Friday, August 22, 2014

Passing It On: Who Can Know The Mind Of God: 21st Sunday in OT 8/24/14 by Rev. Judy Lee, RCWP

100_4172 100_4168 Jolinda Grandma Harmon, family Matriarch, passes on her faith and her family to Brings Good Shepherd Church regularly. Here they are eating together in the church yard after church.  
Passing It On: Who Has Known The Mind of God? Twenty-First Sunday in OT August 24, 2014
I am not sure That authority is a "good" word These Days. Earlier on in our nation's history the authority of parents, teachers, clergy, elders, police and a host of others was taken for granted. When I grew up all my Grandmother Would have to do was look at us and we where Immediately in line. And, any adult on the block Could discipline me if I did something questionable, like climb over someone's fence or play with my friends on the stacks of long pipes in the big "pipeyard" in the middle of our block. Some de esta discipline probably saved my life or at Least my limbs. But having gone through the 60's, 70's and 80's authority was, in most places, turned upside down as a positive attribute. Sometimes respected Those eleven objects of ridicule Become now. A few weeks ago here in Florida there was a lot of TV coverage of a new activity Among teenagers. They would see an older person in some vulnerable position, leaning on a cane or bending over to pick something up and run up behind them and kick them very hard in the rear knocking them down with great tirades of laughter. They would then post on this media social. It was not until there was public outcry and law enforcement action This New That "joke" Lost its meaning and died out. Here in Fort Myers community rallied around an old man who was kicked down while tending his garden. They came and planted for him. It was a beautiful response. But, That did not mean That would be respected elders, just that they 'would not be particularly ridiculed in That way. Many elders know very well about the culture of youth and "beauty" that Prevails today and That They are the last to be hired and the first to be fired DESPITE years of Relevant experience. And many parents and teachers simply throw up Their hands and say: what can I do, they 'do not listen to me!
We know a great deal Also acerca abuses of authority: parents who severely abuse and neglect children, teachers who engage in sexual activities with Students or Otherwise abuse them, priests and other clergy who sexually abuse children and parishioners, church rules That bully people in the Most private areas of life, older Employers who exploit the work of young and vulnerable workers and some police who profile and even kill instead of protect the vulnerable. All of These things Promote a distrust of "authority". But is "authority" such a bad word?
In the recent tragic case where a white police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man, in Ferguson, Missouri, the initial community response was understandably despair and outrage and then chaos ensued with looting and robbing. This continued until a respected black officer, Captain Ron Johnson from the Highway Patrol was Given jurisdiction in Dealing with the people instead of the local police department and restored the order and a positive climate where each person Could Be Heard. All Agreed That working on race relations in Ferguson absolutely needed to happen and Could Be a legacy de esta tragedy. Captain Johnson Had the Formal authority / power of law enforcement from the Governor and the Highway Department and the casual Given authority by people who trusted him. This was the more essential Latter authority brought` That some peace. Power May Come from above but true authority comes from the bottom up. The situation Remained peaceful with His assistance until more details of the case surfaced in a way That further upset the community and others concerned, then chaos ensued again and the militaristic response further alienated far beyond the community. In the midst of chaos positive gentle yet firm like Ron Johnson's authority is truly a welcomed gift. Indeed it Is that kind of positive That authority can pave the way for peace and forgiveness in even the Most horrible of times.
The readings today to ask Whom does God give spiritual authority, and authority for what? In the reading from Isaiah 22:15, 19-23, God is giving authority of the overseer to Eliakim who is loyal to God, to care for the house of Judah, the "key" Symbolizes His authority in Judah. The writer of the Gospel of Matthew is concerned With Authority. In the Gospel for today (Matthew 16: 13-20) Jesus Gives spiritual authority to Peter and the disciples / community of believers. Earlier, as Jesus finishes his "Sermon on the Mount" Matthew says That Jesus Taught "as one who HAD authority" not as an ordinary teacher and This amazed the crowds (Matt 7:29). In Matt 9: 6 Jesus says that ". The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" To show this "authority", after forgiving the paralyzed man's sins, I Told him to "get up, take up your mat, and go home of "which the man Immediately did. In the same place I've ASKs Which is harder- to forgive sins or to say "get up and walk"? Clearly, Jesus the Christ Had the authority from God to His loving Abba do both. Sin is Often ignored in theology and Christology today, another "bad word". But, For Those Who Know They have deeply wronged another or others, without the forgiveness of