Under the Heart of a Woman

 stary night  St. Paul’s message is rooted in his proclamation of the Christ. After Jesus’ resurrection Paul is the first to announce that Christ will come again. In Col. 3:16 Paul says let the message of Christ find its home in you. Paul’s is the message of another Advent, the promised of the coming of Christ. For Paul it is not only a future event, but his insistence that we can have Christ, Christ’s life and love for each of us, which we especially need to hear and get closer to today.  It is a powerful Advent message. To live our lives in the Spirit of Christ as he says repeatedly in different ways in his letter to the Romans. Paul believes fiercely in the Life of the Spirit working in our lives.

That Jesus as the Christ can be born in the world and in us is evident as we celebrate the season of Advent. Even before Paul became an apostle for Christ, before the Christ child was born, it was under the heart of a woman that Christ found a home. Jesus’ first advent was to his mother, Mary.  When the mother of Jesus journeys to Elizabeth’s home to announce her good new, she became the first Christ-bearer, Jesus’ first disciple. The Spirit that made possible Jesus’ conception in a woman, is that same Spirit of Christ that Paul champions as a coming possibility in our lives as well. But it was Mary and Elizabeth that became the first heralds of the coming birth in the world, Christ’s first coming in the world to two woman.  Luke’s gospel, like Paul’s writing, is also filled with the image of the Spirit. (Apparently Luke and Paul were at one time traveling companions.)

As Luke’s gospel unfolds, the infant Jesus is seen laying in a cave-like stable, near the outskirts of a town teeming with people arriving for the census, his parents and simple shepherds his first followers.  But the shepherds are not the first to herald Jesus’ arrival and rejoice at his advent.  Luke’s good news is carried first on the lips of a few old people and one young Jewish girl.  They are the faithful anawim, the remnant of Israel, scrupulously observing the rituals and customs of their faith.  Their faith will make possible what the world deemed impossible. They were waiting for him, as we do today. Their longing became the threshold of his coming. Mary’s fidelity to her faith and worship brought about the improbable advent of new life to Israel. And today to us.

We are seeded with the Christ-self like the sacred seed planted in Mary.  We are invited to give life and meaning to that seed, to attend to its growth, so that who Jesus is we too can become. As we make our journey in faith, we join with Mary and Elizabeth, as Jesus’ first disciples, to awaken and give birth to the Christ-self in our lives as well. A life that is meant to be heralded, shared and rejoiced with others.  This is our let it be to the God who is ever renewing the world in his image. Just as his Spirit came upon the mother of Jesus in his great act of loving us and the world, by the grace of his Spirit we also become the waiting manger for the Word become flesh.

From the heart of the manger in Bethlehem we are fed; our hearts filled with praise springing forth in song, where the worship of God becomes the artistry of our lives. There it is real, human, enfleshed, ordinary, giving birth and giving witness to Jesus in the world.  In this we are with them, with him, in the purpose and passion of his life, to his God and Father, our God and Father as well, began under the heart of a woman.

 

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We are the Manger

winter_scene  Out of the infinite blue vastness we call God, the Word was breathed forth into the reality we call time. The stuff of God came to be, a small brown seed planted in the universe of matter and humankind.  I   am the stuff of God, God is the stuff of me. And it would seem that Paul, once so intent on destroying that seed, would experience the fullness of it possibility that came to us in a manger in Bethlehem, on a road as out of the way, dirty and dusty, as the stable in which Jesus was born.

The infancy narratives of Jesus are stories fraught with the symbols and the message of faith, in order to bring others to the belief in the Word become flesh. The image of Jesus as an infant is the image of what all babies are: infinite possibilities. Each child comes fresh from its mother, bringing with it all that it might be and become in the world. This Christ child represents for us the Christ-self that is present as all possibility planted in us at conception and coming to be in the world at our births.

It is this hidden self that is the Christ-self within each of us that Paul prays will be strong – come to its full potential and realization within us. Our lives and our very being, ourselves, are the manger in which Christ comes. Surrounded by angel songs and the lowest of shepherds and most notable kings, come the stories of the improbable advent of life, the hope of Israel, lying in a manger.  A manger – a feeding trough for animals. The infinite possibility of the God-life is housed incarnate in a plain, wood-hewn manger, a sign for celestial beings, the simple and the greatly adorned. Into the ordinariness of life he came.

