A full life—from the inside out

Posted Mar 25, 2020

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Reminder: Resurrection’s goal is to read all of Luke during Lent. So many of the daily reading portions are somewhat longer than usual.

Daily Scripture

Luke 11:37-12:34

37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to share a meal with him, so Jesus went and took his place at the table. 38 When the Pharisee saw that Jesus didn’t ritually purify his hands by washing before the meal, he was astonished.

39 The Lord said to him, “Now, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and platter, but your insides are stuffed with greed and wickedness. 40 Foolish people! Didn’t the one who made the outside also make the inside? 41 Therefore, give to those in need from the core of who you are and you will be clean all over.

42 “How terrible for you Pharisees! You give a tenth of your mint, rue, and garden herbs of all kinds, while neglecting justice and love for God. These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.

43 “How terrible for you Pharisees! You love the most prominent seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.

44 “How terrible for you! You are like unmarked graves, and people walk on them without recognizing it.”

45 One of the legal experts responded, “Teacher, when you say these things, you are insulting us too.”

46 Jesus said, “How terrible for you legal experts too! You load people down with impossible burdens and you refuse to lift a single finger to help them.

47 “How terrible for you! You built memorials to the prophets, whom your ancestors killed. 48 In this way, you testify that you approve of your ancestors’ deeds. They killed the prophets, and you build memorials! 49 Therefore, God’s wisdom has said, ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them and they will harass and kill some of them.’ 50 As a result, this generation will be charged with the murder of all the prophets since the beginning of time. 51 This includes the murder of every prophet—from Abel to Zechariah—who was killed between the altar and the holy place. Yes, I’m telling you, this generation will be charged with it.

52 “How terrible for you legal experts! You snatched away the key of knowledge. You didn’t enter yourselves, and you stood in the way of those who were entering.”

53 As he left there, the legal experts and Pharisees began to resent him deeply and to ask him pointed questions about many things. 54 They plotted against him, trying to trap him in his words.

12:1 When a crowd of thousands upon thousands had gathered so that they were crushing each other, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples: “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees—I mean, the mismatch between their hearts and lives. 2 Nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing is secret that won’t be brought out into the open. 3 Therefore, whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and whatever you have whispered in the rooms deep inside the house will be announced from the rooftops.

4 “I tell you, my friends, don’t be terrified by those who can kill the body but after that can do nothing more. 5 I’ll show you whom you should fear: fear the one who, after you have been killed, has the authority to throw you into hell. Indeed, I tell you, that’s the one you should fear. 6 Aren’t five sparrows sold for two small coins [Or two assaria—that is, 1/8 of a day’s wage]? Yet not one of them is overlooked by God. 7 Even the hairs on your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.

8 “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before humans, the Human One [or Son of Man] will acknowledge before God’s angels. 9 But the one who rejects me before others will be rejected before God’s angels. 10 Anyone who speaks a word against the Human One will be forgiven, but whoever insults the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven. 11 When they bring you before the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what you should say. 12 The Holy Spirit will tell you at that very moment what you must say.”

13 Someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 Jesus said to him, “Man, who appointed me as judge or referee between you and your brother?”

15 Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Guard yourself against all kinds of greed. After all, one’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions, even when someone is very wealthy.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “A certain rich man’s land produced a bountiful crop. 17 He said to himself, What will I do? I have no place to store my harvest! 18 Then he thought, Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. That’s where I’ll store all my grain and goods. 19 I’ll say to myself, You have stored up plenty of goods, enough for several years. Take it easy! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself. 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool, tonight you will die. Now who will get the things you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 This is the way it will be for those who hoard things for themselves and aren’t rich toward God.”

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 There is more to life than food and more to the body than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither plant nor harvest, they have no silo or barn, yet God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds! 25 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life [Or eighteen inches to your height]? 26 If you can’t do such a small thing, why worry about the rest? 27 Notice how the lilies grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 28 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, how much more will God do for you, you people of weak faith! 29 Don’t chase after what you will eat and what you will drink. Stop worrying. 30 All the nations of the world long for these things. Your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, desire his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights in giving you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Make for yourselves wallets that don’t wear out—a treasure in heaven that never runs out. No thief comes near there, and no moth destroys. 34 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be too.

