The Gospel-writer Luke goes leaps and bounds in his effort to portray just how scandalous the encounter between the unnamed woman and Jesus was (Luke 7:36-50). What’s even more scandalous, however, it’s not this slightly awkward skin-to-skin contact, it’s not even the fact that there’s no rehearsed apology or an elaborate repentance speech spoken by this woman, or that this wannabe prophet Jesus (because that is what Simon thinks of Jesus by now) eases guilt and forgives sins.

The real sandal of this encounter, and of life in general, is that Simon does not see this woman. That he doesn’t see her humanity, that her doesn’t treat her as the image of God, that he despises her, he looks down on her, he judges her solely by her reputation.

But what about us, what about our church and our denomination. – Do we see this woman? Do we see people around us, and that would be all people, do we see them as the image of God? There are a lot of people out there who have been permanently pigeonholed into a certain category because of their gender, because of their skin color, because of their age, because of their ethnicity or culture and background, or because of the language they speak, or because of whom they fall in love it.

It’s nothing new that often our assumptions get in the way of love. And if we cannot love, if we cannot do that one thing that Jesus has asked us to do, then I don’t know who we are, but we are definitely not his followers; we’re facing identity crisis whether we realize it or not.

Love opens us up for the future with hope. It completely recasts our personal and religious politics. It fashions a community where we do not build ourselves up at the expense of others, but where everyone belongs and all are welcome.

Because when we choose to define a particular someone as a sinner or someone who doesn’t measure up, or when we label a group of people as enemies to either our safety or our beliefs, we inevitably take their God-given identity away from them. We confine them to a smaller living space. – And doing so affects us, too. Because where Jesus expects to see great love in us, and where he desires to find open hearts and open minds and open doors, he only encounters blindness and exclusive behavior.

Binding those around us socially or on the basic of their presumed behaviors, and turning those who don’t fit the mold into outsiders suits our society. Except Jesus doesn’t get on board with societal concepts or human ideas or even religious standards. It’s us who get on board with his – that is, if we truly follow him and follow him every step of the way.

Happy Sunday, beloveds,

Pastor Romi