Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Calling the Silent Woman to Cross the Line

Scripture for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost includes Jeremiah 1:4-10; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17

Ho hum, another healing. The temptation is to under-read this story because it doesn’t lend itself to great cinematography. Not much action. The woman in whom the miracle happens doesn’t get any good lines to speak. This video clip won’t go viral.

But there are facets of this story that deserve wiping off to see how they refract light.

Read the whole Gospel of Luke and you’ll see that this is the last time Jesus visits a synagogue. From here out, he’s outdoors, on the street, in the market, at other venues… but not in church. Could be that this encounter today convinces him that he has spent enough redemptive capital addressing the hypocrisies of the local parish. He’s got the tee shirt that says “God’s sabbath is for consistent acts of lovingkindess: Love your neighbor as yourself, whether your neighbor is an ass or a human.” He’s got greater challenges ahead than the local parish church.

But it’s in this house of prayer that he embraces one of those challenges: the place of women among the people of God.

Let’s open that subject by acknowledging that two thousand years later, women are still not ordained bishops in the Church of England. In the Episcopal Church here in the states, ordained women still report resistance to being called to serve as rectors in the larger parishes.
Globally, I’d bet the ordination of women is practiced by only a minority of Christians. Among the great majority of Jesus’s followers, men wear the vestments and claim the voice of authority, while everyone knows without the women there would be no church. The place of women among the people of God in the 21st century is still distorted by hypocrisy.

Yes, it was worse in the 1st century. Here’s a description: “The Palestinian Jewish culture was one of the most patriarchal in the Mediterranean crescent. The home and family were basically the only spheres where women could play significant roles in early Judaism. This was true not only because of the extensive power that a father had over both his wife and daughters in determining their activities and their relationships, but also because various levitical laws were interpreted in such a way that women were prohibited from taking significant roles in the synagogue due to their monthly period of levitical uncleanness. Women could not make up the quorum that constituted a synagogue, could not be counted on to recite the daily “Shema, Israel” (of praise) or make the pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the major feasts, nor are there any known examples of women reading the Torah in the synagogue in Jesus’ era.”

Indeed, this woman Jesus calls forward today is silent. For eighteen years, a spirit has crippled her: “She was bent over and was quite unable to stand upright.” Standing is the classic posture for prayer and praise and participation in the worship of God’s people.

Where was she in that synagogue? Were the women in an ell or a room to one side, separated from the men? Wherever that was, it must have been there that she appeared, and Jesus noticed her. He called her over, invited her to cross that dark line of separation, apartness, otherness-- to cross the steep mountain range separating the women from the men.

What drew his eye to her? Was it her disability? Her determination? I’ll bet you can call up the image of someone from your circle of family and friends… my late aunt Jessie, severely bent over, moving slowly, deliberately… my colleague Don, a burley guy who was a cop before he was a priest: I sat behind him at a funeral in Worcester last week; even with a back brace, he too is unable to stand up straight. Cords of compassion are set thrumming at the sight of a person with some condition that has done its crippling worst. In Greek, it reads “a spirit of weakness” (how loose and roomy language is!). And that may be what summons compassion, this sense of being diminished, of losing certain freedoms, not possessing former strengths—none of which leaves the person spiritually weak. Aunt Jessie didn’t lose her spark, her laughter. Don, with that bent body, celebrates the eucharist this morning at the altar in Worcester. Deep strength is not invalidated by physical weakness, may even rise from it.

As she makes her painful way to him, slowly, deliberately, her weight against a wooden staff, her face cast down by the physics of her ailment, I’ll tell you what I hear: expressions of shock, hummings of encouragement, sharp intake of breath, cluckings of disapproval, the shufflings of people making way for her, the firm landings of her stick upon the floor.

And there she is, standing before the men and the women, and the One in whom male and female meet complete. On that spot Jesus announces to her emancipation from her bondage, resurrection from her living death, inclusion in the people of God, revelation as a daughter of Abraham and Sarah. Immediately he makes the Word flesh by laying his hands on her. And I can only assume that the sounds we heard before we hear again, only sharper, clearer, as he violates yet one more levitical law, touching a woman in public.

