Authority



          
Who is the author?
Where is the poet?
Who will sing for us, when our voices grow soft?
For life is extraordinary and fleeting.
That we are living is a miracle alone.
That we are dying is also a myth and a legend.
So, the Prophet has said,
And for this the Prophet bled;
That the unclean might be silenced,
That truth will out the lies,
That every promise ever made by the Lord of all our days
May be fulfilled in the eyes of our sons and our daughters.

Isn’t this what we hope for?
That our loves will live and die
Pursuing something greater than you and me?

What then do we pursue, and what have we been given?
What do we pursue like jaguars,
Like hungry cats;
Like the patient sloth,
Like the prisoner without pardon?

No. No, no!
We are free!

There are no false Gods, save those in our leisure,
Save those that set themselves up as centers of value,
Save the powers to which we acquiesce,
Save the little gods in our minds,
Save in the glory we give to everything that is of God
When we do not first give glory to God.
For we still seek powers to save us,
Even heroes to stand between us and God.
We shake our heads at the problems and wait for Jesus to intervene,
Forgetting that we, too, may speak the truth in love.



The truth.
The revelation.
The epiphanic manifestation of divine majesty and mystery
is what we have been given through the birth and ministry of Jesus,
the one who teaches with authority.
Emanuel – God with us, the point of the star,
He is the Divine welcome that has received us.
He is the One who proclaimed that God has already claimed us through water and Spirit.
He is the One who calls his disciples (even me and you) into a new way of being alive,
Into a new way of being alive, together
Into a new way of being alive by looking in the mirror,
And asking the question every day,
“What have you to do with us, Holy One of God?”

The expectation we put into that question reveals the answer we can anticipate.
If we ask in fear, expecting the destruction of what has been – it will come.
If we ask out of a need to justify our positions over others
We will be told to consider their needs before our own.
But if we ask in awe of the one who writes our stories
Who even writes them with our own hands
Then we will find that even storms will submit to the one who says, “Be silent.”

Now, for those who may be wondering what that was all about, let’s unpack it a little. In our Old Testament reading we learned from Moses that God promised to raise up a prophet like Moses from the people who will speak truth or die. While we may infer that Jesus was the one God had in mind, there were lots of others before him who spoke the truth about God and very few accounts of spontaneous death for blasphemy.

From this I would say that we need to remember what prophecy is all about. While we could certainly get into the role of the Prophet as one that holds the political structure accountable which eventually includes the Monarchy and the Priests – I think it best to start with the more basic function that Moses had in mind. The Prophet was the truth teller – the one who described how to live the hope that God has always had in mind for us. Prophets, even in their calls for destruction, are part of God’s desire to move us toward a better way of being alive.

And while we know that Jesus was the ultimate expression of truth telling, we also know that each of us shares that role along with him. It’s kind of like having a whole community of “whistle blowers” that are not willing to let the sorrows of others go unseen and unheard.



This is kind of what it sounds like was happening in Corinth, except that it was really more like tattling. You see all the meat that was available to eat in the city had been first sacrificed to local deities. That’s just the way the boucherie worked back then (before refrigeration) Think of it as being kosher, except blessed by a different deity.

So, this question about meat is really two-fold. For one, there were those rule followers in the group that wanted to feel justified in their faith. And that usually means pointing out those that aren’t doing it right – a practice Paul pretty much dismisses. Secondly, there’s the recognition of social expectations that were corrupting the Christian faith. So, for us the question is not about vegan vs paleo, it’s a question of how we live our faith in the corruptness of the current age.

While there are certainly arguments to be made about faith and politics, ongoing struggles for civil rights and social justice – and those are important conversations to have – I think it comes down to a more basic level here. That is, how does our witness reflect love and mercy and forgiveness and grace? Is it a cheap grace that says, “I’ll do what I want and ask for forgiveness later”? Or is it a more substantial and penitent grace that says, “because I have been so loved, I simply have to love others in return?”

Ultimately, we have to work out how to do that on our own, but not entirely alone. For, our faith is personal, but it is never private. It always drives us to the public witness of an authority that is beyond our control. It always drives us into the company of others that may even disagree over how to love, but always stand in awe of the love that holds us.

And that’s a good place to be. For thus far in our journey after the star that led wise men so very far, we have come to know that Jesus – for all that he might have been – was certainly the manifestation of the power of God. He was, and is, the Divine welcome that has received us. Through him we know that we have been claimed by God as beloved, and we have been called to a new way of being alive together.

How will we respond? Will we wait for a new prophet or become truth tellers ourselves? Will we focus on our expectations, or will we do what is necessary to support those who do not see the church as a means of grace? And finally, will we fear the loss of things that were never permanent, or will we listen with reverence and awe to the things God has in mind that are beyond our expectations?

I don’t know what’s next, but I can tell you what I’ve seen here before. I have seen a company of believers that are willing to speak truth, compassionately reaching to those in need, and always looking toward what God might have in mind. As we move forward together in faith, let this be our witness, and to God be the glory. Amen!

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