Bonnie Raitt, Pharisees, Divorce and Let’s give them something to talk about: LOVE.

Proper 22 Year B 2021

Job 1:1; 2:1-10
Psalm 26
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
Mark 10:2-16

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Do you remember the song “let’s give them something to talk about?!”

It was Bonnie Raitt’s hit in 1991. While Bonnie Raitt was performing since the 70’s, this song made her a household name.

The chorus is quite catchy, “let’s give them something to talk about,….. And what is it they are to talk about?

LOVE.

The song is all about small time gossip and, well, by the end the singer resolves, why don’t we give them something to talk about! Have them talk about Love.

Let’s give them something to talk about.

By chapter 10 of the gospel of Mark, people have been talking about Jesus.

Talking about how he has been healing people, about how he has been teaching, about how he has been speaking, about WHO he has been calling to be disciples.

The small time gossips are working over time about all the things he has been doing and here come the Pharisees today.

Let’s give them something to talk about.

The Pharisees come to test Jesus. They ask, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce a man’s wife?” They are not there because one of them is in need of marital advice. They are not there because their family is struggling in a marriage.

The Pharisees are asking the question this day to have something to talk about.

To talk about how this rabbi from Galilee might speak about King Herod. Remember, King Herod is married to his brother’s wife. His brother who divorced his wife and that same wife has married the King. Remember John the Baptist spoke against this and was jailed and eventually beheaded for speaking in opposition to this marriage. The Pharisees come ready to find out from Jesus where exactly he stands in his political relationship with the King.

And Jesus says to the Pharisees, who knew their law, “What did Moses command you?

And the Pharisees do not reply with what Moses commanded but what Moses allowed.

They quote Deuteronomy.

And Jesus reminds them of Genesis.

The Pharisees remind Jesus of the ten commandments.

Jesus reminds them of the Garden of Eden and God’s perfect creation.

Jesus meets them exactly where they are and invites them to reach toward the divine while being perfectly imperfect humans.

Jesus’ answer to the inquiring Pharisees is to talk about love.

Jesus speaks of the love that we should always be striving for. In creation God created us to be in relationship. We are to be in relationship with God, with creation, with one another.

We fall short.

And Jesus gives them something to talk about in continuing, reaching out and reconciling rather than dismissing and diminishing.

Love to Jesus is much more than Gossip, it is relationship that believes in transformation, in new beginnings, in opportunity to begin again.

The Pharisees were not talking about love and not even marriage and divorce.

They tested Jesus to see which side of the political divide he would take.

And Jesus says to them “let’s talk about love.”

This love that Jesus speaks of invites the adulterer into the circle of the community.

Invites the woman at the well, married 5 times, to become an evangelist in her community to talk about living water and love that is more than humanity can even grasp.

Jesus in his love for humanity invites Matthew, the tax collector to be a part of the twelve closest friends with Jesus.

The love Jesus lives and breathes invites, initiates and sees opportunity where humanity sees the terminus of a journey. And each of us is invited to join in. Jesus says, let’s give them something to talk about. “See this child- this is what it looks like to enter the kingdom of God” Love is embodied in each person, the smallest, the weakest, love is in each individual with eyes and arms and hearts wide open.

Let’s give them something to talk about- Talk about Love.

Love that stopped in his tracts to talk those who asked a question

Love that met the person who needed healing or sought healing on behalf of another.

Love that wept at the loss of a friend.

Love that prayed, cried, ate, and was with the people for 33 years.

Love that ultimately opened its arms for us on the cross, willing to embrace us all and let go of own self for our own selves.

This past week I was able to attend the Alumni Lectures for the school of theology, up at my alma mater, Sewanee. We heard from Bishop Jennifer Baskerville Burrows, Bishop Phoebe Roaf, and Bishop Eugene Sutton (the bishops of Indianapolis, West Tennessee, and Maryland)- each spoke to those gathered about what love looks like in the work of Racial Reconciliation in the Episcopal Church. How each of their dioceses have leaned into love to listen to each other, to be in relationship with each other, to be curious, and interrogate reality.

I found myself talking to my classmates about the things going on here from our work with Capital Area Justice Ministry which has commited to these three principles  of listening/curiosity/and interrogation to sharing the weekly offerings that we have Sundays through Saturdays. From the Faith at 5:30 service, the delicious meals of the lively café, the offerings of the new “Front Porch” to our pastoral care shepherds.

There is plenty to talk about here at St. John’s and it all begins and ends with Love.

Today we will commission our rector search committee, who have already been hard at work, as you know. Continue to keep them in your prayers. Their job is to tell the story of St. John’s and the love of Jesus that resides within and outside of our walls as we search for a New Rector.

And we have so much to talk about and to do.

Talk about love, love, love.

At a wedding service, we begin with the words, “Dearly Beloved we are gathered here together today”- Each time we do this, I am reminded that we are gathered because we are loved and because we love the ones who are gathered together. We commit to praying for all those gathered there, much like we do each time we gathered here.

And we are reminded in each service that we are to be listening and (talking) responding in love, just as Jesus set the example for us in his life and death here among us.

We are humans, perfectly imperfect.

AND

We are to always be striving for the divine, even as we fall short.

Because, as Jesus says today- God has created us for relationship with one another- grounded in love, always grounded in love, and always ready to be transformed by love.

Amen.

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