Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Shot in the Dark?

An assemblage of modern wisdom has us believe we are best served by being shrewd. Certainly the contempt we show would-be panders and promotion-ists self or otherwise is justified in most cases except that I find this Jesus fellow turning this notion once again on its head. Nicodemus was a notorious character in his day yet Jesus invited himself to his house for din-din, a no-no for devout practioners of his religion. The tawdry companions Jesus kept company with constantly gave pause to His more orthodox adherents so much so that John the Baptist who once exclaimed at His coming "Behold the Lamb..." had questions. Are you the one or should we look for another?" was posed to Jesus from prison by John destined to a martyr's death. Jesus not given to glib remarks to one so rightfully entitled to a response nonetheless answered with an invitation to hang around and see what happened to John's followers. After a few days he remarked to them go and tell John what you've seen and heard, i.e. the Messiah has given Himself wholesale to the wrong crowd to minister to unabashedly.

His intention was to establish the unmitigated fact that God the Father, of whom scripture records He referred to as Abba a colloquialism of the day not the formal Jewish idiom for God-Yahweh, cared deeply about the wrong people. It was not chance, happenstance, marketing or make-do polemics that brought Jesus to these folk instead of the religious establishment-it was purposeful compassion.

We moderns like to enshrine God in the Kabuki Theater of politics, religion, power, and access. We champion the beating of our pruning hooks and plowshares into swords in a do unto others before they do unto you gospel of might and human invention. Our powers that be spiritual and otherwise as well are self-congratulatory the numbers speak for themselves and certainly they must for God, He's pleased with us the polls tell us so.

Finally lost on us possibly is the story of the widow's mite. Jesus stood there and saw the wealth, the prestige, the caprice of the givers and yet the merest two cents caught His attention, for it was the abundance of the heart not the size of the gift that mattered then and now.
I grew-up as a Christian on the theosophy termed "The Lordship Message". A popular slogan was, "If Jesus is not Lord of all He's not Lord at all!" As an old fart I'm finding this truth about that ideal, most of us were taught to lie about ourselves to ourselves and others about our commitment when in fact we were far from His Lordship in deed, and most importantly in heart, only in name to erect a facade. I'll gladly pitch in my two cents of all that I have in the way of commitment and thank Him humbly for the opportunity to be called a disciple of a Messiah who seems more impressed with copper coined beggars than gold plated liars.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

The holiday season is here and I wanted to share a thought. Some have given us a time for introspection at this time of the year something to be thankful for etc., etc. Or we're given to the lamentation of our gluttony, our excess, our materialism and so on. I like to watch the Christmas Carol; the Patrick Stewart rendition of this holiday classic is my favorite. In it people’s passing may be mourned, Marley's by a solitary figure, later Scrooge's passing marked by a few wry jokes and the quibbling over his possessions seem to have sealed his doom. This led to an epiphany for him and maybe for us. (Since it is the season of such as well.)

Do we give people reason for celebration of our presence or of our passing. In this presence it doesn't allow that we be the life of the party, but are we the life of life, or are we the life that when over is greeted with relief? I have begun to ask myself will I enhance the bouquet of someone's life, add savor to their feast, comfort to their ailing, consolation to their doubts. Will I enjoy life at the expense of others or will I make life enjoyable. The Jewish faith is replete with feasts and celebrations, a place in the human existence to exult in the goodness of God. We give into our pleasure as American Christians and seek to remember as well that we are a blessed nation. Might we as one blessed give others a reason to reflect on their blessedness as well?

Monday, October 30, 2006

B&W Movies

The time of year approaches where I drag out some old movies and watch them. My favorite I suppose is the "Bishop's wife". It gets me thinking about the importance in life of not getting caught-up in being important. The great cathedral had distracted the Bishop, not that it wasn't an important thing to do, but that he'd not seen the value of everyday life. His new assistant seemed annoyingly drawn to the ordinary and utterly flippant about the ministry the Bishop-Henry had. When I'm tempted to overlook the caress of one of my kid's hand, the lick of one of my puppies, or the laughter of my spouse, I seek out the wisdom of Henry's assistant.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Star Trek...
I was doing some early morning chores yesterday and I glimpsed up at the stars and noted the twinkle of those distant orbs God spoke to Abraham and later Moses about as a promise. I wondered if on some planet circling another star our faint speck of existence was included in a similar promise by God.

There are stars and then there are stars some so large they would encompass our entire solar system. God used both sand and the stars as a metaphor of promise for Abraham. I think the earthiness of the sand as a foretelling of a New Jerusalem coming down someday, how I haven't the foggiest. Some of course say it'll be the arrival of a bowling trophy for the most Christian of the Christian who've summoned God by their earnestness. Obviously I have some disdain for that ideal; Jesus said He didn't know when He would return only the Father knew.

As with all things God we catch a glimpse here and there but certitude isn't in the equation. I heard much of eschatology as a Charismatic growing up, in retrospect much of it hasn't panned out. The oligarchy mode of Christianizing the planet and thereby holding the place hostage while God is dragged into the scene kicking and screaming doesn't seem to hold water. Something in scripture about the days of Noah comes to mind. Noah a crazy man built an ark out of wood and held it together with tar, no rudder, sail, engine, or even a watertight hatch-God sealed them inside.

