John the baptist, Jesus and colors, Luke 7: 31-35. September 16 by Buckshot

You can view the video of this reflection on our Youtube channel here

Nga mihi mahana hoki e hoa ma, warm greetings again friends to this weekly reflection.  I am Buckshot from Wellington, it was about thirty years ago when I got shot at a party and was baptised with this new name.

It’s my turn again to be offering some thoughts on the life and teachings of Jesus.  Our text today is the last section of a report of John the Baptist’s followers coming to check Jesus out.  John is a political prisoner for challenging the powerful of his day.  Jesus has been inspired by John’s lead but has put a different spin on the same ideas.  Luke 7:31-35 is the verses we have for today.

As well as including Luke’s version of our clubs core ethos, ‘friend of tax collectors and sinners’ today’s text is about God’s wisdom and has some things to say to us at our current moment in history.  A moment where it seems you are either a Republican or Democrat, you are for us or against us.  We live in a very polarised time and we have Jesus today speaking to us.  He uses an image quoting children saying:

‘We played the pipes for you and you wouldn’t dance’

‘We sang dirges and you wouldn’t cry’

This image speaks to the polar opposites of celebration and despair.  It highlights the difference between John’s austere life and the party like atmosphere around Christ.

Yet we know that life is not black and white.  It is not just a party or a depressed nightmare.  There is a lot of middle ground between those two extremes, a lot of ordinary time of many different colours.

Back in Genesis there is the rainbow being given as a promise of God’s care for us after the flood.  Joseph had a multi coloured coat and in Revelation there is an image of heaven bathed in light refracted through many different gem stones – colour and vibrancy everywhere.  Just look out our window, or through our visor and we see amazing variety in creation, everywhere.

As one of Smithy’s favourite hymns proclaims, ‘something lives in every hue’ – wisdom is the ability, the gift, to be able to see the finger prints of God in all aspects of life.  It is too easy, and childish, to fall into simple black and white, them and us, dogma.

As Jesus looks at us today, does he still see children arguing in the marketplace over extreme points of political or religious view?  Or have we embarked on a journey with Jesus, following him to the margins where life is often chaotic and colourful,  ragged and raw.  In these marginal spaces black and white answers don’t cut it, political rhetoric cannot solve the pain of exclusion or difference, of loss of work or broken relationship.

Many of us in Squad wear black, we are probably more an embodiement of Johnny Cash’s ‘Man in black’ on the side of the battler and the poor.  But we know that many among us are quite colourful – may we not be satisfied with platitudes, with simple black or white memes anymore.

May we take up the challenge to struggle together to find meaningful responses to the issues we face each day.  Wisdom is not easily discovered, but its expression brings hope, health and wholeness.  As Jesus says today ‘wisdom if justified by all her children.’

In our moment in history childish actions and answers must be left aside, it is time to grow up into an adult faith* that wrestles with the facts around us.  The climate is heating up, the gap between rich and poor is still growing, people are dying from Covid 19, indigenous people are still missing out.

Black and white simple answers cannot deal with these issues.  We must get up close together, see and experience the different colours and hues and seek true wisdom that brings the life and love of God into reality around us.

May the spirit give us her strength to pursue wisdom today and always.

Rangimarie ki a koutou katoa

Cheers and peace be with you

Buckshot – Wellington chapter, New Zealand


Luke 7:31-35

What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation?  What are they like?  They are like children shouting to one another in the market place:

‘We played the pipes for you, and you did not dance; we sang dirges, and you did not cry.’

For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say “He is possessed.”  The Son of man has come, eating and drinking, and you say “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”  Yet wisdom is justified by all her children

* see Ephesians 4:14 and the verses around