Some may be offended by some lyrics of the song. It is featured because it is similar to letting go of our frustration of waiting for the Lord. My Spiritual Advisor does not advocate Erykah Badu, though we thank her for this particular song.
Bag Lady Justice: Luke 18
#BagLadyJustice is the Podcast for October 16, 2016. When you are weary and laid low by life, does prayer seem like a wearisome task? You are not alone. There are others who have the same answer to the weariness. Jesus has his answer. Listen to this podcast to find out.: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #UnjustJudge #PersistentWidow #BagLady #LukeTimothyJohnson #ErykahBadu #Justice #SecondComing #Luke18 #Prayer #Hope #Resurrection #Renewal
Full Text of Podcast, Open Here
For Listener Supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 10/16/2016 The 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 18:1-8
It is not uncommon for many of my spiritual direction clients to confide in me something that makes no sense to the outside world: they wish that Jesus would come and that the world would end. They always assure me that they are not suicidal before they say it. They always indicate that they do not wish anyone any harm. In fact, they desire just the opposite. They desire that all things be renewed.
You may be asking yourself why I am bringing up what appears to be a depressing topic to talk about a passage that is quite clearly about us having hope in prayer. Agreed, the passage starts out in 18:1 with the point of the parable that is to follow. It says, “he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” So, why all this talk of wanting Jesus to come again?
It is because when the Bible was written, it was written without any chapters or verses. It was written with all caps, no punctuation, and no spaces. It was written this way because parchment was expensive and Christians wanted to conserve paper. The writing was done in the common language of the people so that especially the lowest socio-economically could understand the Word of God. The common aspect of the writing of the New Testament made it understandable by all, so there was no need for punctuation, caps and lowercase letters, and spaces. Anyone who could read would understand and could read it understandably to others in worship, which it was. For our purposes, the reading of Scripture needs to be done in this way, without the 20th century imposed titles that give an interpretation that was done in the 20th century. Reading scripture is best done within the context of the story, not the chapters and verses.
In our passage today from Luke 18, this style of Bible study is helpful because it means that Jesus is not giving us instruction on just any prayer, but on one specific prayer. It is the, “Thy kingdom come” prayer of the Lord’s prayer. We know this because this passage is part of a section that begins in chapter 17, verse 20.
In Luke 17:20, the Pharisees asked him point blank when the kingdom of God was coming. From this point on in the passage, Jesus gives us a few nuggets about the end time (which will increasingly become the topic of the Scripture readings during worship until Advent, which is close, friends). Jesus says that the Kingdom of God will not come “with signs to be observed.” So, whenever anyone tells you that this is a sign of the Kingdom coming or that is, they are mistaken. The reason why is because the Kingdom of God is already being lived out in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ. Its consummation and fulfillment will come with the Second Coming of Jesus. When the Second Coming comes, it will just come, unexpectedly like a thief in the night.
For those of us who are attempting to live this life of Jesus Christ in our daily existence with every other form of sin becoming acceptable more and more in our society, it can be tiring. It can be frustrating not being understood. It can be exasperating when we are caricatured and assumed to have the worst of motives. It can be debilitating in a conversation when someone paints us as heartless, uncaring, and insisters of our own way. Additionally, when we see others throwing marriage to the wind with adulteries and fornications, or people cheating and getting ahead monetarily, or when we see others have financial security who do not follow Christ, it can be hard to constantly be the odd person out. There are so many more examples [and I encourage you to share them in the comment section below this podcast].
This frustration, coupled with what we believe about the second coming, can lead us to be weary, tired, but loyal and loving. We know that the Second Coming will lead to a time when dying will be no more, mourning and crying for sorrow will be no more. We know the Second Coming will bring renewal of all things. For those who died in the Lord, it will bring a time when all our renewed bodies are restored with our souls and we will live with God. There will be no more need for the Sun because the Lord will be our light. There will be no more night, because we will never grow tired. We know, because Jesus came to restore all things back to what they were in the Garden of Eden.
The hope of the New Heaven and New Earth makes us hold on. Our love for Jesus Christ and the trust in his word makes us hold on. Even being humiliated and embarrassed doesn’t shake us from holding on. Nor, does rejection by friends, family, neighbors, and facebook friends, make us lose hope. Yet, it does not take away the idea that we are just worn out by attempting to live the Christian life!
It is to the people who are worn out, the ones who say to me, “I am not suicidal, but I wish Jesus would come again,” that Jesus is speaking today. Seriously, how much justice can we expect from a judge who does not respect God nor humanity? None. Never. Will the poor ever get a fair hearing in that court of law unless they threaten to hurt the judge? The passage is much better and funny to hear it in a literal translation of the Greek. The judge says either, “I will vindicate her, or she will give me a black eye,” or “I will vindicate her, or she will beat me black and blue.” Scholar Luke Timothy Johnson gives us the image of a bag lady beating a judge with her oversized, ragged, handbag. What a scene!
So, the point of all this is that God will give justice by bringing a New Heaven and a New Earth in his time, prolonged as it seems for us, but will we still persevere? Will we still hope? Will we still hold on? Will we still wait and live the Kingdom here and now?
I hope the answer for me and all of us is yes. I cannot wait for renewal of all things. So, for all of you who say to me, “Come, Lord Jesus!” I say, “Amen.”
It is October and that means it is the Fall Invest in the Spiritual Life Campaign. If you are a frequent listener to My Spiritual Advisor’s podcasts and you have not made a donation, please consider doing so now. Our goal to get $7,000 in pledges this month. We have already reached $1,300 toward our goal this week. To donate, there is a link below this podcast where you can join us in providing spiritual direction to 4 continents, 5 countries, and 20 states in the United States. So often, we are finding housing, support services for the victims of domestic abuse, food services for the hungry, you name it. We believe that we should tend to the needs that can get in the way of hearing or not hearing the Lord. Help these people through helping us.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian