August 19, 2001

Luke 12:49-56

"I've come to start a fire on this earth--how I wish it were blazing right now! I've come to change everything, turn everything rightside up--how I long for it to be finished! Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I've come to disrupt and confront! From now on, when you find five in a house, it will be --
   Three against two,
      and two against three;
   Father against son,
      and son against father;
   Mother against daughter,
      and daughter against mother;
   Mother-in-law against bride,
      and bride against mother-in-law!

Then he turned to the crowd: "When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, 'Storm's coming'--and you're right. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, 'This'll be a hot one'--and you're right. Frauds! You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don't tell me you cant tell a change in the season, the God-season we're in right now.

<The Message >


1. We have just heard significant issues of economics and mind-set in the last couple of weeks. There were positive directions set and we know that it has been and is difficult for us to follow through on such high expectations as Jesus'.

In light of our not following through on the better way, we now hear a challenging word for the institutions we have become. Even those who claim they are following the Spirit find that there are patterns established in their language and thought-forms which have become solidified and measure their self-perceived success. Is there no end to loading on a daily cross? Is there no end to reformation? Is there no end to rough places (our smooth paving resources run so short, so soon)?

As we listen to this passage we get the idea that Jesus would like to be a refiner's fire in our particular life--changing everything about us. Some of what needs changing is obvious to ourselves and everyone. Some of what needs changing is still unconscious to ourselves but obvious to others. Some of what needs changing is obvious to us but well-hidden from others. Some of what needs changing is not on the radar screen of either ourselves or others.

Whichever configuration best describes our life, we need to be put rightside up. Ready or not, change is on the way. Will we meet it half-way or will we wait until all of us needs burning away?

2. Just when does summer shift into autumn? It sort of depends at what latitude one is located. This feels primarily like a temperate zone question. I remember being in the southern Philippines and the way in which we tried to mark Christmas by going to the highlands of the northern Philippines for a little pine tree atmosphere. It is amazing how conditioned we become to the images of a God-season like Christmas and insist on such static images of incarnation.

We have developed some skill in figuring out short-term cause-and-effects but the larger swings are still very mysterious to us. I don't know that looking at life seasonally instead of birthday to birthday or weather from here to the horizon is outside our abilities, but it does seem to mainly be outside our interest. We seem quickly satisfied and easily project today into every future and don't see that every tyrant (including our own imagination) eventually falls.

How now do I continue to see the birth/presence of GOD among us while trapped into the way in which it has been seen before. May the fire soon burn the scales from our eyes and hearts.

3. Hey, wanna fight!? We certainly seem to be able to do so at the drop of a pin or a hat or whatever. This division is also heard in the old song, "You only hurt the one you love."

With each of us at different spots on a journey it is no wonder we so easily come apart at the seams. Even goods, and maybe particularly with goods, we find ourselves in disagreement. [note" The word "good/goods" in the the previous sentence can refer to both values and economic.]

So what family won't we fight with? Whatever answer you can dream up for this question is a starting point for expanding the categories of those with whom we might creatively live. Eventually we are called to love GOD, neighbor, self, one another, and enemies. From where will you start expanding from until all five categories are included?

Hey, wanna fight!? Nope.

Hey, wanna get over it!? Yep.

Pay attention to the "movement" of life.

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