Lk10v1-2 For my husband: You're my primary pair, my first two, my prime number, my dyad 'til death. Here we are in year 5, and it's serious now. We've 9v28-35 beheld some mountain tops and v46-50 we've argued ages on the road, and I'm declaring that this symbolic now, on this threshold, this year Jesus sends us two by two, to be labourers of the harvest. So let's do this fam. Let's actually seriously definitely do this. Let's labour hard, harvest, pray, multiply. Let's do kingdom things all the way through now. You & Me, combined harvesters.
Lk10v3-4 "no moneybag, no knapsack.." Be ninja fam, tread lightly, seriously. You are lambs, so be lambs and do lambliness deftly and totally. Why be only semi-vulnerable, neither-nor, presenting as partly at-risk but with a back-up plan. Christianity is urgent, and it's message is its medium which is carried by vulnerability because to the extent that you can display your vulnerability, you can display your invulnerability in God. Everything in me which clings to my stuff, which has a programmatic and pragmatic sense of the social aims of the Kingdom considers that this sort of travelling light is inefficient, it seems foolhardy now, naive and exploitable, a hangover from simpler times, stoic early christians who had less to lose, pre-ironic times when the world was more earnest and more receptive to that sort of display of vulnerability?
Lk10v3-4 "lambs in the midst of wolves" Go as a lamb, .. What is a lamb? They can't fight, they can't hide, they can't run, a bleating herd, eminently edible, utterly fluffy, exquisitely vulnerable. Like, come as a child, lambiness is a true, noble and counterintuitively powerful mode of being.
~ True - being vulnerable is the most authentic expression of being human in the cosmos.
~ Noble - meekness is the highest form of machismo.
~ Powerful - there is something disarming about vulnerable non-violent resistance.
But, there are no prizes for blythe moot mutton mincing. Matthew adds Mt10v16, wise-as-serpents advice to the go-as-lambs command. There is a choreography to tactical sheepliness in the face of antagonism, which demands expedient discretion, ninja lambing which does not cast its pearls before swine and does not simply walk into Mordor.
Lk10v5-6 "Peace to this house." What could the shape of my life look like if every time I entered a new space, crossed a threshold, I spoke these words in honest prayer? It's a prayer that is both a declaration and an invitation, a blessing on the known or unknown other apart from me. But it's also a way of asking God for eyes to see, an invitation to one's own soul to tune back into the spiritual atmosphere around, to re-orient to people as people not things, and to move towards them accordingly. I'm reading these words on the Northern Line, running late for a meeting. I try to declare peace to this train carriage, but it's a struggle to mean it, to even silently proclaim God's reality truthfully to and for this carriage of people, let alone to open myself to allow God to speak to me about them. I want to practice this discipline of declaring peace at the crossing of each threshold, slowing down to see where the peace is received, to lean to the work of the spirit. Maybe this is my task for Lent. Ask me, at Easter, what it was to speak peace at the door.
v7 "abide.. (with constituent participles, eating and drinking)" (menete μένετε Imperative Active)
v8 "eat.." (esthiete ἐσθίετε Imperative Active)
Eat it. Imperative. Do it. Get what you are given. Receive hospitality. Imperative. Eat Pray Love. Imperative. It seems secondary, it seems silly, but it's serious, the imperative is missional. You must go, then you must stay, then you must eat.
1. Eat it - for the sake of the evangelist. An evangelist's remuneration is not charity, it is justice. Evangelism is a costly labour which generates value, translating and exporting the ineffable into the practical, the mysterious into the transformative. Evangelism sings for its supper, and rightly understood, is entitled to be paid, and as a venture it is kept in the real by a calibration against a market for other goods and services.
2. Eat it - for the sake of the evangelised. The evangelised are image-bearers of God, and that is the message itself which is carried by the medium itself. You cannot tell people they are divinely crafted image-bearers, but treat them transactionally utilitistically statistically. The evangelised must be treated as equals, treated with dignity, treated as reciprocal producers of value, conduits of a divine economy, participants in an activity of dominion, members of God's family.
