Sunday, July 6, 2008

Mt11 16-19,25-30

Externals or Internals; Matt 11:16-19, 25-30 July 6, 2008

By about 11 a.m. Friday, pancake batter pourer Deborah Carr and flapjack flipper Andrew Binkley had pretty much mastered their appointed tasks at the Fourth of July Pancakes on the Plaza festival. "Pour from a high angle and let it drip" was the technique Carr had developed for maximum speed and neatness. "And you have to be kind to your flipper and your grill."

Binkley, who works at Trader Joe's, said the secret to proficient flipping was a clean grill and a certain twirl in the wrist. "It's all in the wrist," he said.1
Friday was my first 4th experience in the plaza; The long lines, the many people, the shops, cars, sights and sounds. I got to see: Renee and Rosalie, along with Miquela who danced so well. And unlike in this passage the children danced and the people responded appropriately.

This is a really interesting parable of Jesus. It is short; but it’s tricky to figure out. “To what shall I compare this generation?” Jesus asks. This Generation: “Talkin bout my generation.” When Jesus mentions “this generation” in Matthew—watch out--he’s usually pretty upset about something2; like in 17:17: ‘You faithless and perverse generation; how much longer must I put up with you? 1

And here he says, this generation is like Children! Like children sitting in the market-place: The Market-place: which in Jesus day was like the plaza plus; the plaza plus la rotunda, plus the courthouse: the centre of public life; This generation is like Children sitting in the market-place playing games with each other:The wedding game: We piped and you didn’t dance; The funeral game: we mourned and you didn’t wail. Now it’s hard at this point not to get lost. I’m already a little lost. It seems that this was an old game. In which the children reenact two very important days in life; the wedding day with piping, and the funeral day with mourning. (exciting game) But, it’s hard to figure out who’s who at this point. Who’s playing the games? Are Jesus (wedding) and John (funeral) the children piping and mourning? Or is this generation playing the game hoping Jesus and John will play along and they don’t play? Are you confused yet? (the bible can be confusing)

If I understand what Jesus is trying to say, that both he and John were ready to play. They wanted everyone to join in this game they were playing…John played one way living an ascetic life; in the desert, eating locusts, wearing camel’s hair, shouting, Repent! And the children sat, they didn’t play, they sat in judgment and said that John had a demon.

Then Jesus came along with his game: ready for the big party, turning water into wine, hanging out at the big fiestas; preaching the wonders of the kingdom of God: But the children just sat there, they refused to play. Said he was a lush and hung out with the wrong crowd. The children sat and didn’t play the game of John and Jesus because they wanted to play their own game. If I understand “this generation” It was those focused on externals. Those in positions of power and influence who want to play their own games by their own rules.

And who is playing the game correctly? Wisdom. The wise and the intelligent, they really don’t know what’s going on, Jesus says. Wisdom is hidden from them. They look for answers in the wrong places.

They doesn’t know what is important in life. They make the rules but are playing the wrong game…Because God has revealed these things to infants.

Jaleesa is present almost every Thursday noon for bible study in the office. She really helps us to keep things in perspective. There we sit, trying our best to understand what Scripture means, what life is about, what Jesus would have us do. And there she is wiggling around, playing with toys, my keys, opening and closing books. She was sitting on Darleenes lap with a blue pen that had a top. And she pulled the top off the pen. If you could have seen the look on her face. She was amazed. WOOOAH what just happened.

This is a confusing passage; have you heard many sermons on it? But this is how, I think Jesus keeps disciples on our toes. He changes the rules of the game everyone else is playing. How did society play the game in his day?

I think that Jesus was critical of those who focused on the externals: on people conforming to a particular way of life. There was the life of the religious leaders and the difficult rules they enforced; sacrifices, cleanliness; do this don’t do that.

It was difficult for so many to keep it all straight. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the laws, but to complete them: and he said that the greatest laws were to love God with everything, and to love neighbor as one’s self.

The wise and intelligent don’t really know God, because they rely on themselves, but look at infants, they know the game; Jaleesa is completely dependant on her parents.

It’s true that generally we don’t have as many religious laws that we’re always trying to fulfill. There were over 600 laws people were trying to keep straight. No we don’t have quite as many to worry about. But I think that this generations game that everyone is supposed to play is called: Keeping up with the Jones’ Maybe here in New Mexico it’s called keeping up with the

Garcias. We see the rules of this game on TV through the glamour of stars, the prestige of fame, the commercials that tell us how deficient we are because we don’t have certain products.

