I wasn’t entirely sure where this week’s texts were going to take me/us but I wasn’t surprised when the longer I looked at them and thought about them and sat with them that the Luke text became the focus.
As I mention, this week in the Lectionary is a challenge for me because I have a very strong personal connection to the Old Testament lesson, Joel 2:23-32. There is nothing wrong with having a connection or talking about or even preaching about that connection but it might not be what is most needed for this week; and so it was this time. What came to me as the passage to look at this week was the Gospel lesson and what and how it might connect to us.
My first thought was to focus on the Pharisee and to talk about how frequently we act like him, often without even noticing. But that didn’t seem to be what I was hearing. I strongly believe the Holy Spirit provides the guidance we need and in this case I was guided toward the end of the reading where it says, “for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14b NRSV) My first thought was, I don’t want to. The whole area of humility is a tricky one.
Humility is one of those things we can recognize but not necessarily define, at least I struggle to define it. But, as I’ve told my kids ad nauseum most things of value take some work so why should this be any different. I usually have a pretty clear picture of where I want to end up when I step into the pulpit but this morning I realized I really didn’t. There is something liberating about not having to have all the answers and being open about that lack with your people. Today’s sermons are more a beginning or an exploration about what humility might be or might look like. I didn’t get to anything really concrete but I hope I raised some things which will provoke profitable reflection in anyone who hears them. Let me know what you think and what you know about humility.