Closure

29 Sep

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 19 After Pentecost 29 September 2013
Closure
“Hello?” I called out.
The sound got swallowed up. Not even an echo back.
“Hello?” I called out again.
Now I heard the fall wind in the trees, the traffic noise in the distance, the crows complaining overhead, and the neighborhood yappers barking their bone-piercing screech (as little in-bred dogs know how to do over NOTHING. After all, to them the sky is ALWAYS falling!!) Adding to this circus all week, the smoke alarms in the house screamed repeatedly at random, during intermittent times both day and night, a non-existent emergency along with the yappers and the crows. According to the mechanical voice of the smoke alarm, our house was perpetually in danger of burning down and we were all dying of carbon monoxide poisoning to boot! The mechanical voice told us this same message several months ago during a siege of a spiritual cycle, which was being made manifest in the temporal! Was the Church still operating on a fire escape salvation instead of by transformation from the inside out? And because of this we were being plagued with “LOW BATTERY!” even though the batteries were good? Oh, silly me. If there hadn’t been so much noise, I could have gotten the symbolism sooner.
“Hello?” I called out to God again.
No response. I sat with God for a long, long time to reach below the infernal noise.
This week I had reached out to another Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday (24 Sept 13) and to a Greek Orthodox Church on Wednesday (25 Sept 13). No response. Was this a repeat of my outreach to the Armenian Orthodox Church several years ago? The Armenian Orthodox Church was one of the first Churches I had reached out to at the very beginning of this journey. I had reached out in tender faith, hope, and love. (1 Cor 13:13) Now I had reached out to the Greek Orthodox Church. When I heard nothing back from the Catholics or Orthodox on either front, I felt deep Wisdom saying “Closure.” It wasn’t until after my outreach attempts that the Holy Spirit led me back to the archetypal Church in Smyrna.
Revelation 2:8 To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews [or Christians] and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan [following their own selfish desires]. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison [denial] to test you, and you will suffer persecution for “ten” [= the number ‘ten’ signifies ‘perfection of’] days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second [shaman] death [of the ego-self].
The angel who was sent to Smyrna was Faithfulness. (v 10) Jesus is the First and Last and He also gave this privilege to Smyrna to follow in His footsteps. And Smyrna has been faithful. This whole journey with God for all of us is anchored in FAITH. The Orthodox Churches have Great Faith like the faith of Abraham! (Lk 16:22) Along with faith, truly Hope and Love were also extended to them, but evidently the chasm was far too wide to cross.
Luke 16:26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
The Brotherhood (v 28) of Religiosity remains strong and robust. The Church-as-Smyrna is rich (Rev 2:9) just like the Rich Man in today’s parable in the gospel lesson. And also the Institution has “five brothers” in the five-fold ministry. There’s just no way around the fact that we all get “crucified” by our own gifts:
Luke 16:27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house–
16:28 for I have five brothers–that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’
16:29 Abraham [the father of faith, cf Gal 3:7] replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

