Monday, November 12, 2012

Voting for a Lost Cause

Voting for a Lost Cause


As a disclaimer, I want to point out that this title for the sermon on Sunday, November 11 was chosen prior to the election on November 6.


The text for the sermon is Mark 12: 38-44. I want to propose that at the center of this text is the question, "How close are you to the kingdom of God?"


Leading up to verses 38 to 44, we read in chapter 12 of Mark that Jesus is approached by good religious folks like the Chief Priests, Elders, Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees. Finally, we have a scribe approach Jesus. Unlike the trap questions from the other religious folks, this scribe asks a genuine question, "Which commandment is first of all?"


Jesus answers, first by  quoting the Shema, "Hear, O Israel". In his answer, he speaks of One God. Israel is to show the fullness of love to God with heart, life, strength, and intelligence. Then, Jesus makes this connection. Given to loving God fully in this way leads one to love strangers in the same way one loves his or her dearest friends.


His answer is orthodox and consistent with Rabbinic writings of later decades. The scribe compliments Jesus' answer.


To the scribe, Jesus responds, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." Thus, the root of the question asked above, "How far are you from the kingdom of God?"


If he is not far, but still not there, what is the stumbling block?


So, to answer the question, "How far is God's kingdom from you?" we must use our spiritual imaginations to recognize the stumbling blocks. These stumbling blocks can be discovered by reviewing the questions asked of Jesus by the religious leaders earlieer in chapter 12 of Mark.


The blogs this week will look at these stumbling blocks:


1. Religious ritual, intended to prepare one to be in the presence of God, can become a way of keeping the faith community insulated from the diversity of the world.


2. We can fall into the trap of believing that the American system of government is the fullest expression of God's kingdom, but can the two be considered identical?


3. Our ideological battles can lead us to conclude that our world view is the fullest expression of the Word of God. Put into play in the political system, these ideologies have the capacity of conviction through the law, but not conversion of the heart.


We will conclude the week by looking at the move from sitting and critiquing systems, to being a converted person whose faithful presence changes the system in which the person finds him or herself.


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