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“God is God. You are not.”

Following this opening line from today’s sermon, my friend and I glanced at each other. “All righty then,” she whispered.

No, the pastor didn’t stop, but this could have been the shortest sermon ever. Instead he spoke about how we humans try to draw connections where none exist. We want to connect the dots. We want answers and explanations. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good things happen to bad people?

This reminded me of something that I read last week. We are primed and programmed, as human beings, to make connections and recognize patterns. It is how understand the world around us and how we have survived for so many thousands of years.

Think about it. Many years ago, Bob ate the bright red berries. That night, Bob had a horrible stomach ache. He got sick. While he is recovering, his friend stops by. The friend says that he is only now feeling better. He ate some bright red berries. He had a stomach ache and got sick. Bob and his wife connect the dots. Don’t eat the bright red berries. They tell their neighbors. These people learn from the pattern.

People are really quite good at recognizing patterns, but we get a little full of ourselves. If we can figure out what to eat and what not to eat, surely we can figure out why X event happened to those people over there and not to us. Because, if we can figure it out, we can be safe.

Sigh. If only it were that easy. This idea that we can figure things out and be safe isn’t new. In Luke 13, a group of visitors asked Christ about a party of Galilieans who had been killed by the Romans. Why did this happen to them? How could it have been prevented? Christ’s answer probably wasn’t reassuring because he simply responded that it had nothing to do with them being bad or wrong or somehow deserving.

It isn’t the answer that the people wanted. I imagine that they felt let down and out of sorts. They were stressed and worried and had troubles sleeping. Sound familiar?

Christ assured the people that God, the gardener, was at work. God had not given up and neither should we. After all, we are God’s and he is working all around us even if we cannot always make out the patterns.


jesus-christ-904146_640Don’t get me wrong – I love Facebook memes.  My son and I send them to each other, post them on each other’s walls and laugh hysterically. Sometimes my husband reads over my shoulder and just gives me that look.  “Really?”

But today I saw a meme that set my teeth on edge. “Like if you want to put Jesus back in the White House.”  Judgy much?  Or, as Lori would say, I sense a sieve personality at work.  Okay.  Lori wouldn’t really say that.  She’s a lot nicer than I am.  But, really?  What short-sighted goof cake thinks they want Jesus in the White House?  He wasn’t even popular in the temple.

Presbyterian women worldwide are studying the various ways that people “see” Jesus.  How do they think of Him?  What do they call Him?  At my church, we take turns teaching.  I chose lesson 3, based on Luke because Luke was a historian.  He set the story of Jesus up in history, telling us who was the Roman emperor, who preceded Him (John the Baptist) and more.

When you say history, people think tradition, longevity, status quo.  But the Jesus that Luke told us about worked to topple that status quo.

Luke recounts Christ’s first sermon, delivered in the temple.  He read from Isaiah about God sending prophets to the downtrodden.  Then Christ said, “Today I am here to fulfill the prophecy.” Everyone was super-duper happy because they were under Roman occupation. They saw themselves as the downtrodden.  Christ must be here for them.  Woo-hoo!

But then Christ pointed out that God and His prophets had a history. Many prophets were rejected in their own communities. God sent them to outsiders – non-Jews. The crowd in the temple was much less happy with this part of Christ’s sermon. In fact, they marched Jesus to the top of a hill, ready to throw him off.

They thought that they wanted to hear what the Messiah had to say.  But they didn’t.  Not really.

I’m not sure we’d be a whole lot happier to hear what President Jesus would say. And I don’t mean the Republicans.  But I’m not talking about the Democrats either.  I mean all of us.

Please, God.  Keep Jesus out of the White House.  I just don’t think we’re ready for what He’d have to say.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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