Mt6v1-2 This funny tragic human quirk, always trying to view ourselves from the outside, facebook and fantasy, if it isn't seen it didn't happen. This the root of much sin, a constant battle to be in the here and now, because of the fear that it isn't real, it isn't valid, unless it has been recorded and represented. So our subjectivity always turned into a static being-in-itself, where God cannot be heard. Time to keep some holy secrets.
Mt6v3-4 I have two extensions from this that are not strictly in the text, if you have verses for these let me know. (1) Giving is not only good, but should be exciting. There is a real skill to giving without getting caught, more so even than stealing because in a gift you necessarily leave evidence. Are you excited by this? These verses are so much more than mere advice against hypocrisy, Jesus wants you to be a ninja-giver, these are your black ops, premeditated acts of stealth kindness. This is the sound of the underground, the whisper of history in the making. .. (2) By faith Hb11v1, we imitate an unseen God Col1v15, hidden for long ages Rm16v25. Why does God hide himself? Insofar as the universe is anonymously authored we are freed from the debt of indentured reciprocation, in this way the King woos us in our free will? God forces no one to credit him. And people think I'm bonkers, but I just...
Mt6v5-6 The secret place is / this sofa / this floor / to pace like a caged animal / or to turn one's hands over / to surrender / and receive / / Only you can know / As you are fully known / /
Mt6v7-8 Idle repetition (1) defames God and (2) destroys language. (1) Four Hail-Marys, Three Allah-hu-Akbars, Two Om-Mani-Padme-Hums. There is a partridge-in-a-pear-tree mode of prayer by attrition, which makes a fool of God. God is not Baal 1Ki18v27, our God is not on the loo, he's not asleep, he's not flattered by our repetitive self-flagellation. God hears you Ps65v2. But, what is more, he wants your best more than you do. (2) Gn11v5 'the Lord *came down* to see the tower..' versus 'don't *heap up* empty phrases'. Perhaps the geometry is irrelevant, but the Babel story is pertinent nevertheless. Mantras aim to destroy language by repetition beyond nauseam which makes words into sounds, cosmic vibrations, mere good vibes, the hum of the unity of all things. Without language there can be none of that glorious I-Thou relationship which is predicated on the otherness of God-not-being-you and you-not-being-God. .. Please pretty pretty please please don't pray that way.
Mt6v9-10 Praying familiar words, I believe again, worship again, surrender again, covenant again, seek again. To the holiest sovereign ultimate reality, who is father mother brother sister lover friend. You know. Your kingdom come, the prayer that never runs out and never doesn't fit. Your kingdom come in my body, emotions, thoughts, responses. In our marriage, planning, waiting. In the houses and their hurts.
Mt6v11-12 “..Now something else, and please don't be insulted if I speak about this – bread. Let's talk about bread. Now to my mind, its an abomination to consider that any man, woman or child in this magnificent country of ours should have to look upon a loaf of bread as a luxury..” Wars are fought, walls built, people displaced and elections won on the issue of bread. If you don't vote Jesus for President, you will vote the oil man every time. .. Other breadibles: There's a time for Lk7v34 and Jn2v10, but a need always to know Pr30v8 how much is actually needful for your diet? Also (my favourite gleaning from the architects who visited this weekend) Jn6v12 Jesus loves recycling, Jesus loves leftover lasagne, there's a verse on it. .. Debts. Imagine a jolly banker who was eager to pay off your debts, would you run and find friends whose debts you could stick on your tab that he was paying off?
Mt6v13-14 Lead us not into temptations, keep us from the i-do-what-i-do-not-want-to-do. We know temptation, our heart's drag away from willing-the-one-thing, our conflict, our double-mindedness. Keep us from it, oh God, from temptation that leads to sin to guilt to self-loathing to evil to death. Keep us from tangles. We give ourselves to God to save energy wasted wrestling unnecessary demons so that our soul be awake to touch life. Deliver us, like a birth, like a speech. You mother us and speak words over us that are new life, whole, integrated, made-for-this. So. So lead us not into time-wasting, unkindness, selfishness, but deliver us into this new day yours.
Mt6v15-16 Not if but when you fast, be careful, be stealthy, be ninja as your father in heaven is. Personally and politically motivated fasting is needed now more than ever because the cakes-and-circuses of the Singapores of this world are more readily and destructively available than ever before. But really, fasting is the easy part. Jesus here indicts joyless fasting, (esv) 'gloomy'-ness in our architectural fasting, which would be to prohibit grad show dull dystopias, but furthermore it condemns the pathological conspicuity of pious minimalism, reductive and self-piteous false economies, overwrought displays of ecologically motivated goings-without. Truly, they have received their reward.
Mt6v17-18 Holy secrets, righteous deceit. A call to an authenticity that does not bear its soul. Different to putting on a brave face or polite restraint or anxiously photographing oneself so that facebook will know you are Having Fun. Jesus command for fasting's deceit is premised on fullness not emptiness, on quiet confidence in Christ's identity-bestowing reality, rather than an anxious self-questioning, a fear of being too much or not enough. The joy of the secret place, the audience of One, rather than striving for the validation of Kundera's masses. In each moment of self-preservation today, even in the mind to oneself – be rooted in Christ, you are His. your washing and combing will follow.
