Sunday, April 21, 2013

Identity: Profound Power

Identity: Profound Power Found

The bombings in Boston in 2013 forced upon us scenes both horrific and heroic.  The loss of life and limb were up against the acts of compassion and justice.

In the face of tragedy, it was stark our need to identify the suspects.  Two methods were note worthy.

One was “crowd sourcing” where the authorities asked the “crowd” (you and I) for our data (video, cell phone pics, ATM images, traffic cam takes).  Applying thousands of people hours, the authorities identified suspect images.  These images were given to the “crowd” with the question “do you know them?”  We gave our response and the suspects were initially identified and we all felt a modicum better.

Second was the curiosity of an individual.  When the all clear was sounded in his neighborhood, a sole person crept from his house to explore and discovered a blood stain on his boat.  His curiosity led him to lift the tarp and discover the 2nd suspect.

Crowd sourcing and individual curiosity are amazing methods of discovery!

To the lectionary scripture text of today - John 10:22-30.

Jesus puts forward that those who follow know his identity / voice, and those who do not follow do not know his voice / identity.

To the point . . .

One way of knowing Jesus is crowd sourcing.  There are times and seasons when we are deaf to Jesus’ voice and blind to God’s appearance.  In those moments, we are invited to crowd source our brothers and sisters of faith, asking them if they have heard or have seen the ONE we follow.  To be in God’s flock is to have a host of angelic ones who can point the way, give glimpse to the God we crave.

Another is the curious individual who leaves the pew and sanctuary to quest for the risen savior.  The stories that inspire us most ... youth returning from church camp or mission trip, young adults reflecting upon habitat builds, ancestors sharing the faith that stands them well.  Jesus suggests, “we will believe when we do.”  Those who get up and follow will find.  

I would love to expound upon the character of the one we follow.  Jesus, our risen lord, is beyond our hope and imagining.  For the sake of space, I want to close by encouraging us to be curious individuals who look to the crowd when we are weak.  Let us journey well with our brothers and sisters of faith.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spark of Community

I like movie trailers.  Maybe it is because I don’t have the time or money to see all the movies I find interesting.  Maybe it is because watching a movie trailer is a quick break while working at my desk at the office or home.

“The Purge” will be coming out on Memorial Day weekend, starring Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder.   The premise is that our nation has been reborn with 1% unemployment and all time low crime rate because one night per year every crime is legal.  One night a year the emergency services of our nation are suspended, including police and hospitals.  All crimes, including murder, are legal for 12 hours.

What a fascinating idea.  Would not we be more kind to our neighbor if we knew that there was an annual big trash pick up day for our bent up anger?  Would not we be more generous to our co-worker, fellow commuter, stranger homeless person we pass on the way to church - if we knew that one night a year all those people could track us down and harm us with no consequences?  I assume these are the questions of the movie rather than it being merely a foil for another horror flick.

Upon reflection, this is simply the opposite ethic of the gospel.  The movie seems to purport an ethic of do unto others so they won’t do unto you.  The golden rule is to treat each others as you wish to be treated.

Rather than leverage the lowest common denominator, the base immorality - the gospel of Jesus Christ reaches to the depth of our created being for that spark of divinity glowing within all God’s children.

Contrast another movie theme ... that of Lord of the Rings and the relationship of Frodo and Gollum.  How often does the faithful Sam question Frodo’s kindness toward the creature Gollum?  Sam knows the obsession in Gollum’s twisted being.  Frodo’s response is innocent, naive, and gospel-like.  Frodo is kind to Gollum because Frodo sees his own brokenness (to a different degree) in the brokenness of Gollum.  If Gollum is un-lovable, un-redeemable, irreconcilable, beyond salvation - then so is Frodo.  

I hope that “The Purge” is at least in part a critique or reflection upon our experience of community.  If it is not, I recommend a different read ... Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.