Posts Tagged Jesus

Tamar, the Woman Caught in Adultery

What did Jesus write in the sand, the day they brought a woman caught in adultery to him?

Did he write the names Judah and Tamar?

Was the woman a supposed widow, retching with morning sickness, or just beginning to “show?”

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.

Did they remember Judah’s words- “She is more righteous than I.”?

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Magpie Song pick

(Same song, same singer, but with lyrics not worship video.)

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King Jesus rides a milk white horse

But first he rode on a donkey.

Monsignor Knox brings Matthew 21:5

“Tell the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy king is coming to thee humbly, riding on an ass, on a colt whose mother has borne the yoke.”

I’m more accustomed to the NIV’s  “on a colt, the foal of a donkey,’ so I did some checking on the phrase, ” on a colt whose mother has borne the yoke.”  And sure enough, the last word translated “donkey” in the verse is not the same word used for donkey earlier.  It rather says a  “beast of burden.”

Highlighting it is a nice touch since the emphasis in this verse is on Christ’s gentleness and humility. He rides into his capital, not on a prancing charger, but on a humble pack animal.  He is the servant king, the prince of peace.  This is clearly shown when you look at a longer section of the prophecy he is fulfilling.

. . shout in triumph, daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king is coming to you,
his cause won, his victory gained,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He will banish the chariot from Ephraim,
the war-horse from Jerusalem;
the warrior’s bow will be banished,
and he will proclaim peace to the nations.
( from Zechariah 9:9, 10 REV)

It is important to swear fealty to this King who rides in peace on a donkey, before one is confronted by him when he comes to  judge and make war. That King is vividly presented in “The Apocalypse of the Blessed Apostle John,”- got to love  Knox’s titles.

“Then in my vision heaven opened, and I saw  a white horse appear. It’s rider bore for his title, the Faithful, the True; He judges and goes to battle in the cause of the right. His eyes were like flaming fire, and on his brow were many royal diadems; the name written there is one that only he knows. He went clad in a garment deep dyed with blood, and the name by which he is called is the Word of God; the armies of heaven followed him. . .”(Rev 19: 11-13)

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God in the Alley

We attend a fairly large church- something around the 2,000 mark.  It means that it’s possible to walk through the swirl of between service bodies and not connect with someone familiar.  So Sunday I retreated to the church library, and despite my experience of past difficulties in remembering a church-borrowed book in the Sabbath rush to get out the door ( Why I normally just check through the 50 cent box of library discards- cause they don’t need returning.), I swiped three fairly recent looking books off a shelf- sans the help of a pair of glasses, and brought them home.

I hit pay dirt on the second.  This slim read of 130 pages is worth it.  It addresses being and seeing Jesus in a broken world, and is full of life stories from Toronto’s inner city.  It also has some good insights, and I quote:

“When I see that my brokenness, once acknowledged, becomes a place of meeting and an opportunity to dignify rather than dismiss or degrade others, I discover that my heart soars with the great hope that all my brokenness is ultimately redeemable in other ways . . . more than merely a series of painful experiences and personal failings to be survived; by the alchemy of grace, God will transmute it all into something of eternal value and beauty.

Suffering without meaning is the path to despair. Suffering with meaning is the trail to glory. And Jesus is the pioneer on that trail. There is no place we can go that he hasn’t been already.”

“It is a continual surprise that God is willing to pour his glory (“the glory of God in the face of Christ”) into a dusty, cracked-broken-jar of clay like me. It’s just as surprising when I see the glory leaking out through somebody else’s cracks. It’s so surprising that it’s easy to miss, easy to dispense with the ludicrous and faintly blasphemous notion that Jesus might be right here, right now.  Seeing is not necessarily believing. Sometimes it’s believing that allows me to see.”

God in the Alley, by Greg Paul, printed by Shaw Books.  Worth trolling your Church library for, or Amazon.

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George A. Buttrick- at light speed

Over the past week I have been dipping into “Devotional Classics” edited by Richard J. Foster and James B. Smith.

Not all the writings appeal to me, but Richard and James have introduced me to George Buttrick, and his simple regimen of private prayer. It grabbed my attention.  My prayer life has needed refurbishing lately.

Here, at light speed, and ruthlessly edited down to a skeleton fleshed with my favourite quotes are his basics:

Prayer Prelude

Begin with a vestibule of silence, first focusing on the person of God and then affirming your faith, “All things, whatsoever ye ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive. ” “We take counsel with our certitudes, not with our doubts and fears.”

Four Stages:

THANKSGIVING: “We deliberately call to mind the joys of our journeys . . . to remind us of our ‘vast treasure of content’. The prayer should be quite specific: ‘I thank thee for this friendship, this threat overpassed, this signal grace.’ . . If we are thankful for everything, we may end up by being thankful for nothing.”

CONFESSION: “God has been exceedingly kind and I have given him selfishness for love. . True confession is neither self-excoriation-‘To be merciless with anyone, even ourselves, is not virtue,” nor casual evasion.’  The wise prayer of confession always leads us to an acceptance of God’s pardon. . . God does not wish us to remember, except as a reminder of our dependence, for he is willing to forgive anything.”

INTERCESSION: “Private intercession should be specific. . . Genuine love sees faces, not a mass: the good shepherd ‘calleth his own sheep by name.’ Intercession is more than specific: it is pondered: it requires us to bear on our heart the burden of those for whom we pray.”

PETITION: It comes last not because it is most important but because it needs the safeguard of earlier prayer. . . to try to thwart the prayer of petition is to deny human nature. The New Testament has better wisdom. ‘Be overanxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God’ It should always conclude with ‘Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.'”

Interludes:

“The intervals of these four prayers should be filled by meditation. After thanksgiving we should contemplate God’s abounding goodness, and await his word concerning his own gifts. After confession we should adore the pardoning Love made known in Christ.  After intercession we should pause to try to see the whole world’s need as Christ saw it from his cross. After petition we should wait again to meditate upon the Will.”

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Of Babies, bathwater, and breaking hearths

The November before my mother died she sent out a Christmas letter and hand wrote short notes on accompanying cards.  Morning after morning she sat down at a card table in the living room with carols playing, and persisted. She enlisted the help of her home care aides to address envelopes.

She died on Boxing Day after we lost a last battle to yet another bout of pneumonia.

I spent much of the first two weeks of the new year answering my mother’s Christmas mail. I felt as though one by one I was tying knots in and cutting the cords that bound her to this earth; writing letters to her dear friends, many that I would likely not communicate with again.

I understand something about closure.

I had returned  from Africa to care for her and my father through their last illnesses.  We still make our primary home here.  I moved into her den, and took over her desk, and her filing system: gradually merging what was mine with what was hers.

I understand something about inheritance.

And, I am indeed, meandering toward a point.

Cooking hearth

The Nkonyas have a Custom called “Breaking the Hearth.”  It is  performed perhaps a year after an adult woman dies, after the first painfulness of a death has passed. It is a ceremony both of closure and inheritance. It is also a time when extended family bonds are re-affirmed

It is performed on Odɛ Kulihɛ́, the fifth day of the traditional Nkonya week, a day set aside for honoring the ancestors. At that time the woman’s cooking hearth is broken into twenty-one  pieces and seven mature women make three trips to the dunghill to throw the pieces away. The kitchen and courtyard is also ceremonially swept and the sweepings disposed of.  At this time the woman’s earthly possessions, her cooking dishes, cloths, and beads are displayed and distributed.  Representative women from her family-Oldest aunts and and sisters and cousins receive token dishes, lesser ones a share of her “salt” and “spinning cotton.”  The majority of the inheritance is released to her daughters.

Closure, inheritance, strengthening of extended family ties:  all good and important things, surely.

And yet, I remember hearing Sister Agnes, a leading elder in one small Christian assembly, stand up at a funeral gathering and declare.  “When I die, do not break my hearth!”

Why?

A good question to ask when looking at customs is, “What will happen if I don’t perform this?”

And the answer here is.  “If you do not perform this custom and break the hearth, your mother’s ties to her possessions will not be broken and she will not be free to travel to the ancestors.  She will bring sickness and death on the family until it is done and she is freed from her misery.”

If I have become a Christian, and believe that “absent from the body, is present with the Lord,” if I believe that as soon as death occurs I will be in the presence of Jesus and at peace, then I am freed to say, “Don’t break my hearth, let my daughters cook on it.”

The problem for the Christian community is how to achieve closure, strengthen family ties, and pass on an inheritance, and at the same time affirm their freedom in Christ from old fears. How do you keep the baby, and throw out the bathwater?

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It is unbecoming. . .

Teacher Afram

It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims.
— Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

Also proverbs. But if you are a budding anthropologist they seem like a natural gather.  However proverbs were never meant to be harvested like saskatoons, or stripped from the branches like chokecherries.  They are more like wild strawberries, picked one at time.

So proverbs are to be judiciously used by elders, to salt their conversation.  And we youth painstakingly gather them one by one over time.  We also obey, run errands for, sit at the feet of, and otherwise cultivate our elders so than from time to time they will unbend and explain meanings and usage.

Proverbs, like idioms, are tricky things and should not be misapplied.  An elder knows the shifting colours of a proverb he has employed and when to use it.   One thinks of Jesus, sitting on the hillside broadcasting his maxims and extended proverbs, the parables, to the masses, but reserving their interpretation for those few who had the passion to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and respond with their hearts.

Nkonyas say, “If you know how to wash your hands, you have eaten among the elders”

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