Homily: November 13, 2016
November 13, 2016, YEAR C; Rev. Phil Boelter
Shortly after 9/11
well known preachers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson
suggested in a newspaper article
and liberal civil-rights activists
were at least partly to blame for the terrorist attacks
that had toppled the World Trade Center
and destroyed part of the Pentagon,
killing thousands of innocent people.
These two doomsayers
used precisely the same sort of language
as Jesus does in our gospel reading this morning-
“Watch out! Troubles a’comin!”
That sort of thinking is still with us today.
We often hear people blaming all kinds of ills in society
on the immoral behavior of others-
or even the mere presence among us of someone
who is different than the majority.
At first glance Jesus words in today's gospel
might lead us to believe that he felt the same way
about the impending destruction of Jerusalem.
Look out for those Roman heathen gentiles-
Here they come!
Not so fast!
The words which Luke puts in the Savior’s mouth
really do describe the situation faced by the first Christians
who read or heard Luke's gospel.
By the time Luke wrote down Jesus words
In fact Jerusalem had already recently been destroyed.
Many Christian and Jewish believers
also had been swept up and persecuted or killed
by Roman soldiers
in the mayhem that followed that event.
The awful destruction of their beloved Jerusalem temple
Was their own 9/11-
Hard to accept.
Is Jesus really blaming the whole situation on some outside evil
Or some evil present in the victims themselves?
I don't think so.
Here's another way to look at this scripture.
It's not in our reading this morning
but in the verses immediately preceding this passage
Jesus had just moments before been publicly pointing out
and praising the poor widow
Who put her last two coins in the temple offering box.
Jesus is not warning us here
about someone out there who is out to get us.
Jesus is warning us
Instead about becoming too fixated on temporary human institutions.
By pointing to the widow
He implies that we should attend
to the poor in our communities
and other more important things instead.
In Jesus’ eyes
this widow and her offering
and her attitude
are what’s important here-
not some grand religious edifice-
or the even tragic fall of that same Temple.
Christ is asking his friends
look past the magnificent stones
Which by the way will all crumble some day-
Really see the enduring face of human need
And human generosity
Which is hidden in this woman’s
But life altering gesture.
Let your looming Temple destruction crisis
lead to a new awareness
of how God is present to all of us
in spite of,
and interruptions in our lives.
Good words for this Election Week.
Despite its language and imagery of destruction,
this passage is ultimately grounded in hope –
in the hope that God remains present
in the world
and in our lives
even when things have gotten bad.
We often can’t change those bad big picture things-
At least not immediately.
but we can change our own viewpoint
And our own attitude.
This is practical advice-
there is great wisdom
In not letting things we cannot change
make our lives miserable.
A good example appeared this past week in the Tuesday Star Tribune.
Tracie Blusie Ward wrote on the op ed page
about how incredibly depressed
and not a little distraught
she had become with this election season.
Then last Sunday-
Remember how beautiful it was outside?
Tracie went for a walk along the Mississippi River with her dog Sydney.
It was not long before the sun and warmth
and pleasant encounters along the trail
lifted her spirits and helped her look past
The doom and gloom of the impending election apocalypse.
What happened to her?
• An ex-Marine on a bike near the North Loop
stopped to pet Sydney.
The man shared that he was celebrating five months of being sober
and that he was starting a new life in Minnesota.
•Then she saw a pair of university students
playing their violins masterfully
on the Stone Arch Bridge for all to enjoy,
with no expectation for tips.
• Then she encountered two senior women leaned into each other
on a bench near the Mill City Ruins.
With a heavy accent from their native country
they were sharing pictures and stories of their grandchildren.
Next, she observed a grandfather holding his grandson’s hand
as they searched for and counted
the cement turtles, frogs and worms
integrated into one particularly fun section of the walking path.
She saw Two young women holding hands
and posed in white dresses for their wedding photos
against a backdrop of fall colors
and the blue-hued walls of the Guthrie Theater.
• A man with his only possessions contained in a rumpled bag
sat on a bench near the bridge
while he hummed a sweet tune
and wished everyone who made eye contact with him a “blessed day!”
By her own admission
When Tracie took a moment to really see
the other people around her,
she realized that most of us
are different from each other,
and no matter what individual challenges we face
we all just want the same basic things in life:
happiness, love, purpose, respect and self-worth.
This elixir she had discovered
is not only available
but is also free of charge to every one of us,
and it is contagious.
Tracie got a new perspective this week-
In the same way that
Jesus spoke to his first hearers,
And Luke’s readers,
And to everyone who has ever faced tough times
Including you and I.
stop, look and listen to what’s important around you.
Just for a moment
Look at the little things-
Like The widow and her mite-
Her dedication of all she has to self giving.
Focus on what’s around you-
What’s lifegiving here?
In that redirect
Is all our hope-
And it may just be our salvation this Sunday
And four the four long years ahead.