As I watched the television last evening, I wanted to turn it off at one point. Numb finally to what seems like the ultimate rejection and devaluing of human life. I kept saying over and over: No. Why? Please? We are in the hard ground of winter. These days are truly dark. Herod is about for destruction. At some point I just had to let it all go. I had to become an empty manger. Even as I watched the gospels making a path through the world, I had to wait. Helpless, dependent, just as the Christ-self chose to come into the world and remained…this is hard. This is another kind of fear and trembling.

Yet. We are the manger into which this new life, the Christ-life, has come and will come. I need to believe that. I need to be carved out, a place from which love can come to feed the world. A child will lead us. The Christ-self, the part of me that is open, receptive, will love and lead.

Rilke’s words from his Letter to a Young Poet once again come to mind: Celebrate Christmas…in this devout feeling, that perhaps He needs this very fear of life from you in order to begin; these very days of your transition are perhaps the time when everything in you is working in him…be patient and without resentment and think that the least we can do is make his becoming not more difficult for him than the earth makes it for the spring when it wants to come.

And so, we are manger and we are ground as well; softened so that the small brown seed might push its way through to a new Spring. The poets words give me hope: We can begin him. We can await his becoming in us and in the world. Our hearts can be the waiting mangers set upon the softened  ground of the self even in this seemingly intractable heart of winter.

The Season of Light

Christmas lights  Tis the season…We haven’t yet had thanksgiving dinner, but the carols have started, the decorated trees are in the center of the stores where you can’t miss them, and all forms of media are joyfully giving you great gift ideas for the 25th of next month or the eight days of Hanukkah. It’s a crazy cacophony of jingling bells, piped in music, mothers cajoling and little ones screaming for toys they can’t have yet. ‘Tis the season…

It is the season of symbols. Symbols that resonate on many levels with our world today and connect us with more ancient celebrations and worlds past. Stars in the night, angel heralds, shepherds and kings, a stable, a manger and a baby. The Christmas tree hung with lights and ornaments, tinsel or ribbons, and adorned with a star or angel atop and gifts beneath gathers together many of the images that represent the season, both secular and religious.  Each symbol has its own story to tell.

The menorah is a more ancient symbol of the season. It’s origins go back to Moses, who crafted a golden seven-branched candelabra designed by G-d that lit the Tabernacle where the arc was kept and that journeyed with the Israelites as they made their way to Jerusalem, where the menorah finally rested in the Temple. Today’s menorah has nine branches and is lit during the eight days of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. The tree and the menorah have more in common than separates them.

Each represents the season of Light. Whether lights strung around a tree or candelabra lit with candles, both celebrations come during the darkening days of December, to light up our world. Both incarnate a reality marked by the coming of something new into a people’s midst. One serving in the Temple of the Lord, custodian of the covenant; the other a sign of another Light that came into the world in the form of a person. The Christ-self whose advent is heralded by St. Paul.

The dreidel, a wooden four-sided top, use in a children’s game, is also a symbol of the season. I love the legend of the dreidel because in my mind this simple children’s object, connects both the Christian and Jewish holidays. According to Jewish tradition, when the Jews were in caves learning Torah, hiding from the Greeks, dreidel became a popular game to play. Legend has it that whenever the teacher heard the Greek soldiers approaching, he would instruct the children to hide their Torah scrolls and take out their dreidels instead. (Wikipedia)

Inscribed on each of its four sides is a letter-symbol whose acronym means ‘a great miracle happened here.’ Indeed. The light that shines out from each religious celebration, each with its ancient origins, proclaims this is the season of a great miracle. The miracle of Light. The miracle of new Life. The dreidel first found its way into the life of Judaism in a cave full of devout children and their teachers.  It was in a cave-like stable that the Christ-child was born and would teach what it means to be Torah, in St. Paul’s words, what it means to be children of the light. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

 

The Coming of the Christ-self

  Autumn berries    Advent approaches. We await the coming of the Christ child. We celebrate religiously the advent of something, someone, new in the world. Even materially, commercially, it is what the season is about. Light. Gifting. An energized season where for a time we are more hospitable, generous, more open in spirit and friendship. Paul too is writing about something, Someone new coming into the world.  The coming of the reality of Christ, who he was and what faith in him meant. So this is another opportunity to spend forty days (more or less) with St. Paul. To continue the Christ-self discourses begun here. To look at the Christ life, not as a concept or doctrine, but as a lived, personal reality with its potential to transform, challenge and accompany our lives. A Real Presence. Born in a stable two thousand years ago, it is this same Jesus born in Bethlehem who is the Christ that Paul and the season celebrate.

