Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

If you have followed us for long, you probably understand that sometimes (? all the time ?), writing these reflections give us the opportunity to work out our personal demons.

And in that tradition...here goes:

Amy Delong, ordained United Methodist Elder who has lived in a loving and committed relationship with another woman for 15 years, has been on trial with the church. She was charged with two violations of church law as an ordained Elder - one being an avowed homosexual living in a relationship, the second having conducted a commitment ceremony for another gay couple in 2009. As this is written, the jury has delivered a split verdict, finding Amy innocent of the first charge and guilty of the second.

There is a movement afoot in the United Methodist church. A lot of people think that the church's rules about homosexuality are wrong. A lot of people think homosexuality is wrong and therefore the church should have rules. As a global church, the rules of the United Methodist church are built by people living with diverse cultural norms. The dialogue has been going on for a long time. Both sides probably have moments of thinking there is an obviously dominant solution to all of this. But only one thing is clear...there is NO clear answer. And all of this is the divided moral compass of just ONE community. Most of us belong in some way to many, many different communities.

It's all so messy. Life is SO messy.

The is no ONE answer to solve complicated and messy situations. However, there are opportunities for each of us to find ways to love each other and love ourselves in small areas and corners of the larger situations.

Our scriptures this week plunge us into the messiness of a life with God. Our Year A tour through the Israelite history has us reading a difficult story in Genesis about Abraham and Isaac. Remember that Abraham (born Abram) and his wife Sarah (born Sarai) agreed to follow God where he would lead them, and in exchange, God has committed to make of them a great nation. Even from the point of this covenant forward, Abraham and Sarah lead messy lives with messy moral dilemmas. In this week's reading, God has asked (told) Abraham to take his beloved son Isaac and offer him as a burnt sacrifice. Now Isaac is Abraham's only legitimate son...and God has promised great things to come from Sarah and Abraham's family. Imagine Abraham's confusion. But Abraham goes. He makes the journey to Moriah, Read this text. And then read it again. It is a skillfully told story with Abraham leading an unsuspecting Isaac along. Isaac is carrying the wood and Abraham the fire. Isaac asks about the lamb, and Abraham responds, God will provide the lamb. It is a story that gives us chills. And just as Abraham draws his knife, an angel calls him back. He passed the test.

The psalmist laments the very hardship of life...and fully expects God is present in the hardship. And the faithful soul rejoices amidst the lament for that!

In Paul's letter to the church in Rome, he is examining some of the messiness of our human nature. He has a bit of a concern that the promise of God's grace in Christ's death and resurrection may lead some to a life of sinfulness...because we're forgiven, right? He insists instead that we are sort of obligated by our union with Christ (through baptism) to be righteous - as sin free as we can manage. He knows that will be hard, that as humans we are slaves to something and we have to choose between being slaves to our sinful nature or slaves to our allegiance to God in Christ. Messy stuff.

Now certainly Jesus didn't speak the words selected from Matthew for this week's reading for the purpose of summarizing a discussion about the messiness of life with an assurance that messiness is ok - live into it and love others and you'll be ok. But hey, that's sure how it draws these passages together. Jesus also cuts through some of the complications it is easy for us all to get caught up in. We find ourselves wanting to make a huge deal out of things and we try to create a greater "system" around providing love and care, and Jesus sums it up with "
whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple -- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward." Life and circumstances are SO MESSY.....AND we can still love others with a simple gift of a cold cup of water.

And so...I suspect that everyone on all sides of that tricky trial have a chance to love each other in a variety of ways and certainly are still beloved in the eyes of God.

Life is messy.

God, so often we are desperate to see the BIG picture

We want to know THE solution

We want to solve ALL the problems.

And in that process

We forget it is not our

Responsibility to SOLVE

It is our responsibility to LOVE

In whatever way is in front of us.

May it be so in our lives

Each day.


© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.

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