Our Sister Phoebe, a Deacon

Theological musings inspired by the Spirit and totally Ellen…

Archive for the month “November, 2007”

>King of Kings, and Lord of Lords

>I’m back from a week off. I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was restful and wonderful.

Yesterday was the feast of Christ the King. Strange that a man who never wanted to be king is feted as just that. Yesterday’s Gospel from Luke, the crucifixion, tells us that people stood at Golgatha jeering and deriding Jesus for not saving himself, for not using a ‘kingly perogative’, perhaps. After all, can’t kings order a stay of execution? His executioners placed a sign over him stating that Jesus was King of the Jews.

I can’t remember once if Jesus ever said he wanted to be a king; I believe he said the opposite, didn’t he? Only in John’s gospel does he mention that his kingdom is not of this earth when Pilate asks Jesus if he is the king of the Jews; in the synoptics, Jesus replies “You say so” to Pilate’s inquiry.

So who says Jesus is King?

Those who knew Jesus, and lived and ate with him, were expecting a secular, temporal king, the kind they knew about – one they hoped would commission an army and liberate his oppressed people, rule wisely and justly. The earthly kings they experienced were very different from that ideal, and Jesus’ followers hoped he would be different.

He was different.

The disciples and the followers didn’t get the message at first. What Jesus taught in his preaching and showed them by example was not a revolution that they could understand, but something wonderful and revolutionary. The Kingdom Jesus invited people to enter was one where the human heart was transformed, where equality and acceptance, all kinds of people were welcomed, and loved unconditionally by God. This was the truth Jesus spoke of – in relationships and dialogues with God, the truth is acted out and felt. In this kingdom, Jesus is the sovereign. He is the king of our hearts.

The truth is, the reign of God through Christ is here and now; it’s always been here; it took Jesus to open our hearts and minds to recognize what was right in front our noses and join in. The reign of Christ began before the world began, and when Jesus was called to proclaim the good news, to heal the sick, befriend the outcasts of society, the reign became a reality for humanity. The reality for Christians today, looking back over the centuries, is that God became tangible in Jesus’ life of ministry and resurrection. The invitation extended to the disciples to and followers is now extended to us, challenging us to continue the revolution in hearts and minds and discover the truth that lies within, here, in each of us.

We ended the Christian year yesterday, and a season of preparation, Advent, is before us. We have an opportunity to prepare ourselves for the Truth of an eternal life of unconditional love, of a place in the Kingdom of God that the King of our hearts, Jesus, invites us to embrace.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord!

Ellen+

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>What Kind of Question is That???

>Yesterday’s Gospel goes into my “What, are you nuts???” column.

In Luke 20:27-38, Jesus is asked by the Pharisees about the resurrection, more particularly, what the married relationship would be in the eternal life, and they posit the situation of a widow who marries seven brothers in succession and remains childless. The Pharisees want to know whose wife is she?

Now, if someone had asked me this question, I would have rolled my eyes and asked, “What are you nuts???” Fortunately, Jesus responded with a bit more grace and tact. He tells his detractors that it doesn’t matter in the new life after the resurrection, for our states are not earthly. There is no marriage, no earthly rules or norms. All are like angels and children of God. The God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob is the God of the living, not the dead, for to God all are living.

Perhaps Jesus is saying that the one relationship we should hold dear is our relationship with God.

In our human lives, relationships are important. They sustain us, support us, in one sense, keep us going. These relationships might be of friends, not just family, our connection with pets. But what are these compared to the relationship we nurture and build with God? Again, they are very important, but without our relationship with God, I believe they can be stagnant, for where but the love given to us by God do we find the strength and courage to love?

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord,

Ellen+

>Kingdom of God 101

>The Gospel for our commemoration of All Saints on November 4th was Luke 6:2o-31, the Beatitudes. My image of this event in the life of Christ and the Church is one of those MGM-cinematic moments: a pastoral setting, lush greenery, thousands upon thousands of people crowded around Jesus to hear him preach, birds and creatures coming near.

What if the setting was actually somewhere in the Judean desert or hills, one of those hiding places the Jews used to meet away from the prying eyes of the Romans? What if it was a political manifesto for a movement? Just think how revolutionary it sounds: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.”

Jesus was preaching something quite revolutionary for the time. In preaching this unique idea that all are welcome and part of the kingdom of Heaven, he was turning the norm of society upon its head. The society in which Jesus lived was one where the poorest of the poor were ignored, stepped over as they begged in the streets; the only people treated with less cordiality and compassion were those unfortunates called lepers.

Imagine how the Temple authorities must have reacted when they heard this new line of thinking. It was nothing like everything they ever thought, believed and were taught.

I like to think of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Plain (or Mount, if you’re reading Matthew) as Kingdom of God 101. Within this beautiful homily Jesus sets down what the Kingdom of God should be and tells us how to be a part of it, with compassion, love and a bit of sarcastic humor, I think.

Looking at this scripture through a lens of two thousand odd years, it’s still an excellent rule of life. In a time when corporations are spending hours on drafting mission statements to define their work and purpose, they need only look this far.

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