This can be a difficult time for many when the darkness and deprivation, stresses and losses, loneliness and lacking, come in stark relief against all the holiday hustle and bustle. But it is here too in the telling of the infancy narratives we see the true meaning of the holiday, apart from the glitter and glitz, of a Savior come in the cold, darkness of winter, to poor and humble beginnings, who would remain marginal and excluded, but was seen to bring hope to the poor, the oppressed, those much in need of his saving presence and love in their lives. And at heart this too is where we live. Perhaps not materially impoverished, but certainly we all have within us some darkness, something needy and some part that is impoverished, alone, limping along through life, needing to reach out to touch even the hem of someone who can heal and save us. Someone who cares and loves us no matter in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

All theology is anthropology. To speak of the divine is  to speak of the human person. If you look at the human person in his/her depth you will find the sacred center that is at the heart of all life. Whether we realize the sacredness of humanity, within each of us, as a religious phenomenon or not, it is there−a sacred Self within each us whose advent begins to impinge on our lives as we grow in our ability to apprehend and embrace this as our most essential Self. St. Paul calls this our ‘hidden self’, the Christ-self. The Christ who lives in our heart by faith. (Eph. 3:14-19).

This religious/sacred venture is not something that occurs outside our selves. The Christ-self is our lived experience of the sacred, of God, by whatever name we call our God. We can talk about our very beings as the kingdom of the Self.  The birth of the Word in the Soul then is told as the birth of the infant, Jesus of Nazareth, the Word become flesh. This is how the Christ-self within us begins. Coming as a child, small, vulnerable, dependent, apart from the traps and trappings of the world. And yet, the symbols of the nativity are powerful stars charting our way to what the coming of Christ within us signifies. It is a gift to us, it requires shepherding, it brings what is lowest and highest together in the paradox we call living.

The Christ-self is the becoming thing in us.  In Jesus the Christ we are ever in the nativity of the nearness of God. And all the shining symbols of the season say this to us.

The Christ-self

  brillant leaves    Autumn is a season of striking transformation. Unlike Spring which comes slowly, softly, tiny shoots rising up out of the earth, small green buds gradually come to bloom on the trees, autumn blazes across the landscape. Right now the Midwest is ablaze with change. The trees that rumble across the landscape in shades of green one day are a warm palette of reds, orange, yellows, rusts, purple, crimson the next. We drive across the countryside searching for the passion and blaze of this season, before all falls away into winter.

Whether landscape or mindscape, change is at the very heart of the natural world and of human life. The worlds turning tells us this with each new day, with each season, in each plant, species and amoeba. Down to the very last cell of DNA we possess within us the ability to grow, to change, and to become. In fact, it is human nature to be in an on-going state of becoming.

We have often heard the word transformation used in the word conversion. John the Baptist would use the word repent, by which he meant return. It was a return to the one true faith and God of Israel. Yahweh. The living God. His was the outspoken cry from the wilderness, beside the Jordan, where a sign of being transformed was emersion in the waters of the Jordan. For whatever reason it was John’s activities that caused Jesus to come from Nazareth to the river that day, where his life too would, by the gospel accounts, change as well.

Paul’s very first letter to the Thessalonians was a call to change, to be converted, transformed so that they might follow and serve the true and living God. It is in Ephesians that we find the heart, soul and core of his message to the infant church that he is guiding into being. Paul’s call to put on Christ, to live your lives in Christ, is summed up in the hidden self that he prays will grow strong within us. This hidden self is Christ. The Christ-self.

This Christ-self is the Christ that may live in our hearts through faith, and it is in our hearts that we will know the love of Christ, which Paul adds is beyond all knowledge, so that we become filled with the utter fullness of God. It is this Christ-self, the Christ-life within is Paul’s raison d’etre.

To grow, if you will, to become more and more aware of the Christ-self within. It is in Christ, in the Christ-self that we participate and become part of the life of God. In Christ’s love for us is the utter, absolute, complete life of the living God. We could also speak about the sacred self.

All theology is anthropology. Of necessity then, to speak a word about God, is to speak about the human person as well. It is to speak of the sacred in the human heart – by this Paul meant in the depths of our being. Paul’s call to live in Christ is shaped by the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. For Paul death, death with Christ, becomes the corridor to the fullness of being. A death that because we live in Christ, also means that we come to new life, transformed in him as well.

Autumn will give way to the sometimes dark and dreary days of winter. But in that winter, after the fall of the leaves, the dying out of the colors that so brilliantly blaze across the landscape today, will come, as the year itself dies away, a celebration of something that may be just a myth, but within that recurring myth, is the truth of the Christ coming upon the landscape of our waiting hearts.

