I remember sitting outside in the middle of the bush in north west Sydney. I was surrounded by people I loved who stood in a ring around a raging campfire. I was at a youth weekend. The same youth weekend I had attended since I was a teenager. We were singing loudly into the night, to a God we loved.
We sang the words – “There is a God, he is alive, in him we live and we survive.” Words I could’ve sang in my sleep, written backwards, and a melody I knew four part harmonies too. But did I really understand what I was singing? Did I understand what it meant to have a God who was alive?
There is a couple of traditions in the church that adhere to the idea that guitars are the devils instrument and shouldn’t be used in the church. A tiny part of that sect of thought have come to the conclusion that, there is no proof in the new testament that the early church used instruments, in fact some verses refer to the strings of our heart, so we should just sing. With our voices.
I have also stood in a circle of lovely people, a tight knit group, who, with only a guitar as accompaniment, awkwardly stood around. Kind of singing, kind of into it. But not really. I spoke later to one of them who confessed, they couldn’t get into worship unless the music was loud.
Somehow, the guitar stood in the way of worship. Either because it was considered of the devil, or without it, we are in shock.
Amongst all of this tho, I have stood in groups, passionately loving the lord through song in the midst of a huge, well orchestrated band, and I have stood around awkwardly looking at my feet singing accapella. So what are we missing? If it has nothing to do with the music, then it must have something to do with the lyrics.
Have you ever sang words in a song that your heart passionately belts out but your logical brain is just like …. “what does shekinah mean? What does hosanna mean again?” But your whole heart is in it. You know deep down that what you are singing is good, but you don’t know why. Do we need to know the why? If worship is just between me and God, and the depths of my soul knows I’m praising, then words are irrelevant. In the same way that tongues is our heart praying prayers that our brain doesn’t understand, can our souls not sing also?
But when we worship as a group, is it different? Or is it merely solo worship in a room of people? If you took most of my corporate worship sessions and putt them in a graph, 99 per cent of them would’ve looked no different had I been in a large room or my own bedroom by myself. And I feel there is a disconnect there. We are the community of God, and as echos of the trinity shouldn’t we be connecting together like the trinity?
I heard a one liner this week that made me stop and think – If in worship your not listening and hearing God and your only thinking and singing about and too God, then it is no longer a relationship but you are stalking God.
Let me reword that – If you don’t let God speak in worship you stalk him. Have you ever stopped in the middle of worship and just listened? And some songs are written from Gods perspective, so I suppose that counts. But sometimes I feel like we need to give God more room to move.
I tried to experiment with this once. We were camping, in the middle of the bush and we circled up. I started playing my guitar and then I stopped. “Today I’m going to just play a soundtrack.
I have songs to play, but I don’t need to play them. If God puts a song in your heart, if God prompts you to speak out to the group, if God wants you to pray over someone – DO IT. Irrelevant of what I’m doing, I play this guitar more as a back track to improvise off” The next 40 minutes God broke a lot of freedom over our group.
Some things were prayed and sung out that would echo powerfully through out the next 7 weeks and beyond. We gave God the room and he used it. We saw this again two weeks ago at our national leaders meeting. And again even more recently in a worship time on base. We gave God room to move and he did.
I feel like the guitar stands in the way of God moving. If worship isn’t about the music, and its not about the words (necessarily – tbc) then its about US and GOD. And us and God can relate off the back of anything. In Uganda they don’t have guitars as much, but they do have drums and amazing voices. So we would worship for ages on beats alone. In India it was synth, in Ukraine it was a mixture of Korean, Russian, English and Danish – we related amongst different language. But when we put stipulations on worship we limit God.
- It has to have guitar
-it has to have no instruments
-it has to be thee and thous
-it can’t have slang words.
-It has to be the lyrics of the people
-it can’t be too loud or too quiet
-it has to have flute.
My relationship with my father is liberated from stipulations. I love him, we converse a lot. And he doesn’t need to be playing guitar.
When we worship God, we unite with our brothers and sisters through a common wording of a song. And God uses ALL to speak words over each other.
So some questions –
could you passionately worship God in a room full of people you love without any music?
Could you passionately worship God with 6 people and a ukelele?
Could you passionately worship and converse with God to hymns? To New songs with only 8 words in it? Dancing, kneeling, with no words?
Can you give God space?
Or is the guitar a security blanket? Because if it is, maybe we should set them all on fire.
A thought before I end…
I have now been working with young people for two years directly discipling and empowering. And the amount of time I hear this statement is saddening “I can’t be a worship leader because I can’t play guitar”
Stop believing in limitations that aren’t from God.
God frees us to be what HE CREATED.
GET OUT OF HIS WAY!
Anarchy and the kingdom of wisdom.
Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash …
Some of us go to the kings throne point at him and say “Oh, your pretty alright, I like your crown, and this throne room is pretty dope.” And then we walk out ignoring the kings power and authority and start stealing and murdering and what have you. Then our roads start crumbling, our electricity is shut off, our crops fail and we think… what happened?
We want to live in the kingdom, but we don’t want to honour its king. We live in anarchy whilst dreaming of a just and democratic society. But justice has a rule book. So do good crops, and if kings don’t get honour, or if kings don’t get even co-operation, why should kings do anything for their people? Why repair roads if the people won’t pay for them, or help with their upkeep? Why should the king pay for our electricity?
One cannot expect to acknowledge a king without giving him kingship and have that king be king. One must acknowledge and give that king kingship to be king over their lives, do build roads, to give power, to love and adore the people.
Justice, community, nation building, economics starts on the bottom. Or at least it should. By giving the righteous king his kingship. Anarchy will always breed confusion, instability and most likely corruption. But the uncorrupt king breeds love and belonging.
The lord by wisdom founded the earth
By wisdom he established the heavens.
There is a way to do things.
The king knows it.
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I thought that I would not have anything to write for last night’s meeting, because the reading spoke of Anarchy, Democracy and Group Dynamics. I heard the reading and listened to folks share, but in the end I had nothing to say.
I did not stay for the business meeting because of people and personalities. I guess I am not yet over them. And Friday is the only meeting during the week where I Don’t have to do service.
Late last night I spoke to my sponsor about an issue on my heart. Something I thought was necessary seeing we are traveling to Vermont with people I have no respect or love for.
Living with AIDS/HIV has its perks and its drawbacks. I learned early on who to trust, who to love, and who to cut from my life on a dime. I learned to watch people intently. I learned to listen to them actively. And I’ve learned over the years that when people show you who they are, listen to them. Thanks Oprah.
I’ve told you of the two times I was told to go somewhere else to get sober. And those two events kind of define my life, in respect to who I associate with and who I will or won’t break bread with.
One of those men who were participant to one of those events is running in my social circle all of a sudden. He comes to the Tuesday meeting but still, today, won’t say my name in my presence. I’ve watched him over the past dozen or so years in the rooms. He has his issues, his anger and his perspective.
I may or may not agree with him, but I watch him nonetheless.
Speaking to my sponsor last night, I shared the event with him and spoke of who was present during the encounter. He was respectful that I could share intimate feelings of wrongdoing with him. I mean that’s what he is in my life for, to help me get better, get sober, in all facets of my life.
He listened while I talked, and did not interrupt me, and waited until I was finished speaking to give me his sage advice. He shared with me a story from his life in response to mine, to show me that he had shared my feelings that I was speaking of right then.
He told me to pray, and to meditate. And to send light to the man I feel animosity towards. I do what I am told. The best prayer I can offer in these terms is the resentment prayer …
“I wish you to have everything I want for myself and more.”
I did my prayers and meditation. During which I visit a friend who writes. He is a believer and a man I highly respect for his challenge to pray, work for justice and serve Christ as King, and God as Father.
And during my active meditation I came across something he wrote recently, and I posted it above for you to read for yourselves. It hit the nail right on the head.
I don’t speak enough of belief, or of the faith that I work on every day. Living side by side with death forces you to reckon with God. I’ve come to know God. I’ve learned how to seek and find Him. I know who God is and who God isn’t.
Faith takes daily work, daily prayer and daily meditation. I’ve learned how to do that. It is part of my daily ritual.
The past is the past. And the pain of the past has moved from a place of pain to a place of indifference. The past is there. I can look at it retrospectively. I no longer waste time reliving or fearing, or having bitterness towards that past.
I would be wasting precious time, pinning, or hurting incessantly.
It just doesn’t bother me any more. It happened, some of it hurt. But God has taken that pain and transformed it into Grace.
In the end I am indifferent to the men and women who maligned me. I don’t share space with them, nor would I ever break bread with them, ever.
So this man has reentered my life, and I have to share a car, space and meetings with him. And I have to be good about it. To be Christian in my love and respectful because that what God expects of us.
There is no amend to make. Just a movement towards respect. To see another human being, a flawed human being, trying to get better in his own way, and I must respect his process. And to learn from him, because he has more time than I do, but not as much time as my sponsor.
The whole point of this exercise is to one day be able to forgive.
Once you move from pain to indifference, And what once bothered you, doesn’t anymore, then I am ready to forgive.
Because it is always about me right? Wrong!
We are to forgive seventy times seven. And trust that God knows what He is doing.
And to remember that We are not GOD.
When life gets too hard to stand, kneel …
More to come, stay tuned …
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis lauded Jesus’ humble beginning as a poor and vulnerable baby as he celebrated his first Christmas Eve Mass as pontiff Tuesday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Francis has dedicated much of his nine-month-old papacy to drawing attention to the plight of the poor, of children, and other vulnerable members of society.
In the world’s history and our own personal history, Francis said, “there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. ” He added “if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.”
At the Vatican during the homily, Francis quoted the Apostle John, saying “‘whoever hates his brother is in the darkness”‘ and “‘does not know the way to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”‘
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Wow, Pope Francis really knows how to hit it hard. I so needed to read this passage reported from his first Christmas Eve Mass.
“whoever hates his brother is in the darkness… Because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
So true So true…
It is the Holiday before the Holiday. And as usual, traveling in the night was problematic. There were more buses going East, than buses going West. So on the way out we waited and waited …
We sat a humble group of folks, who came out of respect for the meeting and also, just for the chance to spend time with each other, before we all wandered off to fulfill family obligations this Christmas Eve.
The chair double dipped tonight, on a topic that, for many, is on the front of many brains during these days, Anger and Resentment.
“Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, but for us alcoholics it is poison.”
I have been a bit angry and resentful.
The one thing I pray for every year, has not come to pass for me, again this year. And they say that if you pray for something, you must take the next action, thereby giving God an IN to help along that which you pray for.
I opened the holidays with a great effort, out of kindness and love. I took great pains to act in kindness, and once again, it was ignored.
