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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 7:6–19

Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, “Where is he?” And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, “He is a good man,” others were saying, “No, he is deceiving the crowd.” Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.
About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him. “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” (NRSV)

The Festival of Booths was a harvest festival, happened every fall, where people would build these booths, they’d stay there for like a week, and apparently it was a thing to go and visit these booths. If you’re thinking “county fair” maybe you’re not entirely wrong. A little more religious, maybe, in a theocracy, but you know the drill. You go and visit these booths; it’s a community thing. It’s what you do in a small town.

Anyway, Jesus’ brothers wanted to go to the fair, but Jesus didn’t want to go. Because people didn’t like him. “Those posers don’t like me because I keep it real, you know? You go on ahead. I’m going to hang out here.” And his brothers are like, “Fine, whatever, Mr. Nobody-Loves-Me-Everybody-Hates-Me.” And they go to the fair.

And his brothers have gone, nothing’s happening at home, and finally Jesus says, “The heck with it.” So he kind of covers up, you know, puts on his sunglasses and his emo stocking cap (because Jesus could be pretty emo sometimes) and he goes to hang out at the fair. About halfway through the fair, he does a remarkable thing. The guy who wasn’t going to go, wasn’t going to talk because people hated him, decides that he’s going to talk.

Why does he decide to talk? I think it’s because he’d been hearing people talk about him, and he started thinking, “Wait a minute, this is not about me. It’s about the one who sent me.” And that can make all the difference, just remembering that everything is not about you, that it’s about service. You stop trying to protect yourself. You have something to look at besides what people think of you. Because everyone has their opinions, and the only way to change those opinions is to show up and do the work. And the work is service.

Lord, remind us that the work is service to you and not about ourselves. Get us out there, get us moving among others, and don’t let us worry so much about what they think. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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