3. Eat it - for the sake of a gift acknowledged. Evangelism is the export of the gift of Christ's incalculable sacrifice, carried by evangelists who have internalised that gift as fuel for their gift of their own incalculable sacrifices. The giftiness of the gift is dangerous. An actual acknowledged gift creates a bond of reciprocal relationship. Whereas, a gift obscured, masks a power which creates debt. Philanthropic condescension creates two codependent classes of sub-Christian individual who are complicit in a lazy exchange of sham beneficence traded with sham poverty.
4. Eat it - for the sake of a world remade through hospitality. Gerard Lemos goes as far as to define homelessness as a 'want of conviviality' (2000). Eat. Imperative. The encouragement to aggressively intentional community goes both ways, it is awkward for both parties, host and hosted. Help them. Be a good hosted, be fully present, Stay&Pray. Abide without awkward tentativity, let your host do the good they want to do, let them unapologetically pay the piper, not that they would call the tunes by so doing, but that by so doing they would participate in the gift economy that God has been so gracious to let us join.
Lk10v9-10 "Near." The Kingdom of God has come near to you. A major theme of this season is recognising my own lack of desire, or at least lack of understanding of desire. Habituated into negating or smothering true desires, I don't know what I want, I don't know what I love. This is a recipe for a boring and distant life. And the unwillingness to commit to desires is bound up with a disbelief that the Kingdom of God has come near. Nearness elicits desires, whether positive or negative. Nearness elicits: fear, disgust, longing. Comfort, intimacy, thrill. Safety, danger, invasion. Contamination, healing, love. To know that something other than oneself is frighteningly or breathtakingly near is a route into desiring God and into fleeing evil. The discovery of nearness is the discovery of love, and you are what you love, as James K.A Smith wants to tell us. So nearness elicits love elicits healing. Declare it then to your own soul, declare it to each other, that we might be lovers of the one who met us when we were still far off, and brought us home.
Lk10v11-12 ⏱ "on that day.." The declaration of the Kingdom comes tinged with apocalypse, because all of life anticipates the perpetually imminent peril of overwhelming calamity, conflict and suffering. Life itself is such a daily urgent time-limited invitation to an all or a nothingness. Everyday is that day, a d-day, a judgement day, every moment is a decision for Christ, when weight is applied, the mettle is tested, and the structure of your life stands or falls on the basis of its foundations.
👑 "The Kingdom" The invitation to participate in the Kingdom is a doubly urgent and ultimate invitation. It is the last train, a final edition, the only way, the definite article. The Kingdom is a mode of rule: there is a King. The Kingdom is a mode of ordering life on earth between people in the light of that rule, it is a system of civic life, a pattern for multipersonal cooperation, and it is near and it is now, it is a happening, a flourishing economy.
🌆 "your town" The invitation to the Kingdom addresses a you-plural, a collective. So we comport ourselves towards towns, communities, systems as wholes which are unKingdom and which elect to be antiKingdom. The King of this Kingdom desires towns, he desires to reconstitute your town onto a basis of life rather than death, grace rather than works, a Kingdom rather than our own cartel. This Kingdom is near, healing is within reach. Another London is possible.
💨 "the dust" In the ancient mind's taxonomy of substance, we are made of dust (Ps103v14), and life is lived from dust to dust, and as it flakes away from us, it carries with it our essence as a corrupt permeation. So that which is within me becomes an airborne particle, the detritus of my decay becomes that fine silt that clogs filters, sticks gears and smears lenses. There is a genius locii and it is stuck to you, as death clings, it is the black lung of London and it is within you.
Lk10v13-14 Jesus says hard things, and indeed looking ahead to v18-19, weird things. I do feel myself squeamish and embarrassed by Jesus being difficult and weird at this point. This perhaps a bit like being married. I find the husband embarrassing sometimes, in the strength, tone and content of what he says publicly. Often I try to interpret, hide, distance, dilute. This is hurtful to him. This leads to grievance between us. So too Jesus and I? With the husband it has been important to remember that it is these points of otherness that were and indeed are points of greatest attraction, inspired most by his strength and otherness, his willingness to speak the hard and weird things that I never would. Day after day together and I stop 'seeing' him, the hard and weird things are apt to just annoy and embarrass me, but really, when I pay attention, I remember that they are part of the reason I fell in love with him initially, and love him still, the reason it is he that I love and not the version of him I would construct. So too with Jesus? I've known Jesus all my life now, I am habituated to life together that I don't know how to 'see' him, but I wish he would stop being so difficult in public. I want to remember, recover or maybe discover anew that this strangeness and hardness is what inspires my love of Jesus, and to in this love, to submit.
