Tuesday, July 12, 2005


You know, Jesus didn’t just say that many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first, he was also bent on operating that way. Imagine that today there was a guy with a new spin on an old religion. No doubt he’d seek to gain the favor of big names and use their star power to gain an ear for his message. Jesus gathered a bunch of fishermen and tax collectors.
If a dead man coming back to life isn’t difficult to believe, the accounts by which we are told this story use the most unlikely soul as a chief witness, a woman who had either led an utterly dissolute moral life, or who had suffered from an extreme mental illness. In response to this pattern of marginal citizens as the chief players, Eugene Peterson observes that we’d do well to pay serious attention to voices other than our usual celebrity endorsements. He says that people on the edge of respectability: the poor, minorities, suffering and rejected, poets and children, will most likely be the men and women most valuable in cultivating fear-of-the-Lord wonder among us.
And here we are still worrying that the poet is taking over the role of the preacher. So I wonder if those who worry about this happening aren’t at all worried about the preaching – a poet can do that – but instead are worried about the position. Could we reword the question? “Is the poet taking over the position of the preacher?”
Makes me think of the Pharisees terrified that the people were listening to John the Baptizer and Jesus and their marginal bands of followers.