Based on: Luke 13:10-17
Written By Rev. Kris Russell, Associate Pastor
In his delightful and bracing book, “The Gospel of Inclusion” Brandon J. Robertson states the following:
Read parts of pages 5, 6 and 7 in Robertson’s book.
The Christian churches also have heterosexual sexual abuse struggles going on. The Catholic church seems to be the most obvious but the disease has touched other denominations as well. This is not to say that abuse and struggle are confined to the corporate church but the evidence is in. Religion hurts people. Young people, disabled people, lgbtqia people, divorced people, homeless people, migrant people, mentally ill people, addicted and recovering people. Corporate religion has a long history of abuse, neglect, colonialism, murder, war and apathy. Some days I’m ashamed of the epithet Christian and refer to myself as Spiritual. So what do we do about all this abuse and ugliness? Do we throw the baby out with the bath water as it were? No I don’t think so. We do what we are called to do. We go to Jesus.
Listen to this quote from Kurt Struckmeyer in An Unorthodox Faith; “What many people do not realize is that the church with its structures, dogmas, and doctrines is Plan B. Jesus did not seek to found a new religion centered on rites, rituals, buildings and clergy. Instead, he proclaimed the inbreaking Kingdom of God, the reign of God here on earth—a vision of the way the world would be if a god of love governed our common life. Moreover, he taught a way of living consistent with that vision. To be faithful followers of Jesus is to return to Plan A.”
Our gospel today is a wonderful little example of Jesus teaching Plan A. He goes to the temple as he always does on the Sabbath. As a practicing Jew teaching on the Sabbath is part of his job if you will of being a rabbi. On this day he comes across a woman who was bent over probably from arthritis and heals her there and then. The religious authorities are aghast that he has done this on the Sabbath and call him on it. He rebukes them with logic and goes along his way. Jesus always called out the religious elite and called them on their own hypocrisy and sin. This is not the first time in scripture that Jesus does this on the Sabbath. There are numerous accounts in the New Testament of Jesus breaking the rules to uphold the Kingdom of love.
Has the church hurt you? Have you been wounded by the corporate church? If so I apologize and I invite you to enter into the life of the radical rabbi Jesus and let go of the pain and follow him to fulfillment. Jesus took the rules and the regular and turned them upside down. Let’s look at a few examples of this practice. I got this list from a meme on Facebook and I just love it. Here it is; Jesus broke through the empty rules and regulation of His day with acts of kindness: Let’s go talk with a mixed race woman at the well. Let’s heal on the Sabbath. Let’s forgive this woman caught in adultery. Let’s break up this funeral with a resurrection. Aren’t those wonderful? All those examples of Kingdom love calling us to change the paradigm and heal in the face of power and authority.
The woman at the well. She was a Samaritan, a group that the Jews didn’t get along with and Jesus asked her for a cup of water and then offered her water that would quench a life-long thirst. She is at first taken aback, then questions him about the living water and finally goes and tells all about this amazing master. Jesus breaks the rules about the stranger living in our land and offers a living water that follows us to eternity. We are all better for this exchange and are called to offer the living water to the thirsty in our midst.
The woman caught in adultery. Again Jesus is confronted by the religious authorities about a matter of law and policy and not only does jesus call them on their own sins and foibles but lets us know his view on capitol punishment. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. No one can cast a stone, I know I can’t. He then helps the woman up and sends her on her way healed. Can we do less than heal the wounded? Jesus stands up for the fallen and asks us to do the same.
The widow had no future. Her only son was dead and she, a woman was in a bad situation in first century Palestine. Jesus stopped the funeral procession and proceeded to resurrect her son turning mourning into joy. He touched an unclean funeral and gave life back to the dead. Again he played against the rules and regulations and brought forth the kingdom of love and light. Let us go forth and resurrect the dead hopes and dreams of those who come to us with no future. We can give them a future imbued with the love of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus always brought the Kingdom of a loving God in direct conflict with the dogma of the day. Plan A. the work of Jesus is to bring kingdom love into the dogma of our day. No matter what the corporate church tells us if it doesn’t bless and uplift the children of God which includes every single person we are to go the way of the Kingdom and bring love and healing rather than dogma and ritual. Ritual and dogma are good in themselves but when they pull us farther and farther away from healing the masses we must reject it.
I’d like to share the words of one last internet find with you before I close for today. This is again from Kurt Stuckmeyer’s An Unorthodox Faith. These are the nine key teachings of Jesus that have nothing to do with dogma or rules. The nine teachings are
Can we practice these teaching every day? Can we heal the wounds of the corporate church and bring people into the radical love of the Kingdom? Let us try friends, let us try! Amen
Diana Hunter is our Senior Pastor;