Notes from Jan

Them versus Us

June 23, 2023

Back to the subject of Church. Last Sunday’s sermon’s still preaching. Father Patrick taught from Matthew 9:35-10:8. It’s quite the story. Oh, not dramatic like lepers healed or Lazarus raised from the dead. Nevertheless, tucked within is the stuff of everyday miracles. People, poles apart, learning to work with and love each other. Which is at the heart of what it looks like to follow Jesus, if we choose to do so.

Two of Patrick’s points continue to challenge. First, “There’s only so much one person can do, even when you’re God.” And so Jesus needed help because when he saw the crowds “He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (9:36) So Jesus gave authority to his twelve disciples to do the work he’d been doing. But the heart of their mission, “As you go, proclaim the good news, ”’The kingdom of heaven has come near.'” (10:7)

But here’s the second point that unsettles, yet encourages. Look at who is in that list of twelve. Mathew, the tax collector, (hated isn’t too strong a word) and Simon, a zealot. The Matthews and the Simons were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. As Patrick said, “No one worse to Simon than a tax collector. To Matthew, there was probably no one more dangerous to his well-being than Simon.” Political enemies called to follow Jesus. Hmm.

Then Patrick added, “You might not mind Jesus’ call. What you mind are the other people Jesus calls. You’re willing to work with anybody and everybody EXCEPT THEM, and you know who your them is.” And so, this week, I found myself asking God to nudge me, to help me move folks I’ve labeled them and instead, seek ways to become us.

We need each other and folks inside and outside the Church watch and wonder if miracles still happen?

For sure, Jesus is praying for us.

And for them.

But it’s up to us to welcome them home.

And couldn’t that spread like Good News?

What have we got to lose?


And something in us.

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  • Reply Maggie Rowe June 29, 2023 at 5:53 pm

    Jan, I really appreciated your “Them vs. Us” piece. I never gave much thought to the fact that there would have been polar opposites among The Twelve in terms of their political affiliations and affinities. We hear so little of that now. However, I was greatly encouraged a number of years ago when I was doing PR for one of Dr. Barry Black’s books (current chaplain of the Senate). He told us of Bible studies “across the aisle” where both Dems and Republicans came together to study the Word. We learn far more from our “enemies” than we do our friends don’t we? As always, deeply grateful for your writing.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 30, 2023 at 10:43 am

      Thanks, Maggie, for adding this. Years ago, Jud lerarned of this through Mark Hatfield. There was much more coming together back in those years, but grateful for any that happens today through a Bible study. I learned one of the challenges to community is so many no longer live in DC. They fly in an out to do the work of Congress and for their constituents but don’t have the family relationships that happen when folks live nearby. You know how it works. Your kids go to school together, spouses meet and the next thing you know, you gain perspective as you picnic in the backyard of your “enemy.”

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