breaking up the party: a radical proposal to save the republic

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I am a Democrat, mostly because I believe that in a capitalist society we need strong social safety nets for the poor, the sick, and those disadvantaged in any way. But, there are many Republicans who I know, love, and respect. I believe that a strong Republican Party is necessary to check safety net thinking with the ideals of limited government and fiscal responsibility.

While I generally stand on one side of that equation, I believe that having an opposition is good for the country. Balance and a rigorous debate are, I think, vital for national health.

But, this is not a time for party politics. This is not a time for debate on the typical matters of national interest.

We have a President who is obviously off the rails, and there’s a strong possibility that he has committed criminal and/or treasonous acts. Investigations to determine this are being cut off at every pass both by the President and Congressional Republicans.

It’s the latter that concerns me the most. As I see it, Congressional Republicans are, by and large, complicit in stifling any real, unbiased inquiry. In my view the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader bear the vast amount of responsibility here.

Can we save the GOP? And, more importantly, salvage the country?

Maybe.

So, here’s my proposal: We take party politics out of this.

1) I propose we dissolve the Democratic Caucuses in the House and Senate and form a Patriot’s Caucus. This caucus would consist of the Democrats in both houses AND any GOP congressmen/women who are ready to put country above party.

If there are ~23 Republicans in the House who are willing to go with this, then this party of Patriots will become the majority party. If there are 3 such people in the Senate, then they become the majority party there.

2) This new caucus would need to carefully select new leaders, who were consensus candidates – with special care in the House, for this person could be a new speaker, and most importantly and germane to this discussion, third in line of Presidential succession.

3) Other than the basic tasks that need to happen to keep our country moving, this new caucus would focus solely on investigating the Russian influence in the last election, alleged collusion by the Trump campaign, and potential criminal activity by Trump or any of his associates. With current leadership sidelined in a new minority, they are completely neutered as protectors of the administration.

4) After a thorough review, and should it be determined necessary and prudent, the House and Senate bring articles of impeachment against the President and Vice President.

5) The new leader of the Patriot Caucus in the House becomes the President of the United States.

6) After this, the two parties could align themselves as they were before all this mess, or decide to do something creative.

I believe that this would not only solve our current crisis, but it might also solve one of the biggest problems our country has seen over the past several decades: Hyper-partisanship.

If we could come together, not as Democrats and Republicans, but as patriotic Americans in this moment of crisis, then maybe, just maybe, we might forge the relationships and trust that are necessary to break the fever which got us to this spot in the first place.

Call Them What They Are: Heretics

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Current Affairs

So, when is it going to be acceptable to call them “heretics?”

By “them” I’m referring to the might-is-right, me-first, prosperity-focused, gun-toting, Muslim-hating, purveyors of right-wing-talking-points-as-Gospel crowd.

You know. The ones who believe Trump – a thrice married man with wandering hands and a foul mouth – was “God’s choice.” The ones who reflexively defend the State of Israel even when they completely forsake 3,000 years of Jewish teaching through unconscionable policies towards Palestinians. The ones who would rather keep refugees out of our country – even women and children – when not one refugee has committed even a single act of terror on American soil.

When can we call them heretics?

Because they are.

They might call themselves “Christian.” They might have large “ministries” that have global reach. They might have “churches” or “Christian” universities. They might run otherwise perfectly fine international relief organizations.

They also might believe in the Trinity, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and fervently proclaim Jesus’ death and resurrection.

But, just because they might pass a basic doctrine test, they completely and totally forsake everything the Bible ever said about mercy, grace, concern for widows, orphans, and strangers, sacrificial love, and judgement of others.

Here, the scion of the great Billy Graham promotes a completely safe and selfish vision of our faith. Here, Franklin Graham whistles by the refugees who are lying in a ditch by the side of the road, forsaking any sense of sacrificial service to those in need.

Greater life has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

Forget the fact that refugees in America have been found to be no threat. Forget the fact that security experts have said that specifically denying Muslims entry into our country is exactly what ISIS wants to highlight in their recruitment propaganda.

