Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

This morning we are presented with a challenging juxtaposition. First, let us look at Titus.
But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:9-11)

Here we have a passage that is easily embraced by people on both sides of a controversy, since they (we) will usually opine that the other side caused the division. Since the Anglican Communion, to the world's entertainment and dismay, is caught up in quarrels about the law these days, it is easy to envision one's opponents as perverted and sinful and self-condemned. Again, this is a tendency for both sides.

I do believe both sides could save themselves a lot of fussing and grief by paying attention and simply leaving each other alone ("have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions"), but there are other passages in scripture admonishing us not to give up on folks. And that brings us to an oft-cited passage in the Fourth Gospel that shows up in today's Office lessons.
Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ (John 1:46)
Since this was also a Sunday Gospel not too long ago, one on which I preached, I will toss out the idea, as I did in my sermon, that we all have our Nazareths - those places, situations, and groups from which we expect no good thing. Our prejudices (pre-judgments) exclude being open to encountering God or grace or any good thing that might come to us from that direction.

The evangelist reminds us (as does Luke in the tale of the Good Samaritan) that this is precisely whence God - and hope and salvation - may come.

The wonderful part of this snippet of Gospel is that Philip says, "Come and see," and we next read that "When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him" he made his comments.

In other words, Nathanael set aside his skepticism in response to Philip's invitation and went to see anyway.

So even in our "opponents" or in our "Nazareths" we may yet find some grace.

Having said that, we all know I am more likely to have nothing to do with them.

Lent is a great time for thorny challenges.

Psalm 42 - sicut cervus (setting by Palestrina)

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB


Grandmère Mimi said...

Lovely music, very calming.

I can share the table with those on the "other side". I can agree to disagree, as long as we don't have to engage in endless and fruitless "discussions". I can trust God to sort it out.

Paul said...

Yes, Mimi. I too am comfortable dining at any table or the Lord's with folks who disagree vehemently with me, so long as we focus on what we share and aren't endlessly squabbling. "Fruitless" is le mot juste.

it's margaret said...

Brilliant! Thank you Paul!