Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vagabond stars (Yahuda'nın mektubu)

Serseri yıldızlar gibidir.
And, today's word list:
  • serseri -- tramp, vagabond, vagrant, stray
  • yıldızlar -- star
  • gibidir-- like, resemble
Well, this morning I read John's third letter, and Jude. Both deal with itinerant messengers. First, the good guys, the "white hats."[1] John's church had sent out teachers and prophets to encourage the other churches he was responsible for. Well, these folks went out as Jesus had sent forth His disciples in Luke 9 and 10, basically empty-handed, and depending on the hospitality of those they were sent to. This isn't such a bad way to travel. Fifty years ago, when my beloved mentor R. J. R. was ministering to isolated Native American tribes, you could spend weeks imposing on strangers, he reports. Within living memory, you could knock on a stranger's door in rural Turkey, announce that God wished to be their guest, and receive a meal and a place to sleep for the night.

III John dealt with a situation where the system broke down. One of his churches had been taken over by a power freak with a pagan Greek name. Most of the time, if you were named after a pagan deity, you changed your name when you changed your religion. This guy didn't. He was still "the one who was nursing on / drawing sustenance from Zeus." Diotrephes "loved to have the preeminence." He was en üstün olma sevdasınd. He refused to extend hospitality to the itinerant preachers, and excommunicated members who did remember their obligations. In this brief letter, John contacts one of his loyal friends, and names a mutual friend who has a good report. John also promises to show up soon, to settle matters face to face. Apparently even back then, putting all the nasty details in writing was unwise!

And now, let's meet the black hats. Jude warned his people about drifters. Vagabonds. People who drop in on church pot luck dinners just to cause trouble. To see what they can get away with. To take advantage of members. These "vagabond stars" (the Greek word, planetos, should look familiar) had no roots in the community, and bore no fruit for the community. Some were reclaimable -- but you'd better burn your gloves after pulling them out of the fire.

As a wag said many years ago, "A misplaced brother can do more damage than a demon, because it's easier to cast out a demon than a brother."

[1] In classical American Western movies, the good guys wore white hats, and the villains wore black cowboy hats.

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