Fuck me …
With all that is going on in the world, the lack of respect of each other from certain celebrity and certain family and politicians, is unnerving and upsetting.
And this week I reached a tipping point.
I culled my twitter account, now only including a handful of folks I want to follow. It bothers me to high heaven, the lengths some will go to denigrate and disrespect other human beings just because we are gay.
I am sick to death of politics.
I am sick of reading, watching, and focusing on people who do nothing but drink, get drunk, and fall down. So I have culled all those folks off my social media platforms. Maybe I am getting old in sobriety, but I just can’t stomach folks who drink alcoholically. Over and Over and Over … And think it is good video to watch on a daily basis.
The same went for Facebook. The only reason I keep it open is to stay in touch with friends here and there. I have culled all that shit that has gone too far and makes we want to puke.
We are Here, We are Queer, Get Used to It.
For Fuck sake …
God damn the celebrity with vile and unacceptable word of condemnation. And fuck the politicians who support them, and the media who give them time on their front pages and on news casts.
God Damn them all to hell.
It’s Christmas for Fuck Sake. Can’t we all get along for one day?
No, that would be too fucking difficult.
Thank the Baby Jesus I live up here, above the Northern Border.
I don’t give a shit about U.S. politics, celebrity with foul mouths, and all those people who rent them free space, because of the First Amendment.
Bullshit … Take them fuckers off the air for good.
Read your God Damned Bibles and try for some compassion and love.
And Jesus Wept !!!
It was good to see my friends. It is the one space on a regular basis that I get to spend time with people I care about and who care about me.
Tomorrow is Christmas. We shall cook and serve others.
I was promised a good story to read after presents tomorrow, so YAY for that. Thanks to a good friend.
I hope you all have a blessed Christmas filled with Light, Joy and Love.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Summer Diary Project
The skies have been rumbling and grumbling over the past day or so. We get an odd rainfall and it passes. A thunderstorm passed through overnight, and it looked, earlier in the evening a little foreboding. It was a wise option to carry an umbrella just in case.
It didn’t rain on us tonight.
I did a little supermarket safari earlier in the day and the new grocery store is beginning to moderate their prices. The great opening sale is over. I also had to go by Provigo on the way out and they are matching some of the prices we saw over at the new store.
Needless to say, Adonis is taking traffic from the neighborhood staple stores.
We were out a bit early tonight and made a smooth transit from here to the Plateau. We hit a bus and two trains with little wait time on the way back.
The topic came from A.B.S.I. and Eternal Values:
Many people will have no truck at all with absolute spiritual values. Perfectionists, they say, are either full of conceit because they fancy they have reached some impossible goal, or else they are swamped in self-condemnation because they have not done so.
Yet I think that we should not hold this view. It is not the fault of great ideals they they are sometime misused and so become shallow excuses for guilt, rebellion, and pride. On the contrary, we cannot grow very much unless we constantly try to envision what the eternal spiritual values are.
“Day by day, we try to move a little towards God’s perfection. We we need not be consumed by maudlin guilt for failure to achieve His likeness and image by Thursday next. Progress is our aim, and His perfection is the beacon, light years away, that draws us on.”
The discussion went around and a few key words came up repeatedly.
One – that the book talks about spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
Two – that who really knows what God’s perfection is, or what it looks like.
Three – that the universe is always changing, so with that posit, we are also always changing. It is up to us to figure out which way we are going to change, for the good or the bad.
Speaking of values. I could never, in my life, accept nor adopt the values that were taught in our home as I was growing up. They went against everything I believed. And I moved away from home, with some morality and set of values, however loose they were, I was too busy drinking and acting out to stop and think about them. But I had values. Who I hung around, who I dated and who I ultimately slept with.
That was then, this is now.
Ending up where I did at the end of my slip, in a big city I grew up in, I was in a hole, spiritually and emotionally. I was all alone, and you know, if I dropped off the face of the earth, then and there, nobody would have missed me or come looking for me. Because I was deemed pariah …
God, in his infinite wisdom began working in my life well before I began asking for help. It was an antecedent assistance.
I guess I recognized the almighty moving heaven and earth and I began to ask for certain things, that eventually came to fruition, just as I called them out and needed them.
I wanted change. Lies were told to me. And never lie to your children because eventually the truth will come out and it may not be a good end game.
I took a lie and I used it to my advantage. To finally get me out of a hole and into a life that was worthy of value and credence. When I came here, I had 36 years of living, knowledge and indoctrination.
The first two years were difficult as I experienced severe culture shock. Learning where my loyalties lay, and what values I would adopt coming to a new country and an entirely new life.
Which leads me to this proclamation to you folks South of the Border …
“Drop your beers and chips, get off the sofa and turn off the tv. Pack your bags, your children and whatever else you need and leave your homes and venture OUT into the world for ONE calendar year.”
Your life will change in ways you would never imagine. I guarantee you that.
Today my life has value. I have values. I hold certain beliefs and thoughts.
I don’t engage in maudlin guilt or depression. However it comes, that on the odd occasion I wax nostalgic and I remember all the men who went to their deaths so I could live. And yes, I have survivors guilt at times. Especially around anniversaries or specific death dates. But It comes and goes much quicker.
I am constantly learning about my feelings. I can count on one hand the times I have gotten really angry. And holding on to that anger comes and goes much quicker. H.A.L.T. is very useful. Letting Go, and Easy does it …
I will never see ultimate perfection, I am not Borg. The bible speaks of:
“Being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.”
That is a daily job. Always striving to be better, not the best, because what is best?
I will close with scripture … Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
That is what we should do every day.
More to come, stay tuned …
Sinai photographed from STS 109 – Shuttle Columbia March 1,2002 …
I’d imagine that if Armageddon was going to take place, this is the place we would imagine the first strike to take place, or the first event. It is 3:10 a.m. on Friday morning. Nothing happened, or should I say, nothing has happened
If you are a listener of Late Night Radio, ala Coast to Coast for any length of time you would know that all the crazies in the world listen to this show night after night. And we have been all through the list of crazies over the last year.
We have the ads for end of days Armageddon style food sales, you know, just for those moments when a disaster takes place and you need those ready to eat meals, They aren’t just for earthquakes and hurricanes Yall !!! If you have a spare couple of hundred dollars that you can plunk down for mass storage food stuffs, and you gotta have a place to put it all, and who has a spare bomb shelter in their property portfolio ???
I hear in UTAH that there are bunkers that have been prepared for today’s calamity to take place. I have also heard that the cleansing of the righteous from the non-righteous will take place today. That God is going to cleanse the earth of the sinful and errant peoples. That only the righteous will be saved from God’s judgment.
There is a town in Southern France that is supposed to be a vortex location and that when the earth meets its end, that the aliens are going to appear there and take away all those who fled to the safety of this mountain perch.
All over the tv tonight have been every kind of end of days programming. People trying to divine what the Mayans were trying to say and what that damned calendar and glyphs really have to say, since they are woefully incomplete, and the end story is all up to conjecture.
We’ve heard over the last year all those good preacher men who have foretold of the coming Apocalypse and twice they were wrong and God did not come screaming out of his heaven to take us all to heaven and send all the sinners to hell.
That would mean all of us LGBTQ folks. Because homosexuality is all so sinful and errant of God’s ways … Oh, I kid …
Did you partake in the hysteria of the end of days? Did you buy into the end of the world? Are you hoarding food, guns, ammunition and all kinds of food stuffs? Because you know, when the end comes later today it is going to be utter anarchy in the streets. People clawing and fighting for food and guns.
And those who are prepared for the end will be hunkered down in their bunkers and nuclear safe type hovels defending themselves from the marauding hordes of people who did not listen to the council of the folks who have spent the better part of the last year telling us all this it is coming and you’d better be prepared.
All this talk of financial ruin coming to the U.S. The wars over seas and the Arab spring running into Arab Winter. You never know if the Anti-Christ is going to rise from the desert sand of the Middle East somewhere like Iran or some other backwater Middle Eastern country. Because like I said above, if Armageddon was going to take place, you’d probably be looking over there for him.
I have read that the sun isn’t going to erupt in some hellish solar flare that is going to knock out the electrical and communications grids all over the world. And at this hour, I haven’t read of any earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions taking place anywhere in the world.
And when you wake and come upon this entry – having said your prayers to whatever God you pray to the night before, you will rise and the sunrise will be glorious – just like the day before.
And I am sure on Friday night on Coast to Coast they will be hosting a night of checking in with all those folks who have added to the mass hysteria that today is supposed to unleash on humankind.
Did the ancients get it right? Will we come to rise above ourselves and grow in spiritual awakening? Will we rise to the next level of humanity overnight? And what have we learn in this exercise of preparing ourselves for the end of the world. And what will we say to all those folks who are hiding in their bomb shelters as I write this.
Will we see a nuclear Armageddon from the East? Because if we do, for those of us who could not afford a bomb shelter – we are all goners … So I guess before I go to bed I should say my final prayers – kiss my ass goodbye and hope to wake up tomorrow morning.
Today my husband is traveling to Ottawa to see his family, and it may be his last meeting with them if we are to believe that something BIG will take place tomorrow some time. Who knows.
It’s the end of the world as we know it. And when you wake tomorrow – what kind of world will it be? And what will we say to all those crazies out there sitting in their bomb shelters and on mountain tops and those fleeing the big cities into the interior of the United States and Europe because the oceans are going to swell and swallow up all the coastal land. God forbid you know that volcano on the Canary Islands that is supposed to blow its peak and send a tsunami across the Atlantic and submerge the entire East Coast of the United States.
You are all FUCKED !!!
Shall we make a prediction of what all will happen the day after tomorrow?
Sit tight. I will report more as the day progresses.
More to come, stay tuned …
I did not have anything prepared to write yesterday, hence my lack of posts. In my nightly reading before bed, I came across a reading that strikes me in a certain way so I thought I’d share it with you.
I have been reading Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book “The Wounded Healer” over the past few weeks. You read a little and let it sink in, and then read some more and repeat the process. Last night I read through the last chapter and it spoke to me.
Ministry comes in many forms, how we minister to people and on what level. The book is oriented towards the minister proper, but the themes and stories are universal in my opinion and can work in many an interaction model between any given people.
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The Wounded Healer, Henri J.M. Nouwen
Ministry in Contemporary Society
If ministry is meant to hold the promise of the messiah, then whatever we can learn of the Messiah’s coming will give us a deeper understanding of what is called for in ministry today.
