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Vulnerable Margins (Welcome to our World #2)

. 3 min read

12/10-11/2016
Christ Mountain Top, Advent 3
Psalm
146
Isaiah
35.1-10, advent wreath
      With Nativity Hymn IV of Charles Wesley, v
3
Matthew
11.2-11, kids
James
5.7-10, message
Song,
“Welcome to our World” (Chris Rice)
Welcome
to our world
      Exploring the “human condition”
      And how Jesus’ coming addresses our
deepest needs
      Last week, most obsessive religion is
found unworthy
            We know it, even though we’re not
always happy about it
            At the root of much pride,
prejudice, and violence
            “Welcome one another …”
      This week: the vulnerable are pushed to
the margins
Mary
Poppins, the margins
      Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
      The bird lady
      Chimney sweep, on the bottom rung of the
ladder
      Men over women, as sovereign of the home
Anton
Boisen, mentally ill pastor, writing in 1936
Forced
off the beaten path of common sense and have traveled through the little-known
wilderness of the inner life.
In
Dykstra, Robert C.. Images of Pastoral Care (p. 29). Chalice Press. Kindle
Edition.

Where
do we find Jesus? The gospel? The promise?
      Soft robes in palaces, prophets in
wilderness (called to margin)
      Social location of the gospel, begins at
the margin!
      Tell John what you hear and see:
      Blind see, lame walk, lepers cleansed, dead
raised, poor …
       
Boisen
      Diagnosis: incurable
      First recovery – advocated for his release
      Second “delirium”, worse than the first
      Second recovery – focus on what he can do to serve
      Employ theological students as
“attendants” on the wards
I
said to him: “Hang the sanity! You can’t ever make life worth living if all
you’re doing is to try to keep from going insane.
Dykstra,
Robert C. Images of Pastoral Care (p. 27). Chalice Press. Kindle Edition.
Where
do we find Jesus? The gospel? The promise?
The
gospel is given to those on the underside of the society
Isaiah
35:5-6
 Then the eyes of the
blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;  6 then the lame shall leap like a
deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
Flannery
O’Connor, a “procession of freaks”
But,
today, we still WAIT for Jesus’ coming.
      “freak show on aisle 9”
      No wonder Isaiah says
Isaiah
35:3-4
 Strengthen the weak
hands, and make firm the feeble knees.  4
Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is
your God.
      No wonder James declares
“we
call blessed those who endure”
James,
context of rich oppressors, with the gospel community on the underside of the
society:
James
5:4-11
 Listen [you wealthy]!
The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud,
cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of
hosts.  5 You have lived on
the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of
slaughter.  6 You have
condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.  7 Be patient, therefore, beloved,
until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the
earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late
rains.  8 You also must be
patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near….  11 Indeed we call blessed those
who showed endurance.
Last
week, the gospel invited us to welcome one another, to welcome across differences
and divides in the culture and society. The invitation on this Sunday is a
different one, and more challenging. It is to go to the underside of our
society, to participate to some degree in their suffering and pain, to join
with them in waiting and enduring the injustice of our time, to call out with
them: “Yes, Lord Jesus, come. Welcome to our world.”
Perhaps
in going to the margins, in solidarity with the vulnerable, we may find our own
salvation. In Mary Poppins, it is
chimney sweeps and nannies and bird ladies that change hearts. Anton Boisen is
known as the founder of clinical pastoral education, which has transformed
pastoral education and formation and anchored the academic discipline of
pastoral theology.

Part
of the Christmas miracle is not simply that Jesus comes at all – which, in any
fashion, is a step down from his glory to “an earthly Clod”. Part of the
miracle is that Jesus comes to the margins of human existence. Jesus comes into
poverty, into an oppressed people, to wear the label of illegitimate child.
Perhaps in going to the margins, in solidarity with the vulnerable, we may find
our own salvation, indeed. “Yes, Lord Jesus, come. Welcome to our world.”