' words - words about suffering - to sink into my ears, into my skull and my muscles and my core. And so when the marveling falls away, there's little I'm left with, little I can really think about or practice, little I actually understand. And interesting too, looking ahead to tomorrow's verses, that a lack of understanding in the disciples seems to be the soil into which petty arguments between them emerge. Failing to allow Jesus' words to penetrate deeply beyond surface joy leads to a frustrated sense of one's own weakness - a sense of tasting but not really getting it, and while confusion can lead to humility, if it's confusion borne of a superficial posture then it's more likely to lead to hubris, and a desire to prove that at least I get it more than the other disciples. Inattention leads to shallowness leads to confusion leads to posturing leads to oneupmanship.
Lk9v45-46 😱 "..they were afraid.." 😤 "..an argument .. as to which of them was the greatest.." The severity of Jesus' kindness, fearsome grandeur of his love, utter sheer supreme cosmic power in a frail mortal frame. The disciples, as we, are seeing but not seeing it. We see what we want to see, we live in dreams of our own making, projections of the myths we've inherited, immune to the new, inspite of the data, staring down eternity, we in our infinitely limited ambition, choose to play games of distraction to reinforce unsurprise to keep the calm and carry on. It is the same self-related unheroism, which is blind to the Christ, that also motivates our petty, chaotic and combative being in the world. Choosing not to see Christ, choosing a blander world which I author and control, in which I am the greatest. Default narcissism leaves we each as insecure primates merely jostling in a dominance hierarchy. The disciples here are written as pantomime cliches, a fumbling muppety dullard chorus. Such am I, in my subjectivism, in my willed self-pity, in my word games, in my lack of boldness, fearful so fractious, competitive and uncontrite. The disciples are written as portraits of me, as a manifesto that God uses such as these, redeems such as these with a cosmic purpose of unblinding detimiding substantialising into the new man.
Lk9v47-48 Whoever welcomes this child, whoever receives this child. Not - whoever idolises children, or the abstract concept of intergenerationality, or the status of parenthood, but whoever receives children for their sake. And not just 'a child' in Jesus' words, but 'this child' - specific, particular vulnerable, those children in your world which you have been tasked with caring for, training, witnessing to, modelling for. Receive them. Welcome them, for their sake, and in Jesus' name. This, Jesus' tells us, is the antedote to pride, comparison, overthinking and posturing. This is a secret doorway to receiving God.
Lk9v49-50 🤦♂ Discipling is one long facepalm. Unfit for purpose to an unbelievable degree: they crudely didn't understand the mission (wanted to settle in tents v33), ineptly couldn't do the how-to (couldn't cast out demons v40), deafly couldn't grasp the explanation (didn't let these words sink in v44), divisively attacked each other (least vs greatest v46), jealously attacked supporters (tried to stop him v49), vindictively attacked detractors (wanted to call down fire v50). // On 11th March, I'm preaching 1Sm25 at St Marks, which is a (currently quite opaque ~ help!?) study in two pathologies: David vs Nabal (ft Abigail's Kendall Jenner Pepsi Ad), the impetuous vs the cowardly, the wreckless vs the feckless, the sadistic vs the masochistic, the aggressive vs the apathetic, the insecure vs the insecure. The world is run by such as these, we are such as these, Jesus calls into his special service such as these, you will live amongst to nurture and disciple such as these. We, and they, are not merely ludicrously underqualified for spiritual service, but dangerously illsuited to this responsibility. // None of this stops Jesus persevering with such a ragtag gaggle, and til today he is still in relentless pursuit of your substantial flourishing, your very real adventure, your ever fuller redemption, and by these, his glory.
Lk9v51-52 "Set his face" Set. Meditating this morning that "set" evokes both readiness and resolve, stable conviction and willingness to move. Listening to a lecture last night about personality traits and proclivities towards liberalism/exploration of the new/openness/free form vs conservativism/preservation of the good/boundaries/systematising, there are virtues and vices in both proclivities. Often I trade in the vices of these two leanings - self-preservation on the one hand and inconsistency on the other, but as Jesus set his face for Jerusalem, he demonstrates what it is to be well-ordered and consistent as well as open and compassionate. Let us learn from the master.