Reflection Questions

Jesus challenged his day’s religious and political leadership structures. In today’s reading, we see that they fixated on washing for ritual purity (not for hygiene—they didn’t yet know about viruses). Jesus taught that faith and trust flow from the inside out. He gave a wide-ranging set of warnings against a “mismatch between… hearts and lives” (12:1).

  • The tension between the status quo and God’s kingdom kept building. Jesus 1) warned his disciples about opposition, and 2) reminded them that God knows and cares about every part of our lives. He challenged his followers, then and now, to avoid a casual, half-hearted faith. How wholehearted is your faith? What does it look like for you to follow Jesus with your whole heart?
  • In verse 34, Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be too.” True security and satisfaction, he taught, came from prioritizing our connection with God even over important externals like food, clothing, or material possessions. How does Jesus’ teaching challenge the messages our culture sends about how much security and satisfaction “stuff” can bring you?

Prayer

King Jesus, it’s hard for me to make the inside of me match the outside sometimes. Help me desire your kingdom of eternal security and fulfillment above all else. Amen.

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Wendy Connelly

Wendy Connelly

Wendy Connelly is a graduate of Saint Paul School of Theology (M.Div.) who is passionate about her family, interfaith work, Christian mysticism, public speaking and wild adventures.

“Stop worrying.” – Jesus, common translation

“Stop merimnate.” – Jesus, in the Greek

Merimnate: to be divided and distracted;  to ruminate in excessive, out of context worry

On the Friday kick-off of Spring Break I led a training for Blue Valley school staff entitled “Emotions As Professors.” The air in the room was thick with emotions of fear, worry and sadness from teachers who had just heard news of extended school closures.

“These emotions,” I taught, “are our professors. They’ve come to teach us something. All of them. I know we’ve been told we’re supposed to avoid and suppress certain emotions (even the seven deadly sins are a list of common emotions!), but instead, today we’re going to practice welcoming them. I want us to imagine our emotions as wise professors knocking on the doorway to our psyches, bearing important lessons.”

As we examined our emotions, including the thought sentences that created these emotions (example: the thought “I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to my students” = the emotion of sadness) and the actions these emotions produced (example: sadness = teachers driving in caravans through local neighborhoods waving to uplift students), I saw faces light up with new realizations. Our thoughts create our emotions, and our emotions, when understood and welcomed, can move us to take important, healing actions.

I shared the cocktail of “negative emotions” I had been feeling in light of the virus, too, and how allowing myself to process these emotions produced wise action:

In February, with a keen eye on what was going on in China, Iran and Italy, I began to feel worry. This worry drove certain behaviors: avoiding large crowds. Canceling plans. Taking inventory of my pantry. Checking in on older family members. Thank you, Professor Worry.

In early March, I felt anger when I noticed people not taking the virus seriously. Out of anger I began raising my voice alongside so many others to #stayhome and #flattenthecurve before Spring Break. Eventually enough of us spoke out, and people began to listen. Thank you, Professor Anger.

Today, I still feel a mixture of worry and anger, but also deep sadness. When I see people suffering, losing jobs and financial security, missing out on cherished milestones, getting sick and dying, I choose to feel sad. Sadness drives us to compassionate action (and also, the loving inaction of simply staying put). Thank you, Professor Sadness.

And let's be fair, these days I'm frequently bored out of my wits. Thanks for the Sabbath, Professor Boredom.

Still, I feel many “positive emotions” in the midst of this pandemic, too. The joy of more time with my family. The hope of an environmental awakening. A profound sense of unity with all humanity. The humor of memes on the socials that maintain my sanity with small doses of laughter.

And you know what? I get to feel all the feels, holding space for whichever emotion comes knocking.

Even Jesus, in the right context, was plagued with such anxiety that Luke wrote “his sweat became like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44) the night before his death. “Stop merimnate,” says Jesus. But it’s okay to welcome Professor Worry. Just leave the door open for Professors Trust, Peace, Joy, Compassion, Hope and Love. They come bearing gifts, too. 

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