In the meantime, gospel thoughts.

It looks like all the rest of my conference recap will be retrospective at this point -- getting home and returning to the pile of delayed work always does this.  Part 2 is in the pipe, but for the moment, some thoughts on this morning's gospel and the inevitable theme of "welcoming."

Mt 10:40-42, kind of stiffly: "The one accepting/receiving you, accepts/receives me, and the one accepting/receiving me accepts/receives the one having sent me.  The one accepting/receiving a prophet for the prophet's name gains the wage of the prophet, and the one accepting/receiving a just (person) for the just (person)'s name gains the wage of the just.  And whoever shall draw a draught of cold (water) for one of the least of these merely for the disciple's name, truly I tell you, shall by no means lose the disciple's wage."

What is the onoma?  I've translated eis as purpose, such that it is the fact that the person is called what they are called that is the basis for reception and acceptance.  But onoma here is not the person's name, as Peter is called Peter and I am called Matthew.  It is the person's calling, as the potter is called Potter and the drawer of water is called Wassermann.  And for the names which are here -- prophet, just/righteous, disciple -- it would seem that these are also callings.  Vocations, names invoked upon us.  Vocations, considered in terms of what we therefore do -- the opposite of calling a potter, "Potter."  A prophet is called by God, or she is no prophet at all.  A just person is just, as we must understand in Christ, because of an external criterion of righteousness.  A disciple is so because of the teacher.  And correspondingly, these are missions.  All right, I admit, I have some trouble with dikaios in this scheme -- but we are called to be it, regardless.

So I find it rather banal when we sing hymns that emphasize how liberally welcoming we are, when this is the gospel apportioned for the day.  It borders on self-congratulatory self-service, especially when we sing these hymns downward.  When we make it our mission to be inclusive, and to gain the wages of inclusivity.  (I'm not even going to comment on the idea that God is oblivious to human differences, especially the socially-conditioned and -created ones!  Really, God shares our blithe white ignorance?)  Because we do not stand in the right position in this light.  We no longer see ourselves standing where Christ has placed us.  We have flipped the gospel text on its ear.

"Who receives you, receives me; who receives me, receives the one who sent me."  Here we stand, as we have been placed, between the world and the Son, and therefore the Father.  And how do we stand there?  What sort of mediation is this?  And so it is interpreted.

"Who receives a prophet because of the prophetic calling, gains the wage of the prophet."  (And here my wife says, "Death?")  "Who receives the righteous because of the righteous calling, gains the wage of the righteous."  (And here I quip back, "Death.")  And these are parallel, implicating the third: who receives a disciple because of the calling of discipleship, gains the wage of the disciple.  We have here a language, not of welcoming, but of participation.  And as it must be, the rhetorical parallelism is made radical in the actual third: "Whoever shall draw a cold draught for one of the least of these, merely because of the calling of discipleship, shall by no means lose the wage of the disciple.  I mean it!"

Now, besides the good Lutheran implications of drawing a cold draught for your pastor and so sharing in her discipleship (for example -- it could be any fellow disciple), we have in the language here two major components of the mediation Jesus sets up.  The first is that, as disciples, we are defined by our mission, and the second is that our discipleship is mutual, shared in even the least action of hospitality toward one another.  That we convey Christ, just as the prophet bears the Word of God, to one another and therefore also the world -- in our least action toward the least, and therefore our every action toward everyone.  We participate in one another's discipleship, and in this we participate in Christ and the sending of the Father, as we do what Christ does.  And so we receive Christ in every action in which we receive one another, regardless of the magnitude of the action or the other -- or the self.

And lest we make of this a strictly internal sharing, remember that it is also Matthew's Jesus who provides us with the "great commission."  To make disciples of all peoples.  And what does this mean, but to share in their life as they share in ours, to receive them as those who show us the Father?  This is the welcome we extend, the just welcome of equals before God, placed in this new respective station for Christ's sake.  Emphasizing, not our liberality in accepting the other as other on our own terms -- as though we were the Father! -- but our enabled discipleship as equals who have been so welcomed.


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