Mt6v19-20 Ruskin on rust: “You all probably know that ochreous stain which, perhaps is often thought to spoil the basin of your spring.. ..it is not a fault in the iron, but a virtue, to be so fond of getting rusted.. ..iron rusted is Living, but when pure or polished, Dead. Jesus is speaking a Cor-ten gospel: the answer to the unweildily changing, even decaying materiality of the world is not to build cruelly hightech cold static stainless hypobaric hermetically sealed preservations of a good life, neither to gnosticise a disembodied pie-in-the-sky version of the good life and so not build at all, but rather to glory in the wealth that is Life, where we and our materials are active participants in an active reality. The same for stealing, the answer is less Secure-by-Design, and more a Bishop Bienvenu's silverware unstolen: thieves cannot break in and steal what we would joyfully give to Jean Valjean.
Mt6v21 Your heart is where you treasure is. So where is your heart this morning? Where does your mind wander, where do yoru thoughts rest? What does it mean to treasure? To honour, value, ascribe worth to, delight in, uphold? What does your heart betray about your worldview? It is good not bad to treasure, but what you treasure will change your heart, so treasure well. What is beauty in 5 minutes? Go. The spiritual life is a continual act of treasuring. v22 is a whole world of sensory metaphor yet to make sense of...
Mt6v22 How-you-see. How-you-see isn't value-neutral, and God the lover loves, cares about, is interested in how-you-see...
Mt6v23-24 Distorted sight is a darkness darker than blindness. Ruskin: “A man who is too dim-sighted to discern the road from the ditch, may feel which is which; but if the ditch appears manifestly to him to be the road, and the road to be the ditch, what shall become of him? False seeing is unseeing, on the negative side of blindness.” Right seeing is so important, God wants to know how-you-see Jer1v11, (and cares less about how-you-look Mt23v5). God would have us covenant with our eyes Jb31v1 (and not be proverbial winkers Pr10v10). Don't you see? We are not mere passive recollectors, we look actively, we have a world-*view*. Make it a good one, make it light. .. Of en-mastery. Not 'should not' but 'cannot' serve two masters.. It is a truism, a platitude even, you can only do overtime in one place at one time. Don't bite off more than you can chew, and don't compartmentalise that which you have bitten off. It is all sacred work done for God who is one.
Mt6v24-25 Noting that the gnb puts the break between 23/24 while the esv between 24/25. The different ways we might try to compartmentalise & order Jesus' words. So, paying attention to the 'therefore' at the beginning of v25 – it is because you are called to serve one master that you are called to unanxiety. let this 'one master' be the morning's liturgy...Struck also in a new way by the gnb's 'your body is orth more than clothes', the worth of your body is more than the sum of its parts, more than its ornament, more than how-it-looks. Your body grounds your being, your vehicle for movement & sensation & worship. Oneness of heart leading to glorying in one's body.
Mt6v27-28 Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Jesus confronts Status Anxiety (and Peter Singer?) here in the application of Christian total-fearlessness in household mundanities (via bioethical fortiori?), Christianity is centrally a Being-Unafraid Jsh1v7 Dn3v18 2Ti1v7. But how? de Botton suggests Philosophy+Art+Politics+'Christianity'+Bohemianism will save you from the fear. This will not do. No amount of finite therapeutic knowledge will answer the infinite fear: is the power at the centre of the universe benign? And, does it care about me? Jesus argument here, taken in isolation, is perhaps not sufficient to make that case, but for me, it seizes me out of a Ps22v6 low woe-is-me-I-am-a-slug value ascription of myself and timid Mt25v24 attitude regarding work and risk. Towards a 'more0than' sense of God's intentional love towards me via Mt6's preacher. We are so beloved to to be unanxious.
Mt6v29-30 More problematic words of Jesus countered quickly by the Stephen Laws of this world, and all those unclothed and unfed, demonstrative case against is close by – clearly God is a liar, or isn't real, or I don't count. And there is a superficial understanding of trust that could be inferred here, an i-trust-God-to-give-me-stuff-I-like rather than the Ps13v5 that weathers summers & winters. But I don't think this what Jesus wants to speak to here but rather the Ps24v1 Knowledge that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. Ev. Ry. Thing. Nothing you will ever own will really ever be yours, and the ways that you comport yourself in your fantasies & aspirations & - indeed – worries betray your belief that you are master of this ship, that you have ultimate control over your own life, that you are your own source. You ain't. Repent and believe.
Mt6v31-32 It is a helpful corrective, contrast this unanxiety with Paul's anxiety-for-all-the-churches in 2Co11v28 and his restless spirit in 2Co2v13.. There is a right nervous energy, an entrepeneurial passion, a prophetic dissatisfaction, a Christian Concern.. 'But thanks be to Go, who .. always leads us .. everywhere..' Thus Paul holds tension in tension, being anxious without angst, allowing his heart a vulnerability to disappointment, in so trusting. In this way it is not at-all-costs-don't-be-anxious, for in that one could justify self-medicating anxiety with a dose of apathy, in the same way that one can kill lust by desexualising, and kill greed by disornamenting, and kill anger by not caring.. So, in your anxiety do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anxiousness. rather by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Mt6v33-34 Seek. First. The. Kingdom. Of God. Seek hunger want desire look participate actively intentionally remembering, remembering your first love. First, foremost, primary. Types of priority: developmental, chronological, epistemological, ontological, all of the above. So Seek First: movement plus depth, will plus time, the life to be lived with the Kingdom breaking in. This is what freedom is, this is where home is, as today was said. Kingdom come.