Groaning Won’t Get You There

Psalm 32:-11

What is happiness? Is it wealth? Or social standing? Or celebrity status? Or having power? Not so much! True happiness comes from wholeness and integrity. You are made whole again when your words or behaviors that caused a relational break with another are overtaken by a forgiveness that binds up wounds, heals the broken places, frees you from guilt and embarrassment, and sets the relationship on a new journey. Groaning won’t get you there; nor will theatrics or molly-coddling or pleading. First, you have to be honest with yourself; then, honest with the person you wronged. If you try to hide it at any level, its iniquity will leak out and do you in. On the other hand, when I pay heed to the insistence in the name of God (perhaps) and follow where it leads, I find refuge, a safe haven. I find myself protected from trouble and, yet, often in big trouble with the world. God’s calling beckons me to the Way, the Way of Yeshua that nudges and cajoles and invites me. Oh, yes, I can be mule-ish and hard-headed, needing to curb my quick and sardonic wit, tempering it with compassion. I have learned to trust myself; now the challenge is to trust in Yeshua and our mutual calling. That is true joy and great happiness!

A Messianic Wholeness

1 Peter 1:10-19

With regard to this concern for the wholeness of life (which is sometimes referred to as salvation), there has been a consistent message throughout our tradition — check out the messages of the prophets, listen to the rabbis. The insistence in the name of God (perhaps) has been present as a foretaste of the messianic or, as we might say, the Spirit of Christ. That insistence puts the messianic on the side of the poor and the suffering. You are to be on their side too, bring them into the reality of the commonwealth of peace and tender justice where the distinctions between black and white, male and female, Democrat and Republican, gay and straight, Arab and Jew, powerful and power-less, immigrants and residents… where those distinctions no longer are valued as if they were determinative of a person’s true worth.

So, get yourselves ready for the journey ahead. Decide what part of the calling is yours to perform and do it, always being supportive of others in the community whose calling is to another portion of the action. Be whole and wholesome as a person when you invite others into the messianic wholeness of the Way lived and taught by Yeshua that is the hallmark of the Commonwealth. It may at times feel as if you have been banished and are in exile. Don’t despair, that is exactly where Messiah dwells, where you will encounter the Presence of God. Perhaps. When you are aware of that Presence, it will be for you as if you have had a transfusion of life-giving blood. You will be renewed and the Way ahead will no longer seem futile.

If There is Resonance

1 Corinthians 11:17-34a

I want to address some issues that you are facing as a community — namely, the estrangement, disruptions, and disaffections that have been rearing their ugly heads among and between you. I have observed how the Lord’s Supper has become, for many of you, a competition to see who can have the most favored seat at the table or who can eat and drink the most. Belching drunkenness from some while others are being sent away with hollow, empty stomachs is affront to the one whom the sacrament commemorates. So, listen up! I am giving to you that which I have received — Yeshua took the bread; he blessed and broke it, and then said: “When you eat this sacramental bread or drink this holy cup you are touching upon the deeper meaning of life; and you make yourself available to the mystery of the presence of God. Perhaps. Some of you, however, share in the sacrament for the express purpose of improving your social status or out of a deep concern for being perceived as a high level Christian.

Here is my advice for you. Pay attention to your behavior. If there is resonance between your behaviors and those of Yeshua, if you are courteous when you come to the Lord’s Table, if your demeanor and conduct are harbingers of the arrival of the Commonwealth, then your witness is true and you need to make sure you are present with the rest of the community. If not, stay at home, and ‘pig out’ to your hearts desire. Just make sure that you aren’t an embarrassment to Yeshua and those who gather in the name of God. Perhaps.

A Strong Desire Deep Within

Psalm 130:1-8

Deep within me, O Lord, is a strong desire to hear from you. I want that unheard voice within me to sense your insistence, to hear your calling, to experience your nagging nudge. Without that I am undone and have no foundation upon which to build my life. Forgive my impatience; it is a sign of how important this is for me. I am waiting for a word to come in the name of God. Perhaps. Listening for that insistence in an unheard inner voice is more compelling than waiting for the sun to rise each morning. O Israel, O Church, put your hope in that calling that comes in the name of God. Perhaps. When it comes, it will require persistent love that transforms life. It calls forth a redeeming love that turns life inside-out and upside-down, a foretaste of the commonwealth of peace and tender justice.

