|Communion Table Foosball|
|Written by Peter Johnston|
|Sunday, 22 August 2010 13:51|
In this morning's service we created our own foosball teams on the Communion Table - many thanks to all the very imaginative football strips that adorned the players! It was a game with a difference with Jesus as referee... a good thing, you may think. That omniscience sure would help out with the offside rule or with goal-line quibbles, it would even once and for all determine whether a player deliberately dived ("You know my thoughts even when I am far away..." Psalm 139:2).
But Jesus caused mayhem by ignoring the rules and stopping the game in order to give one of the players who had been left out, never included in the game, ignored by his other team mates, a chance to kick the ball and enter the game. [There's more...]
The point of which was to draw a comparison with Jesus' healing of the burdened woman with the crippled back on the Sabbath - breaking the rules about Sabbath observance in order to bring her back to full life and participation within the community (Luke 13: 10-17).
I was influenced by Leith Fisher's 2003 book exploring Luke's Gospel: The Widening Road - From Bethlehem to Emmaus when preparing today's sermon. Something that Leith picked up on that I didn't mention this morning, however, but is worth sharing is the poem by the great gaelic poet Sorley MacLean titled "A Highland Woman" here translated into English from the original Gaelic:
A Highland Woman
Hast Thou seen her, great Jew,
The load of fruits on her back,
Thou hast not seen her, Son of the carpenter,
This Spring and last Spring
And every twenty Autumns gone
And Thy gentle church has spoken
And her time has gone like a black sludge
Wow... it is powerful stuff. The hard-working salt-of-the-earth woman quietly getting on with her work to serve her family and community. And what of Jesus, son of the carpenter? Sorley gives him short thrift for ignoring the plight of this burdened woman.
What a contrast to the passage we thought about today.
Leith, in mentioning this poem, draws out the point that Sorley MacLean "grew up in an intensely religious atmosphere [on] the island of Raasay, early last century. It was a community of many virtues, but for the poet it obscured rather than bore witness to the Jesus we have encountered in today's gospel."
MacLean would have known all too well the endless debates about this or that theology, creating the image of a God far removed from the everyday concerns and cares of people like the Highland Woman. At church people would come to worship Jesus as he sat way above us (apart from sinful humanity), which perhaps in turn, at least for MacLean, would disconnect them from the reality of life around them. A travesty of what we read actually took place in Luke chapter 13 when Jesus cared, healed and released this woman from her burdens.