Homily, July 9 2023, CHS Vashon, The Rev Evan G. Clendenin
We don’t always know, see, what we are doing, how we are behaving. So, it can be helpful when someone with the wisdom to do so can gently enough hold up a mirror of wisdom, even divine wisdom, to help us know, see better what we are doing, who we are, and who we are in God. This is what Jesus does for us, and doing so invites us into the life of wisdom, the life of peace making and compassion building, the life of his yoke that is easy and light.
Jesus does so in many ways. One of them is parables. He was a person who paid attention to things like plants and seeds and soil, and birds, and also businesses and their managers and employees, and widows, and housekeepers sweeping, farmers, and more. He paid attention to everyday life and saw the wisdom, the practical divine wisdom calling out there. Not problems to be solved intellectually-a reality to be lived with more and more of our whole being. Wisdom for what each of us face.
And we can gather from the reading today, that he paid attention to children at play. He noticed the games they played, saw them playing in the marketplace, in the streets. Not on municipally sanctioned, safety approved, playgrounds. But here amidst where they’re caretaking adults haggled and negotiated and traded, argued and stole and befriended, and worked. Maybe there where they were working too, making things, carrying things, working. Jesus noticed them playing. It’s just worth not skipping over all the aspects of human daily living that Jesus paid attention to and found wisdom calling out from within.
So, when some learned sorts express their hostility to Jesus and John the Baptist, he has a ready image with which to administer a gentle shock to them. You guys-so smart, so serious, all those good reasons-you’re like kids playing that game in the street, where they call out to each other and reject each other. God called you thru someone devoted to fasting and discipline and religious effort-you called him a holy roller. God called out to you in someone who joined in the everyday needs of eating and drinking and companionship, and all those people who got by each day working in marketplace and its various shops and back alleys. You called him druggie. So, what is it you want? A good question to come back to now and again.
Jesus pays attention to all kinds of things and can transmit us into their wisdom. We call them parables, but they are Jesus’ way of pulling us into the reality of life with God. They are not problems to be solved or explained. They are the reality of the kingdom drawn near, wisdom calling out to us in the streets. They are Jesus’ invitation to an easier, gentler, peace-making, compassion-building way of life. An easy yoke. We find reasons, good reasons, grown up, conservative and liberal reasons, to not receive this wisdom way. But Jesus calls, calls each one of us in the midst of our own unique muddle, into wisdom, into healing and holiness and sanctification.
Jesus is calling us into the life of divine wisdom, the life of his easy yoke. It will speak to us where we are. It is speaking to us. It is speaking to our muddles. To the things we can’t quite let go of, or the things we can quite get hold of. It is inviting us to install a rail along the steps, or call that friend, or sort out the check-register, or the kitchen table. Or think back to our own parents or teachers or elders with gratitude, and if not gratitude, maybe with compassion for the muddles they themselves were born into, or the heavy yokes on them as we grew up. Maybe to remember that they once played in the streets or fell head over heels for someone. Or remember yourself with compassion, think about what you want, that one thing necessary for today, and what, or who, might help you receive it.