Matthew, St. Arbuck's, and @AKMA

Posted September 21, 2012 @ 12:02pm | by Tripp

Blessed are you, God of love,
for in Christ your Son
you revealed your compassion for humankind
and in mercy you invite sinners
to sit at the banquet of your kingdom.
We give you thanks for Matthew,
who responded to the call of Christ
and made him welcome in his house.
Changed and renewed by the coming of the Lord,
he dedicated himself to proclaiming
your wonderful works of salvation.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you,
Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever 

I'm sitting here in St. Arbuck's contemplating all you people I cary around with me in my pocket (thanks to the iPhone) and how I sometimes take you for granted because you are always with me via technology and social media. You are always there and thus I find that I forget to actually reach out to you guys when I'm stressed and in need of a little reassurance. Well, yesterday I reached out to some of you and you were grand in your responses thank you. 

You see, I'm in the weeds here in the Ph.D. program. It's an incredibly busy year...much more so than last year and I am spinning in trying to figure out how to get it all done. I'm calling upon every little helpful trope I have to keep myself sane. Varying degrees of success. But it is what it is and I'll get through this. Right? (Another trope)

So, I e-mailed four friends and received four generous responses. I'm a lucky man to have so many friends I could have reached out to. I am grateful to know that so many of you would have been generous and helpful in your responses. Thanks be to you, too. It's all grace.

Today is the Feast of St. Matthew. I'm thinking about all those to whom I am grateful and this being Matthew's day I have to think about AKMA and his work in Matthew and with us in seminary to get some sense of what Matthew was trying to say to the church. Way to invite God in for dinner, Matthew. It's not as easy as it sounds. Matthew 9:9-13 reads: 

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, 'Follow me.' And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?' But when he heard this, he said, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.'

That's a hell of a story, if you think about it. It's reveals a lot about purity, who was deemed dangerous in some ways, and (to my thinking) a lot about liturgical practice and how we still insist that people have to come to church to get God when Jesus always just showed up for dinner. God goes to Matthew. Grace find us. And though it is up to respond, this passage is a great reminder of how God initiates, God reaches, God dines, God heals, God restores. Our freedom is in the responding. Mercy. Not sacrifice. 

Mercy. There it is again. Mercy. God offers it. All the time.

It is up to me to e-mail my friends to receive it. 

That's so easy to forget. I'm glad I remembered yesterday. 

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