That from the other (s) and indeed from God is so important. One young man came to me recently and said, "I need peace with God after what I have done." A woman shared with me That she found herself more forgiving others Easily Because she feels she has done That many Things That God awful Already have forgiven and she is relieved of the burden of guilt. But it is the forgiveness of sins that is so hard! When Jesus passed on the "keys of the kingdom" or spiritual authority ACCORDING to the Aramaic idiom, to Peter in today's Gospel (Matt 16:19) Also have is passing on the authority to forgive. But this is said to Peter and to the whole group of disciples as the first question about who people think I have is was Asked of all the disciples and right after This exchange with Peter and the group I tells the disciples to keep it quiet That I is the Messiah. We as Christ followers, called by God DESPITE all our human faults, Have the power, the authority, to forgive one another and to catalyze forgiveness.
In the day's Gospel Jesus has gone to Caesarea Philippi. This is a city acerca twenty miles north of the Sea of Galilee is named after That the emperor Caesar and Phillip, the son of Herod the Great who ruled In This territory. Caesar Claimed to be the Son of God. This location Establishes context for the text. Whom the disciples Jesus ASKs people say I is. When Peter answers That Jesus is the Son of the living God, I Also saying That is Caesar, the Roman Emperor is NOT the Son of God. Jesus then says to Peter That This revelation is from God. Indeed, This Relates to the text from Paul's letter to the Romans (11: 33-36) In Which I says! "How the unsearchable ways of God" and ASKs, quoting Isaiah 40:13, "Who has the mind of God Known counselor or God's Been "? In other words, God chooses whomever God wants to serve God and Establish the kingdom (kin-dom) -reign-of God. Who would have ever thought That Peter, Whose nickname in Aramaic "Kepa" means "brick-headed", close to "stupid", and who have misunderstood so many things about Jesus, would be Chosen to know the identity of God-Jesus- the Christ, the Messiah. Similarly, God called Jeremiah When I was a youth and Moses When He was old and tired and Mary of Magdala Also Whom Jesus healed completely of all that was not right with her, choosing Mary to be the first one to see Jesus after the resurrection. Who can know the mind of God? Who would have thought any of Those or the impetuous Peter would Have Been Given any singular recognition? I like the way the TIB Priests for Equality translation renders Peter's call: "I also tell you this:. Your name is now 'Rock' and on bedrock like this I will build my community ..." Peter and Those Who are 'bedrock' like him are to be foundational in building Christ's community-the church. The Aramaic idiom for "Upon This stone" also means "Upon This truth" referring back to Peter's saying That Jesus is the Christ. The church is built on Christ. Peter, a fisherman poor, illiterate, fast-mouthed, hot-headed, impetuous, and half of the time misunderstanding Jesus is to be a bedrock stone of the church, and the likewise Continues God in our time to keep on building It With imperfect living stones. Jesus the Christ is the cornerstone and Peter, Mary of Magdala and all of the disciples THROUGHOUT the centuries are foundation stones of the church living as each of us can be.   
God Continues to build it here and now, with choices Often That surprise us. Grandma Harmon, 63, pictured above, was "unchurched" until she came to Good Shepherd as one of the first families in 2008 In passing on her faith, she has seventeen family members brought` Regularly who worship with us. The elder of our Good Shepherd Church, a 62 year old formerly homeless black man and I have an identification with Peter in common. Sometimes we sit and share our Peter-like ways and marvel That God has Chosen us to serve and build the church. The elder, Harry Lee Gary is a devout man who lives the Gospel. He took Peter as His Baptismal name. Harry's life was hard before I met up with Christ who offered Preferred complete the balm of forgiveness after the tragic accidental death of the mother of His children. Even after this life saving encounter with Christ says That I've made many serious mistakes That led to homelessness and isolation. When I Encountered again the love of Christ in our Church in the Park Ministry in 2007 I Began to forgive others and to turn His Life around inspiring all around him to do the same. He has-been foundational in our church ever since. He preaches at every Mass with me. What is written here is always incomplete without His testimony and inspiration of others and That That after eating the portion of This That I Share with the church. Our Peter and I are thankful That God still chooses the imperfect of this world to build the church. And for that grace we say "Amen!"   
 100_4174Church Elder, Peter Harry Lee Gary on left with Rose Large and Nathaniel Chester, other church leaders.  
Thanks be to God!
Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont, Roman Catholic Woman Priests100_4175100_4038
Pastor Judy Lee and  The Teen  Class and Pastor Judy Beaumont and Robert Swanson
Pearl Jane Efe Cudjoe and Cudjoe, When she is home from Brown University, Junior Class are our teachers. Efe Jane with class members, Joelle and Keion this summer.  

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