Reflections on the Gospels from a Justice Perspective written for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church by members of the congregation

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Luke 13:31-35 Stereottyping

24 Feb. Luke 13:31-35      Stereotyping

I was surprised by today’s gospel.  The Pharisees actually came to warn Jesus.  I am so used to conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees that I have come to assume that Pharisees are “the enemy” with few to no redeemable qualities.   In short, I have transformed the persons called Pharisees into a stereotype of all that is arrogant and self-serving.   Now might be a good time to reflect on stereotyping and the injustice that emerges from our being both afraid of that which we do not know, and unwilling to obtain all of the information we would need to make fair judgments about people and situations. 

While stereotyping helps us understand our world in many positive ways, it also leads us to develop some prejudices, many of which we are not even aware.   When we find ourselves judging people and groups based upon our prejudices and stereotypes, we begin to treat them differently - we are engaged in discrimination.  Some forms of discrimination are obvious.   We are all aware of the pressures which were used to discourage minorities from living in various neighborhoods. Women and minorities have experienced discrimination in employment, education, social services, and their presence is missing from high echelon positions in the business world.  More subtle forms of discrimination separate “us” from “them” in our theology, in our politics, in the civility of our discourse.  Even more subtle forms revolve around all of the ways we choose “those just like us”  - from hiring practices to accepting volunteers on our committees.

How can we remember that we are not made God's people by our thinking alike or behaving alike? How can we remember that our response to the unconditional love of God must include  that unconditional love that is focused on preserving the minority opinion alongside the majority?  How can we love enough to choose to come together over and over again,  hang our certainty at the door and argue?  How can we love enough  to treat each other as colleagues who disagree rather than as adversaries… and argue?  How can we love enough to agree to keep coming back to the table, to  agree to disagree… and to keep arguing?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Luke's Transfiguration story (Luke 9: 28-36)

     I always empathize with Peter when I hear the Transfiguration story. Who wouldn't want to capture that moment of shining glory and certainty on the mountain and live there as long as possible? But the story is full of reminders that Peter is missing the big picture. Moses and Elijah are not congratulating Jesus on a victory already won, but talking about "his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem"– that is, his suffering and death. A week earlier Jesus himself told the disciples that the Messiah must be rejected and killed in order to fulfill his mission (Luke 9:21-22) and that his followers must take up their own crosses. Now the voice of God confirms the message: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"

     The Transfiguration is more than a temporary respite on the way to the cross, however. The memory of this shining, transcendent assurance of God's presence and grace must have sustained Peter and the other disciples during the hardest periods of their lives. Knowing the story can sustain us, in turn, as we embrace the work that God has given us to do. Like Peter, we are called to follow Jesus down from the mountain, back into the everyday world of struggling, confused human beings that he came to redeem. If we can see the glory of Jesus's example through the eyes of faith, we should be able to respond wholeheartedly when he calls us to share in his mission of redemption. If we can hope to be gradually changed by grace into the likeness of our Lord, we should have enough strength and courage to keep working against systemic injustice, undaunted even by big, complicated challenges like gun violence, global poverty, and climate change.