How does our Liberator come? i found an old legend in the Talmud which may suggest to us the beginning of an answer:
Rabbi Yoshua ben Levi came upon Elijah the prophet
while he was standing at the entrance of Rabbi Simeron ben Yohai’s cave … He asked Elijah, “When will the Messiah come?”
Elijah replied, “Go and ask him yourself.”
“Where is he?”
“Sitting at the gate of the city.”
“How shall I know him?”
“He is sitting among the poor covered with wounds.
The others unbind all their wounds at the same time and
then bind them up again. But he unbinds one at a time and
binds it up again, saying to himself, ‘Perhaps I shall be
needed: if so I must be ready so as not to delay for a moment.’ “
Hospitality and community
Ministers who have come to terms with their own loneliness and are at home in their own houses are hosts who offer hospitality to their guests. They give them a friendly space, where they may feel free to come and go, to be close and be distant, to rest and to play, to talk and to be silent, to eat and to fast. The paradox indeed is that hospitality asks for the creation of an empty space, where the guests can find their own souls.
Why is this a healing ministry? it is healing because it takes away the false illusion that wholeness can be given by one to another. It is healing because it does not take away the loneliness and the pain of others, but invites them to recognize their loneliness on a level where it can be shared. Many people in this life suffer because they are anxiously searching for the man or woman, the event or encounter, which will take their loneliness away.
But when they enter a house with real hospitality they soon see that their own wounds must be understood, not as source of despair and bitterness, but as signs that they have to travel on in obedience to the calling sounds of those wounds…
… No minister can save anyone. We can only offer ourselves as guides for fearful people. Yet, paradoxically, it is precisely in this guidance that the first signs of hope become visible. This is so because a shared pain is no longer paralyzing, but mobilizing, when it is understood to be a way to liberation.
When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.
Through this common search, hospitality becomes community. Hospitality becomes community as it creates a unity based upon the shared confession of our basic brokenness and upon a shared hope. This hope in turn leads us far beyond the boundaries of human togetherness to the One who calls all people away from the land of slavery to the land of freedom. It belongs to the central insight of the Judeo-Christian tradition – that it is the call of God that forms the people of God.
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I started this chapter with the story of Rabbi Yoshua ben Levi, who asked Elijah, “When will the Messiah come?” There is an important conclusion to this story. When Elijah had explained to him how he could find the Messiah sitting among the poor at the gates of the city, Rabbi Yoshua ben Levi went to the Messiah and said to him:
“Peace unto you, my master and teacher.”
The Messiah answered, “peace unto you, son of Levi.”
He asked, “When is the master coming?”
“Today,” he answered.
Rabbi Yoshua returned to Elijah, who asked,
“What did he tell you?”
“He indeed has deceived me, for he said ‘Today I am
coming’ and he has not come.”
Elijah said, “This is what he told you: ‘Today if you
would listen to his voice. ‘ “
Even when we know that we are called to be wounded healers, it is still very difficult to acknowledge that healing has to take place today, because we are living at a time when our wounds have become all too visible.
Our loneliness and isolation have become so much a part of our daily experience that we cry out for a Liberator who will take us away from our misery and bring us justice and peace.
To announce, however, that the Liberator is sitting among the poor and that the wounds are signs of hope and that today is the day of liberation, is a step very few can take. But this is exactly the announcement of the wounded healer: “The master is coming – not tomorrow, but today, not next year, but this year, not after our misery is passed, but in the middle of it, not in another place but right here, where we are standing.”
And with a challenging confrontation he says:
O that today you would listen to his voice!
Harden not your heart as at Meribah,
as on that day at Massah in the desert
when they tried me, though they saw
my work. (Psalm 95:7)
If indeed we listen to the voice and believe that ministry is a sign of hope because it makes visible the first rays of light of the coming Messiah, we can make ourselves and others understand that we already carry in us the source of our own search.
Thus ministry can be a witness to the living truth that the wound, which causes us to suffer now, will be revealed to us later as the place where God intimated a new creation.
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This is who we are called to be …
The Empty Tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
I was gonna wait to post this, but the spirit is moving me today, So here is one of my favorite pieces of writing. I wrote in a few years ago, and I repost it every year at the beginning of Lent. And since I don’t have anything fresh to offer you – you can read this and prepare for your journey … Enjoy..
And so it begins, the walk through the desert. God is moving tonight, I can feel it in my bones deep within my soul. I am in Preacher mode and the message is loud and clear…Write and share the journey. Here is my Lenten exercise of the journey, it is called “Will you walk with me a step or two.”
One day the Lord spoke to them and they started walking through the desert. Men, women, children the elderly and the herds and flocks. Where they were going was not known, but it was apparent that they were going to get somewhere. If only they walked a step or two.
A young man spoke up and said “I will walk ahead of the tribes, I will lead them as the Lord leads me.” And the Lord asked the young boy, “are you ready to walk for the glory of God,” why “Yes,” the boy answered. So be it the Lord said, “now lead them, but take only that which you need and nothing more.” I will walk with You Lord, he said without a second thought.
The Lord said that the way will not be smooth and there are things you will see on the way that will test your faith, yet I the Lord will make the way straight and the path smooth, if you have faith in Me and the Glory of God the father. Yes, I have faith, the boy replied, so walk my son.
A few days into the journey the boy came across a woman with ragged hair and little clothing. She was elderly and needed some water. The boy was only carrying what he had, and he gave drink to the woman and quenched her thirst. She said to him, that she was lonely and afraid of the road, and the boy replied, woman, have no fear, for I will walk with you until nightfall and we will camp under the canopy of heaven. That day they walked together and the woman was grateful for the company and the water.
That night, they made camp, the tribes of the Lord.
The Angel of the Lord came down and struck the rock and water flowed. They all drew water from a spring that appeared and everyone’s thirst was satiated. And the animals were watered as well. Food was passed from group to group until every last one was fed. That night they sang the song of the Lord until everyone was sent to a sleep protected by the Lord himself.
The very next morning, rested and fed, the tribes packed up their wares and started the journey as they did the day prior. The sun hung low in the sky, and by high noon, sweat was pouring off the brows of the people. The young boy made his way in front of the pack, leading them as he was guided by the spirit of the lord. Soon after noon the boy came across an elderly man who was being carried by two men, visibly shaken and tired.
The boy looked up to the sky and said, what can I do Lord?
The answer came and the boy took the arm of the litter and helped carry the man for the rest of the day, until darkness fell and camp was set up for the night. Once again, the Angel of the Lord came down and struck the rock and from the rock a spring came up from the earth once again, the people and the animals were watered. The tables were set and the people were fed to their fill. Once again, they praised the God of Abraham and in the coolness of the night they slept under the canopy of the heavens.
On the third day they awoke to a cloudy day, grateful for the relief from the sun, they gathered up their wares and began to walk once again. Today the young man was tired. He had been leading this lot for days now, and yet the lord said, Keep walking. So he did.
On this day he came upon a young person drawn from travel, covered in dust from the desert. Visibly the boy had not eaten in days and was close to death.
The young man stopped and knelt down next to him and shared his water and some bread from his pack. He lifted the boy into his arms and carried him for the rest of the day. Hours passed and the boy was filled with faith and strength as he carried his charge on his back. That night at camp, the young boy gathered some bedding and laid his friend in a cool soft place.
That night the Angel of the Lord appeared and once again, struck the rock and water flowed. He bathed the young man whom he had carried all day, then they broke bread and shared living water from the earth. Miracle, you ask, quite possibly so.
That night all were fed and after the plates were cleared and all had been fed, they gathered before the fires and praised the God of Abraham. They rested beneath the canopy of heaven.
For 38 days and 38 nights, the boy walked with his people, helping each soul he encountered to the best of his ability as God had commanded him to do.
On the 39th day they awoke. The angel of the Lord was there at first light and he told them, the journey was almost over, walk on as the Lord commands.
That day was no different. On that day the young boy would meet his final “person.” She was laden with child, and was walking alone carrying everything that she needed. No man walked by her side, no assistance came to her. She was visibly close to giving birth, and the Boy took her hand
As night fell, the boy gathered the women together and they prepared the woman for birth. A call went out to the men and they gathered together some wood for someplace to keep the child. As was foretold, the Angel of the Lord appeared to them once again, and struck the rock and as happened each night before, water flowed.
That night the stars shone brightly, the heavens were alight with song. Something was about to happen. For after the meal, the woman called for the boy and he appeared by her side. The time had come and she wanted to share the birth of the child with him, for he walked with her a step or two. That night under the canopy of heaven a child was born and she asked the boy his name.
He answered, “My name is David.” She smiled at her son, and spoke to the heavens, May God in heaven be blessed and may he bless my son David, born this night. The heavens replied with a thousand shooting stars… What a glorious vision the host of angels come down from heaven to sing to David, the newest member of the tribes of Abraham. That night they rested and slept in peace.
On the 40th day the young boy awoke, there standing before him were 40 men, women and children. All of those whom David had walked with through the desert. At that moment an Elder man spoke to David and said follow me, there is someone who would like to see you David, HE has asked for you by name.
The people before him parted and through them David walked until he reached a hill that was green with foliage and there a spring bubbled up. “Take off your sandals David” a voice spoke to him. David did not skip a beat. As David looked up from undoing his shoes, There the Master sat on the rock before him.
David’s eye welled up with tears, he had done exactly as he was instructed, as the Lord had told him. He had led his people through the desert helping each soul he met on his path. The Master knew what was in his heart and soul. David was without words. The Master got up from where He sat and approached David and wrapped his arms around him, and said……..
“Well done good and faithful servant. In YOU I am well pleased.”
What for? David said, all I did was what you asked of me while I walked. And the Master replied, “you know David, each time you helped one of these souls on your journey, you helped ME.” “What the least of these you have done for my brothers and sisters you have done for me.”
The Master reached down into the pool of water and blessing the water he blessed and baptized David the Boy, and then David the infant. And for a moment the heavens opened up and God’s voice was heard, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
And from the sky a beam of light shone forth into the desert and the sands were parted and there in the swirl of dust a city appeared. It is there that the people made their homes. The journey had ended. And a placed blessed by God was theirs to live in.
So will you walk with me a step or two. The journey is long and the road may be rough, but as the Lord says “I will make the path straight and your burden will be light.” Take only that which you need. And if you meet someone of the road, stop and ask your questions, share your water and food, for you never know when the Master will reveal himself to you.
Are you ready to start walking !!!
John 20:1-18 – Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
The Empty Tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Our service at Christ Church Cathedral was beautiful. Everyone gathered and sang songs and rang bells to announce the “Risen Christ.” Where ever you are I hope you have a great Easter celebration or what ever celebration you might have on this day.
Hubby will cook a tasty dinner for us tomorrow, and it will be grand.
