Pentecost 21 ~ Anointing the Next Generation

October 29 2017

This morning we come to the end of our journey with Moses.  Having safely brought the people to the edge of the Promised Land, Moses gets to look at the land – but he never gets to enter it. His job is finished and he dies.

But before his death, Moses gets to lay hands on – anoint – Joshua, the leader for the next part of the journey; the next generation. And that’s where we are about in the church today: anointing the next generation.

Many of us will not live to see the church that is to come, and that’s okay, as long as we’ve done our part in preparing the way. It’s important that we do not burden the next generation with unnecessary baggage. Just equip them with what they will need: a deep rooted sense of love of God and love of neighbour as oneself. The rest is just window dressing.

PARABLE: There once was a famous monastery, which had fallen on hard times.  Years before it had been a vibrant community, where people came for prayer.  These days no one came to visit. And all that was left was a handful of old monks who shuffled through the cloisters with heavy hearts. On occasion, an old rabbi would come to spend some quiet time in a little hut on the monastery grounds. Somehow, his prayerful presence helped sustain the monks.  One day, the abbot decided to go and visit the old rabbi to see if he had any words of wisdom for them. The two men sat and commiserated together for a very long time.

Finally, the old rabbi said, “You came here for some words of wisdom.  All I have to give you is one teaching, that you can only repeat once out loud. ‘The Messiah is among you.’ Now you must go.” The abbot left without a word. When he arrived back at the monastery, he called his monks together and said, I am going to tell you what the rabbi said, but I can only say it once…and then we can never speak it out loud again. The rabbi says that one of us is the Messiah.’

Well, the monks were deeply puzzled by the rabbi’s message, but because they trusted the rabbi’s wisdom, they began to ask themselves-Is it possible? Could Brother John be Jesus in disguise?  He seems kind of grumpy, but then he’s a good fisherman and he’s kind to animals.  What about Brother Thomas?  He’s very forgetful, but he’s always good natured.  And what about Brother George? He seems a bit odd, but he knows his scripture. And then, each one began to wonder, what if it’s me and I don’t know it?  And so the monks began to look for Jesus in everyone, even themselves.

As time went by the monks began to see each other, and themselves, differently.  They began to treat each other with a whole lot more respect. After all, on one wanted to accidentally be rude, or crabby, or mean to Jesus.

And as they looked for Jesus in each other and in themselves, a change gradually came over the entire monastery – kind of invisible cloud of light and love. And somehow it touched the surrounding communities. Deeply moved by the life of these monks, visitors returned to the monastery-families picnicked together on the grounds, people came from far and wide seeking prayer, younger men asked to become part of this group.  The transformation was amazing and it all began with one simple teaching.

‘The Messiah is among you.’

Pat Martin +