September 4, 2016
Luke 14:25-33
Philemon 1-21
Jeremiah 18:1-11
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

Mulligan Theology
Proper 18 | OT 23 | Pentecost 16

Click here for the full installment.

Dean Feldmeyer
A major theme in this week’s lectionary texts is how faith completely redefines our lives -- changing them on multiple levels. Not only are our inner selves transformed, but our relationships with other people, with the world in general, and with God are altered as well. The Jeremiah passage provides moving imagery for our personal changes, suggesting that we are imperfect pots whom (if we repent and turn our lives around) God recasts on the potter’s wheel and reworks into better vessels. Paul’s request for Onesimus to be treated “no longer as a slave but [rather as] a beloved brother” speaks to the modifications that can occur in our social standing and relationships with other people, as does Jesus’ startling remarks about “hat[ing] father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself.” Difficult as those words may be to hear, Jesus is talking about the need to prioritize our relationship with God -- and the necessity of letting go of everything that may stand in its way. In other words, faith changes everything -- and despite our deeply held beliefs that we control our own fates, we must come to grips with the fact that we are merely “clay in the potter’s hand.” In the next installment of The Immediate Word, team member Dean Feldmeyer explores how this theme of redefined lives and relationships can be seen in our world today -- and how the second chances they offer can be compared to having “mulligans” in the cosmic game of life. Here’s a preview:


Mulligan Theology
by Dean Feldmeyer
Jeremiah 18:1-11; Philemon 1:1-21; Luke 14:25-33

To hear him tell it, Mr. David Mulligan, of Montreal, Canada, was one of the world’s greatest amateur golfers. Very early every morning he would play a round of golf by himself, and then upon returning to the clubhouse brag to his friends about what a great round he had just shot.

Not quite believing him but not wanting to accuse him of lying outright, his friends decided to arrive early at the course one day and play a round of golf with David. On the first tee Mulligan sliced his drive deep into the woods, shook his head, and immediately teed up another ball. When his friends questioned him about it, he said simply: “Well, you don’t expect me to play that one, do you?” (This is, of course, only one version of the “mulligan” story. For others see the article and comments here.)

Immediately a new word entered the golf lexicon: a “mulligan.” It’s a do-over, a free shot that you take because the first one didn’t turn out the way you wanted.

And they say there are only two kinds of golfers: those who take mulligans, and liars.

This week’s lectionary readings are about what I like to call “moral mulligans.” Jeremiah uses the metaphor of the potter’s wheel to speak of God’s decision to take a mulligan and rebuild immoral Israel. Paul asks Philemon to give the runaway slave Onesimus a mulligan and take him back as a brother. And Jesus says that our relationship with him requires us to take a mulligan on our relationships with people and things.

In fact, Christian discipleship -- which reshapes every aspect of our lives -- may be the biggest mulligan of them all.

Click here for the full installment.

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