Forget all of that. It’s expressly against the teachings of Jesus, AND presented by a “Christian” leader.

Heresy.

I mean, I don’t even know where to begin with this one. But, the Sermon on the Mount comes to mind: Blessed are the meek, blessed are the peacemakers. Anointing a culture of violence is antithetical to the faith espoused by the Prince of Peace, the one who tells us to pray for those who persecute us. The one who says if they take one cloak from us, we should give them the other.

[While writing this article, I grabbed a tweet from Jerry Falwell Jr., criticizing Nordstroms for succumbing to pressure from “liberals” and dropping her clothing line. In the few minutes between grabbing the tweet, and posting this article, Falwell had deleted the tweet.]

I’m sure there are “liberal” Christians who thought Obama walked on water, and could do no wrong, and that misses the mark too. We simply cannot conflate “real” Christian values towards one side of the political spectrum, and demonize the other (Whichever one we happen to be on). And, we cannot baptize a presidential administration, or political party and defend their every action and position from the pulpit or on Twitter.

To do so is to forsake Jesus. And that, is heresy. Or, if it’s not heresy, then I don’t know what that word means anymore.

The emerging American “Christianity” bears strikingly little resemblance to the faith that Jesus taught. Or, that the Torah teaches. Or, that the prophets cried out.

We can argue doctrine or theology. We can have differences in our approach to sexuality, worship styles, or whether we choose to employ Lucite pulpits. There are many things that we can agree to disagree on. We can even disagree on what’s important, central, and necessary.

But, when you so divorce yourself from the basic teachings and example of Jesus, then you become unmoored from anything that can even loosely be called “Christian.”

It really isn’t enough to believe that Jesus died for your sins, if you discount everything Jesus said prior to his death on the cross. One of my favorite priests, Gray Temple, once said that “Jesus is not merely a hematological function.” He bled for us, but he also taught us.

He taught us that the meek inherit the earth. That we are not to judge the speck in someone else’s eye lest we miss the plank in our own eye. He taught us to love, unconditionally. And to love our neighbor – which includes everyone on the face of the earth. He even taught us to love our enemies. He taught us to welcome the stranger, and feed the hungry. He told us to be like the one who jumps into the ditch to save the one in need, at the expense of our own comfort and safety. He taught us to turn the other cheek, and not retaliate upon the one who strikes us.

If the faith we are preaching and proclaiming doesn’t resemble these teachings, that’s fine. It’s a free country. You can do what you want.

Just don’t call your thing “Christian.”

And the rest of us should call it what it is: heresy.

We Mock Jesus

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Current Affairs / Jesus / terror

Many commentators and pundits are writing articles and issuing statements of how they fear this new administration is eroding the basic fabric of our democracy. I share some of their fears. But, I also fear that the basic fabric of the Christian faith is eroding before our eyes. I hear talk of “Jesus” and “Christianity” but what follows looks nothing like Jesus, and resembles nothing of the faith that he came to bring us.

America First

It’s not just “America First” that concerns me—though it certainly does. But, it’s the constant drumbeat of we will only take care of our own before we even think of caring for someone else that scares me to death. Starbucks offers to hire 10,000 refugees, and people go nuts. We will handcuff elderly women and small children in airports because “inconveniencing” them is preferable to us being in any danger. Maybe we’ll think of taking in refugees, but only if they are Christian.

Jesus’ life was defined by being sacrificial. He gave of himself, and asked us to give of our selves. As Philippians 2 tells us, Jesus emptied himself that he might humble himself to live among us as one of us—even to the point of death. Before Paul launches into the Christ Hymn, he precedes it by saying, “Have the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus emptied himself. And we are to do the same. The faith of Jesus is not about us putting ourselves ahead of everyone else. No, Jesus’ faith is the opposite. We are to empty ourselves in order that others may go first. And, sometimes that means putting ourselves in harm’s way. Sometimes that means so aligning with the persecuted, that we become persecuted too.

Now, I get it, it’s hard to build a national security policy around this. We need to protect our people, our children, and the vulnerable people who are here. But, if we are going to say that we are followers of Jesus we cannot get there by casting others aside so quickly.

