Bishop John Shelby Spong ~ June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021
Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology. We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed! Funeral services will be held at St. Peter’s, Morristown, NJ and at St. Paul’s, Richmond, VA. Dates and times will be announced as soon as they are available

You Don’t Need Points: A Fellow from Nazareth

That frolicking dance didn’t last long. That frolicking is no way to win a game or to keep score and we had to get back at it again. So we stopped that dancing and frolicking all together and got busy again.

God kept trying to find us and to slow us down. God kept saying things like “Remember, remember the strangers. Remember the widows and orphans. Remember when you cut your fields to leave some at the edges, to leave some for the sojourner in your land.” That was no way to get ahead.

And so we perfected our score-keeping with a vengeance. God told us there were only two things we really needed to remember. God said, “Love me and love your neighbor.” But we said who can play a game with only two rules?? So we wrote pages and pages and pages and pages of rules, and pages more!

“Remember the Sabbath,” God said. We didn’t have time to rest. We had to keep score, we had to keep racking up the points. I wanted my children to get far better than my cumulative lifetime score of 12, 263.

God didn’t understand that kind of game at all.

God gave us such little tiny words. “A shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse.” What sort of word is that — a “shoot”? “A little child shall lead them.” Is that any help?

And then an ordinary fellow appeared from Nazareth — we said to ourselves, did any winner ever come from Nazareth? God breathed on him in some particular way so that when he stood up in his hometown synagogue, he read the word from Isaiah as though it was about him! “The Spirit of God has anointed me, ” he said. And then do you know what he did? Do you know what he did?? He went up to people like fishermen and whispered in their ear, “You don’t need points!” And then he sat down beside a Samaritan woman at the well and told her everything about her loser sort of life and said, “You don’t need points either!” Then he sat down with Nicodemus, a teacher of the Law, and said to him, “You don’t need points, Nicodemus.” To Mary and Martha, to Joanna who was married to a very high official, to Susannah, Mary Magdalene, to all of them he said, “You don’t need points!” And those who gathered around him, listening to what he said about the kingdom of God being in the midst of them, soon looked at each other and him and said, “This kingdom is pointless!”

Well, he didn’t say a thing except to smile. They had pointless banquets where the guest lists were thrown away. They had pointless picnics on the hillside where everyone got plenty to eat, and there was still some left over. They even had a pointless parade into the city with children leading the way and people waving palms instead of swords. How pointless is that??

But the snake or the one in the three piece suit or the theologian with the heavy book – -now I can’t remember who it was, but someone with friends in high places — said, “This will never do. This will never do.”

And so shortly after that parade, they put him on trial. And then they stopped him good as dead. And they sealed the place where they laid him to rest with a huge stone so that not even a whisper could escape that would ever say to anybody “You don’t need points.” And that was that. That was that. . . .

Except this morning . . . . this is strange. . . . This morning some women came running to us, breathless, yet somehow full of breath. And they said to us, “You don’t need points!” It was enough to make us think that that word had never died. But we said, “You have got to be crazy!” And we sent them away. And as they left, they were frolicking. I am not kidding — they were frolicking!

Did you see where they went?

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