Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Glorious Presence

June 3, 2009

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga, martyr, and his companions, martyrs

Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, (the) God of Isaac, and (the) God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.” Mark 12:24-27


“You are righteous, O Lord, and all your deeds are just; All your ways are mercy and truth; you are the judge of the world. And now, O Lord, may you be mindful of me, and look with favor upon me. Punish me not for my sins, nor for my inadvertent offenses, nor for those of my fathers.” Tobit 3:2-3


Do you think the leaders of the Sadducees stay up late at night trying to think up questions to test Jesus? I guess they are finding out that there are not enough hours in the night and the day for them to stump the Lord.

After dancing on the head of a pin, Jesus turns the table on the Sadducees by not just refusing to answer the question but by exactly answering it. Through his answer, he reveals that living presence of God. The same glorious presence that hears the prayers of Tobit and Sarah is the same Spirit which saved Isaac and Jacob. Today, the knowledge Jesus has of the Father helps him to overcome the question of the day about marriage.


By listening to Jesus we become greatly led. By trusting in the world, we can become greatly misled. Our God is a God of the living and would not ask us to turn to violence in order to fight violence.

No matter what Dr. George Tiller did in his clinic, when he went to Church on Sunday, he went to share in the glorious presence of God. None of us know what was in his heart as he passed out church bulletins in the foyer of the Reformation Lutheran Church. This is an act many of us may have done…with bulletins, brown bags, or other important information that our pastor and parish may want to share with us. No one knows what is in your heart or head when doing these similar tasks.

Yet someone played God on Sunday and shot Dr. Tiller in the back of his church. Many in the anti-abortion movement are coming to the defense of the shooter and calling this murder justified. However, we do not have an “eye-for-an-eye” God.

How often have we heard the expression “hate the sin but love the sinner.” It is not easy to do but nothing that Jesus asks of us is easy. If it were easy, then where is the challenge of following Christ? Anyone can do what is easy. We are asked to do what is hard.

We can not begin to fathom the great generosity and glorious presence of God in all that we encounter. In the face of the tragic death of Dr. Tiller, it may be helpful to remind ourselves that it is not up to us to make decisions for God. God asks of us humility and service and obedience, not violence and murder.

So today, let meditate on Luke 6 and pray for all who are our opponents be they on the opposite side of a political issue, a moral issue or a life-and-death issue.

“But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit (is) that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

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