Lauren Flowers Byrd+
Some people traveling with Jesus today are absolutely sure they’re not like other people. They’re travelling an old and dusty road. A pilgrimage road full of people from all walks of life headed in the same direction. Toward Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the traditional language of going there is almost always one of joyful ascent, of “going up” to witness the beauty of God dwelling on earth. It’s not usually one of contempt, of looking down on your fellow pilgrims.
Like the practice of Faith, the pilgrim’s way can’t be done sure-footed. Like walking our own church grounds in their present ruptured condition, caution is required. Take to the pilgrim road and you’re sure to meet hard turns and missteps, the unexpected stumbling over the odd rock. Sometimes even your face in the dirt. In the words of another translation, Jesus addresses his parable to “certain people who are sure they are righteous,”  notably tethering contempt to certainty.
Certainty can be a deadly thing, in need of its own caution tape. It lands us outside the truth of our humble origins. We’re all made of the same dust, like the ancient roads these pilgrims walk . We’re like the birds and the beasts that way: humble creatures dependent on the hope of lucky breaks and the ultimate mercy of God. Read more
Note: This sermon for October 16th made use of readings and hymns chosen for Sunday, October 9th. It was work prepared and left undone; it was work ready for the doing in the disruption of absent power and fallen trees. Though it’s not what the rubrics commend, it was nonetheless offered and done to the glory of God.
Every church aims to foster the gift of hope. Initially, the hope of creating holy space for people to meet Jesus, receive mercy, love each other, practice forgiveness, repair the world, praise God. Ultimately, the hope of salvation. It’s hope that comes with responsibility on our end. Turns out the Church herself needs looking after now and then, needs those of us here today to do our best for her, binding her broken places, repairing her holy ground. Turns out we are the Church here on earth, here to find shelter and welcome the hopeless.
Today the Church borrows a line from our brother Bob Dylan. Come in, she says, I’ll give you shelter from the storm.
Or maybe he’s the one who borrows it from her. Read more