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Wednesday, March 18

Today’s Readings: Psalm 1: Jeremiah 24:1-10; Luke 12:11-21; Colossians 3:1-17; Psalm 37

Featured Reading:
Colossians 3:1-17

If you were to talk to someone visiting our country for the first time, it wouldn’t take long for the individual to notice that we are a country in which people relate to one another primarily based upon what labels we attach to ourselves and others. When it comes to politics, for instance, most folks are quick to call themselves either a Democrat or a Republican – and they often surround themselves with folks who wear the same label. Or if an individual identifies as a Christian – that’s not good enough. They feel compelled to follow that up by noting whether they are Methodist, Lutheran, or Baptist. And when it comes to the amount of resources an individual possesses, people tend to get labeled using one of three labels: (1) rich; (2) poor; or (3) middle class. In each of these areas, labels play a huge role in how we understand ourselves and other human beings. Of course, we modern folks aren’t the only ones who were fond of labels. Folks who lived around Jesus’ times loved them as well. How do I know? I know because of the way the author of today’s passage from Colossians talked. In Colossians 3:10, for instance, the author challenged his peers’ affinity for lables by writing: ‘Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing.” And why are such descriptors useless? Because “from now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone included in Christ” (Colossians 3:11 from The Message). So where are you at with the issues of labels? Do you depend on labels to learn all you need to know about other people; or are labels simply annoying diversions that cause us to lose sight of our areas of commonality? Til next time…

2 comments:

glintofpewter said...

In Psalm 1 and the Jeremiah passage the authors's understanding of God is that God is a divider not an uniter. Those who follow God's laws vs the wicked, the good figs vs the bad. This dividing was based on following laws.

Jesus said the author and we missed the point.

Luke (12:11-21 points) out that if we let our material goods define us they consume us and we will miss experiencing the Divine.

My modest possessions both physical and internal interfere with my relationships

What I have that most interferes with experiencing the presence of the Divine is wanting to divide myself and others into intellectual classes. If I judge myself inferior to another it may be hard to have a relationship. If I judge them less sometimes it is hard to listen and be present with them.

glintofpewter said...

It is Thursday morning but I wanted to revisit these passages about self identification and the transcendent quality that Christ brings to our communal lives.

The passages in which God seems to divide us can be read as a description of what is, not what God does. If we follow the laws of the Divine we put ourselves in position to experience the Divine. If we don't we won't. These actions might look like prayer in all its multiple manifestations. Prayer comes in many forms.

For example. Simeon (in Luke) went to the temple EVERY day. One day he saw the baby Jesus, "the salvation of the world." Every day he had put himself in a position where he might experience the Divine. He FULLY experienced the Divine and felt that his life was complete, whole.

In Colossians Paul describes what is so about the divisions we bring to the church, our self-identifications. Who we believe are and what we say about the identities of others. Paul is not saying that we should lose our identity but that we should not let it divide us. The Old Testament passages focused on our relationship with God the Divine. Paul focuses on the horizontal aspect of the cross, our relationships with each. We all cannot become all the same, lose our identities, but the love, the centeredness, the wholeness we have experienced in our prayers, in our experience of the Divine will lead us to transcend those identities, those labels which we use to fuel our prejudices - that love will bring us together in our all our differences so that we may live united in community.