Enamored in autumn’s brilliance is a promise. The promise of He who is ever new. The Christ-self as our abiding and permanent openness to God.

Written on the Heart

  last rose of summer  It’s taken some time to look at the ways of transformation Paul saw in those who would live in Christ. Who would put on the garment of the Christ-life, as followers of his risen Lord? It was an all-encompassing change that he believed possible to experience. He begins at the beginning, with Adam. Christ is now the first fruit of creation, a renewal of one’s entire life, for all who belong to him. As that belonging becomes longing we come alive, from merely being flesh driven people to being alive to the freedom of the Spirit of Christ. The old code is a by-gone cryptogram written on stone but one that was to be held in the hearts of the people. The sacred Torah, the Law, become the law of love.

Paul speaks in different ways about the Law/law throughout his letters. He uses it as a reference point, always to his own advantage, to the particular point and to a particular people at any given moment. There is no single understanding of what Paul means when he says law. It is always nuanced. But one thing is evident. The law, whether that of the prescriptions of how to live a just life, or whether he means the Torah, whether he uses it as a symbol for the Israel that he now sees as past, or the new Israel that he is advancing, in Christ the law is transformed into a Person, into Love.

The transformation from law to love, from letter to spirit, is the centrality of Paul’s message. How to live one’s life is not something written in stone, but a person, the life of a Person who is now the standard, the guide, the norm and the entire content of how life is to be lived.

Libraries have been written about the Law and Love in Judaism, Paul’s letters and in the gospels. I’m sure I have nothing new to add to the discourse. (Other than the fact that I am an ordinary lay person, like Jesus, Paul and the evangelists, many of whom had day jobs.)

Love too is an over-used and misunderstood word. Here too Paul is fearless. In the end, for all the sorting we must do to regather his message, it all comes down to Paul on his knees. To a prayer. A prayer for us. It all comes to being filled with the utter fullness of God. (Ephesians 4:14-19) The fullness which for us is Jesus Christ.

Making our approach to the Christ-self, the ways in which we are changed into the Christ-self, like water into wine, become the life-blood of how we come to be in Christ. We step from shadow into light. Evil is transmuted into the higher good that embraces well-being and healing. All that was weak within us, like Paul, is put to another use, a higher purpose, a strength that is the power of God at work in us through the Spirit of Christ.

Going from Law to Love does not mean we give up the message of Deuteronomy. But now in Christ the law written on our hearts, becomes the Word that takes flesh in our lives. A new way not only of being but of seeing. Through that dark glass of the ancient code we see a clearer vision on the horizon of being that is a person who is the way, the way to himself.

Rooted in Christ

 IMG_0417 As I recently walked about the gardens here, I was struck by the fact that many of the flowers of spring and summer are gone, but lit by the sun, light and shadow playing across their ancient surfaces, magnificent trees, like this one, remain. They have been around a long, long time. Centuries maybe. Like the tree that sat in center of the garden of Eden, this trees looks like it has seen and knows a lot. The imprint of lifetimes on its face. If it could talk….

This tree feels old, wise, like Paul’s letters. And yet here they both remain for us to tap into their ancient wisdom, to read the lines and markings that form traceries upon their faces, as they reach to the heavens and extend to the four corners of the earth, and reach out to us.  I came upon this tree on a winding path that led into a quiet place I had never ventured before. It was truly like entering the garden of Eden, it was so lush, quiet, its inhabitants off making loin cloths.  There were many trees, each unique, and each quietly majestic. There was a sense, a presence there without doubt.

Paul doesn’t want just to keep everyone on the straight and narrow. He wants to set us out upon a path that leads to a sacred presence. In his Epilogue to Romans he quotes these words from Isaiah, letting us know that he wants to give us more than scolding and information.

Those who have never been told will see him, and those who have never heard about him will understand. (Romans 15:21)

Paul want to impart the experience of the risen Christ. To form his words in such a way that we will see him. If you haven’t heard about the wonderful things he did and said,  he sees his life-work to bring his audience to understand the radical change, the growth and transformation that comes about from the knowledge and experience of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s letters too, are like the ancient trees, written on parchment, markings reaching out to offer their radical imprint on our souls and psyches. Rooted. Solid. Growing in shade or sunshine, good weather and bad. Standing the tests of time. Beyond reborn. Eternal. Secret, sacred knowledge writ large for each person who stops to see, to read the ancient inscriptions still steadily holding forth for us today.

