Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sermon: And

Meditation for March 25, 2014 ~ 12:15 Wednesday
Third Wednesday in Lent
St. Philip’s In The Hills Parish, Tucson, AZ
The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse
For online access to the readings click here.
I speak to you in the name of One God, Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit. Amen

Lent.  A time to reflect. A time to be mindful.
A time to go deeper.

Today’s Gospel invites us deeper with this peculiar phrase:
“Do not think I have come to abolish the Law
or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

So what about our own laws and commandments?
How do we hold laws consistent while still holding space for mercy, compassion and love?

Last week at the AF on Private Prisons,
we learned that there are a number of laws
that have been sanctioned as “minimum time.”
That means the person who commits the crime,
regardless of circumstance, spends time in prison. 
As a result, our prisons are filling up.
And, there are cases and cases where the person’s situation
Challenges if “time in prison” is appropriate for their crime.

Can you think of other situations where the laws have been set down and followed regardless of any sense of mercy and compassion?


So you can understand how the disciples must have felt. Do we abandon the law, the prophets, the writings, the sacred scriptures that define who we are?

We hear Matthew’s community wrestling with
their own understanding of the relationship between
Christian discipleship and Torah obedience. 

During that time, the people pondered whether
the advent of the messiah meant that
the law had been abolished –
so here, the author of the Gospel reflects
who is Jesus vis-à-vis the existing Law and Prophets?

In a definite statement – the Gospel states
Jesus does not abolish –
but neither does he affirm the status quo.

Jesus is the both/and.

Jesus statement that he fulfills the law and prophets emphasizes that the whole scripture
testifies to God’s will and God’s work in history. 
This work and God’s will, as testified,
is not completely the whole picture –
it just points to the definitive act of God in Jesus.

This community held that the law and prophets are
to be obeyed not for what they are in themselves
but because they mediate the will of God. 

Jesus’ declared that this own life and teaching
was the revelation of the will of God.
Neither the written Torah
nor its oral tradition is the final authority.

Jesus reveals the will of God that is beyond…
beyond laws, beyond writings, beyond the prophets.

The good news is that Jesus is the both/and.
Jesus is the space between, the landscape beyond, the reasons why.

So for our Lenten reflection, today, we are invited by the Gospel to reflect.  To be mindful. To go deeper into through the mind of Christ and beyond seeming legal inflexibilities. 

God, in Jesus, is here, meeting us in our reflections, in our relationships, in our love, in our midst. 

In his book, “The Naked Now,”
Richard Rohr has a wonderful reflection called,
“The Shining Word “AND.[1] 

Here is an excerpt, to fuel your Lenten reflections this week:

“And” teaches us to say yes
“And” teaches us to be patient and long-suffering
“And” is willing to wait for insight and integration

“And” helps us to live in the always imperfect now
“And” keeps us inclusive and compassionate toward everything
“And” demands that our contemplation become action
“And” insists that our action is also contemplative

“And” heals our racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism
“And” allows us to critique both sides of things
“And” allows us to enjoy both sides of things

“And” is the mystery of paradox in all things
“And” is the way of mercy
“And” makes daily, practical love possible

“And” does not trust love if it is not also justice
“And” does not trust justice if it is not also love

“And” is the very Mystery of Trinity


[1] Excerpt from The Naked Now, 2009, page 180-181, cited at on March 25, 2014

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