Damn the Vulnerable

Our faith—from the opening pages of the Hebrew Bible right on through to the closing pages of the New Testament—is build solidly on the foundation that we care for the vulnerable, the poor, the downtrodden. In the Old Testament there is a triad that we see over and over and over again: the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. God repeatedly says that we are to care for them, and woe to anyone who afflicts them.

Then Jesus ramps it up in Matthew 25 identifying himself as the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, and the stranger. By serving them, we are really serving him. And, this whole section is summarized as the “judgement of the nations.” It’s the nations who don’t care for the vulnerable who are cast to eternal torment, and the nations who care for the vulnerable who are ushered into paradise.

Whether it be immigration policy, access to healthcare, or policies towards the poor, the homeless, and the hungry—the followers of Jesus are always called to stand with the needy. Always. No exceptions.

Refugees

Jesus was a refugee. After he was born King Herod sought to kill him, and his parents took him to Egypt for safety. Jesus was literally a refugee in Egypt. The cries to keep Syrian refugees out of our country is antithetical to the faith we are supposed to espouse.

The Old Testament is filled with references to caring for those who are in your land.

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

Again, it is hard to build a national security policy around this. I understand that. Terrorism is a real threat, and we need to protect people from it. But, we cannot claim to follow Jesus if we are so willing to throw people fleeing the horrors of their homeland under the bus. They are trying to save their lives, and the lives of their children. You would do the same.

That we have a dark history when it comes to this should give us even more pause. While Hitler was exterminating the Jews, we turned many boats full of men, women, and children away from our shores. And because of that, they perished. Their blood is on our hands.

Demonizing other Faiths

The Hebrew Bible is pretty clear that the People of God are not to partake in other religious devotions, and that idolatry is expressly forbidden—but, there is no wholesale condemnation of other people whose nations worship differently. Jesus certainly never does this. Jesus takes his disciples to Caesarea Philippi, which was the worldwide headquarters of the “Pan” cult. In festivals celebrating and worshipping Pan, devotees in Caesarea Philippi would perform ritual sex acts on goats. I mean, it’s about as dark of a place in the ancient world as you can imagine. But, Jesus takes his disciples there—and what condemnations does he rain down on the Pan worshippers? None. He doesn’t even mention it. It’s not how Jesus works. Jesus would rather bring Light and Truth to people. and have them come to a decision to follow him, than demonize people who have yet to find it.

Followers of Jesus cannot get caught up in the denigrating of other faiths and religions. We just can’t do it. We are to love them as our neighbor, and show everyone the Light and Truth of God as we have come to believe it. The way we proclaim our faith is primarily through our lives of outrageous love, forgiveness, and grace.

Lies, Lies, and Darned Lies

Speaking of Truth… Well, you know what I’m going to say. We absolutely cannot traffic in “alternative facts” and utter ridiculousness—whether it be about crowd size or birth certificates. Someone once said that the truth will set us free (John 8:32), and we need to feel secure in the truth, no matter what it is.

Remember who the Father of Lies is. (John 8:44)

Kindness Matters

People living 2,000 years ago were told that you could tell who was a Christian by how they loved one another. If you tried to say that today, it would be followed by riotous laughter. We have utterly failed to follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors. We have certainly failed to follow his command to love our enemies (Matthew 6:43–48). If anything shames God about his self-professed followers today, I think it’s this.

Today you are more likely to know Christians by their hatred of Muslims, by their willingness to slash healthcare and welfare, and by their acceptance of detaining women and children in airports. But, you will not know Christians by their love.

And, that has to change.

Mockery

If we stay on this course, we will make a mockery of Jesus and the Christian Faith until there is nothing left except the words “Jesus” and “Christian”—but they will be words that resemble nothing of the actual Jesus and the actual faith he brought and taught. That notable “Christian” leaders with last names like “Falwell” and “Graham” champion such heresy is a sign to the world that Christianity is completely unmoored from the life and teachings of Jesus.

You can be a Christian and be a Republican or a Democrat. You can be a Christian and have voted for Trump or Clinton. You cannot be a Christian and put yourself before others, forget the vulnerable, demonize religions, and fail to love your neighbor so spectacularly.

