March 6, 2022, Good Enough: Holy Ordinary Lives, by Pastor David Tatgenhorst
Luke 4: 1-13 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” 5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only God.’” 9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11 and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
March 6, 2022 Good Enough: Holy Ordinary Lives
This quote from Kate Bowler jumped out at me, “When life goes off the rails, we can begin to believe that we are the problem. But sometimes circumstances out of our control rob us of the shiny, perfect life we had so carefully planned. A diagnosis. A broken heart. A lost opportunity. We have to learn to live inside of a life that may not be perfectible.”
That’s part of the basic idea that we are looking at during this Lenten season - that we live inside a life that is not perfectible. Things happen, beyond our control. Sometimes even things we do that cause problems, are not in our control. We make mistakes. Other people make mistakes.
When I was down in El Salvador in 1990, our little group was in a van driven by a kind of taxi driver and our driver got into a small accident. When we looked around for a minute, we saw that our driver opened the door and had run off. Our tour guide explained that people in El Salvador don’t always have a concept of an accident. The driver ran off because he was afraid he would get beat up for being in the accident.
I sometimes think about that when I make a mistake - Thank God I don’t get beat up every time I make a mistake. This week I’ve been feeling a little beat up, but it doesn’t happen every time. (Sometimes it takes a harder nudge than other times to get you to face into shortcomings. So I’m working at that.) The truth is that there are better ways to deal with mistakes and accidents than trying to get revenge or beating people up.
Our understanding is that Jesus is the only human who actually was perfect - (sometimes we find in scripture instances where that wasn’t even true.) Today’s assigned reading is an interesting comment on Jesus’ attitude toward perfection and people’s attitudes toward perfection. The story goes that Jesus had been fasting in the desert for 40 days. He comes out and clearly he is famished. The devil meets up with him and says, “Why don’t you turn this stone into bread? Your job as Messiah, as the perfect one, is to feed the hungry. You’re hungry and you need to take care of yourself before you take care of others. Do your job!”
When Jesus says, “No, One does not live by bread alone.” the devil says he can rule over all the kingdoms of the world, if he just bows down to the devil. When Jesus refuses that offer, the devil takes him to a pinnacle of the temple and becomes the first person to quote scripture out of context to try to tell him God will protect him because he’s the perfect one.
You see, the devil is tempting Jesus with being who people expect him to be, tempting him to be God, the Messiah, the Perfect One, the one who feeds people and does miracles and conquers kingdoms to make everything alright for everyone. The devil tries to use scripture rigidly and for his own purposes. In the end Jesus rejects the temptations of the devil, uses scripture creatively for life giving purposes and chooses to live a holy ordinary life - with a bunch of extraordinary turns, as a model for being a child of God.
None of us is perfect. All of us fall short in a variety of ways, and most of us know it. Some people who seem to expect everything to fall in place the way they want it - perfect for them - seek empire and its power and authority. Their souls become twisted and that kind of empire ends in flame and ashes, with hearts and buildings crushed. (Garnass-Holmes)
We don’t need to seek power or authority or glory, because all we need is in our holy ordinary lives. The realm is in our midst. We don’t need to look for a perfect church. We worship a perfect God with a congregation of flawed people who need grace as much as we do. The realm of God is a realm of unearned kindness and mercy. It is an empire of grace and healing. It is a commonwealth of cherished belonging. (Garnass-Holmes)
We live in a realm of loyal friends, of dedicated mothers and fathers who tend their children. We live in a realm of songs of peace and unity and justice. We live in a realm of ordinary, shared bread, of the offer of a cold drink of water or a small cup of juice.
Let’s join in a meal today where we celebrate that realm among us in our holy ordinary lives, where love outshines ever ruler, where love outlasts every tyrant demanding perfection and obedience, where love undoes every rigid empire of blame and unrealistic expectation. This meal helps us to know that love. This meal feeds us to know who and whose we are.
Communion song - Enough for Me