The carnivores ate grass with the herbivores and Noah and his family had to do without Starbucks for a while. I don't think the ingenuity of men will have much to do with summoning God almighty to do their bidding. Stars, the opposite end of the spectrum from lowly grains of sand one small, one enormous, the comparison one of import in my mind in that sand can be held in palm of a human hand, a star in the hand of God.


Friday, September 08, 2006

I was reading on-line the other day and the issue of a "Simple Gospel" surfaced. What a concept it was to some so passé to others. It seems the uber-mench mentality of Christianity has outdistanced the Jesus of the Gospels, or have we just run rings around something banging pot lids together.

Much is made of our inheritance these days and I marvel at how many have stomped in and demanded theirs and traipsed off with a bundle over their shoulder and a tuneless whistle to while away the miles of their journey. Could this be yet another instance of a prodigal, which I can seem to be obsessed with I suppose, unhappy with the state of affairs at the ranch and taking matters into their own hands?

Much dominion taking these days smacks of "I'd like mine now thanks and I'll see ya later, gater." No wonder that a few years down the road we show-up bedraggled and beat-up edging our way onto the property confused and dazed from malnutrition and exhausted. I've used the collective we here because that's exactly where I've found myself deeply shamed and embarrassed to be considered a Christian. The older brothers of whom I am adept at being as well don't seem to make much sense not that I disdain them, I just don't have any interest in the politics of turf battles, or postures on sinfulness. You can still catch a whiff of pig-sty on me.
Perspective changes indeed when the familiar sight of home comes as one who’s felt a stranger to the place where we came to life in the first place. As with the parable the Father's guests and the Father himself don't seem to notice the shambles we've made of things; we're back we're here we're alive, the oddest guest of honor ever to grace or disgrace a feast with our presence. The lens with which we see the kingdom is adjusted here, either on the faults of others or the goodness and grace of the Father.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Quisling is Twentieth Century nomenclature for traitor taken from the name of a said notorious Norwegian. A villa was honored today, his former manse, as a place for recognition of oppression of religious minorities. A curiosity I'm finding is that the Church apparently isn't a place for minorities. Of course that’s no real surprise actually the south has codified racism for centuries, the seat of this was in the southern church where pew and bigotry got down to the business of separation. The white folks tolerated the black folks if they kept in their place; the shame of segregation was bridged by efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, which included spilt blood-his own, and the assassination of his person and character.

I say this because I wonder what epithet the word Christian might become as we ease our way into another century with equal aplomb in the treachery department. When the Nazi's invaded Norway, Vidkun Quisling moved into this mansion and became the self-proclaimed collaborative government of Norway, while the elected officials were in exile in London. This son of a church official pillaged the wealth of the Jewish community and condemned a significant portion of that quarter to death. After the peace was established in the wake of War II, he was summarily executed for war crimes.

I'm curious if some future do-gooders will erect museums or some sort of cultural center for the underprivileged, poor, needy, and oppressed at some of the sanctuaries left vacant by Christians. Christians who had better things to do than consider the undesirables among them because they were busy divvying up the spoils of the culture they were called to love.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Southern Gothic author Flannery O'Connor was said to spend three hours in the morning writing and the rest of the day getting over it. Writing is a neurotic enterprise that preys on our souls at times; reading doesn't do us much better it seems. We cast ourselves in a play of three acts and somewhere during intermission the scenic hands put up the wrong backdrop and we do "Hamlet" in a New York walk-up interior. Alas poor John I knew him well.

How do we live in these days where our sense of intelligence comes from a box; our sense period from a grocery store magazine rack where the sperm donor's rogue's gallery of celebrated status stares back at us in glossy inked unreality. Or to the Christian world where we thrive on the do's and don'ts of probity and propriety while life swirls around our ankles with the debris of humanity. Hmmm me thinks the reader is pondering lighter reading or possibly just more coherent. I think the answer while not "Blowin' in the wind" as the song simplistically states may be as down to earth. How do we feel about life, our life, ourselves? Do we read these as indicators of where we are going or just sign posts of our discontent?

We are in a place of need I find in our world, a need not for clarity as much as a need for faith. Faith? What faith? What do we put our trust in; to what do we owe our allegiance to outside of ourselves? We need to trust our relationship to the Father through Jesus. Don't have one? Or has religion supplanted your relationship, the rigor of a reality based on performance instead of the reality of performance based on relationship. We do because of our who. We rest in our isness. I've found a truth in life that has done me well of late-there have been no mistakes in creation made by God and that is particularly true of humans. Now we may need growth or any number of other things but the artwork is fine and it ain't paint by number.

Jesus asks us this question from time to time which I think is telling, "Who do men say that I am? And who do you say that I am?" If He is indeed the Christ for us then we can rest in that and not apply cosmetics to His handiwork, nor yield to the "Satan" of self interest in proscribing the outcome of our journey with Him. We are called to the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah and His working in our lives and the calling of His grace to give us strength. "My grace is sufficient for you."