Saturday, January 31, 2015

What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Mark 1:21-28

Wouldn't it be a great thing if we were able to see unclean spirits in another, cry out to these, “Be silent, and come out of him!”? And the unclean spirit would leave the infected person and all would be well…until the next unclean person came on the scene.

Doesn't the imagination just run wild thinking about all of those from whom we might like to exorcise demons? I see them every day on Facebook posts and in real life.

For surely the cause of our hateful ways is a demon. Surely, we cannot be held accountable for the moments when we act in nasty ways that do harm to another child of God.

Perhaps there is a good deal of merit to be found in the exclamation of the man with the unclean spirit. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?

I am thankful that God loves a doubter because there have been so many times in my life when I have wanted to just balk and yell loudly, “What the heck do you have to do with me, God? Why won’t you just leave me alone?”

Sometimes, I think it would be so much easier if God would just quieten the nagging; still the incessant tugging. OR if God would just make the pathway clear; the burdens less heavy. Fix it, please, for me. Sometimes, it feels as though God is trying to destroy that which is there so that a new might be created.

What have to you to do with me, Jesus of Nazareth?

I have been told that I need a cape to fit over my super-hero image of myself. It seems I am bullheaded enough to think that if people would just listen to reason, things would be so simple. This technique works on occasion maybe because the person to whom I am attempting to impart understanding just gets tired and gives in. That gives me a false sense of accomplishment. I got what I came for but that does not mean I made a difference in the long run. In fact, I sometimes create more of a problem that actually first existed. But it works simply because I got what I wanted or thought I needed at that moment.

Other times, it doesn’t work quite as well. Lately, more often than not, I run up against a bullheadedness that is so much larger than my own that I wear myself out in the mere contemplation of what lies ahead of me. The issues of today are so damn big.

What have you to do with me, Jesus?

Why in the world would I ever have developed some kind of misguided savior complex? I was a shy little girl; I am terribly introverted adult. (and by the way, Shy and Introverted are NOT the same)

Why would I think that something I have to say, some action I might take, would have more impact or mean more than what another might say or do?

Maybe the demon is silent acceptance of the status quo. Maybe the calling out is a call to be a presence in the face of bigotry, of hatred, of fear. Maybe the calling out is simply a call to a willingness to state the obvious…at least what seems obvious to a good many of like-minded people I know…a call to stand up and speak out against racism, ageism (I am seeing that far more often than I did a few years ago!), sexism. We have made such great strides in the fight against LGBT discrimination; it is so damn difficult to realize that we still have monster steps to take against the racism, ageism and sexism.

As an example, the white guy from Missouri who recently grabbed the young black waitress’s arm and told her that he would take her to see the place where he hung her grandfather…what a heinous example of racist evil. Yet so blatantly displayed in a public venue.

I have seen the question posed by several people, including myself – what has shifted in our culture that would allow such hatred/fear to be shown? It would be easy to think that the man was possessed of a demon and how nice it would be if we could just yell, “Be silent, and come out of him!”

But maybe he is not the one with the demon. Maybe Darren Wilson or even any of the other officers who seem to portray racists’ views are not the ones with the demon.

What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?

I well remember a class at Texas Christian University that I was taking…”Women in American Religion”. It was a very good class; one, I might add, which had a lasting effect on me. We were discussing the hardships that women in the history of religion in “America” had to overcome. It led us into a discussion about our own journeys. One woman, a white woman, stated that she was “so tired” of trying to find the right church or religion for herself. The professor, a black woman, cocked her head to the side and sardonically lamented, “How privileged of you. You are tired? Black women are bone tired, body and mind, but they have no course but to go forward. And you, in your white privilege, complain that you are tired of trying to find a church you like? Just how hard have you looked…and where?” Her response may sound a bit harsh and perhaps the context is lost outside of that particular setting, but to me it mattered greatly. It struck me personally and soundly.

It helped me realize that sitting back and letting life happen around me was not what I was supposed to be doing. I knew, in that little moment in time, that I had to act. The days of ignorance and silence were over. I had to be aware…and I had to act.

Maybe that professor, unknown to her at the time, cried out to the demon in me, “Be silent, and come out of her!” The demon had to be silenced but Christ in me had to be activated.

I am tired…but I realize that my privilege as a white person has been noted and must be used. It doesn't matter how tired I get of trying to save the world, or simply the people in my world, I have no choice but to continue trying. Even as I know that I am not a savior and I cannot save people, I do know that I can speak out against what I see to be injustices or a lack of mercy. I can continue to live my life in a manner that speaks far more loudly than my words.

I know what Jesus of Nazareth has to do with me. At least I know a little more today than I did yesterday. Hopefully, I will continue on that path, regardless of the way I feel at the moment.

Normal does not mean OK

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