Seventh Sunday after Pentecost 2011 notes

Long, tough week just past. So much so that when not working I preferred simple entertainments to sermon prep, especially knowing that I wouldn’t actually be preaching to a congregation. So the notes following are raw and provisional.

The Romans text appointed (6:3-11) begs to remind us what James Relly once preached: that Christ Jesus was the captain of the whole human family, that be bore our human nature, and that in his victory over death human nature itself — not specific persons, like winners in a cosmic Lotto drawing — was revived and sanctified. God is with us, but not with us in a particular way from which we can take a pride of possession. Indeed, the pride of particular salvation and a exceptional, self-serving place in the cosmos smacks of sin, if not simply folly. The scope of the universe, large in Relly’s day, has moved to the nearly immeasurable. We are part of brilliant creation; indeed, a holy one, and we stand with a humbled happiness within it, rather than lording over a despoiled wreck.

In that context, our needed “righteousness [which] exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 5:20-26) speaks of a new relationship with one another and with the universe that doesn’t depend on a hair-splitting reading of an inherited law. Judgments ahead of us, as nations, cultures and competing interests multiply, call for generous regard for the other, and a renewed understanding that might does not make right.

In both cases, the lesson is “the world does not rotate around your interests” and that God’s gift is a world where differences need to be understood before decisions are enacted.

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