The Constitution may just be strong enough to hold our democracy together, come what may. I fear that the church isn’t as strong, and that those who are ready and willing to love sacrificially, care for the vulnerable, and see everyone as their neighbor will pass us by.

And, if we continue down this path, maybe they should.

Advent 4a: the center that wouldn’t hold

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I’m intrigued by Catherine Keller’s theological archaeology, where she raises up Nicholas of Cusa, an obscure 15th century cardinal and mystic.

Nicholas mused on the cosmos as a product of its Creator, and which, he presumed would therefore have to resemble its Progenitor. He assumed, that since God is infinite and without bounds, then it would be reasonable to assert that the cosmos is likewise infinite and without bounds.

Extrapolating on this crazy thought, he said that if it has no bounds, then there is no circumference. And, if no circumference, then, *ipso facto*, it has no center.

And, if the cosmos has no center… then the earth isn’t the center of anything.

He says this nearly a century before Copernicus, and well over 150 years before Galileo.

That is just astounding.

And, for a people whose entire conception of their world rested on the fact that we live on an earth that is in the center of a universe, in which the sun and everything else revolves around us – that must have been utterly disconcerting. Disturbing.

Decentering. (Literally.)

To be unseated from the center of creation must have set off a cultural panic attack. (Just ask Galileo who had been sent to his room without supper.)

Our entire identity rested on the notion of us being special, which for us meant, central. In the middle. in the spotlight.

But no, says Isaiah, we don’t need to be in the center to be special. No, for God isn’t just at the outer-reaches of the cosmos. God isn’t just in nebulae and black holes. God isn’t just on some throne a million light years away in some heaven that no rocket can reach.

God is, of course, in all of those places. And many more. But, that is not all.

No Isaiah says. God is with us. Emmanuel.

It is not our place in the universe which makes us special, it is God’s place in the universe. Rather, it is God’s predilection to want to cozy up beside us, walk before us, abide beneath us, and reside within us that makes us so.

Matthew’s Gospel was written at a time when the people of Jerusalem were licking their wounds in the Syrian city of Antioch. The Great Temple had been thrown down, the vessels destroyed, and the priests slaughtered. The People of God wondered “why” and what they were to do next. Was it because they had sinned? Had God abandoned us? Were we now like Job, soon to be laughed at and mocked while sitting in the ashes?

Matthew’s reminder to these people was that while the whole world seemed to be thrown off its center, all was going to be ok, because Emmanuel – God is with us. If those People of God had been able to stick around for fifteen more centuries they would have learned from dear Nicholas that not only had the world been thrown off its center, but there was, in fact, no center to begin with.

“Nevermind,” the cardinal from Cusa might say. For God is with us. On good days, and bad days, and every day in between. On days when we can summon up the courage to stand, and on other days when we can’t do more than cower under the covers.

God, the One Without Bounds, the One Without Circumference, and the One Without a Center, abides with us. Today. Always. Wherever we might be.

Emmanuel.

advent 3a: chucking the wrench

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Advent / Christology / Gospels / Jesus / Lectionary / New Testament / Religion / Year A

It’s a Saturday in the middle of winter, and the heating system in your church breaks down. It’s cold outside, and somehow seems even colder inside. The air stings, and the pews are frigid. You can’t imagine having sweet little old ladies sitting on them tomorrow, but you don’t want to cancel church again. It’s been a snowy winter.

The HVAC company van rolls into the church driveway, and the technician gets out with a clipboard and a toolbox. It’s the weekend, so labor is going to cost you time-and-a-half, but you have no other option.

He heads into the furnace room, and proceeds to take the equipment apart to diagnose and repair the problem.

After being there for several hours, you know that the technician is feeling your anxiety. He’s feeling pressured to get this thing fixed for the morning. There isn’t any time to have a part ordered. This thing needs fixed today.

With tension in the air, you walk into the furnace room, and ask the technician, “Are you the actual repair man, or should I be waiting for someone else?”

