Preparing for Worship – Mary Kay Jackman.
This Sunday, October 3, is the second Sunday in a row when worship includes a difficult passage of scripture, a passage in which Jesus says things that make us uncomfortable. Remember, last Sunday Rev. Victoria Robb Powers unpacked Jesus’ disturbing message to the Pharisees (and us) that we should cut off a hand or foot, that we should gouge out an eye if any one of these causes us to stumble in our belief. This Sunday Jesus again answers the Pharisees and also his disciples when they question him about divorce. The distressing part of Jesus’ answer is that if either spouse in a marriage should divorce the other and remarry, he or she would be committing adultery.
Now, we all know after studying Jesus’ parables, metaphors, similes and other figures of speech, particularly hyperbole, that he often, if not always, speaks in multiple layers of meaning. Did he really mean we should mutilate our bodies when we falter in our faith, when we doubt? Rev. Powers clarified his message: we should rid ourselves of anything in our life that prevents us from fully following Christ Jesus. Does he really mean that remarriage after divorce equals adultery? Is that the point he is making in this passage? Some of my friends have told me about churches they once belonged to that interpreted this passage literally — that couples who had divorced and remarried were either dropped from church membership or had to ask for special dispensation. If they were allowed to remain in the congregation, they were assigned to a Sunday School class with other “adulterers.”
I don’t know how this passage will be unpacked for us today. I do know that I want to ignore it and focus on Jesus’ earlier response: that regardless of what Moses commanded about a “certificate of dismissal,” God made male and female and joined them together as one, never to be separated. And this brings me to something my husband Edward wrote to me inside a Far Side note card. The outside drawing was of a sad, unhappy frog strumming a guitar, and the inside read, “Oh, I got the greens. I got the greens real bad.” Eddie had scribbled underneath, “We are one. Love ya.”
In our 46 years together, we were married for 33. During our times of separation, both before and after divorce, Eddie sent me many cards, and in most of them he reminded me, “We are one.” God put us together and not even divorce could pull us apart.
And aren’t we all — single, married, unmarried, widowed, divorced, remarried — aren’t we all one in Christ?