Saturday, December 11, 2010

A YouTube Advent Calendar: December 11

Peter said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!"

Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me." He said to them, "When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?"

They said, "No, not a thing."

He said to them, "But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, 'And he was counted among the lawless'; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled."

They said, "Lord, look, here are two swords."

He replied, "It is enough."

-      Luke 22

Have you ever given up everything? Neither have I. That sort of thing is easier to romanticize than it is to actually follow through with. Instead, we’d all like to be fine, upstanding citizens.

Scholars disagree about whether Jesus’ family was wealthy, poor, or somewhere in between. Many believe he began as a well-educated Pharisee. What is clear is that Jesus did not rest on whatever privileges he had; he used them in order to be able to discard them. He was a traveling preacher, a guru, a teacher, living off the generosity of others. He gave the people wisdom, and they gave him food and shelter.

In the end, he even gave up his “law-abiding” status, and he warned his disciples that the same would happen to them. Sometimes, to follow Jesus means to leave behind whatever comfort and security our society offers us.

Peter made a lot of mistakes. He said and did stupid things. But in the long run, he remained faithful to Jesus. He stayed in relationship. He embraced a life on the edge and followed it all the way to death.

Let’s do another Sufjan Stevens song today. This one is the centerpiece of his album about the state of Illinois. I believe the song is about giving up your privileges and trusting that there will be enough—and, in the process, finding redemption from a life full of regret. This is “Chicago.”

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