Sunday, January 28, 2007

It's all about Truth

Revised Common Lectionary for the Fourth Sunday of Epiphany:
Jeremiah 1:4-10
I Corinthians 13: 1-13
Luke 4: 21-30

Jeremiah may have been a bullfrog in some circles, but he sure didn't want to be a prophet."...I am only a boy." But God sounds a little irritable when He says, "Do not say 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you; and you shall speak whatever I command you." So much for free will.

In Corinthians we hear the familiar verses: ...Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;... And finally, from Luke, Jesus reminding the congregation in Nazareth that no prophet is accepted by those who knew him when... and that being a Jew will get them no special treatment from God. That last little bit of truth riled them up so badly they tried to throw him off a cliff.

So the Gospel message points back to the Old Testament reading... nobody (unless they have a death wish) wants to be a prophet. It's a dangerous job. Speaking God's truth will get you killed.

Our celebrant this morning explored some of the reasons why people don't want to hear the truth, especially from somebody they thought was one of them. How come this guy knows something I don't? Who died and made him king? I remember him when he couldn't blow his own nose... yadda yadda yadda. Do we feel insulted? Or inconvenienced? Will accepting the truth mean we've somehow fallen short? And if so, who are you to tell me I've fallen short anyway?

Truth and human nature... like oil and water, they need to be shaken really hard to emulisfy, and even then the particles immediately start to separate. Is it because honesty is in fact brutal? Is it because honesty hurts so much that the only reaction is violence?

In Corinthians, the pretty words (reserved mostly for wedding ceremonies) mask an even harder truth... love is the only thing that matters. Without the attributes of love: patience, endurance, humility, kindness, cheerful acceptance... anything else you may be, may have achieved... amounts to diddlysquat. Fame, success, wealth, power... worth nothing in the sight of God.

In my line of work we hear it, we proclaim it, we even believe it. But it sure isn't easy to do it.

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