Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crazy, Indeed

The staples held together large pieces of skin in two places on the man's leg as he held his pants up for the cameras to see. The wounds were visible. The marks of a gunman were in clear view for all to see.

He stood outside the home of Randy and Amy Loughner as another person or two placed flowers and balloons on their doorstep. A newscaster inquired, "What are you doing here?"

His response: "I came over to try to forgive them."
He then continued, "I know that sounds crazy" but that is why I am here.

I know that sounds crazy. I know that people are not accustomed to forgiveness. I know that one does not expect to find a victim of a shooting to stand on the steps of the home of the one who shot the gun. One does not expect love and grace to extend from one who knows well the pain of the tragedy. I know you expect hatred and revenge. I know you expect ugliness and mean-spirited conversation.

I know that sounds crazy - but I am here to offer forgiveness.

Yes, that does sound unusual. It sounds a lot like the Gospel.

I'm excited about the next several weeks of preaching. It's Year A in the lectionary cycle which means that we get to spend a lot of time with Matthew - my favorite Gospel. I fell in love with Matthew when a course on Matthew taught by Richard Hays coincided with a course titled, "The Local Church in Mission to God's World" taught by Peter Storey. The two courses were my two favorite courses in seminary. Matthew's words called us to mission and Dr. Storey shared how this mission could be prophetically embodied by the local church. The two courses and the professors who taught them transformed me during that semester.

Matthew calls for a remarkable life - a crazy life - an upside-down life. Starting this week, we get to watch and listen as Jesus calls ordinary fishermen to do extraordinary acts. We then get to journey to the top of a mountain where Jesus preaches the greatest sermon ever proclaimed. We'll hear again words that embody a crazy life - a life where the least-expected people receive a blessing - a life where something is expected from those who call themselves followers of Christ - a life filled with salt and light - a life in which one dares to be different.

As we journey with these texts, it is going to sound crazy. The teaching is going to go across the grain of all we have been taught before. It's going to sound nuts - like a shooting victim offering forgiveness to the home from which the shooter came.

I know it sounds crazy. But you're invited to join us. You're invited to allow the words to transform you. You're invited to live a different kind of life following a different kind of Lord.

I know it sounds crazy - but will you come learn with me and then dare to have the courage to embody this crazy life with me?

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