In Luke’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, he stops and weeps over the city because they do not know the things that make for peace. Jesus also weeps for us and our country. Jesus models the way of peace with his humble, servant leadership. This reflects the heart of God and ushers in a dramatic cosmic shift that involves the whole creation. The very stones would cry out if his followers would remain silent and stop celebrating.
Like a congregation of barnyard geese, we can regale ourselves with stories of how far our ancestors had flown. But such remembering becomes perverse if it reinforces our present complacency and keeps us from being alert to present realities, being responsive to new opportunities, and from the potential for growth into yet-unrealized possibilities.
Some religious leaders were accusing Jesus of hanging out with some dodgy characters. Relating to such people as objects of our evangelism or social concern is one thing but partying and eating with them indicates an unsavory social acceptance of them. Jesus counters with three parables of rejoicing and celebrating because the lost has been found. Like the prodigal son, perhaps we all need to leave home in order to find ourselves.
Child dedication services are special because blessing a child puts us in touch with a divine mystery. The divine, which we name as “God” is not something that can be proved with airtight, rational arguments. There’s always a gulf between the divine mystery and our limited ability to comprehend and explain. Instead, as theologian Bryan Stone explains, “When truth and goodness are connected to beauty, faith comes alive.”
We need to come clean about the ways we have used scripture to silence and disempower those who have been abused. Part of the problem is our reluctance to admit that we and our people can be abusers. Being victimized doesn’t strip us of all power. As Denise Anderson, coordinator for racial and intercultural justice with the Presbyterian Mission Agency, says, “Even at the receiving end of someone’s bad behavior, I can control my own response. I still have agency.” Jesus’ teaching on loving my enemies is about using my agency in such situations. And if I’m the one who has done the slapping, it’s about putting myself at the mercy of the person I injured and how that person will use her or his agency.