Lk10v15-16 "heaven?.. hell." It is coming. We enjoy such a heaven at present, such peace, such privilege, such a long post-Christian hangover of personal integrity and political transparency, such stable philosophical underpinnings found in the sense of the glory of the divine person, the dignity of work, the poetry of material being, the purpose of gender and relation and covenant, the truth of history, the intrinsic value of creation, the humility of our place in the cosmos. This civilisation we enjoy, has Christian foundations with mechanisms for tempering the concentration of wealth funding a functional commons. We are as Capernaum, much has been given, much is expected. We are as Capernaum, prospering as a cultivated city twinkling on the shore of Gennesaret. We are as Capernaum, a city established by God's chosen people. Barbarians wait at the gate, waiting for us to unmake ourselves in rejecting God and choosing those hells of self-reliant religione, self-made-wealth, self-satisfied ignorance, self-important irony. We will be brought down to Hades.
Lk10v17-18 I saw Satan fall like lightening. Apt for the morning after a lunchtime discussion about Satan. Privation of being or active agent? I think surely both. Satan is like the dot of one-dimension in Flatland, compared to the trajectory towards the three-dimensionality of the Kingdom of God. God is Being, Satan is nothingness. We all choose to inhabit more reality or less. More truth, more risk, more compassion, more healing, more faith, more prayer, more love - or less. The disciples, in stepping out on the road in pairs to declare the Kingdom of God, shivering with dependence, chose the more. The battle between good and evil in our own souls is always a case of battling to perceive the bigger better reality. It is true that Satan is part of God's good creation and is therefore a distortion of something good. Evil is not an equal and opposite force, the devil is not the yin to the divine yang, evil is the distortion of the good, it is a weakness, a brokenness, it has no higher or secret power that God has no access to. This is important to hold on to, as was expressed yesterday, for not losing hope. But this doesn't mean that Satan is impersonal passivity either: demons must be cast out, Satan must fall. We know from our own personalities that we can tend towards being or towards nothingness, that we can actively distort, actively negate, actively destroy. This is Satan's work, active distortion through lies. Lies are not overcome simply by accumulating more knowledge, but also through the exposure of lies as lies, light must be shone on them, to cast them out as active, personal distortions. Light to lightening, freedom through fall.
Lk10v19-20 🐍🦂🐍🦂 "authority to tread on serpents and scorpions.." Well, I'll remember that when I meet one.. Literal interpretations about exotic biblical concepts are strangely easy. But, what about proverbial serpents? Symbolic archetypal parabolic mythic serpents of the type that recur in my life? What is Jesus saying to me about them?
Noted from Jordan Peterson's Twelve Rules for Life:
🦀 Stand up straight with your shoulders back. "Walk, tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous. Encourage the serotonin to flow plentifully through the neural pathways desperate for its calming influence." Be more lobster. Participate in authority structures Lk7v8. *Tread,* do the treading-on, the stepping-out, the striking-forth.
⛑ Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping "The worst of all possible snakes is the eternal human proclivity for evil. The worst of all possible snakes is psychological, spiritual, personal, internal. No wall, however tall, will keep that out" Tread on serpents, for surely they are everywhere, within and without, with their tactical toxic toxins and slippery arguments, they are all scuttley deceitful weaponised and animate beings.
In these, I receive from JC and JP, two convictions. Christianity is a true truth. No other description of the world is so coherent, fruitful, psychologically re-integrating, socially reforming. Jesus is, serpents are, you exist, life is ~ this is all the real real in which we really wrestle and contend within truth equipped for precisely so doing by Jesus' counterintuitive and unprecedented truth. *Christianity is heroic.* An endurance sport, an over-and-against, a long hard suffering against suffering, a battle versus. Petersonians should note that not all heroism is Christian, but we should note that all Christianity must be heroic.
🚷 "..Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this" Christianity is true, and it is heroic, and you can step on dragons and tidy your room, but this is not the main event, this is not the goal, this is not the greatest cause for rejoicing. Rather, rejoice, "that your names are written in heaven.." What is Jesus saying?
