In the Lectionary

June 26, Ordinary 13C (Luke 9:51–62)

No one who [fill in the blank] is fit for the kingdom. Ouch.

When no barbers were open for business in the summer of 2020, I cut my son’s curly hair on the steps of our front porch. The curls bounced and blew away to tangle with bushes or hide in the crevices of tree roots. Then in spring we saw them again, reinterpreted: the birds who made their nests in the trees of our yard had found my son’s locks and used them to cushion their twiggy abodes.

No one who [fill in the blank] is fit for the kingdom. Ouch. That’s never an inviting way to start or end a story. The words of Jesus in Luke 9 sound like a cutting-off. Either you can prioritize the work of the kingdom or not. If not, snip! You’re out.

No one who [fill in the blank] belongs in the kingdom. This sentence has been completed by so many preachers, teachers, and theologians over the centuries who have sought to define what is central to the practice of our faith. What does following Jesus look like? It’s an essential question. But it has also been bent by hatred and levied in harmful, even violent ways, to the detriment of the kingdom. That pain and hurt is in the air when we read texts of judgment such as this.