Indignation pours from the heart and the mouth of the local pastor, flooding the room with his sour breath. “Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath!” So he kept shouting, perhaps egged-on by some of his flock, men of substance, guardians of obedience, culture police.

Don’t you think there must have been some who shot back, “And who will heal us if we do? You?”

Now Jesus makes a strategic choice. He hears the presiding minister repeating his pathetic public policy statement, and Jesus shoots back, responding to this fellow’s message but actually addresses the congregation: “You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn’t it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?”

That’s how it reads in “The Message”, which goes on to say, “When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on.” Jesus’s strategic choice was right on: rather than arguing with the pastor in a closed loop, Jesus rightly located the hypocrisy in the divided inconsistent hearts of many within that room, and rather than framing a conversation within the ecclesiastical system (where it would be all about religious law), Jesus intercepted the message of the minister to his flock, feigned a return volley to that fellow but in fact lobbed his reply to the people, and made it all about justice and mercy.

The New Revised Standard Version, our lectern text, says, “When he had said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.”

Maybe. But it won’t be long before that kind of nervous twittering is heard at the gates of Jerusalem, when Jesus arrives to face his ultimate challenge.

The shame that Luke mentions may be an important facet of this story. You could say that this woman’s crippled condition, her weakness, represents a basic shame laid on the backs of all women by cultures that perpetuate inequality by specious primitive prejudice. That is truly the spirit of weakness that afflicts woman: it is the men’s arguments and self-ordained authority that cripple her. These are among the powers and principalities that Jesus disarms, for male and female to meet in him and be saved from the alienating power of shame.

This is radical stuff. Before Jesus, no Jewish women were allowed to be disciples of a great teacher, but that is where his movement goes, and this woman who now stands before him eye to eye is part of that movement. And so are we.

(The description of the place of women in 1st-century Palestine is given by Ben Witherington, III, in his article, “Women: New Testament” in “The Anchor Bible Dictionary”, Vol. 6, page 957.)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Coveting the View at the Cost of Justice

Scripture for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost includes Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2, 8-18; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12:49-56

“Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard…” Now there’s a set-up for a song that was bound to turn heads and capture the attention of all sorts and conditions of folks attending the annual harvest festival at the great temple in Jerusalem. Songs about wine and wineries were expected, but what made this one stand out was who it was at the microphone: it wasn’t one of the expected crooners. It was the well-known prophet Isaiah, and he was about to let loose with a broadside to the bow of Israel’s self-satisfaction, a songlike parable that starts cleverly with an appeal to sweet reason and ends with a sharp reproach and a dire threat.

His parable is built on a metaphor. Israel is a vineyard. We notice a recurrence of that image in today’s psalm, where the interweaving of Egypt and Israel in history and legend is expressed in a verse addressed to God: “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; you cast out the nations and planted it.” Such a simple one-sentence summation of that long process by which generations of Hebrew immigrants took control of the land of Canaan, which they came to call the Promised Land—a point of view, an article of faith, that has fueled endless hostility around land and boundaries that still grips the Middle East.

Isaiah builds his case. His beloved is God, and this is a love song in that it celebrates the sheer lovingkindness of God to Israel in subduing the wild culture of the original settlers of the land, the Canaanites, and in their place cultivating a fine vineyard of choice vines meant to delight God and inspire the world. Isaiah’s vineyard on a very fertile hill is much like St. Matthew’s city on a hill, a light to the nations.

Wasting no words, utilizing words most cleverly, Isaiah shifts his song from celebration to alarm and lament, pivoting on that tiny word “but”: but the grapes that the vineyard yields are wild grapes. Bitter grapes. In Hebrew, literally, “stinking fruit.” If that’s all you remember from this sermon, consider how successful Isaiah’s song has been! What memorable lyrics!

I call him clever because he uses a play on words that sound similar but are in sharp contrast. In our text today we heard, “When I expected my vineyard to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?” In Hebrew, it reads, “I looked for ‘mishpat’ (justice), but instead there was ‘mishpah’ (bloodshed).”