 The Christ-self stands sturdy in each of us, at the center of the garden of our lives. It is there for us to see for ourselves and understand. It is one so ancient yet so new. We first saw him in a wood-hewn manger, from a tree that held his beginnings. It was a tree that held his ending. And it was a misused and misshapened tree that held his beginning for us. Paul brings us along the path where we too suddenly come upon his life, remaining, waiting, solid, rooted, the ever-present reality of our lives that stands at the center of the garden of our souls. It is only for us to follow Paul’s lead. To become a follower of the Way. It is only for  us to venture out upon the path.

 

The World is Too Much With Us

looking_to_the_future1.jpg On the horizon of being the human heart is endowed with hope.

      Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39)

The cross of Christ is not the (only) reality that we live under. We live under the sign of the resurrection as well. It wasn’t even until the Middle Ages that the cross began to appear with the crucified savior upon it. Rather, it was the depictions of Christ in his glory, as having triumphed over death, that were imaged in religious artwork until then. But more and more lately, well beyond Lent, when Jesus’s cross becomes the place to center our faith and praxis, these hot August days seem to swelter under the heavy burden of the cross.

It’s not just in Jerusalem or Ferguson, but all over the world, man’s inhumanity to others seems to be on the rampage. I finally had to turn the television off. But the subject would not leave me, because the next topic of transformation that I was going to address was the transformation of evil to good. During these days I have kept my bible close at hand. And I was grateful again that I had continued with this blog,  because I began to search again through the scriptures and Paul, for a way to come to grips with the epidemic of evil sweeping our globe. The obvious response (because there is no ‘answer’ to evil): the Way through – the absolute, unswerving faith in God, the great Transformer.

I wrote all things are eventually redeemed in the heart of God. I absolutely believe this. I have experienced this in my life. We see even now the first inklings of that drive in the human spirit to make sure those who have died have not died in vain. That good comes from this. This too is the meaning of Christ’s cross. This is the god-place within us, the indomitable human spirit that needs to keep creating and recreating ourselves and the world in image and likeness as the ongoing reality of living.

But, the events of the past few weeks have made me pause and pray and search what I believe and hear it as others might hear it, as the most recent victims of injustice and evil might hear these words. To make sure this is not pious prattle. That it might come from the depths of holding to the cross while living in the resurrection. Holding to the paradox of good and evil in God’s good creation. I hear Joseph saying to the brothers who wrecked their evil upon him and tried to kill him: You meant it for evil but God meant it for good. (Genesis 50:18). Joseph made his own long, very human journey of transformation. (I write about Joseph’s journey in my just completed mss I Am Joseph: Symbols of Transformation in the Joseph Narrative.)

When St. Paul talks about evil, he isn’t engaging a theological debate (theodicy), evil as the dark specter that swarmed about Job, rather evil for Paul is a matter of human behavior. He begins many of his letters asking the people to curb their evil deeds (Co 1:21-23). Fornication, impurity, evil desire (covetousness), slander, foul talk, anger, wrath, malice, slander and idolatry. These are all sins of one person against another or against God. For Paul evil comes from people’s behavior. In 2 Thessalonians 3:2 Paul prays that we may be preserved from the interference of bigoted and evil people. Following the passage from Romans 8 quoted above Paul reminds us of the word from the Hebrew Scriptures: For thy sake we are being killed all day long. We are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. It is then he says Nothing – not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword – can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus the Lord. Paul later in Romans will ask that we overcome evil with good. By good he means love each other, respect one another, work with untiring effort for what is right and just, keep praying even in the face of trials and make hospitality your special care. (12:9-21) Forgive one another because you have been forgiven (Co 3:12-15). Let the message of Christ find a home in you. That great, real Love saves. This is the resurrection.

Joseph eventually save the lives of the brothers who wished him dead and forgives them saying You meant it for evil but God meant it for good. Suffering and the resultant on-going search for meaning and judgment are to lie ever hidden in the mysterious design of God that Joseph can only answer by his continued care of his family, suffering and evil’s only recourse to choose how one is to live within it and beyond. And to know the beyond as God.

 

With a Word and a Sword

Original water color by Cathie Horrell

As I began to think about framing the next post on rejection and acceptance, I thought of lst century Palestine, the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day.  Then I thought of Jerusalem and the Middle East today. Then I thought of the bombardment of images from a town that is only a twenty minute drive from where I live, Ferguson, Missouri.

