#Lunatic is the Podcast for August 14, 2016. No one liked a hypocrite last week, but no one likes the positions that Christians take this week. Why do we “hang ourselves out to dry?” Listen here in this reflection: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #BillyJoel #AngryYoungMan #YouMayBeRight #AngryOldMan #Division #KingdomofGod
Lunatic: Luke 12 and Hebrews 11
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For Listener Supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 8/14/2016 The 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Hebrews 11:29-12.2 & Luke 12:39-56.
“I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight
I once believed in causes too
I had my pointless point of view
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right”
These are the words of a song by Billy Joel, a singer and songwriter famous from the 1980s through the 2000’s. Joel told ABCNews he would never record another album because he doesn’t have anything more to say. [I have a link to the article in the text of this podcast at MySpiritualAdvisor.com]. Yet, what I love about Joel’s work is that even though this is an old guy reference, his poetry has something to say, even if I disagree with it. The words I read to you come from a song called “Angry Young Man”. In it, there is this great riff that could sum up the Christian life from a very jaded point of view:
“There’s a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend he refuses to crawl
And he’s always at home with his back to the wall
And he’s proud of his scars and the battles he’s lost
And struggles and bleeds as he hangs on his cross
And likes to be known as the angry young man”
I feel these eyes, and these stereotypes directed at me all the time. I don’t want young women to get drunk and expose themselves to the danger of the young man that I don’t want to get drunk at a party or walking home at 2 am. I am called a ‘slut shamer’ because I don’t want young women to be looked at like objects. I have no idea what I am called when I don’t want young men to objectify women, but I am sure it is unflattering.
As the rate of heroin addiction increases and I watch 60 Minutes produce a segment on it in Columbus, OH, I hear the addicts say, “I started with Marijuana.” That is what happened in my family when I was a kid and as an adult: it started with Marijuana. I do not support the use of marijuana legal or illegal if but for one reason: we really shouldn’t be sucking smoke into our lungs. Vaporized smoke, marijuana smoke, huka smoke, etc. The lungs were made by God for air.
I am on the phone listening to yet another woman across the country describe how the men around her have used her for sex, incubating their children that they are not going to take care of, and still it seems strange to us that we ought to struggle to abstain from sex outside of marriage. Lately, I have noticed that there is this big trend to have the baby first and then get married. I am glad that it is ending in marriage, but won’t the child just naturally wonder, “Did they get married because I was coming along or did they get married because they loved each other?”
Each of these virtues: Temperance, treating the body like it is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and abstinence outside of a committed loving relationship are all very unpopular. They are even unpopular with Christians. By espousing them, it could be said that I sound like an angry OLD man!
These things are unpopular and there has got to be a reason why we are willing to hang out to dry because of them. My contention today is that we hang out to dry on these issues because we believe that there is a way of life and a place for us that is better than sin.
There is a place that says that God loves you even if you don’t live in the biggest house, have the best resume, have your life perfect in the economic, social way that is demanded by society, our families, etc. There is a place that lifts up ideals, but understands when they are not attained, or mistakes are made. There is a place where people can go to be forgiven and receive a second, third, fourth, or seven times seventy seven chance. There is a place where others turn their cheek, peace is the goal, love is the active force, and comparisons are frowned upon because we are all given gifts in individual combinations to contribute to the whole. There is a place where we seek to not be hypocrites, where truth means something, and truthfulness is the blessing. There is a place where the poor are honored, the sick are healed, the outcasts are invited in. There is a place where all of that stuff happens, but it happens when good people stand up and take a hit at the hands of others who want to just go along to get along. It is called the Kingdom of God where Jesus reigns.
It is the place where Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and Jesus lived as they walked this Earth: It is the Kingdom of God. It is a place where we can go and escape the rat race, facebook envy, and keeping up with the Jones’. It is a place where the invitation is from Jesus and goes like this: “I love you where you are. Come let’s walk further to a better place.”
Yet, for this kind of place to exist, we have to stand up to power, influence, desire, indulgence, greed, sloth, jealousy, and vanity, to mention a few. These are the deadly sins. We think that they are deadly because if we do them, our souls are in jeopardy. That is true. Yet, I contend that they are called the deadly sins because they kill us and others. Think of it, all of those things are reason enough to murder, kill careers, defame another, or yield a weapon of the destruction of someone else’s life. Sometimes it is our life.
When Jesus says, “I have come to bring division!” It is not a division that seeks to poke a finger in the eye of power. It is because when you live in a community that seeks all these higher things, it shines a light on the greater community and its corruption. If you have not noticed, it is easier to be corrupt than it is to be righteous, unless you are in love with Jesus Christ.
I need to make two more points about this passage of Jesus from Luke: First, he spoke the words of division to the apostles, not the crowd. It was an “inside word”. It is like when you get together with people in the business world, they will talk openly about tips and tricks that make the sale. This here, this “inside word”, is the greatest testimony for why it is that we should meet weekly with one another in love. We should meet because we need one another to help each other live this life of hard choices. Jesus was wise when he left us with a community to go along with the commandment, “love one another.”
The second point is this: when the going gets tough, the world always turns to those who believe in God. We are necessary for humanity to go on. This life we live gives hope to the hopeless, healing to nations, communities, and victims, and solace to the unconsolable. We are the ones who face the hardship of life everyday, so when the world turns to us, we do not push them away, we stay and we pray.
So, although we may look like an angry young man, I have another Billy Joel song that may sum up our existence in the world:
You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian