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Easter V - May 6, 2007

  • To:
  • Subject: Easter V - May 6, 2007
  • From: Grant Morris Gallup <grant73@turbonett.com.ni>
  • Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2007 12:07:52 -0600

 H o m i l y   G r i t s
May 6, 2007
Almighty God, whom truly to know is
everlasting life:  Grant us so
perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the
life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to
eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and
reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and
ever. Amen.

¶ Book of Common Prayer Lectionary
Acts 13: 44-52 So they shook the dust off their feet 
 or Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18 You shall be holy
Psalm 145 or 145:1-9 Exaltabo te Deus 
Revelation 19: 1, 4-9 And the angel said to me, "Write this:"
 or Acts 13: 44-52 as above
John 13: 31-35  I give you a new commandment

An epigram heard frequently among Bible students is that "Jesus
preached the coming of the Kingdom, but what happened was the
Church."  And what came to pass eventually are the hundreds of
squabbling denominations that are some of them house-broken and speak
kindly to each other in ecumenical circumstances, and at other times
snarl at or  bite each other in public places.   While
they are learning how to behave towards those most like themselves, 
they reserve the right to assert their own exclusive claims of access to
the Almighty, and to disdain those most distant from themselves. 
There are divisions as well in the other great religions of the world,
and the Muslim Sunnis and Shi'ites, divided for
centuries, have found they have common ground in resisting the infidel
Bushite evangelicals marauding and urinating in the face of Muslim Iraq.
The abuse of prisoners of war by U.S. and British troops in Iraq should
not surprise us.   Look at the models we have in our Western
world. the Vatican  frequently commits the sin of sodomy, which is
inhospitality, on Muslims --not long ago in Spain,  when it refused
permission for a Muslim group to use the  old Cordoba cathedral,
originally built as a mosque,  for prayers.
The Christians took it from them. The least they might
 have done would have been to acknowledge their debt to the
architects.     Islam for centuries has had more
respect than that for Christians, as "people of the
book".  So that a Tradition from the Prophet (1) is given to
say: "If anyone testifies that there is no God but Allah alone, who
has no partner, that Muhmmad is His servant and messenger, that Jesus is
Allah's servant and messenger, the son of His handmaid, His word which he
cast into Mary and a spirit from Him, and that paradise and hell are
real, Allah will cause him to enter paradise no matter what he has
done." .

Meanwhile, back at the ranch we have U.S. RMO's (Religious Maintenance
Organizations) locked in a mutual stranglehold 
over the issue of the full inclusion of Gay and Lesbian people in their
various franchises, called "denominations."  In high
school, I knew a radical Swedish covenant dissenter who referred to them
all as "damnations" and would then giggle and apologize for
mispronunciation.  These damnations, these churches are the
care" providers of spiritual benefits.  They each seem to have
a tailored clientele waiting for them, with the same kind of
"freedom of choice" that the free market provides in cars,
toasters, TVs or tennis shoes.  There's Walmart and there's Nieman
Marcus.  There's the Mom and Pop store at the corner and the
fabulous Treasure Island Super Market uptown. Even in Nicaragua we have
the sprawling, smelly and noisy Eastern Market,filled with hustlers and
pickpockets, glue-sniffing children and discounted goods.  And we
have La Colonia and La Union, me-first world supermarkets where you can
buy asparagus and broccoli from Costa Rica,  Roquefort cheese from
France,  Butterball turkeys from the U.S., and fine red wine from
Spain.  There are little churches that meet in  homes and we
have a new Roman Catholic cathedral,  bought and paid for by
Domino's Pizza's right-wing owner, who also bought the evangelical
teachers'college  and renamed it Ave Maria University.  
The consumerist gospel has metastasized itself throughout the capitalist
world, taking on its
coloration and its tastes and styles.   

Now during Eastertide we hear from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles,
a book which tells us what life and death were like at the dawning of the
Kingdom, or in what we call "the Infant Church."  It looks
quite different from what we have just described.  Luke's gospel had
ended with the Resurrection of Jesus, and now in the second volume of his
book he tells us he will  follow up what "Jesus began to do and
to teach" with what the apostles began to do and to teach.  It
is noteworthy that Luke did not then go on to write a book about the
immortality of the soul, about eternal life, about reincarnation or about
how we will all come back some day as movie stars or butterflies. 
There's nothing about transmigration of souls or how you might have been
Anthony or Cleopatra in a former life.  There's not a word about how
the future is to be determined by our
astrological signs and we need only know where our stars are at a given
moment.  Paul goes about instead calling humbug by its right name,
for the result of Jesus' Resurrection is for the Apostles a Revolution in
Everything, including an end to religion   The Infant Church,
like a feisty child in her terrible threes, began to take everything
apart--not only false religions, but the Empire itself.  The Book of
Acts deals with what the new life in Christ was meant to look like, when
the gospel was still a subversive movement, when we expected the imminent
return of Jesus, when Adventism wasn't something invented by Ellen G.
White.   The Book of the
Acts of the Apostles tells us what that New World Order was going to be
like when the gospel was hot off the griddle   

Some elements of the life of the community of the Resurrection were
these: (1) Paul teaches that the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, had become
more--he had become the Liberator not only of the human race, but of all
creation. What we have in Messiah/Christ is a new Order for all the
galaxies, and its all about politics and the reorganization of wealth and
power, health and life for all.

(2) The community has furthermore become convinced that without a cross
there is no crown, and Stephen the protomartyr has the very name of
"crown" for that is what "stephanos" means in
Greek.   But we can't get crowned by Jesus without the cross of
Jesus.  So Paul teaches in his liberation theology that Liberation
comes through struggle, pain, and suffering, and not through painkillers
and prozac, not through pablum religion and popcorn prosperity
theology.  No pain, no gain.  The Church is a wrestler, and it
is sometimes hit-and-run, sometimes scissors-hold, sometimes bold
surprises, night time chases and nick-of-time escapes, as
if it were a made for  TV thriller.    
(3) The Church asserts that it is a rival government and a rival
economy:  people are to be fed not by endless development or the
widening of world markets, but by sharing.   Sharing!  The
Reign of God is one of abundance, not of scarcity.   "I am
come that they might have life", Jesus had declared, "and that
they might have it more abundantly." More than enough of it for
all!  The diaconal ministries were instituted because some outsiders
wanted to bed fed!  The widows of Greeks are neglected, so we
reorganize the Church itself.  And the Church is characterized by
growth and by life in the power of the Spirit, in response to human need,
and is known for its  risk and adventure. 
(4) The Church claims everything for its Leader and Lord.  It does
not back into a corner and say "Separation of Church and
State."  It says instead, "Let's overthrow the empire by
acting as if it doesn't matter."  Jesus said, "I am the
Way, the Truth, and the Life"  and the Empire does not then
dare to say, "But I am an alternative Way, with another Truth, and
another Life."   Jesus said, "Go everywhere and
preach, go everywhere and DO the gospel."  Edward Gibbon in his
"Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" blames the Christian
revolution for this mischief of overthrowing the Empire.  The Church
doesn't take the credit. 

The day came, didn't it, when the Church began to back off its
mission.  It began to excuse the Empire and lay blame on the pesky
Jews.  It began to say, "Who us?  Turn the world upside
down?  No way.  Upset the status quo?  Us?  You got
to be kidding."  We're a part of it now.  Are these in
fact all lies that we read in the Book of the Acts?  Does Paul
really say, "Oh, you've made a mistake accusing us of claiming Jesus
to be a King.  It's all a misunderstanding--for we only meant it in
spiritual way, that Jesus has a kingdom in the sky, in the sweet by and
bye, and we mean no harm where we have been arrested by
mistake."  Paul made a mistake all right--he thought the Empire
would let him off the hook, and that because he was a Roman citizen, he
would get a fair deal and justice in Rome. He lost his head along with
his hat.   The fact is that within a short time all the
church's leaders were either jailed, executed, on the run, or in exile.
Peter himself saw what was coming, and the metaphors in I Peter 2:-10 say
very clearly that something new is happening:  we are like newborn
babes, he says, we are like the stones in
a building going up,  for we are a new royal priesthood, all of us,
we are an ethnos hagion, a holy ethnicity.  What is my race? 
Not Caucasian, but New Human.  Not African, but New Human  Not
Judean, but New Human.  What is my nationality?  New
Human!  what is my color?  Mew Human!   The believer
is a new kind of Human Being.  WE are the New Humanity. 
Everything was threatened by such a claim.  And everything is still
threatened by that underlying fact, and when believers take the gospel of
God as seriously as it is taken in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.
they will turn the world upside down.  
In Deuteronomy chapter 6, the question is asked, "What is the
meaning of our liturgical recitations and repetitions?  What is the
meaning of these celebrations?  And the answer is given that we are
calling up God's past action into our present, to engage its power now in
our own struggles.  The Greek word for this is anamnesis, and we
learn it early on in sacramental theology.   We are not merely
commemorating or memorializing the past but the effect is that of the
time machine, where we seize the past and drag it into the present so we
can enter into its power again, so we can be a part of it now.  Our
history does not become isolated in
the past tense, but becomes transtemporal, it moves to us across time
into the present tense and present tension.    God is even
now bringing us out of captivity.  God is even now giving land to
the landless in South Africa, in the West Bank, and on the West Side of
Chicago.  The pillar of cloud hovers over Guatemala, the pillar of
fire glows in the sky over Nicaragua's volcanoes.  Are there to be
casinos or day care centers in La Habana?  It was a question asked
on a billboard in Havana when I visited there.  The issue is shall
the Pharoah of multinational corporations take the land and its fruits,
or shall God's people have a land of abundance and hope.

Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions." Many
residences.  But Scripture doesn't say in that house there'll be
split-levels, Playboy mansions and townhouses for Northamericans and
Europeans,  but for the rest of the world there's to be favelas and
asentamientos, built in the midst of dumps like La Chureca, the rubbish
mountain in Managua, for the poor to scrabble out a living death. 
Believers--Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, --have an
agenda in the world today and it is the same agenda we've all had since
our foundation acts and our founding prophets and apostles: Abraham,
Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.  Shall we once again pick up the Oracles
of God, and our acts of the
Apostles and the Gospels and find that our agenda is to turn the world
upside down and to preach the Liberator, the poor man of Nazareth, who
was murdered by the Empire and has been raised and is alive again, and is
here to rearrange the world.  And to live with us the gospel of life
in a New World where we are receiving this government from God, this
Empire  from Christ, this People's Republic from Jesus. Yes, Lord!
Even so, Come Lord Jesus.  Maranatha.
Apartado RP-10, Managua, Nicaragua C.A.
Tel. 011-505-2662165
GRITS now on-line:  
(1) reported by Abu Hurayrah in Tabrizi, Mishkat al-masabih, I:ll., by
Wali Al-Din Muhammad, b. 'Abdallah al-Khatib al-Tabrizi.  Translated
James Robson.  (Lahore: Muhammad Ashraf, repri