Monday, November 8, 2010

Sermon for Oct 17, 2010, Luke 18:1-8

Rev. George Miller
Luke 18:1-8
“When Widows Won’t Welent”
Oct 17, 2010

Last week we heard a quote from Bishop Desmond Tutu. It was “The texture of our universe is one where there is no question at all but that good and laughter and justice will prevail.”

I find myself still responding to this quote and its simple truth, and I love that Bishop Tutu, a noted Nobel Prize winner, would place such an emphasis on the importance of laughter in our life.

Life without laughter is like a martini without an olive: it makes no sense. So blessings to God for filling our life with things that make us smile and laugh out loud.

One of those things that evoked laughter while growing up was Saturday morning cartoons, especially Looney Tunes.

Remember those cartoons? Created at a time before the world became so overly politically correct, shown at movie theaters before the main feature.

One of the stand-out characters was Elmer Fudd, with his speech impediment and hunting gear. What was he always hunting? Wabbit.

“Be vewy vewy quiet,” he’d say, “I’m hunting wabbits.”

And for the next 5-10 minutes we’d laugh at his foibles of trying to catch and kill Bugs Bunny. But things never went his way.

It’s not that he wasn’t persistent. Oh he tried; he tried indeed. But no matter what Bugs Bunny always outsmarted him.

That wascally wabbit would dress up like Carmen Miranda, or tie Elmer’s gun into a knot, or surprise him with a kiss on top of his bald head, getting poor Elmer all flustered.

Alas, he never did catch that wabbit, but Elmer, dear Elmer would not welent.

And I admire that trait in him. There is something to be said about determination in the face of uncertainty and repeated failure.

Welentlessness is a key to success and if it wasn’t for those who wouldn’t give up in the face of adversity there would not have been a United States, nor women’s rights, civil rights or my ability to be here.

Relentlessness can be a virtue, or wirtue, as Elmer Fudd would say. So why couldn’t he catch that darned wascally wabbit?

Because he was pursuing death, not life. He was intent to destroy, not create. He was determined in domination not to build relation.

If the very fabric of the universe is for good and laughter and justice to prevail, then Elmer Fudd was doomed to begin with.

Today’s scripture is also about someone who won’t welent: a widow who wears down a wuthless judge. However, her outcome is very different from Elmer’s: she gets what she is seeking.

In Luke Chapter 18 Jesus is continuing his journey towards Jerusalem. The disciples are with him and Jesus is busy blessing children and restoring sight.

He tells the people this parable: a widow in the city has had an injustice happen to her. This wasn’t unheard of, since widows were some of the most vulnerable and mistreated people.

Whatever this widow is facing, she knows a wrong has transpired. So she does what she can, going to the local judge, seeking justice.

However, this judge has no respect for anyone nor does he fear God. So he cares nothing about this woman.

Again and again her request falls on deaf ears. But, like Elmer Fudd, she will not welent. Again and again she goes to the wuthless judge asking for one thing “Grant me justice.”

And we’re not told when, or how long it took, but finally, the wuthless judge cracks, realizing that this welentless widow is going to wear him down.

He says “That’s it, I’m done. She wins and I will grant her wish and give her want she wants.”

The wuthless widow wins, but why do you think she won? My claim is that she won because she was fighting for was justice; justice equals life, and as the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves, life will always win out over death.

Justice equals life. It’s a simple equation, but one that stands up to the test.

Think of any injustice you can come up, and there will be a direct correlation between a substandard form of living, from housing to economics to health.

But think of acts of justice and not only will it be linked directly to acts of freedom but justice will lead to a more improved and joyful life filled with laughter and goodness.

That’s what the welentless widow was seeking, and that is why she won. Because in God, justice and life have to win, even if ruthless powers seem to say no.

That’s what the empty tomb displayed. That’s why Jesus was unafraid to face the Cross.

Life and justice will always win. That’s part of the beauty you will find in Luke 18.

I invite you to look at your Bible and read through this chapter and you’ll discover a celebration of life and right.

Verses 1-8 are about justice. Verses 9-14 are about humbling honesty. Verses 15-17 are about children. Verses 18-30 are about releasing the power our possessions can have over us. And verses 35-43 are about regaining sight.

Justice, humility, children, release, and sight: all aspects of life, things we can do and seek that speak out against the forces of death and injustice that threaten to rob us of our innocence, sight and what we deserve.

Each and every one of us deserves to have our humanity and our life acknowledged. We deserve to be safe, to be treated fairly and to live free from oppression.

That’s called justice.

But justice does not always seem to happen, does it? We find ourselves told what we can’t do, where we can’t go, what we don’t deserve. Some because of the color of their skin, others because of who they love, others because of their age.

Big business makes choices that benefit just a few. Government is always being questioned about what is right and what is wrong. School districts and counties scramble for the resources they need.

Justice is life, and we all deserve to live.

Part of what we can glean from today’s parable is that when we find ourselves in a situation that is unjust, it is Ok for us to be like the widow.

It is Ok to seek. It is Ok to demand. It is Ok to be persistent and unrelenting.

It is Ok to voice expectations and to do what needs to be done if it is justice that we seek.

Because when we seek justice, we seek life.

In conclusion, Elmer Fudd may never have caught that wascally wabbit, but that’s because he was pursuing the ways of death.

The welentless widow? What she sought was just, and right and good, and everyone deserves the same.

Whenever we seek out justice, God is on our side, even if the outcome is not immediate, even if we do not live long enough to see the results, even if it seems like a lost cause.

The cross may have been where wounds of injustice occurred, but God used the empty tomb to remind us that healing justice will ultimately prevail.

Therefore, we can act in faith knowing good, laughter and justice equal life.

And life will always win.

Blessings to the Spirit that empowers us to fight for what is right, to the Son who never gave up and to God who is merciful and just.

Amen and amen.

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