This week’s sermon

March 17, 2019

Luke 13 Covenant

        Aiden yells, “Go out of here!” He is enraged. His mother has terminated story time. It is past “Good Night.” We have read about the difficulty of keeping house unicorns. We read about building houses and huge machines and skyscrapers. He popped my bubble gum bubbles. Now Mom says, “Story time is over,” and we have not finished, just two more pages, about long things, like freeways. He is enraged, and I become the target. “Get out of here!” He flops over and kicks his feet at me. I grab a foot, unbruised by the stones and thistles of the world like grandpa’s, and say, “Hey, dude, I will always be your Grandpa.” And Momma says, “Nope, can’t get rid of him.” Not to over indulge the utterly sincere tantrum.

         Always be somebody to someone. We inherit that. We are always some body’s child. We breathe our first in a body, family world of culture, a species beast amongst species. And we are, or are not, at ease and prosper by what enwraps and pervades us. Very important, that somebody is child, and somebody parent, that we keep being born for one another. “And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus.” No son, so the chief of staff will inherit. No. Go out and look at the stars. They are the bright points in a universe of dark matter, a veritable cloud of light. Just so many children shall call you “Father,” for they shall come first from your loins. Yes, as was Seth the “Image and likeness of Adam,” and Adam+Eve, the image and likeness of Elohim, so all the children of Abraham will be of his image and likeness. But, yet, Sara is barren, old now, 90. And she overheard the Angel say, “She will bear a child within a year.” And Sara laughed. And so Itzak is born, “the laughing one.” God made Sara fertile. It was not about him, but about her if there was going to be a multitude moving in time to the synagogues of America, the children of Abraham.

Sounds like an awfully big promise. How to seal the deal? Cut a covenant. Hebrew word for “create” is bara, to cut, to cut one thing from another, and at the edge of the cut, they are perfectly symmetrical. That is, what is cut, “created,” is a perfect image of the source substance. Of course, in a culture dependent on animal birth, cutting the cord is the primal image.  And so to seal the deal, “Take me a heifer, a she goat, and a ram all of three years old, and a turtle dove and a young pigeon. And Abram took them and cut them in half, and laid each piece one against the other, but the birds he divided not.” A cow, a nanny goat and a ram, females of two species, and a male of one.  There it is, the covenant that witnesses to union of creator and creature, the animals cut in half and then laid “one piece against the other,” cut edge to cut edge. And their blood has been shed into the ground, and the life of it thus returned to the Cutter, the Creator. That return is the fruit of the sacrifice, and it secures the covenant bond, the life of the blood of one life with God. And, “A horror of great darkness fell on Abram,” and God then spoke the words of covenant, saying the children would be afflicted, liberated and given a homeland to be held only in righteousness of the image of God, the story of his children.

         There is a saying of Jesus, good to teach the toddler. Properly put it is this: “The first and the last are the same.” Evolution occurs by generations. Somehow find the key, DNA, and then life crawling all over the planet, the first and the last the same. But beware of thinking, “I am King of the Wild, and if my kind are gone, that’s the end of the world.” Because it may be that here comes another kind of human being. A god-man, say, a being whose vitals are of symmetry with the presence of God. Filled with the Spirit, that being the immediate image of God. The first-and-last man, the first of everything always, filled with the Spirit of creation, and the last, right now looking upon you and loving you.

And comes along these first-only men, some Pharisees, and they say to Jesus, “Get thee out, and depart hence, for Herod will kill thee.” The rabbis want him off the scene, the synagogues where he teaches are stained by the rabble. Healing, demons screaming out the door, Jesus of Nazareth saying, “I am here. Repent. Cast your suffering on me. And I will return your life to God by His sacrifice of me on a Roman Cross.” Depart hence, for Herod will kill you.

         Jesus speaks an evolutionary wonder, placing Herod amongst the scavengers. “Go ye, tell that fox, behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am perfected.” Nice Aramaic lingo from the next human. Jesus is in charge of his days to cast out devils, take the spirit of the Deceiver out, and put the new life of the God-man within. Heal, wash away the muck born of oppressing LIFE, and so the suffering of it. And thus restore body and mind to life pure and whole, to image God. And then, third day, “become full,” the day of resurrection, the third day. But not for fear of Herod would he walk hence. “For it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” Yes, he is going to embrace death, not as the Pharisees would want him to flee.

Jerusalem, go there now. Youths in green uniforms, with automatic weapons, about the streets, the Temple Mount, the holy sites. War, horror, violent prejudice, the children of Abraham in a land held in a covenant of righteousness, of imaging God. Rockets from Gaza, bulldozers as weapons, empty aquifers, ten fold retaliation, the settlements obliterating a Palestinian state. Read the Bible. The story is the same. A prophet, born of the Spirit, more than of Abraham, must go there to Jerusalem to die. This is the lineage of those who become sacrifices as first-and-last, Alpha and Omega people. They always talk about the union of eternal, creative deity and the wholeness of the present moment. They say that there is a lineage of the Children of God by the Holy Spirit, and that lineage is not dependent on time. And the prophet, of the ilk of Jesus, does not fear death, since what there is of life, apart from the radiance and move of the Spirit of God, is not worth living. So a prophet is not here to be made a king. A prophet is here to say that being the image of the Creator has primacy over the father. A prophet is here in witness to the Spirit re-mothering the children, to create a more perfect birth, for a more complete image of God. And so, if you will, Jerusalem killed the prophets sent by God, stoned them. And Jesus would mother: “How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings and ye would not!” Because it is a violent place, blood and fire, throwing of stones.

But there is a revolution coming, born of a promise Jesus makes. He tells these Pharisees, who would have him flee Herod, what is coming to Israel. The “desolation of the house,” the Roman Standard raised over the burnt rubble of the Temple. Then Jesus promises the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Advocate, the Interceder, the one who shall give witness that the life of the Spirit is the life of Jesus in them. Promising these very deluded Pharisees that they shall again see him when he has blessed them with the Spirit. And thus they will confess, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Blessed is the one who is the covenant of the Spirit between divine and human, and thus of immediate reflection of God. Blessed is the one who was cut and died, whose human blood fell into the ground from which we rose, as Adam, the body of blood red clay. And who offers his breath and life to his Father, “Into thy hands, I commend my Spirit.” The Spirit shall reveal him as blessed.