In an attempt to convey what the Hebrew does with sound, one early 20th-century commentator translated it, “For measures He looked—but lo, massacres! For right—but lo, riot!”

Can you imagine a better-fitting verse to describe a God’s-eye view of what has happened in Egypt over the past two or three weeks? I should say an expression of God’s-heart, God’s breaking heart, as Muslims kill Muslims, as Muslims kill Coptic Christians, and, the odds are, as some Coptic Christians inflict violence in self-defence and in reaction to what is coming down on them.

I know I’ve jumped the rails. Isaiah’s famous parable does not speak of Egypt at all. But how cam we ignore the proximity of this text to that tragedy unfolding across Egypt? Can’t we hear God lamenting over post-Morsi Egypt, “I looked for justice, but instead bloodshed… for intelligent measures, but lo, massacres! For right, but lo, riot.”

We must pray that verses from the Koran are being heard to fit this tragedy, to address the hearts and minds of Egypt’s people to end this descent into madness.

And we must look closer to home, to let Isaiah’s love song fit us and our culture here.

Jesus gives us ample warning today to face the temptation to hypocrisy. “You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

That is quite precisely the task of the prophet: interpreting the present. Because Jesus makes prophesying sound like a responsibility expected of all who follow him, let’s hear this as a call to sharpen our own skill set. As we believe in the priesthood of all believers, let’s affirm the prophetic role of all believers.

The late Canadian scholar R. B.Y. Scott helps us appreciate the message of Israel’s famous prophets who emerged eight centuries before the common era:

“All confronted a society where a period of prolonged prosperity for the ruling classes had absorbed their interest and established new standards of luxury and social power; as a corollary, the old sense of kinship among members of the community was lost, the poor were exploited and oppressed, and justice was no longer administered in accordance with the old standards of right. At the same time, the meaning of religion itself was changed; worship became an occasion of display, and the worth of sacrifices was measured by their costliness. The forms and ceremonies adopted from Canaanite religion had become dominant, and the living relationship to the Lord as the covenant God (of love) peculiar to Israel was now a fading tradition…”

So here Isaiah announces that a day of reckoning is at hand, when those who have produced in their lives the bitter fruit of distorted religion and have lost their moral compass “will know a devastation like that of a vineyard abandoned to the wild beasts of the wilderness.”

I think it’s worth adding that the very next verses in the Book of Isaiah cast shame on people who build up great estates without regard to the impact on fellow Israelites and to the community as a whole. The specific doom that Isaiah sees befalling them is this (and oh my, it is so clever): by coveting the land that had once belonged to the many, the few wealthy ones who have deprived their neighbors of their land now deprive themselves of neighbors. The powerful and well-to-do are made to dwell alone, in a ghetto of their own making, with only their own kind around them, no diversity of neighbors to love (as six of the ten commandments require of us), and no workers nearby to hold the community together.

Do you think Williamstown needs to hear a prophetic word? A word about the profound worth of affordable housing? A word about coveting the view at the cost of justice?

If you think I may be going off the rails again by asking these questions, I can this time assure you that Isaiah’s parable directly addresses the subject I’m highlighting, which is social justice. The gist of Isaiah’s message might be paraphrased, God speaking: Not in my backyard, not in my vineyard, will I countenance the dispossessed, the vulnerable, the insecure playing second fiddle to the privileged, the well-connected, and the intimidating.

Isaiah’s parable is about more than land use. But clearly, the deeper theme of social justice then and now requires a community to have a deep and honest conversation about land use. We are fortunate that in our emerging progress around affordable housing, Williams College is demonstrating tangible encouragement of such conversation, by donating land for a project intended to provide housing for displaced Spruces residents.

For Isaiah, for people of faith today, and for people willing to interpret the present time,
that conversation must be rooted in the belief that gives Isaiah’s metaphor its power: the vineyard does not belong to a wealthy individual, or to a neighborhood association, or to any human owner. It belongs to God. The land in our community belongs to God.

All claims of ownership, all arrangements of custodial management, must answer to God. That is a higher accountability than answering to law.