Lk9v53-54 Jesus, elsewhere, in the grainfield, draws a *parallel* between *Jesus+Disciples* (holybread with his 'mightymen': Lk6v3) with *David+Mightymen* (holybread: 1Sm21v1-6, with his mightymen!: 2Sm23v20etc) 🔥 "tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them.." Lk9v54 ⚔ "God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him." 1Sm25v22
🤢 *Disgust --> Fire* David vs Nabal, disciples vs villagers, religiouse vs irreligious, older brother vs younger brother, pharisees vs sinners.. Having previously thought of David vs Nabal in terms of revenge in a conflict of egos, I have found it interesting this morning to read these characters and their scorched earth annihilation bids through the lens of Jonathan Haidt's Moral Disgust. There is necessarily a trajectory towards genocide in the religiouse mind, and it stems from disgust. Whereas you run or freeze in the face of Fear, in the case of Disgust you have to destroy or expel the infection, drown the witches, swat the cockroaches ~ an evolutionary advantageous intuition to the herd/tribe against pathogens from the outside which is a disposition which should be held-in-tension or counter-balanced by others in a tribe who have more of a trade-openness trait.
🏛🔥 *Political Fire* If we can extend calling down fire beyond mere personal vendetta, into the realm of a socio-political disgust-motivated purification, does Jesus/Abigail help us live wisely in the context of disgust-motivated protectionism and polarisation from Left and Right in contemporary politics? [The Right's brexit and other exits, draining swamps, building walls, witchhunting such as Hilary? The Left's no-platforming, siloed safe-spacing, pronoun-coercing, witchhunting such as Damore?]
👨👩👧👦🔥 *Personal Fire* If we can extend calling down fire beyond mere personal vendetta, into our own disgusted lives, how does this exchange inform my own life and my attitude to others? David was the annointed King, just as we are princes in the Kingdom, we are the smug elect, the Chosen-One tropes. I comport myself to Weinstein, as to Nabal, as to sinners Lk18v11: "Thank God I'm not like one of those.." It is not untrue, but it is a selective truth, because I deserve fire doubly for my selfrighteousness, for my embezzling the gospel, and neglecting the calling I had.
*Why Fire?* "the people did not recieve him.." Lk9v53 // "Who is David? .. Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?" 1Sm25v10-11
🙊 Both candidates for the fire are guilty of a refusal to offer hospitality. Rudeness which vandalises the gift economy, it is an affront to the dignity of the person, but most interestingly, inhospitality is a passive sins of neglect or omission. Nabal didn't do anything, the villagers didn't do anything. So me and my absenteeism, my lack of adventure, sins of cowardice and silence, rightly deserve fire from heaven.
✝ *Why inhospitality?* The text says explicitly, "the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem." We know. We already know. We are without excuse. Life is suffering, the Christian life is suffering, it gladly pays the exorbitant cost of discipleship, which is suffering, which is Jerusalem - the nexus of personal and political utter suffering. Which is why Luke goes on in v57-62 to lay out the costs. For Nabal the cost was trivial, barely taxing his considerable wealth, and yet even then, he chose inhospitality, as I do, out of pride.
Lk9v55-56 I have been calling down a lot of fire. Jesus rebukes me. He lets me stay with him though, and we go on to the next village together. I don't know how to relate to him now though, I am not someone who knows easily what to do with rebuke. It feels like the world has caved in, it feels so shameful. It feels perpetual and that it will always be remembered. I'll always be that kind of disciple. I don't want to look at him. I hate him for showing everyone how wrong and stupid I am. I can slink through with the rest of the pack but my rebuke alienates me and sticks to me. I think I've definitely used up my 70x7 by now. Apparently Rm8v39 and all that, but it doesn't feel like love after rebuke. Pray for me, and we all, to grasp the shape of Jesus love, to want it rather than resisting it, to believe in his love and not to disbelieve, to surrender to his love and not to abstract it. Pray for Eph3v14-20 actually really, there is no other way I will be transformed.
Lk9v57-58 🦊🐦 This is one of those passages which is at risk of being entirely swallowed by caveats:
🚫 We worship a homeless man who lived in obscurity and died young! But. It's wrong to despise the good gift of housing, place, rootedness, hospitality..