The next way of transformation that Paul addresses is rejection to acceptance. Primarily he has taken up this subject because there is the debate raging as to whether or not the Jews were included in the saving actions of Jesus Christ. Paul goes to great length to assure that indeed the Jews remain the chosen people. They are loved by God. God never takes back his gift or revokes his choice. (Romans 11:28-29) The irony is that Jesus was a Jewish man; he was rejected to the point of being executed by the Roman establishment in collusion with the high ranking Jewish priestly aristocracy.
In one of Paul’s many convoluted rationales he says that it was their rejection that made it possible for Jesus to reconcile the whole world to himself, and bring about the deliverance, the transformation from rejected to acceptance for the rest of the Gentile world, to whom Paul felt called to be an apostle. (11:13-16). Because they stumbled, the rest of us are able to be lifted up. He goes on with two marvelous metaphors, comparing the Jews to the first batch of good dough that makes all the dough holy. They are the sacred root of the tree that makes all the branches sacred. It’s good for Christians today to know that our religious roots are in Judaism. To know that no matter what nothing can prevail against Jesus Christ’s acceptance and love for us.
There isn’t any of us who doesn’t know what it is like to be rejected. Turned down from the job. Turned away from the lunch counter. Turned away from a club, a group, an organization because something in our humanness doesn’t conform to the standard held by the powers that be. Rejection is the denial of your very heart and soul. Your very existence. The work of your hands. And it is often the rejection of your life as well. But Paul is telling us that in Christ this rejection has been transformed into acceptance. Acceptance as one sacred, chosen, meant, of value and worth.
Rejection is nothing new to the Jewish people. During Jesus’ lifetime the Jewish people in Judea and Jerusalem were living under the occupation of the Roman military establishment. They were looking for a liberator. Paul quotes Isaiah (27:9) saying  a liberator will come from Zion. (11:26). They believed this meant a military leader who would free them from Roman oppression. They wanted another King David who would slay the Goliath of their oppression.
Jesus had another way in mind. Rather than military confrontation he preached peace. This man who included everyone at his table, the wicked, tax collectors (very wicked), non-Jews, women, rejected no one. Jesus saw that being a voice in the wilderness meant you could lose your head. So his chose the way of peace. The way of love. He preached. He had a voice. He spoke out. His way was to stun the oppressors with kindness. Do an end around. Get to the goal, make the kingdom real now in the world, by side stepping violence. Bless your enemies. Feed them. Give them drink. Conquer their evil with good. (12:14-21) Jesus was not naïve. He also told his disciples to take their swords with them as they went out to spread the good news, to do good, just in case they needed to defend themselves. If they were rejected he told them to leave that place, brush the dirt off their feet and move on. Brush the dirt off their feet? Don’t carry  their rejection, their dirt,  whatever their negativity is, with you.

Faith is difficult. Believing that things can change is difficult. Above is an image of man who held his hands up in surrender; surrender to his oppressors, and because he did he makes it possible for all of us to do what he did: come back to  life, live forever, forgive.  This is not a touchy-feely platitude. The gospels challenge us. It is ours to bring about the kingdom now. Justice  is what is right; what is right is the golden rule of all faiths.  To love one another as you love yourself. Love wants what is best for the other as we want what is best for ourselves.  And what is best for us is God. Justice is when the way of heaven and the way of the earth converge. When the kingdom, Yahweh’s, G-d’s, Jesus’s, Allah’s, Buddha’s, Mohammed’s way, is lived now.

Sometimes, in the name of religion, we are even told to endure oppression, our reward will be in heaven. I say, I have my reward now. I have Christ. And more importantly he has me.

We can be comforted by the Sermon on the Mount, but after he gave it he came down from the mountain, went to be among the people, to touch and to heal, He even healed the daughter of a Roman centurion.

P.S. I believe it was Karl Barth who said to do theology with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.

 All the writing, quotes, artwork and photography are the work of the author unless otherwise stated. Scripture readings are from the Jerusalem Bible.
This work, including its contents, may not be used, reproduced, duplicated, displayed or distributed without the express written permission of the author.

The Sign of the Cross

Original water color by Cathie Horrell

Original watercolor by Cathie Horrell

If a picture speaks louder than word, the  image above says it all on the subject of rejection.

This is the sign of some people’s ‘no’ – their rejection of Jesus. It is also a sign of God’s ‘yes’ – his acceptance of Jesus, and not only of Jesus, but of us. God’s yes as we see at Easter, is greater than any ‘no’.