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Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B

Jeremiah 31:31-34 - link to NRSV text
John 12:20-33 - link to NRSV text

"Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out."

That's what Jesus says in this Sunday's gospel. It's quite a statement. I wonder how we might live, what choices we'd make, if we were going to live into this more deeply. What would it mean to say that the "one day" of the prophets was NOW? What would it mean if the "ruler of this world" will be driven out NOW?

For one thing, I think it would mean that it's time to stop kissing up to all prior candidates and all wannabees for the title of "ruler of this world." It's astonishing how often we get sucked into some path we didn't exactly choose, but seemed like the thing to do -- the respectable thing, the thing that successful people do, the thing that responsible people do -- and then structure every other choice around this one unchosen and unfulfilling fact. Or maybe our master has been some idea of self-sufficiency, of somehow accruing enough money or status to be "free" to do what we want, get what we want, be who we want to be, but it never seems to be quite enough -- we discover new ways in which we are vulnerable, and try to get more money or status to make it go away, but then discover we're still vulnerable, and we start the cycle over again. As U2 puts it, "you can never get enough/of what you don't really need" ("Stuck In a Moment," All That You Can't Leave Behind).

Well if the time is now, there's no reason to remain stuck in all that. The old boss -- all the old bosses -- are GONE. Their power was illusory, and now even the illusion is passing away. That's what we mean when we say "Jesus is Lord." That's why all of this talk about "the judgment of this world" is GOOD news -- because, as I've preached about before, the judge is Jesus, the one who loved us enough to give his very life for us. "The judgment of this world" is not a gorefest like the Left Behind books; it's the culmination of Jesus' work on earth, the end of everything that separates us from one another and from God. We expect nothing less than that, the answer to our prayer that God's kingdom would come and God's will be done -- on earth as it is in heaven.

And nothing else has hold on us.

Are you waiting to use your voice, your power, your life for justice until you've got the education, the money, the institutional clearance, the world's permission to be heard? Well there's no line, no waiting, if the time is now. If there's something you're passionate about, some possibility that has ignited your imagination to make some corner of the world a little more like the visible sign of God's love, God's peace, God's justice, and God's blessing, you need no permission from the rulers of this world. Those who use the power they have to maintain their privilege would like nothing better than for you to sit back and wait for their authorization, but you don't need it:

Now is the judgment of this world.

In these last days of Lent, we start looking ahead to Holy Week, toward Jesus' journey to the Cross. We're invited to read texts that have Jesus talking about what's going to happen, what he's going to accomplish in Jerusalem. This is clearly a solemn time. Jesus' disciples in this Sunday's gospel picked up on that. They knew something big was coming, but they didn't know what, and they were anxious and afraid. And these are days of great anxiety for many in our world. There are wars and rumors of wars, elected and unelected men of power being cast down. There are changes afoot, and there are plenty of self-appointed prophets of doom ready to tell us that we SHOULD be afraid, that we need to stay the course, toe the line, do what they tell us lest something even more terrible fall upon us.

But what if Jesus is right?

If Jesus is right, then we don't need to fear. We need to follow. When Jesus is lifted up, he draws ALL people to him -- the Greeks who just now are telling Philip they want to see Jesus and the Pharisees who fear he's stirring up the people, the prophets of doom and the peasants just trying to get by. The God Jesus proclaimed, the God who created the universe, is still drawing the universe toward the justice for which it aches. That God is calling.

The days are surely coming. God wants to inscribe God's just and liberating word on our hearts, and all, from the least to the greatest, will know it, experience it, celebrate it.

What if the time is now?

Thanks be to God!

March 30, 2006 in Current Events, Eschatology, Jeremiah, John, Justice, Lent, Year B | Permalink

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Thanks for another great entry and for your comments on my xanga blog. I greatly appreciate what you have to say in your lectionary blog and hope to send you some support soon. Your site has really been a blessing to me. Godspeed!

