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Our Many Gendered God

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, April 25, 2010:

First Reading: Acts 9:36-43

Psalm: Psalm 23

Second Reading: Revelation 7:9-17

Gospel: John 10:22-30

This week's Gospel reading takes us back to the metaphor of the sheep. Those of us living post-agricultural lives probably don't know how stupid sheep are. The idea that we are sheep is not attractive.

What would a more modern metaphor be? That of the clueless student, who nonetheless can respond to a specific voice? That of a computer that is just a dumb box of electronics until the right programmer comes along?

We might also ponder the nature of the questioners in this passage. They say to Jesus, "If you're the Messiah, we wish that you would just say so."

This moment must be one of those that would drive Jesus to thoughts of taking up a really bad habit to deal with the pain of these people who just don't get it. Jesus must have considered just giving up on the whole salvation project since he was undergoing so much to save such clueless people. How many more ways did he have to say/demonstrate/show that he was the Messiah before people could understand?

Before we spend too much time congratulating ourselves for recognizing the voice of our shepherd, we might consider all the ways that Christ calls to us and we refuse to hear. Christ tells us to give away our wealth, and we rationalize: surely he didn't mean all of it. Jesus tells us to care for the sick, and we do a good job of that, some of us, as long as we liked the sick person back when that person was well. Jesus tells us to visit those in prison. I haven't done that--have you? In short, Jesus tells us to care for the poor and oppressed and to work for a more just society. How many of us do that?

Those of us living in Broward county have a chance to do that on Thursday night. BOLD Justice holds its annual Nehemiah action on Thursday night, where elected leaders meet with a huge crowd (last year we had over 2000) of believers who gather to remind leaders of their obligations to the poor and the oppressed. In the spirit of Old Testament prophets and our risen Lord, we call those elected officials to action.

My atheist friend said, "The elected leaders show up? Really?" So far, they have. There's power in numbers. My atheist friend was so impressed that she's coming with me to the action.

I went to the Nehemiah action last year and found it profoundly moving. It's good to be reminded that people from a wide variety of faiths have similar interests: most of the world's major religions have a social justice function. It's good to be reminded that one lone voice crying in the wilderness doesn't usually accomplish much. But thousands of voices, demanding justice, can bring about change.

Even if you can't come on Thursday, you probably have many opportunities to work for justice. Most of us don't because we lead lives that leave us tired. But often, a group that works for good in the world can energize us. Find a group that works to alleviate a social injustice that particularly pains you and join it. Write letters to your elected officials. Help build a Habitat house. At the very least, you can give food (real food, not just the castaways from your pantry) to a food bank. At the very least, you can clean out your closets and give your perfectly good clothes to the poor.

If you're in the South Florida region, join us at the Nehemiah action on Thursday, April 21, at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale (5555 North Federal Highway). Registration starts at 6:45, and the action starts at 7:30. Christ has called us to care for his sheep. This year we're demanding affordable housing and fair policing--what our Broward poor need more of. Only with thousands of voices demanding action will they get those things. Come be part of that voice.

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