A message from Pastor Craig Storlie . . . "The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector." (See the whole parable below)
I do not know what it was like in your family as you grew up, but in my family, my sister and I heard a lot about those other people in our small town who were not acting or living appropriately as they should (at least according to my parents). They should know better. As a child (in my understanding as a child) what I heard was, don't act like them, don't be like them, be like us, your family. And if you act like us and are like us, you are one of us and you are better than those others, those bad others, those terrible others.
In the same way, it is hard to read the parable below without judging the judgmental and egotistical Pharisee in his cold hearted self-justified prayer. But what happens when you pass and hold judgement against another person?
In my experience when I hold judgement against another person because of what they have done or not done, I can no longer see them as a whole and complete person (a child of God) but can only see them through the over-layer of judgement I hold against them. I can't see them. I see only my judgement against them.
So when we come to God in prayer, God always sees us as we truly and really are, judgements and all, but still sees us, sees us as beloved and belonging and always loved unconditionally. So beginning in prayer, we are invited to see those others we judge, those others who have hurt us, as God sees and knows them. This does not mean that we condone their behavior or if they are someone we need to stay away from we should stay away, but to begin to see them a bit more as God sees them, a child of God, frail, incomplete, in pain and maybe more like us than we care to admit. In doing so, we begin to let go of our judgement and start moving on a path toward forgiveness.
What are we going to do with all this Grace, Forgiveness and Love? Perhaps, this is what it means to be alive and awake to God's kingdom in our living world.
See you in Church,
Interim Pastor Craig Storlie
Luke 18:9-14 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."