Believe me, I can hear the objections to this approach. We would not want the theocracy required to administer it. A government of priests would likely be worse than a government of lawyers; and a government of prophets? Risky, as well.

Which is why ascribing ownership to God is not an approach: it is reality, from the viewpoint of faith, and its implication is that people of faith understand legal ownership as primarily stewardship answerable to God, answerable from what a person believes matters most to God and to the widest community.

Such faith is the subject of our reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. By faith the Israelites left Egypt (and bondage) behind, passing through the Red Sea as if it were dry land. By faith all those famous and infamous Hebrew heroes did what they did (which had lots to do with keeping their homeland defended and extended). The point of our second lesson is that all the stewardship we exercise in this world is shaped and guided by faith.

Jesus makes it clear that putting into action what we believe will bring with it division. We are certainly experiencing that in Williamstown, as we attempt to discuss land use and as we propose ways to keep achieving affordable housing. Households and friendships are divided. Jesus treats conflict and controversy as necessary signs of people at work, pursuing truth and justice, learning grace and mercy, practicing faithfulness. I find a certain complex comfort in this, and even deeper peace in his insistence that these are signs that God is at work.

May our work be crowned with success. The success of clear understanding about how publicly-owned land may be used. The success of building healthy creative alliances that will result in building the housing needed for Spruces residents first, and then a wider range of people who need it. And the success of coming together as a community that will be known for, and healed by, its desire to do what is just and right.

R. B. Y. Scott’s commentary is found in Volume 5 of “The Interpreter’s Bible”, Abingdon Press, 1956. The quotation here is from page 199.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lost and Found: Stability, Obedience, Conversion of Life

Scripture for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost includes Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12:32-40

Think twice about opening your door to someone who has pulled his pickup into your driveway and says he’s a photographer for National Geographic.

That sets the stage for a musical version of “The Bridges of Madison County” that some of us have enjoyed—or will—as the Williamstown Theatre Festival rounds out its season. Think twice about opening your door to someone asking for directions—not because your life will be in danger, but because what has been posing as your life may be in danger.

Now, bringing this particular love story into the pulpit today may be a tricky affair, so to speak. It would be too simple to say that the play suggests that some extramarital affairs are made in heaven. And that’s not a message I plan to leave you with. Nor would it do justice to the play.

But I’ll take my chances, because there are some bridges between Madison County and today’s readings from scripture.

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?” asks God in Isaiah’s vision. In the play, Francesca Johnson must answer her own version of this question: What to me is my lifetime of sacrifices as a daughter, a lover, a wife, a mother, a neighbor? She is defined and confined by choices she has made—going back to her youth in wartime Italy, where she waited for the return of her fiancĂ© Paolo, who never came back from the front, and in the shadow of that loss she placed her life in the hands of an American GI, Bud Johnson.

The play opens two decades later, a generation of what has become of Francesca, and Bud, and the two children around whom their never-quiet farmhouse rotates; and what has become of their imbedded life in a farming community where being neighbors extends family into one another’s kitchens, and, through their windows, keeping an eye on one another.

In the four summer days of this drama, Bud and their teenaged children go off to the State Fair. Francesca welcomes being alone; the farmhouse has gone quiet. Until Robert the photographer approaches her door. He seems more cautious than she does, as she treats this stranger much as St. Benedict ordered his disciples to welcome the guest as though he or she were the Christ, a bit of a stretch in this musical… But soon his photography prompts her to reach for her old sketchpad. His way of seeing and recognizing the power of now, the way light moves and opens in ways that we call inspired, this heightened awareness of presence moves Francesca, and stands in sharp contrast to her stable, predictable, and in some ways neglected life.

Robert has had a recent gig in Naples, photographing the postwar reconstruction of the city. His photographs reacquaint Francesca with her roots, allow her to revisit her losses while also freeing her to reclaim a sense of desire—the razor’s edge along which the rest of the action runs.

This awakening of soul, this quickening of spirit, has something in common with conversion of life. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst… blessed are the poor in spirit… Our need may draw us to God, our emptiness open us to be filled with what is good and holy and true. Empty hands are required, if it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.

