Thursday, 15 June 2017

Curious things.

This morning I read some things that pique my curiosity. In the reading; Matthew 9:38-10:8, why would Jesus give Judas the same power and authority as the other disciples, tell them to 'go nowhere among the Gentiles, and why would the lectionary reading stop at verse 8?

1. Obviously this was written well after the fact because the writer includes an editorial comment that Judas was the betrayer. At the time Jesus commissioned the 12 to teach and heal, Judas was presumably a fully trustworthy member of the team. Later on in the story, at the last supper, Jesus seems to know who will betray him. He stops short of naming Judas, and he does nothing to prevent it. This is a curiously humbling story. Anyone of us, no matter what circles we run in, no matter what commissions, awards, or accolades we have had, could go sideways. Instead of condemning Judas and dismissing his story, I find a lot of value in the cautionary aspect. If we all realise that we are capable of the same misdirection/greed/ or whatever it was, we are more likely to be accountable, humble, and helpful to each other.

2. It is curious that Jesus would tell his disciples not to go into Samaria, not to go to the Gentiles, but to concentrate on the "lost sheep in Israel." This is intriguing on a few levels. One is, of course, that we think of Jesus as all-loving and inclusive. This jarring command to stick to Israel causes a reflexive "explain it away" mindset for us as we try to reconcile our idea of an inclusive Jesus with the exclusive words. I think, however, it is important for us to see Jesus as living within his culture. He too, has to deal with prejudices. (Then look at the turn around in Mat.. 28:16-20..."go and make disciples of all nations...") What has changed?

It is also interesting that he sends them to the"lost sheep" not to the leaders and important people. He's not very good at playing politics is he? Perhaps this example is important for us too. Very often in our organisations, and even our churches, the ones who get the attention are not the ones who are most needy. How can we empower those who aren't "lost" to spend their efforts on reaching out to those who are?

3. Finally, I'm not happy with the lectionary reading cutting off at verse 8-although I am pleased it didn't cut off at 7! Verse 7 emphasises proclamation and 8 is the practical work of healing and caring for those who need help. I'm glad to see proclamation and practise kept together, but it's still odd to cut this off mid paragraph. Jesus goes on here to instruct them on doing this good work without pay other than what is necessary-sufficient food and shelter. Perhaps this is the first notion of the central place that volunteerism plays in the community of faith!

What piques your curiosity?

This Sunday there will be a Father's Day Hymn Sing at First Mennonite instead of our regular service. Read Psalm 100 in preparation! Many of our people will travel down to Camp Valaqua for it's "Garden Party" and worship service. That's where I'll be!

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