👣 "tread" = a doing
📜 "are-written" = a being
Rejoice on account of who you are as being in Christ.
Lk10v21-22 Trinity's children sing sweet songs / hanging in hammocks / hung on cords braided triple /not easily broken /chords in chorus to their beginning and end /each tied to each other / knotted crown and gordian / swinging and singing nursery rhymes praise
Lk10v23-24 👀👂 "many prophets and kings desired.." Many are the daydream believers clutching at a wish-fulfilling God-hypothesis, tortured by hope deferred, speculating on the mystery hidden for long ages, and settling for a substitute. Many still are the prophets today who sense the spirit of the age, who read the signs of the times, who know what they lack and who know the shape of the saviour they need. Many still are the kings who cast social utopias and who render powerful political solutions forcefully to address the human condition.
Whether by dint of time and geography this peculiar revelation was unavailable to them, or for reasons of seared-conscience or damage-done-to, they had insufficient will to seek the unblinkered encounter with the divine. The why of those blind back then is God's to make an account for in the redemption of all things in eternity. They missed it. They missed what is infront of you now, the more-than, the better-than, the plot twist, the unprecedented option to start over, to start new, to build back and reverse entropy and engage resurrection. Now. Now in Christ everything has changed.
"see what you see.. hear what you hear.." What do you see? Look for it, look at it, look into it deeply and actually see. Listen out, listen in, listen close, do not merely hear about. Mindfulness towards the world as it presents to our senses. Christian hedonism is a sensate seeking, a hunger with your eyes, longing to behold. Ask and you shall receive the highest possible good, ask for more voracious eyes more physically and metaphysically attentive.
Lk10v25-26 What must I do to receive eternal life? We speak of God's 'accidental properties', including His property of 'offerer of eternal life'. Pray that we might do it in such a way that enables others to ask in truth what it is to receive eternal life, rather than just playing a philosophical game, rather than, as the teacher of the law here, trying to catch God out on a point of inconsistency. Pray that we take seriously Mk9v42, that we see this as an opportunity to place words in just the right way - to ask Socratic questions as Jesus does to this man here, but in such a way as to shift the conversation away from mere safe academics. I can't do this well in my own strength, so pray for wisdom in my words selected today. Pray for all who hear us, that they would glimpse a picture of the thickness and beauty of the life eternal on offer.
Lk10v27-28 💓 On the same morning that I'm reading Eph3v14-21 with the boys. Rooted in belovedness, we love one another and so know the love of Christ. Love is beloved lovers loving. Love is the answer to the lawyer's question, and he answers it himself, because we already know, that love is the answer. But. What is love? Distinct from mere affection, different from respecting your neighbour. Love. What is love?
If love is love it is ultimate. The eternal life that we want prerequires an eternal quality of love, an unconditional self-giving, a sacrificial utter risk. Love is the answer when it is a 1Cor13 love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.. Therein if found the eternal life. But how?
Eph3 The how-to of love.
v14 : Pray to the Father
v16 -> the Father's power strengthens us by the Spirit
v17 --> by that strength you can bear Christ dwelling in you
v17 ---> and by being so bedwelt-in your being is rooted in love and grounded in love
v18 ----> rootedness in love gives we-collectively strength to jointly attend to the dimensions of Christ's love
v19 -----> and by so attending we can know love
v19 ------> But. The love that we know is a love that is more than we know.
So, pray to the Father, for the capacity to love with an irreducible unabstractable more-than kind of love.
Lk10v29-30 Who is my neighbour? This little turn of phrase has been so prolifically (and not illegitimately) smeared across advertising for Christian humanitarian and global mission work that it's hard to come at it afresh. I feel like my brain has been taught that the right interpretation of this verse and this story is that everyone is my neighbour, and that wherever global media is able to show me pictures of emotional, physical and spiritual suffering, I am called to near neighbourliness with them. I don't think that this is altogether incorrect, but it opens the floodgate to constant potential guilt, failure and compromise. It strikes me as interesting, reading this passage again, that in his answer Jesus in fact flips the question. He is asked 'who is my neighbour?', but in his answer confronts the question v36 'which one of these _was_ a neighbour?' i.e. what is it for me to be a neighbour to others, regardless of this question of who I consider my neighbour to be. He shifts the question away from the task of trying to codify who I have neighbourly responsibility for and who I don't, and towards the virtues of grace-saturated grace-enabled neighbourliness. I suggest to my own soul then, that I focus more on allowing the Spirit to enable and saturate each interaction, to build the muscle of neighbour-love in all things, for each person I encounter, each breath, each small thing, rather than trying to impose neighbour-love top-down onto myself as a tick-box exercise for specific people. There is a freedom to this, which re-sets the circuit of love for both self and other.