If you have taken part in the foundations course here, you’ve met a concept called the Benedictine promise. Think of a triangle, representing your life in Christ: At one of its points is stability, good old stability. We find God in the here and now of our relationships and patterns of life within our congregation, in the daily, weekly, seasonal rhythms of our spiritual practice.

At another point is obedience. We find God as we listen deeply to the world, to scripture, to the church, to each other, to the creation, and to the deep longings and the prayer of our heart.

At the third point is conversion of life. We find God on the journey and in the new place, in losing life to find life, in our openness to transformation.

This model for understanding and appreciating our own spiritual life says that we find ourselves at all three points, and are in constant motion among these points on our compass, which is why we are no strangers to the occasional sense of having lost our way. For Robert, this state is chronic, represented in the play by his itinerant career, while Francesca has lost her deepest bearings right in place, staying at home.

There are times when we must dig our feet and hands deep into one of those points of the triangle to do the work and become the person we are called to do and be. Robert is brought to the point where he must acknowledge his desire for stability, a state on which he’d turned his back.

Francesca moves from her engagement with stability to a new confrontation with obedience. Her infidelity is presented in such a winsome way that we’d be disappointed if she did send Robert packing… sooner, that is, than she does. Her wrestling with obedience moves from a discretion-less captivity to other people’s expectations, to a fling of indiscretion, and on to a discrete discerning of what she believes her best choice to be in the reality of now.

Where are the bridges to scripture? Isaiah testifies that God does not delight in a religion, a life, built of endless sacrifice. Getting stuck and staying stuck in lifeless patterns of relentless duty is not the will and pleasure of God in whose image we are made to be alert, compassionate, creative, flexible, joyful, faithful, and agile enough to keep learning to do good, keep seeking justice, and keep rescuing the oppressed, including oppressed aspects of ourselves.

To exercise faith, says the writer to the Hebrews, requires not knowing where you’re going. Those three points on the triangle of the Benedictine Promise are constantly influencing us, and we are constantly moving and changing around them. What is promised is not a roadmap or a rule book, but that God is in the journey, will hallow the whole journey, and guide us to a better life than we can desire or pray for (though the desiring and the praying are very much our parts in navigating the journey).

The bridge in the play seems to be a metaphor that represents the movement of becoming, a stepping through the moment of now into what shall be. It is the bridge that brings Robert to town, that brings him and Francesca together. It is on the bridge that he gives her a memorable tutorial in how to be open to illumination, how to free oneself to anticipate the movement of light. And I hope it’s not a spoiler to say that it is on the bridge that Francesca discovers that love is strong as death, fulfilling the promise that where one’s treasure is, there one’s heart will be also.

It’s not a neat ending, from a moral standpoint. Francesca’s heart has also been with her husband, and with their children, and with their community. But, you know, the parables of Jesus challenge us with reversals from the conventional. And, to borrow an image from Luke, “The Bridges of Madison County” closes with an image of two people who have had their lamps lit, and having lamps lit is requisite for readiness at the wedding banquet in Luke’s parable.

You bet. This would be a good moment to insist that there are better ways to get your lamp lit than having an affair. Even four days of heaven are no protection from the two-edged sword and the pain that cuts both Francesca and Robert as she makes her choice.

But at the heart of Luke’s parable is a pair of plain truths: that to be faithful to the one who deserves our allegiance, we must recognize when it is time to open the door to the one who frees us for love. And to keep what is dearest to us from being stolen, a certain vigilance is needed to ensure that our stability, our obedience, and our conversion of life have God as our goal and guide.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Raise a Barn, Raise a Child, Raise the Dead

Scripture for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost includes Hosea 11:1-11, Colossians 3:1-11, and Luke 12:13-21

From the late 1920’s to the late 1960’s, Al Banx was the staff cartoonist for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and for Yankee Magazine. Though his parents had named him James Albert Banks (spelled like you’d expect Banks to be spelled), Al spelled its Banx. That seems to have fitted the fellow who for those four decades helped Central Massachusetts residents laugh at themselves.

