As I read today's note (August 24, 2010) in the LA Times about Jane Spahr to be tried by the PCUSA, I couldn't help but think of the text for this past Sunday, Luke 13:10-17, Jesus setting a woman free from 18 years of affliction, and doing so on the Sabbath, to make a point (he and the lady could have waited 24 hours) - healing is what the Sabbath is all about.
And then the synagogue leader weighs in - scolding folks, "Hey, we've got six days for work, and if you want healing, come on those days, but the Sabbath is for rest - keep it holy - no work!"
And that's when Jesus lays into the leader and his gang, "You hypocrites. You wouldn't treat an ox or donkey this way - you lead them to water on the Sabbath, so why deny the water of life to this woman on the Sabbath? What better day is there for revealing the love of God and the freedom therein?"
While Jesus stood on the intent of the law, the leader clung to the letter of the law. And according to the law, the leader was right and Jesus was wrong.
So, here we go again, arguing about our laws.
And missing the point of the kingdom of God.
Jane Spahr is technically wrong, if that's the tact we wish to take. Jesus was wrong, too, and someone might have told him, "Wait 24 hours. Then do your healing. No one will be offended, the law will be maintained and everyone will be happy."
But Jesus didn't wait, because love and mercy and forgiveness and hope can't wait.
So ... we'll drag Jane into the mud of our own foolish little world of rules - rules that keep people bound - hungering and thirsting for a better day.
We wouldn't treat a dog this way.
Yeah, keep 'em tied up, and tie 'em up all the more with rules upon rules, until no one knows which way is up.
Sure, I am what I am - a supporter of marriage equality, comfortable with the biblical work done by Jack Rogers and others.
And I've been called an apostate, a heretic and a servant of Satan.
No one has the final word, and I surely don't claim that, but with prayer and study, I've made my decision some years ago to no longer wait, and just to keep myself honest, I continue to study and think about these things.
But I write this note with a certain conviction, that Jane Spahr is pointing the way ahead, reminding us what the church and our faith is all about - setting people free. While the charges fly and the legal briefs are prepared, the PCUSA finds itself in the uncomfortable place of the synagogue leader.
That's how I see it these days.