Thursday, August 27, 2009

Unclean Clean Good and Bad

OK... first of all, my apologies for a late post this week. I stopped using the lectionary about a year ago and forget that I need to check here! As I look at the Gospel lesson from Mark for this week, my first reaction is... I love it when Jesus is a rebel! When someone chastizes me or others for shaking things up, going against the grain, doing something "we've never done before!" or looking at things differently I think, Jesus was a rebel, too! Thanks for the compliment.

But, of course, the Gospel goes on to deal with issues of what is unclean and clean. The decisions about what is clean and unclean are human decisions, and Christ emphasizes that it isn't external things, or things we take into ourselves that make us unclean or unclean, but more what comes out of us that can be unclean or make us unclean. How interesting that we are so good at deciding what is clean and unclean, or what is good or bad. We are especially good at determining that for OTHERS more than for ourselves. The 'log in our eye, splinter in others' syndrome. But how do we determine that? And how often do the things we look at as being 'bad' turn out to be 'good' in the long run? 25 years ago I went through a horrendously painful time that I thought everything that was happening was bad. I even prayed for God to turn things around and make them 'good' again. But it didn't. For awhile I wondered if God had turned away, but I know now that God was just helping me get through because something really good would come of all the bad. In our adult study class at the Parish, we were talking about death and someone said, "Why do we always look at death in negative terms? I think God looks at death in a loving, positive light." We are very quick to put labels on things, situations, rituals, and people...especially labels of good and bad or clean and unclean... based only on our own experiences and thoughts. But if God created us and all around us and saw that it was good... why are we so quick to deem it bad or unclean?
There are many folks in this small town I live in who are unchurched, living below the poverty level, not related to anyone else in town, not involved in anything in the town, spend time at the local bar... and a myriad of other things that the 'regulars' in town use to deem them 'bad' and not worthy of their time, friendship, or care. And yet these 'misfits' are the ones that are reaching out to others, especially other 'misfits', sharing what they have, and the first to respond when help is needed. I know some of the 'church' folks question when I help them, sit with them at the park, or am in any way a part of their lives. But I think that it is exactly what Jesus calls us to do... to stop determining what WE deem to be good, bad, clean, unclean, worthy, unworthy, and see people and situations as God might see them... as basically good, worthy of our care.... and if we want to put a watchguard out for the negative, put it out in front of ourselves to make sure that, before we are so quick to judge others, that what comes from us is not bad, unclean or unworthy of God's glory and what comes from us is essentially good and that we are a conduit for the light of God.
So... in the midst of this prestigious group of folks with whom I have a high respect for... there's my 2 cents worth. Oh yea... and go out and be a rebel for Christ!

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