Possessed by Possessions

Matthew 19:16-22

A young man came to Yeshua and said, “Good Teacher. I am looking for one good deed that I can do to be saved, earning eternal life. Can you point me in the right direction? “Your attention is focused on being ‘good.’ Instead, you need to shift your attention to living a meaningful life. You can do that by keeping the commandments.” “Which ones?” came the retort. Even though the young man was testing Yeshua’s patience, Yeshua calmly replied, “Don’t murder, commit adultery, steal, or bear false witness. Respect your parents and approach your  neighbors with honesty.” “You are describing me to a T,” said the young man, “am I missing something?” Yeshua said, “If you want to be a whole person who lives with integrity, divest yourself of those possessions that possess you. Sell them and use the money for empowering the marginalized. That will raise you into the presence of the eternal in the midst of your current life. Come and join me as I seek to follow in the Way that leads to abundant life.” It was all too much for the young man. He couldn’t conceive of parting with his possessions, for they really did possess him.

Your Insistence Coaxes Me

Psalm 138:1-8

I call for help, O Lord, and you continue to insist. I want you to resolve my issues, solve my problems, and you persist in nudging me to a higher calling, a deeper purpose. When my pride gets in the way, your Way challenges me to remember those who are lowly and humble. When I seek relief from troubles, your invitation troubles me to consider the plight of the least, last, lost, and left out. When I am tempted to forsake you, your insistence coaxes me to consider the commonwealth of peace and tender justice. It is in your insistence that I discern how my ways can reflect your Way; through your calling, that I find my strength. I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart.

“No, You Can’t!”

Isaiah 29:18-24

The very opposite of a positive response to insistence in the name of God (perhaps) is this: theological bullshit out of the mouths of those who claim to be faithful is a problem (might I even say, an abomination). What they think is wise is the kind of foolishness that will ultimately bring their downfall. Do you really think that you can get away with those scurrilous and offensive plans that you harbor in the dark recesses of your heart? Quite simply, the answer is “No, you can’t.” There are those whose discernment is not infused with selfish and/or evil intent. If you were a clay pot, the potter would likely turn you back into a lump of clay and start over. On the other hand, those who clearly hear God’s call (perhaps) and respond with integrity and faithfulness will bring light into the world’s darkness. As a result of their faithfulness, many will be able to hear that unheard inner calling in the name of God. Perhaps.

Favoring the Oppressed and Marginalized

Psalm 9:9-20

The insistence that comes in the name of God (perhaps) is always going to favor the oppressed and marginalized. It will be an outpost of support for the afflicted. That is one thing on which they (and you) can always count. Let your actions be a grand and glorious testimony to God’s commonwealth of peace and tender justice. Those behaviors won’t count for much among the structures of society, which is a radically different and far-reaching path, one that is destructive and immoral. It is a path that does not commend itself in the name of God.

Not a Panacea

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

As we cooperate in mission and ministry, let us not forget why we are working together. It is because we attend to that insistence which calls us to action in the name of God. Perhaps. That very insistence arises deep within us — individually and collectively — and shows us the Way of the commonwealth of peace and tender justice, which is our salvation. And it is all about ‘right now!’ Don’t get me wrong… the very fact that you have chosen to follow in this Way does not prove to be a panacea that removes all obstacles and troubles from us. We may actually end up having to show great endurance in the face of afflictions, beatings, calamaties, hunger, sleepless nights, and even imprisonment. Do not be overcome by these hardships. Instead, confront them with pure hearts, wisdom, compassion, truthfulness, and the kind of love that Yeshua demonstrated by his life and in his teachings. Keep your integrity, regardless of how you are treated by others. Do not permit them to kill your spirit. Instead, rejoice in the face of adversity. If you lack all that the world demands of you and remain in the Way, you will have everything that you need. I am being brutally honest with you so that you may open your hearts and minds to the fulness of abundant life.

“Here I Am, Send Me!”

Isaiah 6:1-8

I was in the temple as an insistence in the name of God (perhaps) came to me in a vision. I was so full of God’s presence, that it seemed to overflow and fill the temple. It was as if a divine drama played itself out before me. I trembled and felt completely inadequate for what I was experiencing. And yet, I also found a deep sense of peace and renewal. Immediately, I knew what was being insisted in the name of God. Perhaps. It was a call to action for me. I could no longer sit on the sidelines and let others do God’s work. “Here I am; send me!”