All My Children

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 – Proper 22, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalms 119:145-176 (morning) // 128, 129, 130 (evening)

Micah 2:1-14

Acts 23:23-35

Luke 7:18-35

Until two years ago, I’d never lived in a region where it was so tempting to define one’s religious identity by one’s personal policies about alcohol. It would be so easy to tease or dismiss our Baptist brothers and sisters for not drinking. Likewise, it must be easy for local Baptists to censure Episcopalians like me for having champagne receptions after the Easter Vigil . . . or offering sherry each week after the eleven o’clock service!

At first glance, today’s gospel gives Episcopalians (and some other communities) even more confidence that Jesus would do things OUR way. After all, it’s Jesus who takes some heat for drinking, as opposed to the abstinent John. But we’d be missing the point if we thought that the Christian faith was primarily about the right ways to eat and drink.

Jesus doesn’t challenge people’s piety based on their eating or drinking habits; Jesus challenges people who challenge OTHER people’s eating or drinking habits!

He cries out against “the people of this generation” for being preoccupied with these superficial differences and impossible to please. When John the Baptist comes “eating no bread and drinking no wine,” people accuse him of having a demon. But when Jesus comes eating and drinking, people condemn him for being “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Neither John’s nor Jesus’ expression of faith could meet with public approval.

But the concluding words of today’s gospel point us beyond the quarrels and criticisms of pious people: “Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” These words are a good reminder that, in spite of our childish squabbles, Mama always wins in the end! Wisdom, it turns out, has many children who manifest their values in different ways.

Also in today’s gospel, Jesus sets the bar quite low for people’s response to his ministry: “blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Again, what a great reminder that we don’t necessarily have to waste energy on figuring out what to embrace and what to reject. We should simply allow ourselves not to be offended by those whose Christian practice differs from ours.

Wisdom has many children. Jesus has many followers. This bigger picture helps us to relinquish the temptation and the compulsion to mock or disparage other people’s form of faith. At the very least, our spiritual lives could probably benefit immensely from trying not to get offended today. Hearts that are less-easily offended are much better prepared to meet Jesus.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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