He backs away from the furnace and looks at you, as if to say, “Are you kidding me?”

Replay that story again, but this time from the perspective of the HVAC repair guy. It’s Saturday. You wanted to be with your spouse and kids. But, here you are in this church trying to work a miracle on this machine that has so much neglected routine maintenance on it, it’s not even funny. You know that they have church tomorrow, and so you’re trying to fix it with what you have, instead of putting in an order for a new part. And, after several hours, the hapless minister—who’s been hovering like an anxious mother bird—insults you by asking if he should be waiting for someone else to come and actually fix this thing.

The fact that you didn’t chuck your wrench at the minister’s head should land you on a list for the Nobel Peace Prize.

This is what John the Baptist does to Jesus. Jesus has been preaching, and healing, and exorcising, walking on water, and raising people from the dead… and John sends his disciples to ask Jesus:

“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

I wonder if John sent them there—to the person that he knew very well was the Messiah—because he wanted to put his own disciples in the position where they could question him. He pushed them to push God.

His disciples weren’t to be the kind that just sat quiet and still, and did what they were told. No, they were the kind of disciples who questioned everything and anything. They stood in the long line of people who dared to ask God what in the world He was up to. Like Abraham, and Sarah, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, and Habakkuk, and Job—John the Baptist’s disciples were going to learn how to walk up to God and ask God a question.

Because by doing so they would learn that God welcomes such things. In fact God yearns for such attention and willingness to engage in a real relationship. God would not throw a wrench at them. God would love them.

And, by forming his disciples in such a manner, they would follow in John’s footsteps, preparing the way of the Lord wherever they went.

advent 2a: a turn of repentance

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Advent / Gospels / New Testament / Religion / Status / Temple / Year A

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

As John bellowed these words you had been clapping and whistling, chanting and laughing with the crowds—jeering at the sad faces of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The crowd was electric with John’s verbal lashing, and was merciless with their own taunts.

The long-fringed robes and the broad phylacteries of the religious leaders, which they had put on as a demonstration of the depth of their faith, now clung to them like a jester’s costume.

They had come to see what John was up to, and they had fallen into a trap. They had come to watch him, and yet they had become the focus of attention.

And then… with the laughter and shouting still hanging in their air… John the baptist turned from the Pharisees and Sadducees—the keepers of the Word and the tenders to the Temple—and he turned towards… you, and the people around you. With fierce eyes, lit like from within, he looked you over from top to bottom.

While you had moments earlier joined in on the jeering of the professionally religious, whose faults are freely available for all to see, and who make such easy targets, now you feel those same words stuck in your throat.

What fruit have I bore? Where are my sagging branches, heavy with the fruits of righteousness and compassion? Where have I shown myself to be on the side of God? Where have I been an agent of peace? Where have I stood on the side of the oppressed and impoverished? Where have I shown that the poor in spirit are the ones who are truly blessed?

The stones, lying at my feet… could these stones be shown to be more faithful than I? Children of Abraham?

John the Baptist, seething in anger that his sermon had been used as a means to mock and jeer others—to set them as unwelcome outsiders—looked at you. He turned and gazed over his shoulder at the Pharisees and the Sadducees, standing there stung, like they had just been spanked, and worried that they were about to take another round.

John then walked over to them. He gestured to one of them, and the man took off his phylactery and handed it to John. John strapped it to his forehead. He motioned to another for his fringed-robe, and the man gave it to him. He draped himself in it.

Then he looked across the crowd towards us, and he said:

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Advent 1a: you know nothing

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Advent / Jesus / Lectionary / Year A

No, if we know anything these days, it’s that we know so very little.

Our confidence can wither in moments, and everything that we once thought was “up” will be found to be “upside down.”

For the pundits and the pollsters try and lull us to sleep with their braggadocio. They hypnotize us with their numbers, and plans, and historical perspectives. They have their canon laws, their proof texts, and their little prayers that we can read at the end of a gospel tract and rest confident that we are going to be part of that number when the saints go marching in.

But then you’ll be grinding meal, and in a flash your partner will be gone. Or, she’ll be left at the grinding stone by herself, wondering where you went when there was so much work to be done.

