Go in Peace, to Where?
And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner."Jesus offers her forgiveness and tells her to go in peace. Three years ago, I preached a first-person sermon on this passage. It began with the idea of the host saying, "As dinner parties go, it was a disaster." Then continued from the hosts viewpoint on a dinner party gone wrong and the dangers of following Jesus. That sermon ended,
Go in peace. Really! The nerve. Go where? Where could that woman ever find peace? If she really did want forgiveness, if that woman really did want to turn toward God, then she would never be welcome back in this city again. Her old crowd wouldn’t know what to do with her and neither would we, the religious ones. Where could this weeping thing go? Who would offer her peace except for that gaggle of Galileans?The full text of the sermon is here: Go in Peace, to Where. A version of this will be next week's religion column for the tribune & Georgian. Being away on vacation, I thought that this first person sermon might make an interesting change up from what I've been writing for the paper. We'll see.
This Jesus needs to think it all through. If God’s love and forgiveness is for everyone, then there is going to have to be some sort of community to receive those forgiven sinners, and the unforgiven ones too.
The Kingdom of God will never be a here-and-now reality unless there is a place where those fallen folks can congregate, support one another. Those forgiven sinners certainly can’t come to my house, or church, until they have proved themselves and I suspect they won’t be welcome in yours either.
Face it. Jesus was too accepting. If he was more like you and me, this movement of his might go somewhere. But I promise you. This is the last time, and I mean it the very last time, I let the likes of him in my gate. And I would advise you to steer clear of this irresponsible teaching. Jesus words sound good at first, but this reckless rabbi would turn the world upside down if anyone actually practices what he preaches.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor