Friday, April 24, 2015

The Good King.

"I am the Good King.

A good ruler lays down his life for his subjects. A politician however does not always love the people. If calamity comes, many politicians' first thought is to protect their interests. Politicians are cowards when they do not love the people.

I am the Good King.

I love my people, and my people love me; just as I love my Father, and my Father loves me. I lay down my life for them. My people are spread out across time and space, but I will gather them in. They know my voice, and hear it singing my love song on the wind - a song about home, and longing, and acceptance. They will be one People, and I the One King.

This is why my Father loves me - I surrender life in order to triumph over death. No one could take it away from me! I die by my own will. I have the right to die. I have the power to live again. I trust my Father's plan."

(Jesus in John 10:11-18)

(Art by Robert Cording)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Want To Know What Love Is.

This is how we recognize true love: Love dies for us. We then die for others - that is true love.

How can Love be part of any of us who has what others need but deprive them? Love is not romantic flowery words. Love is Truth! Love is Action! Take a look at yourself. We can rest assured that if we are doing loving things, we are Love. Don't let fear and doubt hold you back - Love is greater than mere organs. God knows our hearts, minds, and souls - we can be brave and love boldly.

God provides because we believe in the love of the Father through the love of the Son, and because we therefor love each other. We know that Christ is alive in us by the acts of the his Love within us.

(Based on 1 John 3:16-24)

(Painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Religion and the Source of Authority.

While Peter and John were addressing the people, the priests, the chief of the Temple police, and some Sadducees came up, indignant that these upstart apostles were instructing the people and proclaiming that the resurrection from the dead had taken place in Jesus. They arrested them and threw them in jail until morning, for by now it was late in the evening. But many of those who listened had already believed the Message—in round numbers about five thousand!

The next day a meeting was called in Jerusalem. The rulers, religious leaders, religion scholars, Annas the Chief Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander—everybody who was anybody was there. They stood Peter and John in the middle of the room and grilled them: “Who put you in charge here? What business do you have doing this?”
With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: “Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.”
(Acts 4:5-12; The Message)

Naked thoughts:

I admit, I have always had problems recognizing parental, teacher, or other authority.

The religious establishment, recognizing only its own authority (much of it inherited or bought), demanded to know why the two Apostles thought they could preach without permission. Modern politics reminds us daily of the importance of controlling the message. Like many other politicians, they confused their own security with the public good. Yet, as stewards and guardians, don't they have an obligation to defend against threats to the peace and security of their people? What is the true obligation of a leader?

The legal charge seemed to be against public speaking without a permit, yet Peter (or the Spirit) switched it around to an act. Everyone saw a man healed, and the healed man was right there in the room before them. Since only God could heal, the man's health stood witness to their authority. Was Peter (or the Spirit) telling them (and us) that the Message is more than words? Once they were forced to confront the obvious intervention of God, he (or the Spirit) then gave them the confession they sought: the man was healed by speaking the name of Jesus Christ - the same Jesus that these same leaders had rejected and killed as a blasphemer.

Leaders have an obligation to build, but building often must be preceded by demolition. Like Noah had been called to build a boat, these men had been called to build a new temple. They were too comfortable and refused. How willing am I to demolish the old me to make way for new construction?  

(Painting by Raphael)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Walking Dead.

The Remnant hide themselves behind locked doors and shuttered windows. Hot and musky, the air grows ripe with fear and confusion. In the dim olive-oil light, they consider the strange news that has just came to them. Can HE be still alive? Is there someone out there who has stolen his identity? Suddenly a familiar voice speaks: "Shalom."

There, in their midst,  he stands! They spring back away from him, and hide behind the furniture they have overturned in their haste to flee. A ghost? They are trapped in a locked room with a ghost! Has the spirit of their Master come back to haunt them for deserting him?

"Don't fear. Do let logic overrule your senses. Look, see my crippled hands and feet? Touch my open wounds. Ghosts are not like you and I - they do not have warm skin; they do not have hard bones." As he comforts them, he shows them his infirmities.

Amazed and stunned, they start to allow themselves to believe, to hope again. As they are celebrating, he says: "It seems like forever since I've had anything to eat; what do we have?" They give him a piece of leftover fish.

As he breaks his fast with them, he again takes up his job of teaching them. Speaking with his mouth full and with crumbs in his beard, he says: "Remember my words from before, that what was happening was so that the sacred writings would be illuminated?" He moves aside their mental stone-doors, and suddenly scripture becomes True and Real to them.

"It is written: I was to suffer and die, only to overcome death in three days; and that freedom from the bondage of sins is to be made known to everyone. Start. Start now. Start here. You are the Witnesses - let them all know what you have seen and heard.

(From Luke 24:36-48)

[Painting by Rembrandt]

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Psalmic Poetry: Tend To Me!

Psalm 4 retold by Tiwago:

Answer me God when I am calling out to You!
I was suffering, and You gave me my space?
Hear my pleading, and give me Your grace!

How long will my people shame Me?
How long will you lust after vain words?
How long will you seek comfortable lies?

But I know that You have set me aside.
I know that I have been chosen by You.
I know that You hear me when I call You!

When you are hurting, do not react in sin.
Meditate about your situation in your bed.
Sacrifice your ways and trust your Abba.

Many want some good to come from pain;
I just ask that You smile upon me my Lord!

     My heart is now becoming strangely warm,
     Better than a rich feast with fantastic wine!

          I know I can lie down now, and rest in peace;
          I know you make me lie down in green pasture.

[Art by Gustave Courbet]