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
We are halfway through the weekend, and I am still hacking and coughing. This cold is not going without a fight. I’ve been warned by my medical team to keep an eye out for fever. Haven’t had any of that yet. Just a lot of headaches and chest congestion.
Today I worked on David and Samuel. I got 6 pages written for my presentation and I have one more text to go through. Writing on the two David and Saul stories is very interesting. Each of the texts I have so far written on share different takes on the stories. I am supposed to stick with the text itself and not go outside (diachronic), I have to maintain a (synchronic) vision of the text.
The relationship between David and Saul is troubling. They are running after each other through hills, caves and fields. Saul wants to capture and kill David, and his minions want to help Saul do the deed, yet David continues to escape him by mere seconds and definite divine intervention.
Saul, on the other hand falls into the hands of David, not once but twice. And David is loathe to kill him because Saul is king and God’s anointed. David’s men step up and offer to kill Saul, yet David cautions them not to. There are conversations between David and Saul. The use of covenant language are apparent. It is all very tasking. Saul knows that pursuing David is wrong even if he keep on hunting him down. Then they meet, and David makes his pronouncements to Saul about being “anointed and king” and Saul weeps and humbles himself and repents of his evil ways and speaks wondrous words about David and they go their separate ways.
Both men have issues. Neither are perfect in the sight of God. Both have done dastardly things throughout the books of Samuel. But David will be king eventually, he may not be a perfect king, but king nonetheless. I wanted to share one perspective on the stories with you from my research.
The Open Rupture Between David and Saul.
The Forms of the Old Testament Literature. Vol. VII.
Antony F. Campbell, S.J.
Saul’s return to fight the Philistines is one of the few points in these stories, apart from his death, where we see him fulfilling his royal function. It also gives a momentary pause in the narrative, before the episode at the cave, in the wilderness of Engedi.
Early in any discussion reflection on the relationship between chapters 24 (the “cave in the daytime” story) and chapter 26 (the “camp in the nighttime” story) is unavoidable. There is widespread agreement that one tradition is coming to expression in both stories. That one tradition is present seems clear. Saul, in pursuit of David, is found in David’s power and is spared by the man whose life he seeks; full-bodied reconciliation ensues. More and more, commentators are agreeing that the interpreters task is to find a meaning for these stories in their context, rather than to debate their mutual dependence and age.
The version in chapter 26 is ready-made for performance. It is night. David and Abishai penetrate Saul’s camp and stand over Saul’s sleeping body. One spear thrust will kill him. David takes the spear, disappears into the night, and cries out from across the intervening valley. The version in chapter 24 requires a lot more work on the part of the storyteller; there is not a close fit between the deed and the drama. Saul has three thousand men with him as he pops into the cave – surely in daytime.
Why use a cave if it was night? David emerges from the cave, a bit behind Saul, and cries out to him. the storyteller has to make two aspects plausible. Saul, in broad daylight, asks the nighttime question: “Is this your voice, my son David?”
David in broad daylight, is not seized by the three thousand who are out hunting for him. A storyteller would have to have David slip out of the cave unseen and gain a vantage point where he could not be trapped and would not be visible. After has Saul “blinded with tears” ; but in the text the weeping comes after wards, at the end of the verse, and the three thousand are still there to be dealt with. (Alter) wrestles with the three thousand earlier, the text does not attend to them. The biblical text reveals faithfully where it has come from; Alter reveals brilliantly where it might be taken.
Inside the cave, there is a pointer to the complexity in the telling that again leaves options open for the storyteller. David’s men in the rear of the cave, seeing Saul in the light at the mouth of the cave, urge David to seize this God-given opportunity to do to his enemy Saul as it seems good to David – in a word, kill him! According to the text, David crept up sneakily and “cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak” The next verse is odd: “Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak.”
This is stretching credulity a but far. The guerrilla chief has remorse over a bit of royal garment snipping. Appeal to royal mystique and the sacredness of all that is associated with the king is a distraction; the central issue is life or death, to kill or to spare. Later David will wave the corner of the cloak at Saul as proof of his goodness.
The remorse is badly out of place in this context. But worse is to come. Having spared Saul’s life and cut the corner of his cloak off instead, David is portrayed berating his men for their wickedness in wanting to attack Saul. If Joab were present with a speaking role in this story he might well have pointed out to David that the heroics were in place before the garment snipping; they were completely out of place after it. So there is more to this scene than meets the eye. Storytellers, start your imaginations! Was there a version with no incitement to kill expressed in the cave? Was the incitement to kill Saul an extra option offered by the text?
There is little point in looking for a relationship of dependence between the two tellings. It is enough that there are two tellings of one tradition, each quite capable of standing on its own. As will be emphasized under “meaning” the involvement of both traditions in this narrative heightens the intensity of Saul’s enmity toward David and maked David’s move into exile utterly inevitable.
Exile among the Philistines is dangerous for David’s reputation as a loyal Israelite. We will look at this in treating chapters 28-31. For Davidic supporters, it is important that David had absolutely no choice and was forced into this exile. Reconciliation with Saul could not be trusted.
As to the episode in the cave, it is storytelling and popular storytelling at that. Such storytelling requires plausibility; it is unlikely that a performance had all David’s band lurking in the cave or conducting a noisy debate followed by a voice vote on the issue of killing Saul or snipping his cloak. As noted above, the implausibility inside the cave lies with David’s reproach to his men after he himself has done the deed for which he later takes moral credit. Outside the cave, the storyteller has to deal with the major difficulty that David peaceably discourses with Saul as though the three thousand chosen troops had never been mobilized.
In chapter 24: As told, this story moves a stage beyond its predecessors. The introduction sets up the preliminaries. Brought information, Saul’s force camps in the area where David is reported to be (“on the hill of Hachilah,”) We do not know exactly where David was (“in the wilderness”) apparently David did not know exactly where Saul was, but he was aware of Saul’s arrival.
The story proper starts with David sending out spies, moving in on Saul’s camp, and even observing precisely where Saul was sleeping. This information was is repeated in vv.5 and 7; v.7 specifies that it was night and that Saul was asleep. A storyteller might stress that, before night fell, what David saw in v.5 was the layout of the camp, the “place” where Saul slept, with the army camped around him.
The story moves in two stages: inside Saul’s camp and outside it. The first allows for the demonstration of David’s refusal to kill the Lords anointed. The second allows for both an insistence on David’s innocence and for Saul;s final commendation and blessing of David.
The story holds a challenge for both its hearers or readers and for its storytellers. The parallel story in chapter 24 in quite different. There Saul walked in on David territory. There. following the present text, David’s men urged him against Saul. David approached Saul stealthily, and then David was stricken to the heart. The problem at issue were discussed in chapter 24 and need not be repeated here. That Saul walking in on David’s territory is unproblematic. That David was “stricken to the heart” is equally clear, but its context is quite uncertain. The present text says because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. The context suggests because he had entertained the thought of killing Saul.
The story of chapter 26 is quite different. David intrudes on Saul’s territory, his camp. No mention whatsoever is made of David being repentant or “stricken to the heart.” The challenge of the story: Why did David risk his life penetrating Saul’s camp by night and putting himself at risk in the middle of Saul’s army? Certainly not with a view to killing Saul. That may have been Abishai’s intention; in the story, it certainly cannot be David’s, for two reasons.
First, the narrative so far has been insistent that Saul is the aggressor and David the innocent victim. Second, and paramount for the telling of the story, we know and all Israel knew that Saul died in a battle on Mount Gilboa. Why then did the story have David risk his life entering Saul’s camp at night? Certainly not to kill Saul. instead it has David risk his life to demonstrate his innocence and, within the story, to receive Saul’s blessing and commendation. The challenge of this story is to make this plausible.
In the context of Chapters 24 and 26, we need to recognize how inauspicious a start to royal reign it would have been to have killed a king who crept quietly into a cave, urged by a need of nature. How much more inauspicious to pin the sleeping monarch to the ground with his own spear in his own camp – not in battle but in bed. Neither matter, since Saul was to die on Mount Gilboa. Neither is likely to have been told at the royal court of Saul’s heir, King Ishbosheth (2 Sam 2:8-10a), or at the hearth of the last known claimant to Saul’s throne, the crippled Mephisbosheth (cf. 2Sam 9:16:3)
Oh Boy it’s 4 a.m. I’ve been typing for a long time…
More to come, stay tuned…
I turned in my bibliography for my final paper tonight. I am writing on 1 Samuel Chapters 24 and 26. The stories of the two times David and Saul meet and David spares the life of Saul. Hopefully the paper I turned in is acceptable to my prof. I am on track to completing this project, and I feel confident that I can write an acceptable paper. We have been parsing Samuel chapters 1 through 11 in class. It is very interesting looking at the Hebrew translations of the Old Testament and reading from our own texts to see how words and phrases are translated.
Just a short note for now, I will write more tomorrow. My day off… We will talk sobriety and recovery… until then … toodles…
1 Samuel 24 -
David Spares Saul’s Life
After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.
He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ ” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.
Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’ See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.
“Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”
When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”
So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
Haiti, Pat Robertson, and the Devil: Father Matthew Presents
Monday has been exciting … The mail woman brought me a HUGE box this morning and I was all excited. Who knew boots could be so big, yet feel so snuggly and warm.
I went to class tonight and we talked about Biblical History and we also talked about the book of Samuel. I have to get used to reading code and learning what all the biblical codes mean when reading source material and commentaries.
We took a look at the Periods in Biblical History:
- Patriarchal Period – 1800 bce Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
- Pre-Monarchic Period 1200 – 1000
- United Kingdom (Monarchy) Whole of Israel N&S 1000-922
- Divided Monarchy North falls South a Davidic Dynasty 922-721
- Judah Alone – Babylonian conquer of Judah 721-587
- Exilic Period – 587-540 (539) Cyrus the Great
- Post Exilic Period – 539 – on Persians conquered by A. the Great
Some Manuscript Notes:
- LXX – Septuagint
- Q – QumRan
- MS – Manuscript
- MT – Masoretic Text
- GR – Greek
- Masoretic Texts – 1000 common era (most bibles come from here). 7th to 10th centuries Oldest MT 9th c.
