I am spinning a little lately. It happens. Sometimes when I sit down to write a sermon I have to spend several hours sifting through all the other thoughts and feelings that come up. Usually this is because I have spent energy suppressing those thoughts and feelings. I sometimes use Facebook as a steam valve, but I am not always successful. My mind is not a steel trap. No, sir. My mind is an old pressure cooker.
This week's scripture lesson is about hospitality. It's a challenge to the haves/have-nots structure that we're all so fond of/used to. If one were to try to make a social system from this parable, then you'd have a riot on your hands. "No, your own merit matters nothing. No, stop using those bootstraps. No, just because it's yours and you earned it does not mean you get to keep it." It also infringes on our sense of privacy. Jesus says to invite the poor to dinner. In your house. It's good stuff. Hospitality to strangers and the needy is a tough discipline.
The trick is (Is it really just a trick of the mind?) for me to think of myself as a nomad. Landless. It's a curious endeavor because I have spent most of my life thinking otherwise. A college friend once exclaimed "You're landed gentry! Holy shit!" when we were talking. I mean, not me personally, but the family has a long history in Virginia and, well...fuck it. Suffice it to say that sometimes a strong sense of place gets in the way of hospitality.
Place can be anything...land, civic identity, cultural or class identity...It can be anything at all. What Jesus and maybe even Paul seem to be getting at is that hospitality trumps that kind of identity. And by extension, our sense of stability (Note: a monk might take a vow of stability.) is also challenged. Stability might not be about the sense of place but really about a vision of godly neighborliness no matter where or how we live.
Faithfulness, in the end, might not be about staying put, but knowing when to give way.