The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene
2950 Laurel St. At W. 14th Ave.
Vancouver, BC, V5Z 3T3
Office hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10:30 am -
Wednesday 7:00 pm
Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada
February 24th Epiphany 7, 2019 John Marsh
Last week we heard the beginning of the ‘sermon on the plain’, Jesus’ proclamation of the beatitudes…
This week, the sermon continues, Jesus speaking of ‘kingdom values’, truthfully, speaking a theopoetic madness …
The ‘sermon on the plain’ in Luke and ‘the sermon on the mount’ in Matthew, lie close to the heart of the kingdom of god, the coming kingdom at the core of Jesus’ teaching…
As for the coming kingdom, is this a reign to come sometime in the future, is its coming close at hand, perhaps partially realized, its coming yet to be fully realized? Scholars have argued forever and, as the argument waxed and waned, the message, the madness stirring within god’s reign, was shelved, eternal life taking centre stage, with eternal destinations proclaimed and threatened…
With the advent of recent biblical scholarship, the kingdom of god has been removed from the library stacks, dusted off, presented again as if for the first time as the core of Jesus’ teaching, raising, once again, for those easily distracted, the question of timing…
Yet perhaps it’s best to say that timing is unknowable, that the reign of god is a matter of faith, hope and love, taking seriously the foolishness of god, a god risking the hot mess of the world, refusing to abandon life to the fractiousness of normal…
Perhaps it’s best to say that the kingdom of god is a matter of response, living as if god reigned, risking the hearing of a justice call, the madness of response to calls of hospitality, compassion and love, embodying, endeavouring to express, despite our incompleteness, our best selves, perhaps the madness of divine vision…
Perhaps the kingdom of god is an unconditional, an insistence haunting heart and mind, troubling souls with bodies, bodies hurt and harmed, bodies blind and starving, bodies impoverished, outcasts, outsiders, those on the out…
Perhaps, following the madness of Jesus, we could open to a risk, risking response to a kingdom call, calls in which love of god and love of neighbour are the summary of the law, the sum effect of Torah, to which all else, no matter how sacred in people’s eyes, how traditional, how prudent, is flexible, conditional, requiring deconstructive discernment, discerning responses to better honour kingdom calls to love the unlovable, embracing the politics of stretching and straining to respond to those impossible to love, a politics maddeningly astir in rising to a challenge:
It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if…1
…if, people of faith responded, living out faith in a god stirring within biblical witness, a god refusing to give up on the world, a god wholly emptied into the world; if people of faith risked living, as best they can, ‘the madness of kingdom’, the foolishness of god, risking forgiveness, mercy, generosity, hospitality…
Yet, is it not madness to read such a gospel on a day of an annual meeting, a day directed to practicalities of reports, budgets and nominations?
Is it not madness to hope that ‘kingdom values’ may be astir within practicalities, surfacing, perhaps, in decisions made?
Is this not foolishness?
Truth be told, I’m not holding my breath, yet hope persists, work calls…
1 From, In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? By Charles Sheldon. Quoted in What Would Jesus Deconstruct? By John Caputo, p.21.
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