Archive for September 2009

Divine Alchemy

September 18, 2009

BeatitudesYesterday’s Gospel reading contains the Beatitudes. I’ve been intrigued with the Beatitudes, in fact the whole Sermon on the Mount, for many years. Like so many other teachings of Jesus, we may find ourselves “strangely drawn” to them, and at the same time mystified by them. I have personally interpreted them in all sorts of ways, and I’ve heard others do the same. Opinions differ not only about the content of the Beatitudes but about how they are ordered and arranged. I wouldn’t pretend to know the way to read the Beatitudes. But I would like to offer to you a way to read and understand them — one that fits for me personally and also squares with Jesus’ historical context.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Kingdom of heaven” is simply a Jewish way of saying “Kingdom of God.” It’s Jesus’ Big Idea. It’s what’s supposed to happen, what’s supposed to come. It’s God’s reigning over the whole world and the whole world living according to God’s ways. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of shalom, peace, prospering, justice, healing, reconciliation and community. It’s what we were made for. It’s what Jesus’ first coming began and his second coming will complete. (more…)

Remembering Jesus

September 15, 2009

MatthewDuring Sunday’s sermon I said that one of the key ways I remember Jesus is by rereading the Gospels. Yesterday morning I read through the gospel of Matthew. I read through it — I didn’t read it thoroughly. I read just enough of each story or teaching to jog my memory about that event. Then I moved on to the next story or teaching. I hardly meditated at all (unless I couldn’t help it) on what I read. I just allowed the words to refresh my memory of Jesus.

One thing I took away from my reading is Jesus’ making it clear to everyone that if they really wanted to know him, they would need to make him the absolute center of their lives. Even then it would be hard; it would require all they had to give to their discipleship, and it wouldn’t happen quickly.

The decision we all have to make is whether or not we think he’s worth it — worth the effort to get to know.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

God’s Will in 3-D

September 10, 2009

Will3-DYesterday’s Old Testament reading raised some interesting questions for me about the will of God. God’s prophet, Elijah, gets in trouble with Israel’s King Ahab because Elijah told Ahab there wouldn’t be any rain for the next few years. In order to protect Elijah, God sends Elijah outside of Israel to stay with a widow who, with her son, is about to prepare their last meal. They have no more food. Elijah tells her that if she feeds him first, her jar of flour and jug of oil will never be empty until the rain comes again. (more…)

What’s the Point?

September 1, 2009

JesusTrialA couple of thoughts about yesterday’s Gospel reading (Mark 14:53-55). The religious leaders have arrested Jesus and are now interrogating him. Witnesses are bringing up all sorts of accusations, and are offering different renditions and interpretations of things that Jesus has said during his ministry. Jesus is silent. He makes no attempt to defend himself or to correct those who have misquoted him. Finally, the high priest asks him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” (more…)