If there is one thing that we know, it’s that we have no idea what’s going on.

But, that’s ok. We don’t need to be in the know.

All we need to be is awake. Prepared. Ready.

For what? God knows what.

You know nothing, John Snow.

Maybe we’re getting ready to shoot up into the sky. Maybe we’re ready for that little mustard seed in us to sprout suddenly into the greatest of trees.

Maybe we’re waiting for something as silly as a child being born in a manger.

Who knows? I don’t.

But, I can be awake.

2,000 years later and I’ve finally figured out the Lord’s Prayer! (maybe) (ok, not really)

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Jesus / Lectionary / New Testament / Prayer / Year C

West Virginia SunriseIn the Gospel of Luke the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray,” and Jesus gives them a shorter-than-we’re-used-to version of the Lord’s Prayer.

There’s a jillion sermons and books and journal articles and videos and blog posts about the content of the Lord’s Prayer, how important it is, how similar it is to other ancient Jewish prayers of Jesus’ day, etc.

But, here’s the thing… I think we might just possibly be barking up the wrong tree. At least in Luke.

I mean Jesus is known for not directly answering a questions asked of him, or doing exactly what is asked of him. People ask him what they must do to inherit eternal life, and he says, “What do you think?” People ask him what the greatest commandment is, and he asks them what they read in the law. His mother informs him that the party has run out of wine, and says that it’s none of his business…before changing the water into wine.

So, I find it a little curious that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, and he just spits out a six line prayer like that’s all there is to it.

If you asked someone to teach you how to fly a jumbo jet aircraft, and they told you about six knobs and levers to pull and twist, and that that was all there was to it, you’d might be a little skeptical.

If you asked someone how to make wonderfully flaky and buttery puff pastry, and they gave you a short ingredient list and then told you to throw it all in the oven for a little bit, you’d want a little more detail.

If you asked an artist how you could paint like Van Gogh, and they told you to get some paint and while making a sunflower on a canvas to apply the paint thickly, you wouldn’t be too impressed.

So, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, and he gives them a short prayer? That’s it? Really?

That wouldn’t even work today. If someone comes into my office, asking me to teach them how to pray, they aren’t going to be satisfied if I hand them a card with the Lord’s Prayer stamped on it. They are going to want more.

Jesus and his first century Jewish disciples had lots of prayers. Prayers for when they woke up, prayers for when they sat down to eat, prayers for when they had messed up… They were not short on prayers.

So, what’s going on here?

I wonder if Jesus isn’t punking them. Not so that he could embarrass them, of course, but so that they might have the fortitude to go deep and keep going there.

Peter Rollins tells a great tale in his book Insurrection about a man who desperately runs up to the home of the town priest and bangs on the door looking for help for a family that’s about to get evicted. The man tells the clergyman with great emotion that this is a great family, that they are very trustworthy, that they’ve never, ever been late with their rent before—and if they don’t come up with the full amount today that they will be out on the street by evening. The priest says, yes, of course he can help. But, just before setting off to the church for the discretionary fund checkbook the priest asks the man, “By the way, how do you know the family?”

The man replies nonchalantly, “Oh, I’m their landlord.”

The guy is asking a favor from someone, and yet he also has the power within himself to do something about it.

Knowing Jesus’ predilection for answering a question with a question, and for responding with unconventional responses to requests, I wonder if this isn’t what Jesus is doing here. As if Jesus is really saying,

You want to know how to pray? You want to commune with the Force that set the sun, moon, and stars in the sky and put the planets on their courses? You want to step into the Presence of the One who knit you together in your mother’s womb, and whose glory stretches across the universe? Well, here’s a few nice words to get you started.

Everything you need to know is within you. But, you’re going to need more than this. And, you’re going to need more time than we have this morning.

And if it doesn’t work the first time, or the 1,578th time—just keep at it. Be persistent. Be in it for the long haul. 

Ask, and keep asking. Knock and keep knocking. But, keep your words down to a handful, because the real magic happens when you listen. 

Do this, and you might just be surprised at the doors which open, and the gifts you receive.