Lk10v31-32 🎲 "Now by chance.." Apparently this phrase appears only here within the New Testament, and it seems Jesus speaks this with a certain irony. What is your theology of chance? Of luck? Of fluke..? Imagine a world in which there are no coincidental encounters, a reality where everything is uncanny, synchronous, and serendipitous all the time. A conspiracy theorist's very multivalent tangle of pathetic fallacy and implied causality.. Jesus winks at such a God-addled subjunctive universe in which circumstances are rendered parabolic and allusive by a mischievous and interfering God. For those with ears to hear.
"..passed by on the other side .. passed by on the other side.." There is a spatiality to disgust which is motivated to quarantine contamination against death. What is your road? Where does death lurk? How is your walk? Do you create safe spaces? One of the key studies needed for the progress of drone tech is the development of sense&avoid systems. Danger is everywhere, collisions seem inevitable and will be cataclysmic to life. So, pass by on the other side? When is that the wrong answer?
This parable is commonly employed to advocate instances of proactive compassionate charity in the face of a tragic event, but the question it is answering is more universal and total, that is, prejudicial barriers to mere neighbourliness. Who is my neighbour? And why does it matter?
👥 A society, a church, a household which achieves to be a unity more-than-the-sum-of-diverse-parts must wrestle with the difficulty of neighbourliness, negotiated adjacency, which is a tension of appropriately boundaried engagement. Neighbourliness must be more than tolerance, more than merely the accommodation of minorities, it must be reciprocal and relational, must cost something and cannot be reduced to philanthropy by the apparently more materially well-off. The vision is for a Kingdom of total flourishing, a coherent symphony of parts, in which a true diversity of ages, races and political/psychological consititutions are brought to cooperative engagment. It will not be achieved by caricaturing the priests and levites as the bogiemen of this parable.
🙋♂ I'm speaking to myself (in a slightly convoluted way this morning) recognising my own disgust at their disgust. We, the 99%, leftleaning guttersnipes, are guilty of a peverse form of disgust, a contempt for conservatives, a selfrighteous poverty, an unneighbourly discompassion for those inclined to learnt orderliness, and a disregard for the complex responsibility for the preservation of hygiene for the sake of the tribe.
🔐 How should we then live? My default position is on the other side of the road, with a locked front door and passworded computer, to boundary and preserve those of first importance against the wild of violent robbers seen in v30. The robbers' chaos is a form of death, engaging that environment is risky, there is a significant tension. The answer cannot stop there however. Living in the tension results typically in stasis over the point of your status quo. What is needed is a call from the outside, to determine the instance of Kingdom risk. What is needed also is a system-changed-by-nudges, toward more relationally engaged Othering at all levels of privilege ~ starting (As Peterson's posters are currently telling the tube) with my household.
Lk10v33-34 When JT preached on this passage last year he reminded us that while we're apt to think about how we could be more like the Good Samaritan, the first thing to remember, to orient oneself inside, is that it is Jesus who is the Good Samaritan. He bandages your wounds, He soothes you with oil and wine. The road between Jericho and Jerusalem was notoriously difficult, called 'The Way of Blood' for being such a dangerous route. I imagine myself in the ditch, broken, hating myself for making such a bad decision in walking this route, aware that I put myself in such a dangerous position in the first place, unable to do the basics of taking care of myself or my possessions. But. Rm5v6 while we were still helpless, Christ died for us. He tends your wounds, he tends mine. He puts us gently on His donkey and takes care of you and me both. This is the freedom, grace and comfort constantly open to me, so regularly forgotten. This is the freedom, grace and comfort out of which the ethics of the Good Samaritan should flow.
