Keeping our Eyes on Jerusalem
The Rev. Fran Holliday
Sunday June 30, 2013
All Saints’ 8,9 and 11:00 a.m. services
“When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, He set his sights on Jerusalem.”
Jesus was on a mission.
He was determined.
He knew what he was about, he knew where he was going.
“He set his sights on Jerusalem.”
Jesus was on his way to the cross, the grave and, ultimately, to resurrection glory. That was his purpose and nothing was going to stop Him from fulfilling the redemptive work of God in the world.
Let’s take a quick look at his ministry again.
Right from the start Jesus’ actions drew criticisms from even those who knew him—and yet he continued on. Luke’s Gospel tell us that while Jesus was in the synagogue in his home town He angered people so much while preaching a message of inclusion, that he was driven out and almost hurled off of a cliff. But he moved on to Capernaum and continued his Ministry.
He was undeterred.
Jesus worked steadfastly to include those on the margins of society, the untouchables, the seemingly unlovable. He was always dinning with the outcasts, tax collectors and undesirables. He was a boundary breaker, and he continued on despite the deeply rooted social norms and pressures of his day.
Remember when he spoke to the Samaritan woman, at the well, something no self respecting Jew would ever do? Jesus was always turning heads. Jesus taught that showing justice, mercy and compassion were paramount to following the ways of God. He did this repeatedly in the face of great opposition. In the synagogue on the Sabbath he cured a man with a withered hand and cast out demons. He would stop at nothing despite the fact that these actions were in direct opposition to the law and drew increasingly hostile reactions.
Jesus was unwavering in his ministry of inclusion, and love for all people especially toward those who could not care for themselves, the widow, the child, the sick and the hungry. He was moved with compassion to act time and again on behalf of the powerless, and he wanted those around him, most especially those in power to do the same.
For those who wanted to follow Jesus then and those of us who struggle to follow him now, we are reminded in today’s gospel that this ministry—to transform the world into a world of justice and mercy, has a cost.
For Jesus it was going to Jerusalem. He literally gave his life for this. There are of course the usual stellar examples of individuals who have followed the call and have done this in a very literal way, for instance Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela who was jailed for twenty six years of his life. However each one of us is called to this ministry. But we have to decide if we’re going to make that unwavering commitment. We have to decided if we’re going to keep our eyes on Jerusalem.
This week President Obama traveled with his family to Goree Island which is off the cost of Darkar Senegal. There they visited a small slave house where men, women and children were shackled, weighed and traded before being sent across the Atlantic. As President Obama stood in the doorway, of the house called, “The Door of no Return” He said, “I think more than anything what it reminds us of is that we have to remain vigilant when it comes to the defense of people’s human rights, because I am a firm believer that humanity is basically good, but it’s only good when good people stand up for what is right.” ( Chicago Tribune, 6/27/13)
Our call is to stand up as Jesus did, for the outcasts and the marginalized. Agreeing with policies or believing that something is just or unjust is not enough. We must stand up for it, we must work for it. There are times that we are called to take action, no matter the cost. Sometimes, we must just live it.
This week we saw an extraordinary example of an ordinary every day person who made an unwavering commitment to justice. Edith Windsor the 84 year woman who was the plaintiff in the Defense of Marriage Act case that reached the Supreme court showed commitment and courage as she agreed to go forward with her case. She herself by her own admission has very little to gain from this case. She stated that she is in the last years of her life and she had to think twice about suing the federal government over a tax bill. She was unsure at first if she wanted to enter the fray over this issue, but once her case started through the courts she knew there was no turning back.
When asked why she did it she said, she didn’t want the government to deem that her 44 year relationship with her partner was nothing. But mostly she was doing it for the next generation. Edith expressed her hope that, perhaps, it will help young people feel they are not alone, maybe it will end suicides and make people realize there is nothing wrong with them.
Edith did not have to do this but she felt it was a justice issue that would touch generations to come. She kept her eyes on her Jerusalem.
Today’s gospel is a powerful reminder that we too are called to do the redemptive work of God in the world. We too are called to keep our eyes on Jerusalem.
Copyright Fran Holliday June 2013