Hung up on Politics?

For Passion/Palm Sunday this year, I read the entire Luke passages with somewhat of a dramatic reading. No sermon/reflection for Passion/Palm Sunday, just the Biblical narrative standing alone.  Then we held a  Tenebrae, or “shadows,” service on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, reading through the texts for the last supper and Crucifixion as recorded by the Gospel of John.

Easter Sunday we read the Lukan account of the road to Emmaus and reflected on that reading through the lens of a labyrinth/pilgrimage experience.

The following is the reflection from the Second Sunday in Easter, titled “Hung up on Politics?”

Two texts, each with incredible potential for Bible study or any number of sermons, and the Revised Common Lectionary put them both together on one day as part of the season of Easter. How is a preacher supposed to choose?

I’m like to briefly identify a few points from the Acts passage, and recommend to you to take some personal time for reflection and study to go deeper into the Gospel of John.

According to scholars, Luke-Acts was written by the same hand in two volumes close to 80-85 CE, roughly 50 years after Jesus rose from the dead and 10-15 years after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.   It was set down at a very fomenting political and religious time, and gives us a crucial picture of the earliest interactions of the new “Followers of the Way.”

Christopher Matthews writes, “Luke’s purpose in writing Acts cannot be limited to any one factor. Without doubt his general aim was to encourage the Christian community to have confidence in its future by looking at its past. This was accomplished by skillfully employing a genre that allowed for a captivating narrative comprised of a succession of both entertaining and didactic lessons. … Luke devoted considerable energy toward clarifying the Church’s relationship to both Jews and Romans.”[1]

Carlos Cardoza-Orlandi writes: “What does it mean to “obey God rather than any human authority” in today’s world? In the in-betweenness of multiple political forces, is there a way to discern God’s mission and invitation to co-participate in God’s salvation to creation?”[2] An intriguing question-especially in light of this election year when, at least in our context, the ultimate civil authority stands poised to maneuver its way into power.

In the biblical witness, the Spirit of the Living God is working miracles in the name of Jesus through these rag-tag disciples, side-stepping established authorities and religious bodies that have been in place now for hundreds of years. What is the meaning and impact of this? The establishment is feeling threatened, and so in their fear they flog these disciples of Jesus and forbid them to preach in his name.

The Easter message and response, however, is this: their threats and their abuse are useless.[3] God’s work cannot be hindered, and the work of the Holy Spirit cannot be contained. These disciples are about the salvific work of God Almighty, and nothing, not even the gates of hell can stand against God’s indwelling of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth where neighbor loves neighbor; where a community looks out after each other; where goods and property are shared in love with any in need, and where any God-fearers may worship the Almighty together, passing on the teachings of Jesus, their master and friend.

I wonder if we could draw a parallel between the biblical sitz im leben (place in time) and our own. The USA has become, in effect, a global empire not unlike Rome, having tentacles that, when pulled like so many strings, have ever widening ripple effects upon peoples and countries seemingly far removed from our own existence as citizenry tucked away in this little valley in the mountains. How do we respond and still be faithful followers of Christ?

One of the things we have in common with those disciples from long ago, is this: “even as absorbed as we are in the secular and religious norms of the beginning of the twenty-first century, we are to obey God rather than human initiative. There is no substitute for the faithful proclamation of the word….”[4]

No I must speak as a true Generation X’er: in our context today, think carefully as you prepare to vote your conscious in the election of the next president of this country; just in case your vote actually does count and we have an impact on the global empire of which we are a part – again, spoken as a true Gen-Xer.

Political commentary aside, w hat would it look like if we actually did love neighbor as ourselves? Envision it –  that is what we live for in preaching and proclaiming the reign of God.

May all glory be unto the one who lived, died, and rose again for us, even him who is the Christ, Amen? May it be so.

[1] Matthews, Christopher R. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, David Noel Freedman, Editor-in-Chief. © 2000 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 3.5

[2] Cardoza-Orlandi, Carolos. Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide.

[3] Sparks, O. Benjamin. Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide.

[4] Ibid.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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