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Subversive faith - via transformativa

Via Transformativa
Lesson: Exodus 16:4-22 (The Message)
Imagine yourself in front of your house or apartment, all your stuff – clothes, books, computers,
toys, art, family memorabilia, even fixtures like toilets and lamps -- gathered behind you in piles. Standing in front of you, facing you, is a family living on the global mean of $2/day. Or starving on that $2/day. They have no access to clean water – what is around them is polluted by sewage, waste, chemical runoff, dumping. Electricity once a week for an hour. Cooking fuel for 2 weeks. Medical care is unheard of; indoor plumbing, toilets, lighting – safety – as alien as a Behind you is all your stuff. In front of you is this family. What would you give up so they could survive – have enough food, a safe place to live, access to fresh water, medical care? As a Christ follower, as a member of the family of the one God YHWH, I have been following the health care debate in our country. The Obama administration’s determination for single payer universal health care has shriveled in the face of opposition. The debate now centers on deciding which people will not have their basic needs covered As a Christ follower, as a member of the family of the one God YHWH, I have listened to the accusations of socialism, of totalitarianism. I have heard that contributing to the care of the least of us is a threat to the basic tenet of freedom. Never mind that the argument is specious: if you buy insurance, you are contributing to the care of those sicker than you are. If we are paying taxes to support the overuse of emergency rooms, we are in fact contributing to the care of the least of us. We’re just doing it badly. As a Christ follower, as a member of the family of the one God YHWH, I have heard a sister in Christ say that it was not fair for her, as a healthy person, to have to pay for someone else’s sickness. I have heard a brother in Christ say that if we all received health care then those extraordinary, radically expensive, singularly American treatments that are now possible would no longer be available. And one of my more famous sisters in Christ stated that if everyone had health care, there would be tribunals who picked out which people died. In our lesson today, we heard the familiar story of the manna of God. The people of Israel, God’s people, were in the desert. They had lost everything they had, and they had no idea when their situation was going to change. They had no food, and there was none to be seen. They remembered the times when they had meat to eat, and lamented the loss of their income and status. Never mind that their income and status came at a price: they were slaves in their own land. But they had had meat, for God’s sake. Their complaints were heard by God, and God provided meat in the morning and bread in the evening. God provided enough for everyone. Was it a glorious banquet with melons and wine? God’s only request was that no one hoard the meat or the bread. In exchange for providing enough for everyone, God required only that no one have more than he needed for that day. Copyright 2009, Elane O’Rourke, Campbell UCC. All rights reserved. As the people looked out into the desert, into the wilderness, into their emptiness and trepidation and hunger, they saw provision. They saw plenty. They saw the glory of God. When they went to gather what God had provided, some were strong and fast, and gathered a lot. Some were weaker, or slower, or young, and gathered only a little. But when the people put all their bread together there was enough for every one of them for that day. The strong and the fast gave more, the weak and the slow gave less, and everyone had enough. But some of the men decided to set some of the bread aside, just in case. Now notice what the scripture says, “A few of the men kept back some of it until morning. Scripture doesn’t say
“they set aside a portion of their personal allotment for the next day”. Scripture doesn’t say, “the excess they put away for the next day.” Scripture says that “a few of the men kept back some of it until morning.” If they started with just enough for everyone, and some of them kept some of it back until morning, then some of them did not have enough. Some of the people went hungry because others of them had more than they needed. The next morning, all the savings had gotten wormy. Maggots crawled through the saved-up bread. The smell was vile and stomach turning. So not only had some of the people gone without bread, the bread they didn’t receive was made sick and unusable by the ones who had hoarded it. The bread that some didn’t get was turned into garbage by the ones who had too Scripture doesn’t say whether the Israelites learned anything from this little episode, but it does say that the sustenance God had provided, the plenty God had given, any excess of it melted in But we’re not talking about the Israelites today. We’re talking about you, standing in front of all your stuff, across from a family dying on $2 per day. We’re talking about those of us getting cosmetic medicine living next door to people going to the emergency room for the flu. So imagine with me again: Behind you is all your stuff – your clothes and books and computers, your toilets and Zoloft and retin-A and state-of-the-art robotic hip. In front of you is this family. What would you give up so they could survive – have enough food, a safe place to live, access to fresh water, medical care? Would you have just enough to thrive if they too could have Every day, Christ followers all over the world speak the words of the Prayer of the Kingdom – what we call the Lord’s prayer. Every day, people in 12-step groups, Christian or not, speak those same words: give us this day our daily bread. Give us today enough for today. And every And every day, some of us take more than we need and hold it back. And every day, some of us think it’s unfair for the strong and fast among us to have to gather Every day, some of us resent that even those who gather less might receive enough. Every day, some of us look out into the wilderness and don’t see the glory of God. We don’t see the starving family within arm’s reach. We don’t see the piles of stuff stacked behind us. Every day, some of us look out into the wilderness and reminisce about the days of melons and wine Copyright 2009, Elane O’Rourke, Campbell UCC. All rights reserved. Over and over again Scripture tells us that faith in God means trusting God enough not to hoard. Experience tells us that faith in God means valuing others as much as we value ourselves. If we’re following Jesus, we’re going to wind up overturning some tables. Maybe it won’t be the tables of the moneychangers and the bankers. Maybe it will be the tables of the insurance companies and the petroleum companies and the chemical companies. Maybe it will be the actuarial tables, the ones that decide that your neighbor is too high a risk to receive Following Jesus means having a faith that subverts the common wisdom of acquisition, envy, and fear. Following Jesus down the four paths of faith is subversive because the one who said “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” wasn’t Marx but Moses. Because the one who said “there is enough for everybody’s need but not enough for everybody’s greed” wasn’t Gandhi but God. The fourfold Way of Jesus will lead you into a reality check on what is, really, enough. God may love us just as we are, God may love the world just as it is, but God loves us and the world far My friends, if we stick with the son of God, if we truly did as he did, embracing the darkness and the light and the new creation that comes from it, we cannot help but be transformed. We cannot help but be transformed into people who are more loving, more creative, more peaceful, less greedy and less fearful. And our transformation transforms the world. The symbol of this path – the via transformativa – is the open tomb – death and evil overcome by the creative love of God. We have been given the route to resurrection. It is time for all of us to come out of our old lives and be transformed. It is time for each one of us to roll away the rock from the door to the kingdom of God. Copyright 2009, Elane O’Rourke, Campbell UCC. All rights reserved.

Source: http://www.ccc-ucc.org/sermons/2009-10-25_Subversive_Faith-%20Via_Transformativa.pdf

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