🚫 We worship a homeless man who lived in obscurity and died young! But. It's wrong to fetishise homelessness, to promulgate poverty porn, and so abdicate responsibility to steward..
And by these caveats we are prudently insulated by legitimately framing homelessness as merely proverbial, merely an argument from hyperbole. We don't literally give everything away Lk18v22, we don't literally hate our parents Lk14v26.. And so we miss the adventure.
🏘 What is a home? - a default gift. Foxes have them, birds have them. Your heavenly father knows what you need. We live in a context of abundance. There are far more beds than people in London. It is only by injustice and incommunication that anyone should have to go without. I am reluctant to say it is a human right, but it is a basic condition like sunlight. We assume housing, slowly formed, gradually embellished habitations built with a sense of proportional opulence that is consistent with the abundance we have, and the truth that it is more blessed to give it away into a thriving civic commons. Why settle for mere housing. Foxes have them, how much more valuable are you, more capable are you, more adventuruous are you. You are called to exceed the default.
🏰 What is a home? - a limit condition. Homeliness, domesticity, the great indoors, stuffy, stultifying, the umbilical infrastructure of NIMBY conservativism, fortresses of privilege, status quo status symbols, safety deposit boxes in the sky, a ball and chain for the card carrying unadventurous class, the landed riche. I have advocated weaponised housing and aggressively intentional hospitality, not as a nice-to-have, but on the grounds of basic self-preservation for my soul. A home is a sticky idol, a kettle of self-relation, the perfect culture tray for me to believe my own hype within the toxic interiorty of my own empire. It must be othered, it must be for something, it must be cracked open, as that is how the light gets in.
Lk9v59-60 Who was this person to whom Jesus said 'follow me'? I assume this was someone on the road rather than one if the existing band of disciples. There is no conclusion after this tiny two sentence exchange - what did this person do? Did he follow Jesus, leaving the dead behind, or did this loud and competing impulse win out? Interesting that Jesus uses two totally different approaches to the person of v57-58 and to this person of v59-60. The first, boldly insisting that he has what it takes to follow Jesus, is countered with active questioning and indeed dissuasion on Jesus part, with J listing reasons not to follow him, highlighting the cost, probing as to whether the confident assertion has weight. This fellow, on the other hand, presumably sorrowing the recent death of his father, Jesus directly tells and encourages to follow him. In both cases there is something both unrelatingly uncompromising yet deeply invitational in Jesus' words, but they are very different approaches. Jesus has no formula. Jesus knows what people need, Jesus knows what you need. He does not want your professed but cheap alliance, nor does he want you to count yourself out because of your sadness. He challenges you. He invites you. He knows where you've come from. He wants you in truth.
Lk9v61-62 "I will follow you, but first.." 🔜 Christianity is urgent. No ifs no buts, urgent. Christianity is urgent. Christianity is antithetical to the dulled conscience and pawing noodling procrastination of extended adolescence. Christianity is urgent. Christianity's time is now, because the disaster looms. Christianity is urgent because suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. Christianity is urgent because if you don't help, Jordan Peterson's cult will.
"looks back is unfit for the Kingdom.." Christianity is urgent. Christianity is a headlong plunge into real life, confronting evil, contending with powers, setting captives free. Christianity is urgent. Christianity is unsentimental, unnostalgic and unnerving. Christianity is urgent. Christianity requires white-knuckle courage and demands a self-examination that is viscerally uncomfortable and a world-facing that is acutely dangerous.
Urgency and timing in Christian rhetoric swings between an “if you were to die tonight..” and leaving things “to the Lord’s timing” ~ the former being timing only in the most ultimate sense the latter contributing to Christianity-as-hobby religion – rarely an informed sense of the intermediate urgencies of current social calamities in waiting.
Christianity is urgent. This is the life we get to live, the freedom we get to free, the substantial and fully present life in its fullness which is unpostponable, which is rich in every minutiae, with exuberant grace in every circumstance, with unflagging compassion and uncompromising justice and uncounted mercy and unstoppable generosity.
👨🌾 This plough must move forward to turn the soil.