- Codex Vaticanus – LXX-b Greek 4c. common era Translation of Hebrew into Greek, unique manuscript, closer to old Greek tradition, escaped many revisions (haplographies are numerous)
- Codex Alexandrius – LXX-a Evidence of systematic revisions, considered less value to Vaticanus
- Lucianic Codex – LXX-l Close to Qumran Manuscriot 300 c.e. Old Greek manuscript, second strata worked into it. series of additions by Lucian and influenced by Josephus
- Old Latin Translation – (OL) 2/3c. c.e. original readings from the old Greek, Proto-Lucianic second strata
- Targum Jonathan – Aramaic version of the prophets. Middle ages
- Syriac Versions – (Peshitta) 2c c.e. in Syriac close to MT translated from Hebrew. 250 manuscripts – Peshitta
- Vulgate – Latin Translation by Jerome. Early 5c. close to MT. Proto-Masoretic text vowels not added yet.
- QumRan – 3rd c. to 1c. Found 2 manuscripts of Samuel in the 4th cave 4QSamB – end of 3rd c. bce affinity to vulgate of old Greek translation into Hebrew. 4QSamA (B was studied before A) Close to MT – expansionist tendency affinities to Lucian codex
- Quotes from Scripture – Josephus 1c. ce Textual tradition from 4QSamA this is not so reliable.
My prof is big on writing, she hopes that by writing I will memorize more.
It is partly cloudy with a chance of smog today, as I look out of my living room windows the haze settles over the city from end to end, as is apt to happen during the winter with heaters, fireplaces and stove pipes smoking.
The weekend was uneventful – quiet as usual. We didn’t do much, I had done a little supermarket Safari on Friday so that I didn’t have to go out to get food over the weekend. Hubby is on his Bubbles DeVeer Diet so I am eating for one these days. [You'd need to know about Little Britain to get that reference].
Today my shipment from the US came in a HUGE box …
They are sweet to say the least.
I have class tonight, my seminar on Biblical History and the book of Samuel. We are reading about YHWH and an Overview of the Old Testament’s Statements about election. I am following along quietly. We’ll see what tonight’s class will bring. I am reading the Theology of Augustine for my Hermeneutics class on Wednesday nights. I have to write my critical assessment for Wednesday night’s class just yet.
That’s all for now…
More to come, stay tuned …
You can find this essay at the RLP website: HERE
After my passionate post on the subject of homosexuality, I’ve received numerous emails asking me to clearly state my interpretation of the parts of the Bible that are thought to speak to the issue of homosexuality. Initially I thought I would respond by email to those wanting to discuss the Bible, but the number of emails was overwhelming so I thought I would post my thoughts here.
I’d like to speak to this issue in 4 parts.
Part One – Hypocrisy:
If we Christians were honest, we would admit that we do not abide by all the commandments of scripture ourselves. I don’t mean that we try and fail. I mean we deliberately choose to ignore scriptures that are not convenient for our lifestyles. As I pointed out in my post yesterday, the amount of scripture that is ignored, scorned, and abused by modern Christians is incredible. This blatant disregard for scripture never seems to bother church people when the issues at hand have to do with their own sins. But suddenly, when the subject of homosexuality comes up, everyone becomes a biblical literalist. The hypocrisy of this is appalling.
I think we should afford our homosexual brothers and sisters the same luxury we claim for ourselves. If we plan to ignore whatever scriptures threaten our lifestyles, perhaps we should offer them space at our bonfire to burn their little handful of scriptures as we burn the Bible chapter and verse.
We should all agree that none of us are able or willing to follow all the teachings of scripture. Let the one who is obeying God’s word ask for detailed scriptural explanations from others.
In my book, that settles the argument, and there is no reason to go further. However, if you are determined to hold homosexuals to a higher standard, demanding detailed explanations for why they do not obey minor parts of the Bible while all of Christendom tramples on the very heart of scripture, move on to part two:
Part Two – The Bible and homosexuality:
The Bible never addresses the subject of homosexuality as an orientation. The idea of sexual identity was not a part of human thought until very recently. The Bible addresses some specific homosexual acts in very specific contexts. The idea of two people in a loving, committed homosexual relationship was not understood in the ancient Hebrew world and is not a subject in the Bible. Very credible biblical scholars treat the passages in question as specific commands against specific acts, and not as a wholesale prohibition on a homosexual orientation.
For many people, understanding this obvious limitation of the Bible is all that is needed. The Bible does not address the broad subject of sexual orientation because it was written before that was an issue. Any specific condemnation of homosexual acts must be seen as just that – a specific condemnation of an act in a specific context.
However, if that sounds too wishy-washy to you, if it sounds too slippery and subjective, let me now speak to all 6 of the passages in the Bible that are thought by some people to address the issue of homosexuality.
Part Three – Exegesis
There are exactly 6 scriptures that are thought to address homosexuality. I’ll either quote the passage or provide a link so that you can read it.
The story of the destruction of Sodom – Genesis 19:1-29. If you read this story, you’ll quickly see that the men of the city of Sodom wanted to commit a brutal, homosexual rape. We simply cannot condemn a sexual orientation because of a rape. There is a heterosexual rape described in the next passage we will examine together. Shall we condemn heterosexuality because of this rape?
Any reasonable person will understand that this passage has nothing to say about loving, consensual homosexual relationships.
Judges 19:1-30 is a sad story of human evil of the type that is often recounted in scripture. It is basically a retelling of the Sodom story in a different context. This time, however, the men actually did rape a woman. This passage speaks to the need for God’s love in a brutal world. It has no bearing on the question of homosexual orientation for the same reason that the Sodom story is not applicable. Both of these stories condemn ignorance and sexual brutality, but not homosexuality.
Texts 3 and 4 are both in Leviticus and make up a part of the Old Testament Levitical code.
Leviticus 18:22 – “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”
Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
The code of rules and behaviors in Leviticus does not apply to Christians. The book of Acts, specifically chapter 15, makes it clear that Gentile Christians are not required to keep all of the Mosaic laws. No Christian group I know demands full compliance with this ancient code of behavior. If we did we would have to keep kosher laws. We don’t even demand compliance with the sexual laws in Leviticus. If we did, we would allow polygamy, which is lawful in Leviticus. Unless you are prepared to obey all the laws in Leviticus, you cannot blame the homosexual for not feeling bound to obey all of them. To point to these two verses and demand selective compliance is ludicrous.
The Old Testament really has nothing specific to say to Christians about homosexuality. We turn now to the New Testament.
Jesus had nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality. His absence of comment does not support or condemn homosexuality. Jesus was Jewish, kept the Law of Moses, and mainly dealt with Jewish people. The issue of homosexuality was not relevant or important to his ministry. It’s not surprising that Jesus never addressed what was not an issue for his culture.
Paul, who lived in the gentile world and dealt with gentiles, discusses specific homosexual acts twice. These passages are the only two times homosexual behavior is mentioned in the New Testament. Let me repeat that because it is important. The two passages I am about to discuss comprise the total New Testament witness on the subject of homosexuality.
I Corinthians 6:9 – “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders” (NIV)
“Male prostitutes” and “homosexual offenders.” Can someone explain to me why we would condemn an entire orientation because of the prohibition of these very specific behaviors?
The Greek words Paul used in this passage include the word for a young, effeminate male prostitute and the word for the older man who paid to have sex with him. Admittedly, there is some disagreement over how these words should be translated, but let me point out that I’m quoting from the New International Version, arguably the most conservative modern translation available. You may disagree with this translation, but you cannot dismiss it as ridiculous. The scholars who worked on the NIV are not lightweights. And uncertainty and ambiguity in translation is only a further argument for tolerance.
We can acknowledge that the New Testament condemns prostitution and a system where a younger man makes his living committing sex acts for money with older men. But we cannot condemn homosexuality in general because homosexual prostitution was condemned. Paul condemns many heterosexual acts in his writings, even in this very verse, yet we do not condemn heterosexuality.
Romans 1:18-29 is the last passage we shall look at. It is the one most often quoted, and it is clearly the closest thing we find to condemnation in the New Testament. Verse 27 is the most specific verse.
I simply ask you to read this entire passage with an open mind. In it, Paul says that those who reject God will be given over to “shameful lusts”. They will engage in many acts that are not pleasing to God. Men will “burn with lust for one another.”
In Paul’s experience, the only homosexuality he knew was that practiced in the non-Jewish world and probably tied to pagan temple worship. He claims that homosexuality is one of the punishments for those who reject God. But what are we to do with gentle and committed Christians who love God and worship God, but who tell us that they have a homosexual orientation?
My homosexual friends who are Christians are not haters of God. They have not rejected the Creator. Nor do not burn in lust for each other and run around committing scandalous acts. They are quietly committed to their partners in love. The dilemma here is that the homosexual Christians I know just do not fit the picture Paul gives us in Romans.
I’ll be honest- I don’t know exactly what Paul meant by this passage. I know he was describing people who chose not to worship God and then “burned with lust for other men.” I don’t know exactly what he meant, but I know this DOES NOT describe the homosexual Christians I know, who love God with great passion.
Because of my inability to make clear sense of these passages, I am willing to allow a person’s sexual orientation to be between him or her and God. I am willing to take a chance and err on the side of compassion and inclusion.
And consider this: Jesus condemned divorce several times in the gospels. You can read one instance here. Jesus is clearly saying that just because a judge on earth grants a divorce does not mean that God sets aside the commitment. So, according to Jesus, when divorced people remarry they are living in a constant and willful state of adultery. And yet, why is it we have no problem with divorced and remarried people in the church? I believe this is because the divorced people are our friends and church members. So we are willing to look at their lives with grace and include them in our communities. We don’t understand what Jesus meant exactly, but we assume they are doing the best they can in a difficult situation. “And surely Jesus couldn’t have meant that they spend the rest of their lives alone,” we say to ourselves. We don’t offer the same grace to homosexuals because it is convenient to sacrifice them on our altar of Biblical fidelity. We can reject them and claim our actions as examples of how much we respect the scriptures.
This even though the New Testament witness on divorce is MUCH clearer and comes right from the mouth of Jesus.
It’s hypocrisy, plain and simple.
Part Four – Conclusion
Those are the 6 passages in the Bible that are thought to address the subject of homosexuality. The Old Testament passages amount to nothing and the two New Testament passages are ambiguous at best and highly open to interpretation.
I do not think the Bible teaches that every expression of homosexual love is sinful. The scriptural witness on this subject is shaky at best.
Even if you do not buy my claim that we have no right to demand specific explanation of scriptures from homosexuals since we don’t provide similar explanations for the hundreds of passages we blatantly ignore…
Even if you do not agree that the Bible never really addresses the subject of homosexuality as a sexual orientation…
Even if you reject my biblical analysis and decide that the Bible is condemning of homosexuals…
Would you at least agree that the passages are ambiguous and open to many interpretations? Would you at least agree that others may responsibly interpret them and not agree with you?
