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Daniel Schultz @pastordan
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Time for a sermon thread. No, *you* shut up, we're doing this.
1. I saw what you all saw this week: the bottomless bad faith and corruption of the Republican party trying to jam the Kavanaugh nomination through.
2. The sickness of the response to Christine Blasey Ford and other women who came forward to tell their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of the nominee.
3. The disrespect for women in general, the contempt and mockery for their experiences. I saw Susan Collins being Susan Collins, for God's sake, then not understanding the blow-back she received.
4. Above all, I saw what we all did: the angry, hostile, nakedly partisan entitlement of the nominee. He is a hateful, dishonest man, and deeply broken.
5. As I watched him testify, I couldn't help thinking, "This guy fundamentally doesn't get the Christian message he claims as his own."
6. This may sound weird, but that's more of an observation than a judgment. There are plenty of Christians who don't understand the good news. Few of them do so quite as dramatically as Kavanaugh, but whatevs.
7. I also thought a lot about the Beatitudes - you know, "blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek." And indeed, Kavanaugh wouldn't know them from a turnip.
8. But I decided that this morning's gospel lesson was actually more applicable. It's Jesus' teaching on divorce and his welcoming the children:…
9. In answer to a hostile legal(!) question about whether or not it's legitimate to remarry after divorce, Jesus reframes the question.
10. First he asks, "Well, what did Moses teach?" Well, the answer comes, he said divorce was acceptable. Right, says Jesus. Some people are hard of heart, so divorce is necessary.
11. (Fun side fact: the word "hard of heart" is something like sclerokardia in the Greek, like hardening of the arteries, but for the soul.)
12. But then, Jesus takes a left turn.
13. Now, understand: the point of "male and female he created them" isn't that it's only cis-het marriage that's acceptable. Ancient people had no concept of any other kind of marriage.
14. No, the point is that God, the God of the Israelites and the only true God, created *both* men *and* women - and more to the point, created all people for one another.
15. What does God say right after creating Adam? "It is not good for the man to be alone." And then he creates Eve.
16. Humans are created as social animals. We are created to unite ourselves with others.
17. But, says Jesus, we are created to be faithful to one another as God is faithful to us.
18. This picks up an element of power when you remember than in Jesus' culture, only men were allowed to divorce, and they didn't really have to have a good reason for doing so.
19. Wife is aging? Eh. Wife isn't having children? Eh. I'm just tired of supporting her? Eh. Out on the streets she goes, to face an uncertain economic future. If she doesn't remarry or her family doesn't take her back, she starves.
20. Now, this is not exactly the same as attempting to rape someone, or waggling your junk in their face. But I think you can see the point of comparison.
21. For all the hair-splitting going on, nobody was questioning men's right to treat women like dirt. Nobody, that is, except Jesus.
22. (I realize my Jewish friends might have a different perspective on this. I'm sticking within the contours of the story. Forgive me.)
23. Jesus redefines marriage in one swoop. It's not about how much men can get away with, he says. It's about being faithful to one another within the covenant bonds.
24. And since covenant involved obligations of parties with more power to those with less, you can see what a radical move this is.
25. You cannot call yourself faithful, says Jesus, if you are simply throwing people away. Because if you're throwing your wives away, you are not reflecting the nature of God, as you were created to do.
26. As if to put a cherry on top of this teaching, Jesus scolds his followers when they attempt to prevent children from coming forward to be with him.
27. Because the only people less powerful than women in Jesus' time were children. They were literally property, to be disposed of as Papa saw fit.
28. But it's exactly the children - the powerless, the people who can give utterly nothing back to God - who Jesus reaches out to and blesses.

The powerless are the people God chooses for God's own.
29. Again, I think you can see what a radical challenge this is. Jesus isn't interested in questions of privilege. He's interested in the people on the margins: the forsaken women, the children.
30. Now, we could say an entitled scion of privilege like Kavanaugh doesn't get this message, and call it a day. But there's more to it than that.
31. This is where we ought to start feeling better, @joanmccarter. (Also roping in @dianabutlerbass here, because she'll love this.)
32. Despite the legal structures that maintain the power of men, God is on the side of women and children. God blesses them and anyone locked out of power - including the power of controlling their own bodies.
33. There is no way to read the gospel completely and honestly and not see that God is on the side of the people who have been violated, who have been oppressed, who have been disregarded and held in contempt.
34. God *blesses* those people. God *chooses* those people. God *stands by* those people when no one else will.

Those are the people for whom Jesus goes to the cross.
35. What is more, once you've been chosen by God, there is no being un-chosen. God never gives up. God never stops working to bring God's beloved people to the fullness of their existence.
36. Despite what it may seem from this week, the real story isn't the ascendance of a truly terrible person to position of incredible power, as awful as that reality is.
37. No, the real story is the countless powerless women who continue to survive despite the powerful and contemptuous. It is the countless women who have found the power to tell their own stories and claim their due.
38. Theirs is the story of the world, despite Brett Kavanaugh and all his nasty theatrics. Their struggle for justice and wholeness is the history of the world, despite Donald Trump and all his tyrannical throwback cruelty.
39 There is always a justice sponsored by God coming into the world. There is always a rebalancing, a continuing work of restoration to who were meant to be and to do.
40. When we participate in that work, we participate in the work of creation itself, and that is work that is much greater and enduring than any Supreme Court justice ever could be.
41. To Joan's point, no, there is no Old Testament vengeance to be had here.
42. There is only the satisfaction of knowing that you are working to be who you were made to be: faithful, compassionate, concerned for the vulnerable.
43. As for Brett Kavanaugh, and all those who bluster and threaten and laugh contemptuously? Their way, as the Psalms tell us, are nothing but a delusion. They will not last.
44. You know, I was going to say that I have honestly come to believe that the real story of the world is with the very old and the very young, and I do.
45. But I think I understand why now. We become most fully ourselves in our times of need: as we start our lives and as we finish them.
46. It's not beside the point that we begin and end our lives helpless, dependent. It's when we embrace our powerlessness that we learn to receive the gifts of God as just that - gifts.
47. You think the Republican hierarchy gets that message? Good luck with that.
48. In any case, that's it, end of sermon. You don't have to do anything nice for me. Just believe women and be kind to children.
@JRWStormy you can unmute me now.
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