February 15, 2004

Luke 6:17-26

[17] Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. [18] They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Those disturbed by evil spirits were healed. [19] Everyone was trying to touch him-so much energy surging from him, so many people healed! [20] Then he spoke:

You're blessed when you've lost it all.
God's kingdom is there for the finding.
[21] You're blessed when you're ravenously hungry.
Then you're ready for the Messianic meal.
You're blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.

[22] "Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. [23] You can be glad when that happens-skip like a lamb, if you like!-for even though they don't like it, I do... and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this.

[24] But it's trouble ahead if you think you have it made.
What you have is all you'll ever get.
[25] And it's trouble ahead if you're satisfied with yourself.
Your self will not satisfy you for long.
And it's trouble ahead if you think life's all fun and games.
There's suffering to be met, and you're going to meet it.

[26] "There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests-look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.

[The Message]


1. That which was looked for, but not expected, arrived. Healing for whole communities, beyond its member parts. This is out of the ordinary. They were all touched by healing. A new community was formed right there, right then. It wasn't faith dependent or sign revealing, it was the intention of creation. What is one to make of this?

2. Jesus speaks in the midst of the wonderment to point toward what will keep this healing intact - an intentional yearning and ministry for more than healing. They will meet others who are feeling as lost as this group was just a moment ago - hungry and crying for that which is beyond them.

Can you remember that once you were in captivity? That is your motivation for welcoming, we are mutual need of each other. Will you work to include them in, even if their blessing seems to take forever to be revealed? Can you reaccept brokenness into your midst, even expected betrayal into your life? Can you be a blessing when you are not being responded to as a blessing?

This is a call to be a beloved community.

3. Jesus speaks of the consequences of not being an intentionally welcoming community. If your healing is only for you, you are thinking you have it made. If you are satisfied with having been blessed without risking that blessing on others, it will be like manna rotting in the morning. If you think you deserved it and your healing is forever with no relapse, only onward and upward, a stumbling block is awaiting.

If this healing is used to prove your worth it will set up a new round of inequity. It is important to see past this blessing to the truth it reveals about the intention of creation.

Jesus seems to be saying, "Thank you for coming. I couldn't help myself, I had to be myself, and so you are blessed with a healing. Will this healing of everyone be for nothing as you claim it special for yourself, not for others who won't give you your due for having been in the right place at the right time, or argue about who got healed first because they were physically closer? Will you use this as an entrance into greater things or will it be a moment you can mutter about to your great-grandchildren and turn it into being no more than your having walked to school uphill, both ways?

This, too, is a call to be a beloved community.