-Rev Melissa Fain-
1 All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. 2 The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose someone among you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them. Wouldn’t he leave the other ninety-nine in the pasture and search for the lost one until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he is thrilled and places it on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives.
8 “Or what woman, if she owns ten silver coins and loses one of them, won’t light a lamp and sweep the house, searching her home carefully until she finds it? 9 When she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, joy breaks out in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who changes both heart and life.”
Luke 15:1-10 CEB
Breathing life into the text
When I first began really writing things down, I was fearful to share. Half of me didn't understand how writing worked. I'm not talking about conjunctions, adverbs and the like (even though if there was one place I'm the least helpful to my kids, it would be language arts. I'm talking about the life of words. A writer is the creator. They slave over the text, ordering the image they want to convey. The reader breathes life into that image.
I didn't want people misconstruing what I was saying. I didn't want my words to be used in a way that was never intended to be used. The words felt so important, I kept them locked in a journal, promising to never share them until I could also stand up for them. I wanted to carry the entirety of the text, when it was only my responsibility to send the words out into the world.
I was also worried about stealing.
That might sound crazy considering I give my words away every week. How can one steal what has been freely given? Well, words deserve authors. It used to eat at my soul to know I was spending my very expensive education to yell out in the wilderness. Then, knowing others would grab my words and get paid for them on Sunday morning at 11am, nearly broke me. I didn't like that the life being breathed into my words took the name of plagiarism. I actually spent a whole year barely writing anything of real value, because of this.
Responsibility doesn't always reside with power
We are drawn to see those in power as those who are right. After all, there is a reason they have the power, right?
The Pharisees had the power, the money, the building. They had everything. What did they do with it? They cut people out. They made themselves the gate keepers to salvation. The people in need were no longer in the temple. They were on the streets.
Jesus didn't have the power or the money. He didn't have the system to help him do what he needed to do. He did what he needed to do in spite of the system, not with help of it.
We want to believe the future is in the physical church. I get it. Really I do. I love my churches. The people within them changed my life for the better. It's just that we're not called to those who get it. We're called to the tax collectors and sinners. You have to seek those out. Wander the wilderness. Go to Nineveh. You have to realize others are not going to see the purpose or reasoning behind those actions. Some might tell you to curse God and die (or in other words give it up.) Some might tell you to "do what's right" and come back to the institution. All these things sound good on paper, but it's sacrificing call for comfort.
You can't change the system within the system. If the Pharisee's could see they were outside of the mission, they would have gone to God. They acted the way they did because they thought they were right.
Uncle Ben was wrong. Power doesn't always lead to responsibility. Sometimes, people have to be responsible with the power working against them. Sometimes the power is the problem, and doing the right thing becomes so much more difficult.
Sometimes we're the Pharisees.