Lk10v35-36 💰 "proved to be a neighbour" The measure of being a neighbour, actively, rather than by mere accident of adjacency, actively, with neighbour as an honourific, when good neighbours become good friends, so to speak.. Being such a neighbour pays a blank cheque in advance, absorbing open-ended responsibility for hospitality and healing, for a stranger. Surely the onlooker and innkeeper would ask: Who is bankrolling this? What motivates this level of generosity? For surely also the samaritan has an answer: from and for the joy ~ such is the hedonism of giving in God's economy.
Lk10v37-38 "Mercy." Thinking about mercy again in this season, it was whispered two years ago and I didn't know why. I have in previous seasons defined mercy as not getting what we deserve (vs grace, getting what we don't deserve). It's a distinction I like, and helpful in lots of ways. But I sense God saying to me that mercy isn't just the act of not getting what we deserve, but also the condition, container or framework in which we live, which then transforms how we understand the response to our shortcomings, and perhaps even the nature of these shortcomings themselves. Speculatively, I think in the life of the divinely simple trinity, mercy and justice must be exactly the same thing. Usually as we use these terms humanly we're thinking about the way they interact with brokenness, but this isn't the only (or most complete?) definition of either mercy or justice, I don't think. I can more easily glimpse what justice-in-a-context-without-brokenness would be: it makes sense that a context without brokenness _would be_ a context of perfect justice: everything in its right place. It's harder to conceptualise mercy in the context of nothing-broken, it seems that in order for mercy to be mercy there needs to be something going wrong that is then responded to, as in this parable. But maybe actually this responsive-mercy is drawn from a deeper posture of mercy, a basic condition of mercy, which is the position that the members of the trinity take up towards each other, as is the condition in which we should understand ourselves to live. I have been thinking about this a lot after the weekend just gone with the Navs in Blackpool. R spoke of the 'spacious place' of Ps31v8-9 (God has always spoken to me of this place from Ps119v45). I have always thought of the spacious place as a promise for the time when I conquer sin and live aligned with my resurrected life, a place I do not yet sustainably find myself. But R spoke of this place as the place we are already in, the place where there is _space_ to bring all one's brokenness, and space for this brokenness to not be a disaster. This spacious place is a place we should, in Christ, know we can already take up in our spiritual imagination. She contrasted this with the imaginative experience of walking along an arete - one false move and you plummet to your death, it's a disaster, it's over. I realise that this is often how I imagine the spiritual landscape to be. One tiny mishap and I spiral into self-loathing and catastrophising, which makes the whole thing a hundred times worse. I get resurrection, I get that I keep getting a new dawn, but this landscape in my imagination is full of precipices with trampolines underneath, it's constant falling and bouncing back, which is exhausting. What if I re-trained my imagination to believe and inhabit a spacious place in the now? What if this is the deeper condition of mercy, that pre-exists even my failings? What if I could relax into this landscape, knowing that the mercy backdrop means that failings are not a disaster? Yes, they need weeding out, sanctifying, but only so that I can better enjoy and fit the spacious place to which I am already permitted access. We get to enjoy the inner life of God, which is the mercy of spaciousness.
Lk10v39-40 What is a Christian theology of the domestic sphere, ambiguated as it is now by unlimited technology, antagonised as it is now by feminist histories of injustice? In the old days Abigail's mastery of the domestic 1Sm25v18 was precisely a contending for God deftly over-and-against a world of male-male conflict, in the persons of David/Nabal. Just as the Pr31 woman works, makes, trades goods, helps the poor, as an agent of formidable force from/through the weaponised domestic. In the old days Gideon was called out of that notedly female domain of wheat threshing in the winepress to contend for God against the Midianites Jg6v11. Just as the divine individual, a man, shall leave his father and mother Gen2v24, shall leave his father and mother Mk10v7, shall leave his father and mother Eph5v31. Submission to archetypal asymmetry conjured distinctive realms for relevant contextual heroism, profound and unabstractable heroism. Men were to explorationally form the world, women were to invitationally fill a world. Encultured and apprenticed to a family-resemblance achieving excellence through codes of duty and instrumentalised domains. But now, Mary's dissident discipleship is a lesson in a new liberation, a new Kingdom in which there is no male or female Gal3v28, where home and work are perfectly androgynised, and heroism is found in the singular task of sitting at Jesus feet? If so, how so? If not, how not?