God in our Neighborhood



December 12, 2014

God in our Neighborhood.  By Beth Pease

Scripture: Luke 22: 14-30

“So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isnt it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”
 Luke 22:27

Advent is about anticipation. We know what is coming and it’s exciting. God is coming to be with us. To borrow a phrase from Eugene Peterson that we hear from Pastor Leslie often “God is coming to the neighborhood.”  What does God coming to our neighborhood look like? In this passage we are reminded that God comes, not as a powerful ruler, but as one who serves, one who waits on others. What does that look like in our context today? Who might God be in our neighborhood?

Some of you know that in my day job I work with Nurses who are imagining a different world and a different way of relating to their employers into being. If you've never been behind the scenes at a hospital you might not know how much nurses do and how much depends on their care. Nurses are definitely the backbone of the hospital and they are definitely people who serve, and wait on others. 

As with any change, part of imagining a new way of relating power is frightening and involves some pushback from people who want to keep things the way that they are or have always been.  People who suggest keeping things the same often want to talk about keeping the peace or maintaining order, because, as we know, change is traumatic and disrupting. When people who have not had power imagine a different way of relating to the world, i.e. they refuse to play by the old rules and insist that people see their divinity and dignity and relate to them differently, the powers that be only see their loss of power, and often react violently, as we see shortly after this text in the Jesus story.

Keeping the peace usually means keeping things the way that they are and not challenging the power structure.  I tend to use a different definition of peace, one that is reflected in the Hebrew word shalom, one that emphasizes wholeness and restoration. Peace comes when God is with us, in the neighborhood as one who serves. Peace comes when we see the divinity and dignity in everyone and imagine/create/restore a world that allows them to live in a manner that reflects that dignity.

Prayer: God, we get frustrated with waiting this holiday season, lines make us impatient.

We get grumpy with those who are helping us, those who bring us food or sell us gifts.

Remind us that you are among us as one who serves and help us to bring your peace and wholeness to everyone we interact with this Advent and Christmas season. Amen.

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