Ringo had to have surgery, you know, “the” surgery that rescue animals have so that there won’t be more rescue animals out there that look like them? He wasn’t happy when I took him – his dog Buddy wasn’t in the car with him plus he hadn’t been fed for the 12 hours prior. I explained fasting to him and how it was a spiritual exercise if he’d allow it to be, he didn’t seem interested in that side of it. I think eating is pretty elemental for him and finally, even I have to admit, as smart as he is, he is a cat and not a person. Probably that’s not as much of an admission for most of you as it is for me. Sometimes it’s more important than others to figure out what it means to be a person and accept the accountability and responsibility that awareness brings.
In these difficult and complex days I think we’d rather forget those gifts of being a human being, and for people of faith, the calling of being a human being as we see it most clearly in the life of Jesus. The religious establishment and lawkeepers of the day didn’t really get Jesus’ way of being human. And, in the gospel of Mark most especially, the disciples really didn’t get Jesus’ way of being human either. Everyone mostly wanted to put him in the box of their own understanding, and most particularly their own comfort level of the way life “should” be. I one time preached a sermon about how much of what Jesus did was “incompatible with Christian teaching” in his day. He was touched by a woman with a hemorrhage, (uncontrolled female bleeding makes us really uncomfortable) thereby being made ritually unclean, and instead of condemning her he told her that her faith had made her well. He healed a man with a withered hand on a Sabbath, (disabilities, most especially which have no logical explanation and therefore might be contagious make us extremely uncomfortable), breaking the law of not working, and when confronted said the Sabbath was made for human beings, not human beings for the Sabbath. One time at dinner in the home of a Pharisee, a woman entered uninvited, AWKWARD, and proceeded to bathe his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair and anoint his feet with ointment. Displays of vulnerability make us REALLLLLY uncomfortable and the Pharisee decides if Jesus was a true prophet he would have judged and known this woman as a sinner. Jesus shares that the Pharisee had not offered him water for his feet, and offered no kiss of hospitality to welcome, yet this woman had not stopped doing either since she entered, finally stating that “the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little,” and says to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50.
The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline says that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The United Methodist Church in the Western Jurisdiction has elected, consecrated, and appointed as Bishop, an openly lesbian ordained clergywoman married to her partner. The United Methodist Church in the South Central Jurisdiction and Bishop Jones of our Annual Conference, has set a date for a trial to consider revoking the orders of and “defrocking” an ordained clergywoman who has served the United Methodist Church faithfully for nearly 30 years and in January shared with her congregation she is in a faithful relationship with her female partner.
What does it mean to be a human being of faith, accountable and responsible to living as closely to the Jesus we say we follow each and every day? Interestingly Jesus, our acclaimed Messiah as Christians, talks about divorce, and greed, and judging others, but doesn’t speak about homosexuality, not once, not anywhere. He talks about loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves, but he doesn’t speak about homosexuality. Our denomination says that our focus is “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Hmmmm. As followers of Jesus, how do we define what it means to be a human being?
So I pick Ringo up today. The vet says he’s not very happy, but the surgery went well and he’s had a nice lunch. I’m guessing his 12 hour fast didn’t help him realize a deeper spiritual faith. He simply wants the human who keeps him to feed him. I guess I have the responsibility of knowing when not feeding him is for not only his good, but a greater good.