He comes into this sermon today because for eight years he hovered over every sermon I gave at St. Luke’s in Worcester. Literally, hovered. Because among the civic tributes to this man’s ministry with pen and ink was the decision made by his parish, St. Luke’s, to remember him with a stained glass window that captured nine or ten of his cartoons illustrating the parables of Luke the Evangelist. He had sketched them for his Sunday School class at St. Luke’s, which must have been a rare treat to attend.

That window rises just to the left of the pulpit. St. Luke’s is a small building, perhaps a third the size of this one. Most of the congregation could see most of the cartoons from where they sat. And you bet, when eyes went elsewhere than front and center, they drifted left to Al Banx’s wonderful cartoons.

My favorite is the one that presents our rich man in today’s Gospel. He is enormous in girth, and something about his facial expression conveys the point that this man is all about himself. Behind him, a work crew is erecting the new barn. I recall his thumbs stuck behind his suspenders in sheer self-satisfaction as he supervises this barn-raising. Not the Amish kind when neighbors pitch in and build the barn, no—I doubt this man’s neighbors were on such cordial terms with him—but the kind of commercial expansion that further concentrates wealth in the hands of the few, at the expense of the many. The kind that raises a rich man a few notches higher in the 1% while ensuring that a few more of the 99% will go away empty-handed.

Ironic reversal is what makes for a great parable, one that reinforces the message that things are not always as they seem. Here, this entrepreneur coos to himself, “Soul, you are fixed for life! Relax, eat, drink, be merry.” Which suggests a low view of soul, doesn’t it? As if the route to the soul is through the mouth and stomach. “Fool!,” counters God, “tonight your soul is required of you. And those goods you’ve accumulated, whose will they be?”

Luke then gets to editorialize, “So it goes with those who grasp their treasures for themselves, but do not grasp the deeper question, ‘Whose are you?’ and haven’t a clue what it means to be rich toward God.”

Today, Maximus James— Max to his friends—will be baptized. At every baptism, there are four powerful answers to the question, “Whose is this child whom we baptize today?” His parents and Godparents and extended family bring him to the font today clearly saying, “He is ours!”

Catch the message clearly presented in the words of the baptismal rite, and you’ll hear God declaring, “He is mine.”

By reason of that divine claim, and by the promise we make to do all in our power to support this person in his life in Christ, we can say, “He is ours!”

And sure, we won’t be surprised if Max demonstrates a fourth answer: He is his own person.

We want all four of these truths to work together for his good. They are like strands braided together to create a cord, an image we hear in God’s ruminating over the patient faithful devoted love it takes to raise a child—the prophet Hosea captures this moment when God reminds Israel, “I taught you to walk… I led you with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to you like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to you and fed you.” How interwoven are these strands of Max’s belonging to his family, to God, to us, and to himself! How beautiful, the insight that we’re all working together to raise this child—we’re the village, and in the midst of it all, at the core and center, to borrow St. Paul’s burst of insight, “Christ is all and in all!”

According to Hosea, the powerful icon of divine love is the patient devoted raising of a child. According to Paul, the perfect icon of God’s love is to be raised with Christ.

Of these two raisings, we know much about the first, and in baptism we are brought to discover much about the second. They are, of course, intimately related. The Christ who meets Max at the font today is the child whom God has raised by infinitely patient devotion, leading him by bands of love to be the very love of God enfleshed in human form. According to the Church’s tradition, what will happen to Max in his baptism is his union with Christ in the fullness of his entire passion for all living beings.

No language expresses this better than the post-communion thanksgiving that all Episcopalians used to say together, now seldom do-- but let’s hear it today. This prayer thanks God for feeding us with holy mysteries and spiritual food, assuring us thereby (and here let me change pronouns) “that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom.”

That may be grander language than we’re accustomed to these days, but hearing it is good for the soul. Soul is what’s required of us in the Christian life. Spiritual capacity lets us seek those things that are above, lets us recognize when Christ who is our life is revealed, and it is spirit that frees us from greed and moves us to be rich toward God.