Cathedral News, November 19, 2017

 
 
 

I always find it a helpful exercise to imagine ourselves in different positions in parables. This has helped me to make more sense of certain ones that I had a great deal of trouble understanding when I was younger. For example, the parable of the sower and the seeds is much more fruitful for me if I think of God as a sower sowing seeds carelessly regardless of whether or not they are likely to take root. Or if I imagine God as the widow in the parable of the wicked judge and myself as the judge whose heart God has to change by repeated entreaty. I think that this could also be a good thing to try with the parable this Sunday.

Almost every time I have read a reflection or heard a sermon on this parable, God is the king and we are the servants. There is some obvious truth and fruit for reflection in this parable if we look at it that way. If we are the servants, then it is up to us how we receive the gifts that God is given to us and up to us as to how we multiply those gifts.

What does it look like, however, if we are the master who uses fear and cruelty to inspire obedience in those around us? It is quite easy for us to see these qualities in a master, whom we fear; but the earthly Jesus does not relate to his companions this way. In fact, Jesus relates to those he meets on earth much like the last slave in this parable: pointing out injustice, hypocrisy, and fear-mongering where he sees it in the world. The slave is punished unjustly for speaking truth, just as Jesus was in his own day.

I understand that this may not be the most comfortable way to look at this reading. With Advent on the horizon, however, I do think that it is helpful every now and then to examine ourselves closely. This is not because I think that we are terrible people, but because we praise a God of truth, even when the truth hurts.

To place this in our present context, we will be examining ourselves very closely in the coming months as we begin to put together our parish profile, the document which will form our first impression with the person we will call to be the next Dean of St. John’s Cathedral. We will look at our many successful and life giving ministries, things that help us to live into our Baptismal Covenant and bring us closer to God. We will also need to look at where we need to grow and how we need to stretch.

I should also say for the sake of clarity that you, the people of St. John’s Cathedral, are some of the most dedicated, wise, and caring Christians I have ever had the opportunity of serving; and that doing so is one of the highest honors of my life. I know that if we continue our commitments to God and to one another, this time of discernment will bear good fruit that will have an impact for generations to come.

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