News of the weird variety

Strange things happen in the life of faith. I once read about a Christian minister who was a cattle rancher. He sold hundreds and hundreds head of cattle each year. He also donated beef to his local food pantry. Ironically, he himself was a vegetarian. I found it odd that everything he owned; his home, his ranch, his truck; and all the good he did, donating to the church, feeding the poor, giving generously to many community programs; all of this was possible through the sale of cattle to the market. Yet, he himself never ate meat as a humane gesture. I asked him about it once. He shrugged it off and just said, it’s my little way of giving back. He then went to say how he made sure all of his animals were treated humanely. He said it was part of his Christian walk. I enjoyed the sincerity and true humility about his work and choices.

Stranger things happened in the life of faith for the first disciples too. They saw tax collectors, known for skimming off the top, give up everything to serve with Jesus. They saw a Roman commander come to Jesus to heal one of his servants. In the book of Acts, they saw Pharisees who obeyed strict dietary laws about pork and kosher food sit down with Gentiles who were considered unclean to eat with. All of these anomalies stemmed from the one named Jesus who was called the Messiah, King of the World, Creator of the Universe, and was God Incarnate. Although Jesus was God and King of all he didn’t lord it over people but sat down with them. He humbled himself to eat with outcasts, serve the poor, and meet with elites and vagabonds.

In the end, even when they crucified him, he didn’t retaliate. He went willingly to the cross to show that God in God’s self would appease his own wrath through the crucifixion instead of pouring out wrath on humanity. The irony is that Jesus as God, then rose from the dead. Lynn Willis, LEAD Spiritual Director says, “he returned not as a broken victim, not as an angry avenger, but in Jesus’ third way: with dignity, compassion and love. Let’s set an intention to walk in Jesus’ third way: with dignity for all compassion for all and love for all.” The irony is that the all-powerful, all-knowing God died for us. He could have called down fire to stop the process at any time. He didn’t. He chose a different path. With all that power and knowledge God still sends the Spirit to inspire us to be good and kind. Perhaps that isn’t news of the weird but the way the world should be. May we make it so. Amen!