Wednesday, January 07, 2015

"teach me what I already know”

Sermon excerpt from "Endlessly Falling":

"All of us tend to hold certainty dearer than truth. We want to learn only what we already know;
 to be who we always have been.” -William Sloane Coffin

Do you find Coffin’s words reflective of you?
I do. More than I’d like to think or admit.
I’ve been told in many ways by people over the years that the reason they went to church was largely for edification, not for information or education. It’s the same reason I stayed away from the faith for a few years.
...St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians that we see “through a mirror darkly” in this world. If that’s the case, we sure have a bunch of people running around pretending they have the mirror polish to clear it all up.
Including the church.
...The Magi provide a model that is the antidote for the “teach me what I already know” tendency of the world. They are open to learning and being more..The Magi coming from distant lands are following signs..

And look at today; today we have a glimpse of failure. A shadow. The Magi’s first stop is the palace in Jerusalem! They chose door number one…and it was the wrong one. It’s good to start out the New Year hearing of someone else’s mistake; it gives me a lot permission to screw up, too.
The knock on the door of the palace at Jerusalem was the Magi saying, “Teach me what I already know: Power, riches, fame, from this comes salvation.”
But they had to unlearn. They had to open themselves up even more to the mystery that is God’s salvation, a salvation coming from the unlikely place.
And when bowing at the manger, putting down their gold and frankincense and myrrh, they unlearn even more. Some scholars think this act was an indication that they were giving up their old ways of doing things, their old ways of being. Gold for monetary influence, frankincense as mind-numbing substance control, myrrh, the funeral spice, for violence and death.
And if there are things we could and should give up today as a people, maybe even to a person, perhaps it’s the idea that everything can be solved by money, escapism, or violence…
Truly, giving up those things would be a rejection of the “Teach me what I already know” mentality. Because if there’s one thing I already know it’s that we’re under the impression that money, violence, and escapism is the answer to the questions of life. God: let us unlearn it.
And after the Magi throw down their tools, their way of knowing (we kindly call them gifts, but what if it was more of a gift for them to unload it? After all, what does a 2 year old need with gold, perfume, and funeral oil?!), they go home by a different path. They don’t even entertain Herod and the thought of power, anymore. Funny, of course, to imagine them doing this. By law they should have gone back to Herod. But not everything lawful is ethical… LINK

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