So as I sip on what we talked about on Sunday, I can’t help but wonder about another saying we throw around a lot:
There’s two things for certain in life: death…and taxes.
Death. And Taxes. Nothing gets me out of bed in the morning like looking forward to that grim reality.
Why do we talk about life that way? It’s not just negative or cynical. After all, both of these are inevitable – it’s true.
But life isn’t just about death and taxes. If that’s what our days and nights consisted of…well…why bother living in the first place?
Surely there are other things we can count on – like the sun rising every morning, the stars shining at night, the breath that fills our lungs, to name but a few.
In a lifetime full of uncertainty and the twists and turns we can’t foresee that send us into a tailspin, it’s nice to have something you can count on. Perhaps that’s what’s really going on in the underbelly of that folk wisdom.
We like certainty and predictability precisely because when it seems like the ground is often shifting beneath our feet, it’s nice to have something to stand on.
As we mentioned on Sunday, the Pharisees aren’t the only people in the Gospel’s story that live defensively. Everyone Jesus meets, and I mean just about everyone, lives defensively.
The encounter with Jesus is an encounter with the living Word of God – with life itself. Life demands that if we want to be fully alive, we have to let go of pretending that living defensively is what we are created to do.
It means giving something up, so our hands really are free to take up the cross and walk. So that we are truly free to become fully alive by the possibility of what God’s tomorrow will hold.
Creation isn’t something that happened in the past. It’s ongoing. As we say in a New Creed – God created and is creating. What is God creating in you today? Are you clinging to who you were or are you becoming someone new?
When we live as if everything we do has to hold on to who we already are and what we already own, we ensure one inevitable conclusion. Like death and taxes, it’s an extinction agenda for a human organism.
Every part of creation is made to be fully alive, to grow, to risk, to reach out and explore.
I can’t help but wonder at how we see this dynamic playing out on the world stage with North Korea. We hear the defensive voice that’s wants to preserve “me and mine” over “you and yours” on all sides of this issue. If you do this, we’ll retaliate with that.
As a species, we’re remarkably flippant with the possibility of executing millions of human beings in a nuclear holocaust. Wow. It’s been just long enough for short human memories to forget what happened at Hiroshima.
Holding on to the idea that war and violence will yield a peaceable kingdom is ridiculous and ensures one inevitable conclusion: extinction – either of some or all creation. Human beings have been inherently defensive and violent for a long time. Isn’t it time for something new?
It’s a good thing you and I have encountered the Word of Life who calls us to come and follow a way out of the same defensive patterns that lead to the same dead ends that truly tax the human soul to the point that we can’t afford to pay anymore.
You can’t carry the cross if your hand is bunched up in a fist.
Look at your life today – what are you carrying? What do you need to take up? Do you have the courage to let go, and open your own hands to God and receive what’s even now, is being offered?
Mark 3:1-6Common English Bible (CEB)
Healing on the Sabbath
3 Jesus returned to the synagogue. A man with a withered hand was there. 2 Wanting to bring charges against Jesus, they were watching Jesus closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Step up where people can see you.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it legal on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they said nothing. 5 Looking around at them with anger, deeply grieved at their unyielding hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he did, and his hand was made healthy. 6 At that, the Pharisees got together with the supporters of Herod to plan how to destroy Jesus.
Wellington Call To Worship (Gathering Pentecost 2 2017 p. 24 by Robin Wardlaw)
Listen! Listen to the waters of creation.
Listen to the plants and trees.
Listen to the creatures who creep and walk and fly.
Listen to the ancient hills and colourful reefs.
Listen to their joy, their wisdom, and their grief.
Let’s bring to this place all the other places we’ve been.
Let’s bring to this time, all the moments of awe and beauty we’ve had.
And in all things, let us worship God.
Prayer For The Journey (All): In gratitude and humble trust, we make this road by walking with You. We’re grateful for the beauty of the earth, for the wonder of being human, for the blessing of all life. We’re humbled by the trust You place in our hands. You have shaped us in Your image, of what is good and true. We confess, we don’t always reflect the best of Your intentions. Help us to be wise in how we handle the holy things of life: our relationships with one another, with the earth, and with You. In all things, may we hold one another in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, who shows us the colour and the shape of what it means to live in Your love for everything and everyone. Amen.