16:30 He [the Brotherhood] said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
I was sent. Does that count? I physically was not raised from the dead like the real Lazarus. (Jn 11:44) But God made me a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) from the inside out. Evidently the Brotherhood was not convinced. (Lk 16:31) Sometimes I feel like we’re all just walking zombies! That’s not very Christ-like! We’re supposed to be reflections of the King, not imitators of an impostor, a zombie.
Lord, You have sent me on an Impossible Mission! From my side of the Great Divide, the reconciliation of the Churches and prophets is not possible. That’s not pessimism or doubt speaking, Lord, but the naked Truth. It is just not possible. And no amount of faith can bridge the gap. I present to You two sit-down conversations since 27 October 2010 as the evidence.
Luke 16:31 He [Abraham] said to him [the Brotherhood of Rich Man], ‘If they do not listen to Moses [Law] and the prophets [the living word of the Spirit today, 1 Cor 2:14], neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”
Yup. And why should they? The Brotherhood-of-the-Institution has it good. Would it be a tad too much to say they were self-indulgent? But then again…
In the lectionary lessons for today, the Lectionary Barons chopped up Amos 6, and the part they omitted is representative of the imbalance in the Church. They left in:
Amos 6:1a Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria.
Gee, sound familiar? Jesus had said:
John 4:22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
That was then, and now Amos was reinforcing the same message today. Does anyone else see the Amos to Jesus to Amos connections? Here is the whole verse of Amos 6:1, not just the truncated part which the Lectionary Barons preferred:
Amos 6:1 Woe to those ensconced so snugly in Zion
and to those who feel so safe on the mountain of Samaria,
those famous men of this first of nations
to whom the House of Israel goes as client. [From the Jerusalem Bible]
Then I looked up the version the Lectionary Barons use (NRSV), to see what they had to say about these ‘famous men’ whom the Barons had omitted. Hmmm…they omitted “the notables”:
Amos 6:1 [NRSV] Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notables of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel resorts!
Do you suppose the Notables might be hiding some self-projection and denial in the omission? Just a thought…
My NIV notes add this: “people of Israel” (v. 1) who when they came before their notables, flattered their vanity and thus reinforced their arrogant complacency. (p 1347)
Amos 6:2 Make a journey to Calneh and look [!],
go on from there to Hamath the great,
then down to Gath in Philistia.
Are they any better off than these kingdoms?
Is their territory larger than yours?
6:3 You think to defer the day of misfortune,
but you hasten the reign of violence.
To their credit, however, the Lectionary Barons did leave in the verse in today’s readings that shows the CAUSE of the mayhem:
Amos 6:6 who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
That’s it in a nutshell. They did not “grieve over the ruin of Joseph.” (v 6) The longer the Church coasts along in her faith without putting faith into action, the worse things get. Lord, enough of this coasting on faith!!
Jesus, I let it all go — to let You in, our Redeemer!
Father, the right of possession and redemption is Yours (Jer 32:8); You bought it for Yourself. (v 8) You already paid the price on the cross with Your own life. (1 Cor 7:23)
I am believing with Doug Addison when he said this week: “September 25th is a tipping point in the spiritual realm AND we’re entering a season of “Rest and Release.”” OK, Lord, I’m trusting You and believing You. The 25th was the day that I tried sharing my journey with the Greek Orthodox Church and heard nothing back after that. The 25th was also the day that I heard Wisdom say, “Closure.”
Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness [of insanity] and rivers in the desert [of denial and non-and-miss-communication]. Isaiah 43:18-19
We collectively have FAITH. We have HOPE. We need LOVE to move from the ethereal plane and to make faith real on the temporal plane, where God Himself overrides Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and brings restoration of His Kingdom fields on earth, and in the process Love exposes the court of the Guards (Jer 32:8) of CYA and Complacency.
Prayer: Lord, I realize that we are collectively going through a Dark Night of the Soul. Shed the dregs of our faith and clean out the debris. Make good on Your promises. Take the Deeds (v 14): both the “sealed deed of purchase,” which You paid for on the cross, and our own “open deeds.” (v 14) Put these deeds in an “earthenware jar” (or flash-drive, really; whatever works for You, Lord). But, golly, isn’t it amazing how earthenware jars worked for the Dead Sea Scrolls, which lasted two thousand years in those clay jars!?—so, again, whatever works for You, Lord—just so that the story of our journey may last for a long time. (v 14) Just so that Your story is told. Ours is a story of Your amazing work!
Jer 32:14 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time.
Father, in the process, please put closure on this leg of our collective journey.
Jer 32:15 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.
You said:
Psalm 91:14 Those who love Me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know My name.

91:15 When they call to Me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.

91:16 With long life I will satisfy them, and show them My salvation.
Father, we are calling You (v 15) and You promised to answer us. (v 15) Many faithful people are still in trouble. (v 15) You promised to rescue and honor them. (v 15) This goes for myself as well. Please satisfy us with a long life (v 16) of goodness to replace the suffering, of restitution for injustices, and of the salvation of Your Church, so that she would be transformed from the inside out. Somethin’ has to change for the better, Lord. The status quo of the eternal Grand Silence between the Brotherhood and myself is absolutely crushing me. Bring Your divine Closure. Something’s gotta give for the Better and for positive Forward Movement.

19 After Pentecost 29 Sept 2013 Gospel: Luke 16:19-31
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
32:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.

32:2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah,

32:3a where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him.

32:6 Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came to me:

32:7 Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.”

32:8 Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the LORD, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.

32:9 And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.

32:10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales.

32:11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy;

32:12 and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard.

32:13 In their presence I charged Baruch, saying,

32:14 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time.

32:15 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
91:1 You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

91:2 will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

91:3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;

91:4 he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

91:5 You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day,

91:6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

91:14 Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.

91:15 When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.

91:16 With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.

Amos 6:1a, 4-7
6:1a Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria.

6:4 Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall;

6:5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music;

6:6 who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

6:7 Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

Psalm 146
146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

146:2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

146:4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

146:5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,

146:6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;

146:7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;

146:8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

146:9 The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

146:10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

1 Timothy 6:6-19
6:6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment;

6:7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it;

6:8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

6:9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

6:11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.

6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

6:13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you

6:14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

6:15 which he will bring about at the right time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

6:16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

6:17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

6:18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share,

6:19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Luke 16:19-31
16:19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.

16:20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,

16:21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.

16:22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

16:23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side.

16:24 He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’

16:25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.

16:26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

16:27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house–

16:28 for I have five brothers–that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’

16:29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

16:30 He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

16:31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

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