This might be a hard saying today, and where to begin...?
The Old Testament reading is from Isaiah 6, and is a quite well-known passage to those of us who have grown up in the Christian church...
"Woe is me, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!"
A modernized translation of Isaiah's lament? "I am a mess, and all the people I live with are a mess, and I'm in no condition to see or be seen by a holy and perfect God."
Likewise, I begin this blog with an acknowledgement: I am a mess. I am imperfect, broken, and rarely, if ever, live up to the version of myself that I would like to be. All of the people I live with, work with, go to church with...? They too are a mess...an imperfect, broken mess. They are rarely the people I wish they would be...or that they themselves would hope to be...and yet, here we are...all of us, living in the presence of a holy and perfect God.
What are we to do with such a vast disconnect? A chasm between the perfect and the imperfected?
Fast forward with me to the Gospel reading for today, found in the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John. The story? The woman caught in adultery, brought to Jesus by the religious leaders of that time...to be made an example of...to be stoned.
Perhaps you've read the story, or maybe not...either way, it wouldn't be hard to imagine a reaction of outrage. How dare those people! What barbarians they must have been! Perhaps you're even given to thinking, "I would never do such a thing!" Really?
Consider for a moment, Jesus' response to the crowd:
"But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, 'If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'"
Jesus did not say, "If any of you have not committed this same sin, let him be the first to throw a stone..." No. Please don't miss this, because it is so very important! He said:
"If any of you is w-i-t-h-o-u-t sin..." Any takers? There were none.
Unsurprisingly, the story ends with all of the accusers leaving the scene...not one person stayed...not one person threw a stone. Not one.
I heard a story today about religious leaders throwing stones...I became so angry upon hearing the story...I immediately picked up some stones (verbal ones) and started throwing. Woe is me, because I am a mess, and I live among a people who are a mess.
It seems to me that there's alot of stone throwing...inside the church, and outside the church. Except for one person. Did you notice? Jesus. He's not throwing any stones at all.
If he was here with us today, drawing pictures in the dirt...he would straighten up and say to us:
"If any of you is without sin, you go right ahead and throw those stones...you just go right ahead."
And I think...just maybe...we might have a moment of insight...we might realize that we're all a mess in our own individual way...and there might be alot less stone throwing.