New Ark United Church of Christ, Newark, DE
January 21, 2017
In this next Star Trek episode, the Enterprise arrives at the planet Iotia to investigate cultural contamination by the starship Horizon that visited over a hundred years ago, before the prime directive of non-interference. The intelligent and highly imitative Iotians have patterned their industrial society based on one of the books the Horizon left with them entitled Chicago Mobs of the Twenties. The planet is divided up into a dozen or so territories, each with its own mob boss and underlings. Two of the bosses, Bela Oxmyx and Jojo Krako, are vying to take over as the only boss when Kirk and his boys beam down. Captain Kirk comes to an unorthodox solution: to peacefully unify the planet into a syndicate under one boss, with the Federation as a silent partner.
There’s been a cultural contamination in Jesus’ time and it’s called empire. One after another—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and now Rome—have enslaved and exiled and divided and occupied and oppressed the people of Israel for centuries. Some have imitated their oppressors and become accustomed to the occupation and the power that has been meted out to them. But most of God’s people are tired of being trampled underfoot, of surviving in the face of injustice, and long for God to keep God’s promises of hope and deliverance.
Samir Selmanovic, a self-described Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian, writes this about following Jesus: “Jesus offered a single incentive to follow him; it was woven into all he said and did. [To]…summarize his selling point: ‘Follow me, and you might be happy—or you might not. Follow me, and might be empowered—or you might not. Follow me, and you might have more friends—or you might not. Follow me, and you might have the answers—or you might not. Follow me, and you might be better off—or you might not. If you follow me, you may be worse off in every way you use to measure life. Follow me nevertheless. Because I have an offer that is worth giving up everything you have: you will learn to love well.’” (1)
If we want a piece of that action, we’re in the right place with the right people: flawed, imperfect, beloved, forgiven, each of us trying to live out the truth we know the best we can, not just for our own but for justice’s sake. Why not love each other well while we’re at it? Amen.
1. Selmanovic, Samir. It's Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009.