What if we have it all wrong?
Not just "we" individuals. What if we, as an American society, have it all wrong?
What if power and wealth do not matter? What if the house you live in and the car you drive and the clothes you wear and the education you attain do not matter? What if the American dream is really a nightmare that is sucking the resources of creation dry? What if our economy is collapsing because of our greed? What if when you were baptized or what creed you say or what cross you wear does not matter?
And what if "we" individuals have to take a stand as we figure that out and comes to grips with it, no matter the social, political, economic, physical or spiritual price in order to set things right? What if the answer is not in a better health care system or a better tax base or a better educational mandate? What if the answer is not simple or easily discerned?
What if the best we can do is love God and love one another and wait for the answer to show up?
What if it all depends upon loving God and loving one another, no matter how counter-cultural that may be? And there is no other way...
The writings we know from the prophet Isaiah actually cover writings from at least three different circumstances. The first part of this week's selected text is actually written by the latest writer. It is written to a community who has returned from exile in Babylon to Judea, only to find that things aren't all that fantastic back in Judea. But like the first writer, the prophet reports a new promise from God on the horizon - a new heaven and a new earth. Instead of a Psalm response to this reading, we get another reading from Isaiah...ironically from the earliest writer - a hymn of praise for God's mercy and for perhaps undeserved salvation.
In the second letter to the church at Thessalonica, the writer is grappling again with dashed expectations. The first letter looks forward to Jesus' immanent return. But this letter seems to be a reminder that lots of things have to happen before that. It encourages patience and warns about false teachers. It seems to have been written in response to a sense that somebody got it wrong.
Finally, in the gospel of Luke, Jesus is suggesting that there will come a time when the temple crumbles, when everything is tossed into chaos by natural disaster and war and conflict and financial collapse. (Hmmm.) He suggests that there will be an opportunity for his followers to testify with their very lives. Jesus promises to give wisdom and words to respond. I wonder if people expected this to all come to be quickly - in months or years? Did they understand every word literally? Do we?
God has hung with creation through aeons of having it all wrong in myriad different ways. And God continues to show up. Are we watching, waiting, listening?
We raise our weary hands and hearts
and confess that we have had it all wrong
and we need someone
to hit the rest button.