22 March 2010

Forget the Past. I'm Doing Something New---God

Having no elect or candidates this year, and being tied to the worship sheets that we get from Los Angeles, we read Cycle C yesterday, the story of the woman caught in adultery... or the men caught in their BS, though I rarely hear it referred to in that way.

I was struck by several things. The Isaiah reading begins with an invocation of memory, a reminder of what God did in the past. "Remember when I hauled your butts out of slavery? The horses and chariots and charioteers got stuck in the mud and drowned (and you were freed, remember?)" And then "Forget the past. I'm doing something new," namely making the desert, a place where you could die of thirst, a place where you find refreshing water. So remember, then forget.

And then this woman dragged before Jesus as people try to pin Jesus down like some prize butterfly. Jesus doesn't play their game. He just suggests who should go first when they start tossing stones.

But the rocks are too heavy and the accusers go away. Finally, it's Jesus and this woman. "No one left to condemn you?"

"No one," she says.

"Neither do I. Go home and from now on, avoid this sin."

And this is where I want to say: "Easy for you to say, Jesus!"

This woman has to go home, back to her neighborhood and all the people who left behind their washing and cleaning and marketing and chat to witness her being dragged out of her home (is that where she was caught?) and off to the Temple area. Before she even gets home, the story has run ahead of her. The shame! The scandal!

She's got a new life, according to Jesus, but she has to go home. Will the neighbors accept her as a woman with a new life?

If this story had been in any other gospel, she might have left everything and followed Jesus.

And right about here, someone is asking, "How did you get to this point?" Easy. I work in prison. And the men I spoke to on Sunday have committed all sorts of crimes. Some of them have had that encounter with Christ that has changed them, given them a new freedom, welcomed them into a new life.

But what happens when they meet up with old friends from the old life? Will those changes be believed? Usually not. Even close family members are slow to believe that change has really happened.

Okay--but that's later, down the road, maybe years from now.

What about here, in this place? How do we make room for the person who has changed, for the one who has heard, "Go and sin no more" from Jesus? How can we best put into practice the reconciling community?

I don't have too many answers, but I need to ask the questions.


Fran said...

Sitting with those questions... We ask, we sit, we move in them, don't we?

This is such an extraordinary post. You have the gift of preaching.

claire said...

How true, Shannon! I see this with the homeless and drug-addicts.

As to those of us who have sinned and met the Lord, I would say we need time to live apart from the original community, and sometimes never go back, start anew and then return.

But often, it is just better staying away, because so many of our original difficulties came from the situations and the people in which we were.

Making room. A neat Lenten resolution.

Thanks. Blessings.