Disrupting History

1 Samuel 12:1-6,16-25Acts 8:14-25Luke 23:1-12

Jesus stands before Pilate in our readings today.  “Are you the  king of the Jews?”  “You say so.”  Then he is passed to Herod.  He gives no answer.

It is a sad state of affairs when the establishment chews up and spits out its leaders, its prophets, or in this case its Messiah.  Jealousy abounds.

I am sure you have been on the short end of this stick, or close to someone who has had this happen.  Perhaps they weren’t crucified, but I am guessing fired from a job unjustly or tossed out like the garbage with regards to friendship or what have you.

Jesus stood before Herod and gave no answer to the charges.  They crucified him – not because of what he had done or said – but because they couldn’t handle what he had done.  It threatened their power.  He threatened the establishment.

Often this is what happens in our churches.  Our pastors illuminate something we don’t like in ourselves.  They help push us into the Gospel light.  Systems sometimes kick back.  People don’t like change.

Jesus demanded that the people wake up.  We don’t like to be awakened.  Let us sleep.  Leave us alone.  Don’t change us.  Don’t make us move, or think.

This is what is wrong with our political system.  Ultimately it comes back to us.  We are too lazy to do anything about it.  So most of us casually sit back and allow the dysfunction to continue to manifest itself.  This is what happens in our churches – we get sick of trying to help people change and we give up and it goes back to the way it was.

I have been the pastor of churches like this – churches that are very much like the Titanic – too big of a boat and too small of a rudder, unable to significantly move in any new directions, dragging over 100 years of history behind it.  Sometimes that history can help.  Other times that history is exactly what ends up holding them back.  Sometimes it is both (a “both/and,” so common in our postmodern world).

At times the dysfunction that manifests are things like radial injustice, powers that are so great, getting so much steam behind them, that they become the Titanics of our lives.  We fight, but it is only as others join the fight that we can get anywhere.

Are you familiar with Titus Kaphar?  He is one of the artistic voices of our day, with some of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.  He is painting, cutting, and sculpting images of our criminal justice system that you need to see.  He is disrupting history.  He is looking through the lens of history and helping us see our sin.  He is helping us to remember.

Titus is also helping us to critically look at ourselves, and do that “both/and” with history I talked about previous.  Sometimes history can help, other times it is holding us back.  Titus can help us do both.  Most recently he took on Ferguson.  You should check him out if you aren’t familiar (pictured above).  http://kapharstudio.com/

Prophets like Titus often show us the way.  They help us to wrestle with our past and chart out new futures.

Jesus shows us the way.  His way is even more radical.  Are we willing to lose our life in order for new life to take root?  He died to this end.  But remember that was not the end of the story.  We follow the one who vanquished death forever, and who lives eternally.  He will not let us falter.  New life will find a way.  The question is how and when and how will you choose to be a part.

-Matt

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