My friend was in town last week and we were reminiscing on our childhood. At some point we began talking about video games: we both grew up when Nintendos, were the popular gaming systems; they were tons better than ataris. Neither one of us had Nintendos; but Ryan did; and I would always invite myself over to his house after school to play!
Please. His mom had great snacks too. I’d play for hours …it didn’t even matter about Ryan, I had to play video games. Oh, how I wanted one of those game systems for myself. And I remember my bike as a kid. This freaky cheap old blue bike, that had a blue fake plastic sticky banana seat, and these long curvy handle bars. This was not a cool bike, and I was so embarrassed to ride it. Cliff, my friend cliff, he had an awesome BMX bike, that was so
slick, and could go tons faster than mine. And he had a go-cart, that was way out of my league. And those friends that had the cool shoes and cloths, the nice back pack…etc etc.

TO what shall I compare This generation?

We play childish games; we have to get the lastest and the greatest new product; we have to be skinny and good looking; we have to rise to the top and try to make ourselves important; we perpetuate the rules to this game we play as a society; and so often driving us crazy, because this game is hard.

It’s a stressful game to keep up with the Garcias.

IT wasn’t Jesus and John who were acting inappropriately in the game, it was the game itself that was being played. Infants know the real game…Jaleesa doesn’t worry about what she wears or what the greatest new toy is. (not yet at least). And now we get to the good part…we’re close to the end, and we hear the invitation, come to me all you who are weary and carrying heavy

burden and learn from me for I am meek and humble in heart. Come to me if your tired of playing these games of this generation.

If your worn out by all the demanding pressures this consumerist power and prestige seeking game that we play, come to me, And I will give you rest.

Where do we find true meaning? Where do we find true fulfillment? That is just what Jesus wants us to see, what Jesus hopes to reveal to us.

And so he says, put my yoke upon you. I love this image of yoke.

Take my yoke upon you: The image is that of an animal harnessed to do work. The yoke provides discipline and direction. It clashes with everything our culture would tell us, be free, do what you like. Instead we’re burdened by other things instead of Jesus yoke. The great thing about this yoke of Jesus is that: If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we’re tired of

playing the same old game, but we’re ready for new life, a new way, and yoked with Jesus means he’s right there along side us, showing us a new way.

  1. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that like paul, we do things all the time that we really don’t want to do, and the things we want to do we don’t do. This yoke Jesus talks
    about helps us to do the things Jesus would have us do.

  2. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that so often we try to make ourselves better than others…anyone and everyone…and Jesus says take my yoke upon you and learn from
    me a meek and humble person. We don’t have to be better than anyone and we can find rest in that.

MLK said: Peace is not merely a goal we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal. This can be said of rest, of humility, of meekness, of discipleship. Give me rest for my soul! Give me rest for my soul.

But how? How do we arrive at the goal? We have to learn from Jesus.

Meek and humble at heart. Full of compassion and love. So often I hear stories about people going to a poor country, like Guatemala or Mexico or some country in Africa; and learn there what meekness and humility means, what dependence on God means; and the joy that is


Meek and humble in heart describe Joe from the Altanta Enterprise center where I worked 2 years ago. Joe wasn’t tall. Joe didn’t have a booming voice. Joe was not the boss and he didn’t seek power or prestige. He came to work day after day to work with homeless people, drug addicts, ex-offenders, and anyone in between who was looking for a job and helped to train them to get a job. He taught a class, he worked one on one, he was a guide and a mentor for

so many. Joe wanted to help someone better their life. And he did it in humility and meekness. He had this quiet smile, and shy chuckle. He knew his stuff. He was the first person I turned to when I had an issue with how to deal with a client. He didn’t seem to worry much, he certainly wasn’t looking to impress others, he just came and did his job, ate a sandwich at his desk every day. And continues to help out others who are weary.

What’s the game others are trying to get you to play? What game are you trying to play? To you hear the piping? Do you hear the wailing?

Learning from Jesus takes least that’s how it’s been for me. Bearing this yoke. This thing around my neck. keeping me in check, but experiencing freedom at the same time. Maybe it’s like the pancake batter pourer and the flapjack flipper, who had pretty much mastered their tasks hours into the event. "Pour from a high angle and let it drip" Be kind to your flipper and your grill."the secret to proficient flipping was a clean grill and a certain twirl in the wrist. "It's

all in the wrist," he said.3

The secret to knowing these things of God are in the yoke, it’s all
in the yoke and who we’re yoked with. That will
put us on the right path where we may find rest and live life to it’s

1 As Reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican, July 4, 2008.
(Matt 12.39-42; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36; 24:36
3 As Reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican, July 4, 2008.

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