Some thoughts from the Sermon, Part Iv

It’ll be my privilige and honor to speak at Fellowship Church this Sunday.

I’d love your thoughts about the things I plan on saying.

The fourth chunk of what I’ll be sharing is below:

One of the problems with expectations is that they have a way of being self-serving. I can understand why the people present would have wanted Jesus to confirm their expectations. But they had to ignore some stuff in order to do it.
They had to ignore Jesus mount: Not a war horse, but a colt. A conquering general would have never ridden in on a colt. His very use of this animal is almost a parody of the way that they operated.

They had to ignore that Jesus’s war parade wasn’t composed of soldiers… it was manned by a group which included joyous women and children. They had to ignore the possibility that Jesus war party might have lacked prisoners because maybe Jesus wasn’t about taking prisoners, he was about freeing them.
They had to ignore that David was a man also known for his close connection to God, he was known for his wisdom, and the event in David’s life that Jesus was evoking, the rebellion of Absolum, was a time that David was so desperately trying not to fight.
They should have seen something even more specific about Jesus’ timing. Jesus didn’t just enter Jerusalem during on just any day of Passover. He came into Jerusalem on the day that they chose the lamb which was to be sacrficed.
It’s easy for us now: scripture tells us that Jesus was the ultimate passover sacrifice, the ultimate first born meant to atone for us all: He came not just on passover but on the day that a sacrifice was to be chosen.
But even with out scripture they might have seen this if they’d been waiting and watching and worshipping Jesus. If they hadn’t put their own expectations on the throne where Jesus belonged, they would have seen what he was doing.
What they didn’t recognize is that if Jesus is Lord of all it means that he has dominion over everything.  If he is Lord over all then he may well use our political ideas, our religious beliefs, our past experiences.  But he will use them for his own purposes.  He isn’t subject to them.
Once we clear the expectations off of Jesus throne, he can do better than simply throwing them in the trash. He uses them. Jesus didn’t simply ignore peoples expectations, when he entered into Jerusalem. He began with them, and then he called people out to an understanding that transcended what they expected.
We recognize this as a sign of mastery in figures quite a bit less than Jesus.  There is this idea in all sorts of arts: if you’re a beginner you have to learn the rules.  If you’re an amateur you’ll be able to follow them.  But if you’re a master, you know how to break them.
We could point to countless movies that were made by pretty good film makers.  They might know the rules of a western, for example.  We all probably have a favorite western or two that follows all the rules we expect.  But then Clint Eatwood comes along and he makes Unforgiven.  He looked at the rules of a Western and he turned them upside down.  He was bigger than a genre.  He knew what we expected and he used it his advantage.
Or how about “Under Pressure” Queen and David Bowie made one of the best songs ever recorded.  There’s this moment in that song that builds up, and builds up, and builds up.  It gets bigger and louder and bigger and louder… and then … Nothing.  Total silence.

David Bowie and Queen new that we expected things like that to just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and then like start to wind down.  Or we expected them to get bigger and bigger and bigger, and then transition into a guitar solo.  They aren’t supposed to just stop.  They new the rules of the world they operated in.  And they used that.
The thing is: people could have looked at “Unforgiven” and they could have said, “No. Westerns don’t work that way.”
People could have listened to “Under Pressure” And said “No, no, no. You can’t build to a crescendo and then do that snappy-snap stuff. It just isn’t how it’s done.”
Of course, with Jesus, the stakes are so very much higher. And that temptation is such a powerful thing: to worship my expecations… to push him off the throne, to reject relationship for expectations.
Jesus knows all about my expectations.  He is an artist.  But he’s no amateur who has to follow the rules of my expectations.  He’s a master who is bigger than them, who can turn them on their ear, use them for his purposes.
Jesus entered into Jerusalem in a certain way at a certain time.  He knew what the people around him thought and felt.  And he used these thoughts and feelings, these expectations.
Over the next couple weeks we’ll see this in a huge way: Jesus story was not the story they thought it was.  The end of the tale was not what they expected.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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