Monday, May 4, 2020

e-vo for "May the Fourth"

Dearest e-votees,

So today, May the 4th, is designated as Star Wars Day (get it?  "May the Fourth" sounds an awful lot like "May the Force".

So the joke goes Q:  "How do you know Lutherans are in the audience at a Star Wars screening?"   A: "They all respond back to 'May the force be with you.' with 'And also with you."  (variation:  swap out Catholics for Lutherans and change the response to "And with thy spirit.").  Or still another variation  Q:  "How can you sort out Lutherans and Catholics at a Starbucks?"   A:  "Tell the barista your name is 'The Lord be with you.' and pay attention to responses when your drink order is up."

Humor and embracing some of the memes of our culture is winsome and can go a long way to welcoming people into the faith.  Don't you think?



There are different ways to be a person of faith in this world.  Surely we are called to be "in the world" but not "of it".  But what does that look like when the rubber hits the road?

One approach is that of John the Baptist.  Dress differently, talk differently, live differently, call out sin and demand repentance.  It worked for him.  It also got him killed.  He reminds me of some of the folks I have seen in my days on this earth who lug around crosses and deal out condemnation.  It seems to work for some people but hasn't really helped me get closer to God.  How about you?

Another approach is that of John's cousin Jesus.  Immerse yourself in the world.  Dine with all sorts of people (including the wrong sorts).  Engage those on the fringes.  Bring a word of healing and hope.  Challenge the religious leaders who have missed the mark.  It worked for him.  It also got him killed.

John and Jesus weren't in opposition.  They made connections while they were in utero and both faithfully went about their callings for all of their unnaturally short lifespans.  Both of them pushed against people who were too much "of the world".  There passion and their tenacity caused lethal blowback.

I am not thinking that most of us will yield our physical lives in service of callings that God has put on our lives (although I hope and pray that should that come to pass I would bring glory to God and help bring others to the saving graces found in Jesus).  But we do have callings on our lives (we Lutherans speak of vocations) and in that we are called to yield our lives, our control, our power, our reputation in service of something higher.  That is not how the world works.  Doing that alone faithfully makes us "not of this world".

That said, we can engage the world and its memes.  Karl Barth said that we should preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.  That means that we should have some connections to the world--its stories, its heartbreak, its culture, its humor, etc., etc.  Those things help us engage people "of this world".  But we should also keep our hearts and minds for the Lord.  We should be "in the world" but not consumed by it (or "assimilated" to bring in another sci-fi meme).

May you find humor and joy this day.  May you be playful and whimsical yet focussed and faithful.  Something is going to get us one of these days:  COVID-19, an accident, genetics, a hostile world who doesn't like the way we live our our vocations, old age, cancer, etc., etc.  But we have good news that death won't be the end of us.  So, as Andrew Greeley says:  "Jesus and his troublemaking go merrily on".  (for those who are curious you can see that my faith is at least skin deep (and truly much deeper) by pointing your browser here.)

Jesus, help us engage the world in winsome and faithful ways.  Be with us every day of our lives and every day thereafter.  Amen.

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