If you could at least acknowledge that those of us who disagree with your interpretation are nonetheless serious-minded people who read the scriptures carefully and want to follow them, then perhaps you would be willing to err on the side of compassion. Perhaps you would be willing to open your churches to our homosexual brothers and sisters, trusting them to read the Bible just as you do, with love and hoping for Grace from God.
I just had to use that photo…
Monday has come and gone. And these were my thoughts last night before I went to bed:
I need some prayer, maybe some advice? Maybe both and then some. i start my second semester as a grad student, with misgivings and second thoughts. I’m not quite feeling the spirit and I am a bit sad overall. I did not do so well last semester and knowing I have to rewrite all my work from last semester is hanging over me like a pall. They tell me that I wasn’t critical enough in my thoughts, and that I played it too safe – the fear of plagiarism is pervasive. Sometimes I totally miss the mark when it comes to writing papers. Especially when it comes to church history and church fathers.
*I am second guessing myself more today than I have done before. I have been pondering leaving the program but I can’t do that because it is money in the pocket as long as I stay in school. I wonder if I am getting too old to do this kinda thing? I worry that that pall of “incomplete” will haunt me this semester as well.Last semester was tough because of the walls that became painfully aware to me between the undergraduates and the graduates.*People who were my friends would not even pay me any attention last semester and that made me upset. I feel alone in this endeavor. I am not the only graduate in the program but friendships and comradery is far and few between. I’ve been feeling that feeling of alienation to a great extent lately and I don’t know where that comes from, but it is unnerving.*I haven’t been put on academic probation yet my grades are in limbo until I complete the past work again, they gave me until March to get it all done, in addition to all the work that I will be doing this term. But I am unsure of my next steps. And I am unsure of my next decision.
*So I will go to class tomorrow night and see how it goes. I know my program director will want to see me – because he did not get to me before the holidays. And he will dress me down as well, ugh !!!
*What should I do? How should I proceed? I know where the light is – but it seems dark at the moment. I know I should live in the moment and follow the path and I am trying to do that tonight.I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to anyone of my friends face to face since term ended last month everybody’s been away or busy and so I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for a few weeks now and I am about to go crazy over them.
I’ve been in my head as of late worrying about where I sit in the grand scheme of things. So I put this to prayer and sent it off to one of my spiritual advisers late last night, he has yet to respond. I am sure he is praying nonetheless.
There are 4 graduate students, one R.A. and the Prof. in my Old Testament class on Monday nights. We are studying the “Divine Election and the Rejection in the Books of Samuel.”
There are familiar faces in the class from last term and new man named Trevor. They all have past biblical study, but I do not, which means that I am going to have to step up my game. I have to buy a new Harper Collins Study Bible before next weeks class.
On a totally unrelated topic, watch this video and marvel at the natural beauty of Venezuela. I’ve been watching videos from this group of bikers who live in Venezuela over the last month and the videos just get better and better. If you are a You Tuber you can check out the account [ frohwrx]…
Enduro Tachira en HD – Subiendo Las Cebollas
This is one of the most beautiful videos he has up on this series. I want to go there and see it for myself. That would be a vacation…
So that’s all for tonight.
More to come, stay tuned…
I was reading “Turtles All the Way Down” last night and I came upon this story and I really liked it. So I am sharing it with you from the RLP, this story can be found in his archives on the RLP Website. Enjoy …
A Real Live Preacher Dramatized Bible Story
The two men in expensive robes looked very out of place in the darkest part of the back streets, but they were not afraid. Their robes and their attitude let everyone know who they were. No one would dare harm them, even at night.
“Do we understand one another?”
“Yes, separate one. I understand perfectly.”
One of the robed men tossed a few coins into the shadows of a doorway. As they turned to walk away he called back over his shoulder.
“Don’t be late. And don’t disappoint me!”
They walked quickly through the alleys with the sleeves of their robes pressed over their noses and mouths. The man who had thrown the coins said to his companion, “A most distasteful business, I must say.”
Jesus came early to the temple the next morning to continue his discussions with a small crowd of people made up mostly of tradesmen from the streets of Jerusalem. They were thrilled that this exciting, young rabbi seemed to enjoy teaching regular people. Soon they were knotted around Jesus and engaged in a passionate discussion of the Torah and its interpretation.
Their conversation was interrupted by the panicked and fearful shrieks of a woman. All heads turned at the same time to see a group of about ten men pushing their way through the crowd and up to the front where Jesus stood. These were important and very religious men, some of them scholars and officials of the Temple. Others were Pharisees, respected and wealthy men who took pride in keeping themselves away from sinners.
The townspeople around Jesus parted respectfully, allowing them to the front. Two were dragging a woman along with them. They thrust her violently toward Jesus, and the crowd drew back further when they saw her.
The woman stood with her head down and her hair covering most of her face. Her shoulders were hunched inward with shame, and she was desperately holding a tattered robe around her body. Her feet were bare and her hair was dirty. She was disheveled and confused, and she was not properly covered. A glimpse of her thigh was visible through a fold in the cloth. Under her chin the robe sagged, revealing her collar bone.
One of the Pharisees stepped boldly forward and spoke directly to Jesus. “Honored Rabbi, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.”
He paused and looked around at the crowd for effect before repeating himself loudly.
“In the VERY ACT! Her guilt is beyond question. We bear witness to it. Now the law of Moses says that we should stone her here and now. But of course, with Jesus here at the temple today, we are fortunate to have an expert opinion on matters of the Law. We wouldn’t want to act hastily. After all, a woman’s life is at stake.”
He cocked his head slightly and stretched his arm out toward Jesus with his palm up.
“So I ask you, rabbi, what do YOU say we should do?”
He said the word “rabbi” with mock intensity, drawing it out until it almost sounded like an insult.
Jesus looked at the group of religious men before him. They met his gaze without looking the slightest bit uncomfortable or unsure of themselves. He turned his head and looked at the small crowd of people who moments before had been listening to him teach and asking questions. They were all looking at him now. Some of them were nodding to each other as if to say, “Yes, I’d like to know what Jesus says about a terrible thing like this.”
Then Jesus turned his eyes to the woman who stood trembling before them all. His eyes moved slowly over her, picking up details that told him something of her story.
She was a woman of the streets; that seemed obvious. She looked hard and desperate. The bottoms of her feet were calloused and thickened, as were the fingers clutching the edges of her cheap robe. She had known hard labor, and the life she now lived made her harder still. Her hair was dirty and there was straw in it. It looked as if someone had thrown her to the ground, tossed the robe at her, and given her a few seconds to make herself presentable.
But something was wrong here. Something was missing. Something nagged at the blurry edges of his awareness, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
Jesus slowly lowered himself into a squatting position, eyes still on the woman. Then he looked at the ground before him and wrote with his finger in the dust as he thought and wondered. The crowd was quiet. They stared at him and wondered what he was going to do next.
And then he froze. His index finger stopped moving in the dirt. He understood. He knew what was missing. His eyes closed and he let the air out of his lungs with a groan. His shoulders sagged. He became intent on the ground before him, and he wrote in the dirt, “Where is the man?”
He stood quickly and stepped across what he had written and toward the Pharisee who seemed to be the ringleader. He spoke directly to him, but loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Where is the man?”
“You know what man. It does take two to commit adultery. Why have you not brought him here to face justice alongside her?”
The Pharisee’s face tightened with anger. “The whereabouts of the man are not your concern here today. You call yourself a rabbi, do you not? We have come to you with a legitimate question of the law and of justice. Answer please, honored rabbi. What is to be done with this adulteress who stands before you in obvious guilt? Answer and perhaps we shall talk about the man when we are done with her.”
Jesus narrowed his eyes and stepped forward again until he was standing right in the face of the Pharisee. Years of carpentry work had made Jesus strong. He had broad shoulders and rough hands. But the Pharisee was unafraid. There could be no greater triumph for him than if Jesus were to strike him down.
But Jesus made no violent move toward him. Instead, he spoke softly in a voice that only the two of them could hear.
“You set this up, didn’t you? Yes, of course you did. How does one catch a woman in the very act of adultery, I wonder? How unless he knows ahead of time when it is going to take place. How much did you pay him? I wonder how a man like you even knows how to find people who will do things like this.”
The Pharisee looked calm and spoke in a whisper. “The crowd awaits your answer, rabbi.”
Jesus turned and took three steps back to the side of the woman who had not moved or lifted her head. Her hair still covered her face, giving her some small feeling of privacy. Jesus stood for a few moments looking at the place in the dirt where he had written “Where is the man?”
Then he addressed the crowd in a loud voice.
“You have called me rabbi, and I willingly accept that title and all that goes with it. You have come to hear my judgment in this matter. Very well, my judgment I will give as long as you pledge to honor it.”
The ringleader squinted and looked suspicious, but the other religious leaders and many in the crowd were nodding in agreement. What he said seemed fair enough.
Jesus bent down and picked up a fist-sized rock. He bobbed it up and down in his hand, feeling its weight, and then he spoke again.
“This is what I say. She is guilty, so stone her according to the law of Moses. Yes, stone her now and let God’s justice be done!”
The woman screamed in terror, and the crowd exploded into frantic whispers. Everyone was talking at once. The Pharisee who had asked Jesus for judgment smiled. He had never in his wildest dreams expected such an easy and complete victory.
Many in the crowd were shocked and uncomfortable. Although the Law of Moses indeed specified this penalty for her offense, public stoning was rare and frowned on by the Roman government. Many would say that stoning was right, but few had the stomach to cast stones themselves. No one knew how to proceed. Even the religious leaders who brought this woman to Jesus did not think that he would say such a thing. Jesus was supposed to be an advocate of mercy for common people. He was known to associate and even eat with women like this.
Jesus used the confusion of the crowd to maximum effect. He slowly raised the rock over his head and faced the woman. The crowd became silent. All eyes were on him. Then Jesus turned to the man in the fancy robe, the Pharisee.
“You have heard my judgment. Now hear my terms. Let the first man to cast a stone be a man who is himself guilty of no sin! And let him come forward now, before us all, and claim his right to take this rock and carry out this justice.”
With that Jesus hurled the rock at the feet of the ringleader. It hit the ground with a loud thud. Then Jesus squatted back down and resumed writing in the dust by the feet of the woman.
The crowd was stunned. Many stood with their mouths hanging open. Some of the townspeople, empowered by Jesus, nodded in agreement. After a few moments everyone began leave. Some of the religious leaders melted into the crowd and left as well.
Jesus never looked up. He kept his eyes on the ground as the crowd dispersed. In the end, the only one left was the man who had brought the accusation. Feeling his power slipping away, he turned and left himself, uttering a barely audible oath as he walked away.
