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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Today’s Reading | Matthew 11:7–9, 16–19

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

. . .

“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (NRSV)


Who was it that the crowds were looking for? Were they expecting an earthly king of the Jews, a king like Herod, living in sumptuous splendor, cloaked in soft robes, represented on the coins of the territories by a Galilean reed blowing in the wind? Is that why they went out into the wilderness to hear John--to learn of a politically powerful ruler come to save them?

No, says Jesus. For that, one would go to a palace. To go to the wilderness to hear God’s promise, God’s word, suggests a different reality, a different expectation: a world turned upside down. A world in which slaves are freed to live in the plenty of promise. A world in which a prophet focuses not on self but on pointing to the one to come, God incarnate. A world in which lavishness is not the riches of royalty but the generosity of God’s love embracing the tax collector and sinner.

It is easy for us, like the generation to which Jesus spoke, to measure those around us, the world, the kingdom, according to our own expectations and preferences. Thus some found John’s denial of self upsetting, while Jesus’ sharing food and drink with all of God’s children was also troubling. Neither way was familiar--or comfortable; both were challenging. But that challenge is the reality of the world turned upside down, the glorious kingdom in which everyone is invited to the table, to the banquet feast.


Challenge me, O God, to see beyond my own preconceptions and expectations. Let not my human vision and understanding limit my openness to the expansiveness and wonder of your divine kingdom. Open my mind and heart to embrace that kingdom that I might live and love as you would have me do, secure in your ever-present love and promise. Amen.

Written by Ann Rehfeldt, Director of Communications

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