Good morning all! We are in the homestretch now!
10 The crowd asked him, “Then what are we supposed to do?”
11 “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”
12 Tax men also came to be baptized and said, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He told them, “No more extortion—collect only what is required by law.”
14 Soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He told them, “No shakedowns, no blackmail—and be content with your rations.”
Today at the CoOp, we continue on our Rethink series while we look at today’s scripture. Today we will Rethink what it means to say that we are “saved” or in search of salvation. As I scroll down facebook this morning, I can’t help but think what a perfect topic it is today to talk about what it means to stand up for community in the midst of recent events. My preacher friends all over the world are preparing to step into pulpits to talk about the shootings in Connecticut and our responses. Some struggle with how to approach the event, actually most of us do. Some are talking about just having conversation from their pulpits. Others are looking towards wisdom that is out in the world right now…Mr. Rogers quotes (good quotes) and blogs that highlight where our humanity is. I especially like the blog right now that highlights 25 amazing things that restore our faith in humanity (that’s what its called on buzzfeed). Others are making sure to name all of the victims and highlight their lives.
In the midst of all of this John cries out to those with authority and power that baptism is not enough to save you. My question is, “save us from what?” While their question is to John, “well, then what shall we do?” John cries out that in order to save people from isolation and separation from God we must restore each other to community and we have to do it by acting out love of neighbor. In order to “save” people, it is simply not enough to just ask someone a magical question, we must share, not bully, and be fair. It’s quite simple really. If you have food or clothing, share it. Be fair to one another. And whatever you do, don’t bully. This seems fairly straight forward.
But it changes everything. Instead of pointing fingers and blaming, salvation has to come from love. John Wesley talks about salvation from fear comes through our community of faith. Through community, we are saved. Through recognizing salvation in what others are doing, we are saved.
I was once asked if someone could save me. I asked why this person thought I needed it. He responded, “because you are a woman preacher.” I told him that wasn’t the kind of salvation I needed. I needed to be saved from the fear that resides around us. If he could offer me a way to not be afraid now to be in gathering spaces, I would be saved…now that I think back on it. In response, John would have talked about restoration to community, not restoration from gender.
It is definitely something to ponder. If you are a preacher, then blessings on you as you struggle this morning to preach the good news. If you are sitting in the pews, blessings on you as you hear God’s words and participate in liturgy, searching for community. If you are out there on your own, find a place to connect in, it is a way that we can hold each other. Blessings on you.