Jesus squatted in silence beside the woman. When he looked up they were alone. He rose to his feet and spoke to her.
“Daughter of Abraham, lift up your head and look around you.”
“Then lift up your eyes at least and see who condemns you now.”
Slowly, the woman’s hand pulled her matted hair away from her eyes. She looked around, amazed to find that there was no one left but her and Jesus.
“Who is left to condemn you?”
“No one, sir.”
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go your way and be at peace.”
She pulled her robe more tightly around her shoulders, dropped her hair into her eyes again, and began to walk away.
“Daughter of Abraham. I have something to say to you before you go.”
She stopped, but she did not turn around or look up.
“Your name is worth more than this; do not dishonor it. Your life is worth more than this; do not waste it.”
The woman made a slight move with her head that might have been a nod, then started to walk again. Jesus spoke one last time.
“Daughter of Abraham, YOU are worth more than this. Go now and sin no more in this fashion. Be instead the child of God that you were meant to be.”
This time her shoulders shuddered and a soft sob was heard. She ran and disappeared around a corner.
Jesus watched her go and whispered softly to himself, “Go, daughter of Abraham. Go and live your life, for we are all worth more than this.”
Ten Healed of Leprosy
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Where are the other nine???
Jesus has several encounters with people called the Samaritan’s – the woman at the well, the ten leppers and other instances. The Jews and the Samaritan’s were not on good terms, yet Jesus, as was written, treated them as he would treat others on his journeys.
Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
The Disciples Rejoin Jesus
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
Many Samaritans Believe
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Healing is the theme for this post and I like to share this other passage from the Gospel of Mark Chapter 5 … Mark 5: 25-34
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ “
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Lifted from: The Real Live Preacher
I had a vision the other day that came to me in the form of a daydream. I was sitting in the library staring off into space when suddenly I imagined myself in a huge room with a crowd of people. We were all waiting for God to show up. Some people were standing around in groups, talking. Others were sitting down. A few were asleep. Suddenly God appeared and things got very quiet, which was understandable because God was about 30 feet tall. A man near the back was the last one to notice. He was telling a joke to his buddy when he realized he was the only one talking. He looked around, saw God, and said, “Oh, sorry.”
Then God said, “Some of you are rather nicely dressed, I see.” That made the well-dressed people happy. Some of the men opened their blazers to show God the linings. A few women twirled around so God could get a good look at their outfits. A number of people seemed very proud of their shoes and pointed to them with open palms. God laughed and then took a deep breath. For a moment I thought God was going to suck all the air out of the room. There was a long pause, and then God leaned forward and blew. The sound of it was like the rush of a mighty wind. All of our clothes disintegrated and disappeared, like confetti blown off the top of a waxed table.
Just like that we were naked. As naked as the day we were born. It was embarrassing at first, but there wasn’t anything to be done about it. Eventually the idea began to settle in and people calmed down. You could hear people saying, “Oh well, I guess we’re naked now.”
There was a group of religious people who had brought Bibles with them and were now using them to cover themselves. One guy had a small, pocket New Testament which he held over his private parts. The guy next to him had a big black Bible and was saying, “Who’s trash-talking the King James now?” God saw the Bibles and started to laugh with a booming voice that shook the room. “What need have you of Testaments?” God asked. “You’re standing in my presence.” God snapped God’s fingers and all the Bibles turned to smoke and drifted away. This was particularly hard on the clergy, whose expertise in the scriptures suddenly lost whatever relevance it may have had. And try as they might, in the presence of God, even the ministers could not remember a single verse.
“All right then,” said God. “Has anyone else brought anything with them?”
There were a few who had things hidden behind their backs. One by one they held them up. A bag of Oreos, an iPod, a baseball glove, family photos, those sorts of things. As soon as they were shown, they turned to smoke, just like the Bibles had.
God looked around at all the people and saw that they were good – finally. Then God said, “Percival Stanley WHIGGINS!!!”
Everyone looked around. Some were mouthing “Percival,” as if they couldn’t believe anyone might actually have that name. Near the middle of the room, a sheepish young man in his 20’s pulled a small wooden flute from behind his back and held it up. God winked and the flute snapped out of existence in a pop of blue static. Percival Stanley Whiggins squeaked and put his fingertips in his mouth. God stared hard at him, which would have been terrible, but there was a slight hint of a smile at the corner of God’s mouth.
“I’ll be keeping an eye on you, mister,” said God.
“Now then,” said God. “Just a few questions. How many of you were lawyers?”
Not one person raised a hand.
“How many were ministers?”
No one moved.
“Business persons? Accountants? Sports legends? School teachers? Artists? Show business, perhaps?”
People looked at each other and shrugged. No one raised a hand.
“Can anyone remember what he or she did for a living?”
No one said anything. We looked at each other in amazement. We were naked, completely at peace, and suddenly we couldn’t remember what we did for a living. Then Percival Stanley Whiggins shyly raised his hand and said, “I think I might have been a shopkeeper.”
God exhaled impatiently and said, “No you were NOT.”
I began to think that Percival Stanley Whiggins was either the bravest or the stupidest person I had ever seen. Fortunately, that was the last we heard from him.
God sat down in a huge chair and said, “Line up now. Line up and come see me, one at a time. Come and tell me what you’ve been doing with the lives I have given you.”
It was a very long line, but no one seemed to mind. Those near the back fell asleep, though they remained standing. They shuffled forward as the line moved without opening their eyes. As they got near the front they came awake. I noticed that some people seemed very afraid to speak to God. One or two tried to run away, but there really wasn’t anywhere to go. Eventually they wandered back over and got in line again. Some people wept. Others shook with fear. Quite a few seemed stunned. Each person had a turn talking to God for a few moments. Then God sent them, one by one, through a purple door that was right next to God’s chair.
Then it was my turn. When I stepped up to the chair, I realized that God had shrunk until God was only about 10 feet tall. It was still intimidating but not as bad as before. God said, “What do you have to say for yourself.”
I was stumped. With no memory of the jobs I had in life, I wasn’t sure what to say.
“Um, I had three daughters. And I loved them quite dearly.”
“Yes, you did,” God replied.
“I was married to a very good woman and I truly loved her. Just adored her. I think I was a better person with her than I would have been without her.”
“Agreed,” said God.
Then I couldn’t think of anything else to say. There were a few moments of awkward silence. Then God said, “Would you like me to return your memory of what you did for a living, as you people like to say?
In that moment it all came back to me. I expected the fullness of my completed labors to rush back into the void of my memory and fill me with robust purpose and meaning. But the memory of what I did seemed rather hollow and unimportant. I recounted my various jobs to God without a lot of energy.
“Oh yeah, I was a minister. And a writer. So I…you know…preached and did church stuff. I was at this one church for many years. So I was proud of that, of course. It was…Covenant…something Church, I think. I used to think about things a lot, and I wrote some of that down. You know, so that my thoughts were on paper and all. So…there was that.
God shrugged and said, “Anything else?”
My mind was a blank. So I shook my head.
God nodded, solemnly.
“You were never really true to yourself, though, were you? That’s what makes me sad about your life. The church stuff is fine. And sure, you wrote some things. But you were never completely true to yourself.”
“Well, to a certain extent didn’t we all have to set aside our baser desires so as not to hurt others or do things that would be bad? So what is true to yourself in that sense? I always felt that…”
“STOP!” God said with a terrible frown that caused a shiver to go down my spine.
“Do not forget who you are speaking to. I’m not talking about that. You know exactly what I mean, don’t you?”
“You know all the things you denied about yourself, don’t you? Things you never admitted.”
“And you know what you claimed and affirmed to get along and be comfortable, don’t you?”
I hung my head and felt the heavy weight of sorrow.
God nodded, and the sorrow disappeared. I looked up and saw Jesus standing beside the purple door. God inclined his head in that direction, so I took a step forward.
“Wow, it’s you,” I said. “Does everyone see you here?”
“That’s not for you to know. Answer me this: what do you want more than anything else?”
“The truth. I want to know the truth. About everything.”
Jesus smiled and opened the purple door. Behind it I could see crowds of people walking toward a light on the horizon. And just for a moment I thought I was going to put it all together in my mind. For a brief moment I felt like everything was just about to make sense.
And then I sneezed. I shook my head and realized I had been daydreaming. The purple door was gone, and I was back in the library again. Back in this life, where what I do for a living is what matters and hardly anything makes sense at all.
Don’ t let anyone tell you that being a graduate student is a piece of cake, because it isn’t. There is a LOT of reading to do every week. I am working on this one reading for Gnosticism that is truly kicking me in the ass. It’s pretty bad when you have to sit in front of the computer to read because you have to look up words in the dictionary because you’ve never seen them before in any reading you have had.
Am I feeling a little intimidated, Yes I am.
I find that my Christology readings are a bit lighter on the mind than Gnosticism. But I still have a ways to go before I finish up this piece for next Tuesday night. I have to get to work on my bibliography and my book review for the same Gnosticism class. If I wait another week to start I will fall behind too far. I’ve been spending time every night working on my academic reading with an infusion of Harry Potter when my mind turns to mush.
There is just so much academic reading one mind can take before the mind shuts down and I can’t intake any more academic information. And I am supposed to synthesize this reading and be able to make sense of it by class time. Oh, no pressure what so ever …
There is a car alarm that is going off downstairs and nobody seems to be hearing it but we can hear it up here. It has been ringing for the last hour or so steadily. What a nightmare, turn the fucking thing off already …
On a much lighter note, Jason from “Check In” came by and left a comment on his post called Seat of the soul. It is getting a fair amount of traffic. So I wanted to continue the writing on that topic tonight.
Where is the soul? Can we locate it? Does it inhabit a place in our bodies? Does the pineal glad have anything to do with it? In Egyptian death cult lore, before the Pharaoh began his journey to the stars – his heart had to be weighed and judged. You find many references to lore concerning the body, the soul and the eternity of life in ancient cultures. Every culture on earth has their take on this topic. Each religion deals with this eternal question in the scriptures.
I commented to Jason on his blog last night that I believe that we are born with our soul. I was pondering this thought in the shower just a little bit ago tonight. Does an unborn child still in the womb have a soul? Yes, I think so. It is said that a baby in the womb can detect the outer world and the voices of his or her parents. That would beg the question, does the soul begin at the moment of conception? At the moment of life?
If we believe in a God of our understanding, we could imagine that god breathes that soul into us as we take our first breath, in the womb. Maybe even before that, the soul is being wired into us as our bodies form before us. It is all so dynamic and sacred. I tend to think that God gives us that soul and it makes us who we are. Blessed are the little children for they see God.
