Lower in the presence

Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 3.42.29 PMto be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.”  These are words that mean to put us in our place. Down low. Where we belong. And Jesus echoes them, advising us to sit in the lowest place. To choose it. It’s advice from the wisdom tradition of the Hebrew Bible.

Wisdom traditions are on the side of human endeavor. They have a kind of repeat-after-me force, and their goal is always to grow us up. The idea is, if you want to thrive as an adult, you’ll hear and mark the wisdom of these words.

Jesus marked them. You can hear how well in his creative use of them. I imagine he learned the wisdom of Proverbs in the all-important context of belonging, both to his people and to his family, and before that to God, his only begetting Father. If you think about it, it’s hard to learn anything when you have no sense that you actually belong to the subject you’re learning, that you were made for it and it for you. Belonging precedes belief of any sort. Read more

Breached | Luke 13:10-17

It’s tempting to see ourselves in the congregation we meet up with in Luke’s gospel today, a Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 3.13.16 PMcongregation suddenly disrupted by the noise of work being done on the Sabbath. If you’ll notice, the Rabbi is understandably upset to have anything intrude on the people at worship. It’s not that he doesn’t want the crippled woman to be healed. He just doesn’t think the work of healing needs to happen in the midst of worship. He’s an all or nothing leader who thinks the Sabbath will fall apart if not done by the book.

And if we’re honest, we’ll admit we understand how he feels. We like our own Sabbath to unfold peaceably. We don’t mind saying prayers for ruined places or broken people. But it’s another thing to move toward eighteen years of unanswered prayers in the hope of healing on a Sunday morning. Read more