Friday, February 4, 2011

Letting Go

(short reflection on Matthew 4:12-22)
The Canadian Press told a most surprising story a few weeks back. It was the story of former Culture Club singer Boy George meeting Cyprus’ Orthodox Christian Church… go figure. Such an unlikely meeting. Something like the improbable meeting of a recently baptized preacher with some seaside fisherfolk.
It was the headline that caught my attention: In my wildest imaginings I could never dream that these words could ever make sense in one sentence.
“Cyprus Church thanks Boy George for returning stolen icon of Christ”
And so it was that Boy George, listed as one of Time’s Top 10 Badly Behaved Celebrities, returned a missing 300-year old relic. The 18th century icon of Christ was stolen during the Turkish invasion of 1974. It somehow made its way to London where, in 1985, the famed singer song-writer purchased it from an art dealer for "several thousand pounds."  Miraculously, officials at the church spotted it on Boy George's wall while watching an interview filmed in his home for Dutch TV.
"Before this, I had no idea who Boy George was," the Bishop, who led efforts for the icon's recovery, told The Associated Press. "He was positive about returning the icon."
Boy George, who said he was unaware of the icon's history when he bought it, personally handed the icon over to the bishop in London. In return, the bishop gave him a modern icon of Christ as a token of gratitude and "with the wish that others soon follow his example."
Who could ever have imagined that there would be such meeting of these minds and hearts; such letting go of preconceived notions and of a valued possession. Both the church and Boy George had to let go of something. The church gave thanks to the unexpected generosity of a notorious celebrity and Boy George willing gave something back to the rightful owner. Hmm… that’s reminds me of the best definition of justice I ever heard. Theologian Walter Bruggeman once wrote justice is determining what belongs to whom and returning it.
Church grateful to justice seeker Boy George.
An unbelievable headline or a great sermon title!
I wonder if the Sea of Galilee Tribune had a headline the day following Jesus’ visit:   
“Brothers let go of long time Business “Gone Fishing Incorporated”.
Family and friends baffled by their sudden disappearance. Reports indicate a stranger came to town and made an offer they couldn’t seem to refuse. Investigation continues.
This is no logical call that Jesus extends. To be sure, Jesus made no guarantees except … I suppose a sense of returning something, some one, some fisher folk to whom they belong. But mainly, the gospels and other writings of the New Testament have plenty to say about the losses and leave-takings involved in pursuing Jesus, the letting go that he asks of us, the dying to all that is not of Spirit. As Simon, soon to become Peter, and his fellow fisherfolk would learn, taking up with Jesus would not place them on a logical path with a predictable end. But the promise remains: it is for wholeness that we have been called.

Sally Harris

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