I believe that we come with a soul. It is part of our wiring. As children of a greater God, that soul is in direct contact with all that is. Blessed are the little children for they see God. In retrospect over my life, I have paid attention to my soul, as had other people. What we do with that soul growing up, I think is just as important to how we treat it today.
Being in recovery for me has been a time of renewal for my soul. Because after years of abuse and neglect, my soul gets the tending that it needs. Over the last eight years in recovery, I have studied many topics in Religion and Pastoral Ministry.
I don’t think people think a lot about their souls. They are too busy going on with their days to sit and ponder the thought about soul. The only time that regular people consider the soul is when death occurs in their midst. Because then we are faced with the questions of reality and eternity.
In recovery we are asked to stop and take notice of our bodies and by extension and not by direct language, to consider the soul. With the art of meditation one can reach a state where we can detect and communicate with our soul.
I also believe, from first hand experience that people who face adversity, illness and their own mortality are intuitively aware of their souls. Because we are reminded daily about the fleeting ness of life.
The Gnostics would tell us that we need to break this connection to our mortal coils that the earth is evil as is everything in it. Gnosis is that understanding of that which is unknowable by mortal men and women. The soul is to be liberated from ones body to return to the heavenly realm where it can begin another emanation.
So where is the soul? Is it part of our bodies? Or a figment of our imagination, a process of neural interfaces and conscious decisions? Does the soul precede us and intercedes for us to the greater God of our understanding? I believe it does. Our soul, like an aura, precedes from us and reaches into the heavens like a thread to the almighty.
You may not agree with me and that’s ok.
I think our soul is always connected to God. And it is up to us to acknowledge it and to think and ponder it in our daily lives. A while back there was all that talk of the “seat of the soul” on Oprah, and book and study to go with it. I never got into that.
But I did get into religion and theology. The mystics were into prayer and God in ways we could not imagine. I can speculate that all holy people of God knew how to get in touch with God. And through their souls was a way to do it. A soul in prayer gets that direct line to God. I can visit that place often if I chose to. I get that feeling whenever I step into a church or holy place. My soul, without my prompting quickly aligns with the holy, almost like a first nature.
I believe that the soul knows what’s best for us, even if we are not paying attention to it at the time. People in active addiction or complete denial suffer the pain of their soul not being cared for. We have free will to choose what it is that we do every day. I think that free will gets in the way of what the soul needs to do for us, because sometimes we make really bad decisions. And in the end we pay dearly for those bad decisions.
Fear the LORD
“And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?””What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Scripture makes mention of the soul and what you should do with it with respect to God and life. I believe that God would want us to make sure that our souls were pure and that we did our best, on a daily basis to remember our souls and to remember Him in our daily thoughts and prayers. Jesus was interested in how we treated ourselves as well as how we treated our neighbors. That is the crux of Christian practice today.
Everyone has a soul. And everyone feels for their soul like an entity within us that can be bruised and damaged by improper treatment by ourselves and by others. And this is what sets Christians apart from one another.
- Those who do NOT to tend to their souls
- Those who DO tend to their souls
- And those who tend TO the souls of others
If we as Christians tended to the souls of others we would treat one another with greater respect and dignity. We would not judge or condemn each other as is commonly practiced by Christians worldwide. We would not PUT words in the mouth of Jesus and suppose to know what he would say about any given situation or life path.
We know that if Jesus wrote anything down, it did not make it down through antiquity to us today. And we can at best speculate that the words of Jesus were set down in antiquity by a writer, but what writer? And are those words authentic?
I think Jesus would properly abhor what people do to each others souls. The message of real Christianity is lost on the minions of his followers. Those who think they know God versus those who do know God. And we come back around full circle to the question of soul…
How do you treat your soul? Do you nurture and care for it or do you ignore it as a waste of time? I think we pass our souls on the way up as we grow up, we pass it and walk on, and at times we seem to notice it in our rear mirrors and then we move on, and at times we stop and take notice of it and then we stop and tend to it.
Where is your soul?
At the Home of Martha and Mary
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I once heard a sermon on this passage of scripture. It was usually the womens job to take up caring for visitors and guests while the men sat and talked about things between each other. Martha was busy doing all the housework and taking care of the guests that Jesus had brought with him. Peter, James and John were the usual suspects that went everywhere with Jesus.
Mary on the other hand was too preoccupied with sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to every word he said. She could not be bothered to do the work that needed to be done. Listening to Jesus was more important to her. “Mary chose what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
The other reading associated with today is the reading preceding what happens with Lazarus and what Jesus will do for him. Martha and Mary go to Jesus and tell him that Lazarus has died, and Jesus does a funny thing. He does not immediately go to Lazarus. In the end Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
I take from todays scripture reading that maybe we need not be concerned with what we have to do in our everyday lives and just maybe we should be prepared to sit and listen when the teacher appears because that chance may not happen again and if we miss the lesson, will will be less that who we would become after receiving the lesson.
What did you do with your day today? Did you spend time sitting and listening or were you too busy with the goings on of your day to make time to listen? And what can you do for the future in making time for those things that we don’t necessarily make time for.
With William Cross and his son – with Jack’s help, move to make Jack King of Gilboa over Silas, who is still alive, and addresses the people on the radio that indeed Silas is still King and that He will return… People start dying, left and right. Reverend Silas tells Jack that “he is not the one God wants to rise to the throne, there is another …
Cut to location with Silas and David – David agrees to help Silas, but when he sees him sit on the throne, he will leave. As Jack is moved to be crowned one of the cabinet raises the point the the king is still alive, and he is shot dead. The princess and the queen stand in opposition as well, “are you going to kill us too?” Jack has them removed and sequestered.
The King returns walking into the city – with guns pointed at him and tells the army to stand aside. David follows with a tank brigade to back up Silas as he tells them to stand aside as well.
William Cross and party are fleeing to an airplane to get away, but his son Andrew is missing. Jack decides not to flee and remains at the city. Jack’s coronation is stopped and is found … and sequestered …
Andrew remains in the city and speaks to the King and Queen, he tells them where his father is – and where his was going. And since everyone is at odds that maybe Andrew can be part of the family now??? hmm… will he???
The King gives an order that David is to be found and brought to the mansion, where they have an arguement after the King has a conversation with a stormy God – who tells him that David is destined to be the next king in Silas’s place.
The king is a very jealous man. And he starts a fist fight with David over what God has told him, he believes that God has been whispering behind his back to David, but David denies he has had any contact with God, so to speak. They beat each other up. The king believes that David has stolen God’s favor from him.
David flees the King to the chapel, where earlier we saw Reverend Samuel get shot to death. (he is still alive) Michelle brings David to the reverend and asks his for help, and the revered tells David that he must flee and the only place he can go where the king won’t find him is Gath.
David and Michelle exchange – I will always love you, and Michelle gives him a ring, and we hear the reverend say the words Husband and wife, because they have been married long before this moment. The baby secret is never shared with David.
Poor Jack is locked in a bedroom and we find next that the king wants to give Jack a living death, to brick him up in a wall. Then the kings assistant brings Jack a woman, whom he cannot stand… And by decree of the King Jack is paired with someone he cannot stand, to produce an heir for the king to raise right !!! Jack begs her not to do this, and she replies, that “Jack is no longer charming as he was, and tells him to just close his eyes and dream of someone who is dead…”Jack will be forced to have sex with a woman to produce an heir – a fate worse than death for a gay man. The king will punish him to no end with this decree…
fade out …
The queen and king are sitting in the mansion where we find that the King has decreed that Michelle is banished from the kingdom for collusion – she is stripped of her title and responsibility for one year … The queen whispers to her that “she would always take care of her.”
Michelle is taken away.
Silas is conversing with the reverend. The King wants to hunt David down and kill him because of his problem with God. The reverend tells king Silas that David and his family are safe and that he will not be able to kill David. The King is clearly at war with David…
So Jack is confined with a concubine.
David flees to Gath to be saved.
Michelle is sent away for a year – there goes the baby.
What will happen to the Kingdom now???
Season Finale …
I missed last weeks episode of Kings and I did not watch it online yet. So this weeks review is going to be rough. Jack was in hiding from King Silas. David is in prison, sentenced to die by firing squad. Michelle is not to be trusted because of what must have happened that David ended up in prison.
The queen has a conversation with Silas about her son Jack. There is no love lost there, the king does not love Jack, but for all intents and purposes – he is the next in line to succeed the throne.And as she said, there would be no Silas without the backing of the queen and entourage…
Jack returns to the Palace and we find the family together as Port Prosperity is to be given to Gath. There ceremony and pomp is about to take place. But not before Silas degrades Jack. Jack returns to beg the kings forgiveness, Silas is not himself, and he tells Jack to kneel, and to kiss the ground the king walks upon, saying “Your mouth has been in dirtier places…” Jack obeys cringing as he approaches the floor.
Now, the King’s brother in law, and his son Andrews (McCauley Culkin) are up to no good. When the King meets Gath to sign over territory they are seen up on the balcony plotting. Jack is to make some move against the king. One citizen hurls shoes at the king and calls him a murdrer. How very “ripped from the pages of politics” then a man with a gun begins to shoot the entourage on stage. Jack is shot, and King Silas is shot, as Jack tries to push his father out of the way.
Cut to prison, where David is having a conversation with the exiled king about life and then he is being taken away to the mount to be killed by guard and a firing squad. David says he only worked for peace… As the gunners are preparing their shots, they are all shot dead by some snipers in the bushes. David is saved … but by who???
The King is whisked away by ambulance, but to where? Jack takes his place at court as the next in line, but that is not to happen. With a captive audience the queens brother has alliances with the military and tries to stage a coup. For the moment Jack is kept from ascending the throne.
We come to find out that Jack is responsible for saving Davids life and they embrace in the palace and Jack tells David that he is “trustworthy.” The Queen’s brother is told that Silas has disappeared from the ambulance, and sort of goes crazy. He wants to know where Silas went and if he is still alive. Since the media is reporting that he is dead.
Michelle takes David to a secret passage to get out of the palace – nobody but the family know about this passageway. But alas, the weasel “Andrew” is within earshot of their conversation so now he knows as well. David escapes from the palace to find the king. He knows where Silas has gone on pilgrimage…
To the stables and the bed of his mistress and illigitimate son…
David walks in on the king as he lies in bed, and Silas says he is no longer king, and David looses his freak calling the king “You SOB – I trusted you and served you – you are the king and you will get up and do something…” David is clearly not himself because of the way he is talking to Silas …
So Jack is waiting in the wings. Silas is still alive, David survived his death sentance, and the brother is law is up to no good with his son Andrew. What will happen next???
Stay tuned for more Kings, next week.