Posted by: shannonjamila | Mar 30, 2006 10:09:48 PM

Well, if you're going to quote rock and roll... You mention bosses right after the U2 quote. I can't help but think of the line from the Pete Townshend song "Won't Get Fooled Agains"--"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Posted by: moronikos | Mar 31, 2006 11:44:30 AM

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Dylan's lectionary blog: Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B

« Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B | Main | Palm Sunday, Year B »

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B

Jeremiah 31:31-34 - link to NRSV text
John 12:20-33 - link to NRSV text

"Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out."

That's what Jesus says in this Sunday's gospel. It's quite a statement. I wonder how we might live, what choices we'd make, if we were going to live into this more deeply. What would it mean to say that the "one day" of the prophets was NOW? What would it mean if the "ruler of this world" will be driven out NOW?

For one thing, I think it would mean that it's time to stop kissing up to all prior candidates and all wannabees for the title of "ruler of this world." It's astonishing how often we get sucked into some path we didn't exactly choose, but seemed like the thing to do -- the respectable thing, the thing that successful people do, the thing that responsible people do -- and then structure every other choice around this one unchosen and unfulfilling fact. Or maybe our master has been some idea of self-sufficiency, of somehow accruing enough money or status to be "free" to do what we want, get what we want, be who we want to be, but it never seems to be quite enough -- we discover new ways in which we are vulnerable, and try to get more money or status to make it go away, but then discover we're still vulnerable, and we start the cycle over again. As U2 puts it, "you can never get enough/of what you don't really need" ("Stuck In a Moment," All That You Can't Leave Behind).

Well if the time is now, there's no reason to remain stuck in all that. The old boss -- all the old bosses -- are GONE. Their power was illusory, and now even the illusion is passing away. That's what we mean when we say "Jesus is Lord." That's why all of this talk about "the judgment of this world" is GOOD news -- because, as I've preached about before, the judge is Jesus, the one who loved us enough to give his very life for us. "The judgment of this world" is not a gorefest like the Left Behind books; it's the culmination of Jesus' work on earth, the end of everything that separates us from one another and from God. We expect nothing less than that, the answer to our prayer that God's kingdom would come and God's will be done -- on earth as it is in heaven.

And nothing else has hold on us.

Are you waiting to use your voice, your power, your life for justice until you've got the education, the money, the institutional clearance, the world's permission to be heard? Well there's no line, no waiting, if the time is now. If there's something you're passionate about, some possibility that has ignited your imagination to make some corner of the world a little more like the visible sign of God's love, God's peace, God's justice, and God's blessing, you need no permission from the rulers of this world. Those who use the power they have to maintain their privilege would like nothing better than for you to sit back and wait for their authorization, but you don't need it:

Now is the judgment of this world.

In these last days of Lent, we start looking ahead to Holy Week, toward Jesus' journey to the Cross. We're invited to read texts that have Jesus talking about what's going to happen, what he's going to accomplish in Jerusalem. This is clearly a solemn time. Jesus' disciples in this Sunday's gospel picked up on that. They knew something big was coming, but they didn't know what, and they were anxious and afraid. And these are days of great anxiety for many in our world. There are wars and rumors of wars, elected and unelected men of power being cast down. There are changes afoot, and there are plenty of self-appointed prophets of doom ready to tell us that we SHOULD be afraid, that we need to stay the course, toe the line, do what they tell us lest something even more terrible fall upon us.

But what if Jesus is right?

If Jesus is right, then we don't need to fear. We need to follow. When Jesus is lifted up, he draws ALL people to him -- the Greeks who just now are telling Philip they want to see Jesus and the Pharisees who fear he's stirring up the people, the prophets of doom and the peasants just trying to get by. The God Jesus proclaimed, the God who created the universe, is still drawing the universe toward the justice for which it aches. That God is calling.

The days are surely coming. God wants to inscribe God's just and liberating word on our hearts, and all, from the least to the greatest, will know it, experience it, celebrate it.

What if the time is now?

Thanks be to God!

March 30, 2006 in Current Events, Eschatology, Jeremiah, John, Justice, Lent, Year B | Permalink

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