Monday, November 26, 2007

Jesus is coming... look busy!

Matthew 24:36-44

36“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

This reminds me of those annoying "christian" bumper stickers that say something to the point of, "In case of the rapture, this car will be unmanned." or something similarly obnoxious.

This is a radical misinterpretation of this and many other parts of the bible in my opinion. This is about the beginning of a relationship with God, not the end.

The "coming of the Son of Man" is analogous to having a revelation or epiphany of some sort. A life-changing realization that completely alters your world view. So often, church people try to force this sort of thing or create an artificial conversion experience. As this part of the bible exposes, it should be something much more organic and authentic. We aren't supposed to be doing this or that, only being ready for what is about to happen.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Heaven isn't too far away!

Luke 20:27-38

27Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32Finally the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” 34Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

This is a bit confusing, and seemingly pointless... but once we discover a few things, it really opens up!

  • Sadducees rely only on the Torah (1st 5 books of the Old Testament) they take it literally.
  • Marriage in the Torah was the way to live on past death. It was about keeping your name going rather than romance or love like it is today. It was also about property as men would trade some property for their wives. The father owned the daughter until some dude would buy her from him, basically.
  • If a guy dies, his brother marries his wife so that the name will live on. This is the Sadducees idea of "eternal life."
  • This was a polygamous society so a brother could marry the wife even if he was already married.
  • They are arguing about "life after death" not physical resurrection.
  • The Torah doesn't talk specifically or directly about life after death, so the Sadducees reject the idea.
So the Sadducees concoct this absurd story to trick Jesus into either choosing 1. the Jewish Scripture or 2. His promise of eternal life. Jesus doesn't choose either, but shows them how they are idiots by
  • reframing the idea of marriage, saying that his idea of eternal life has nothing to do with this institution of marriage which is ultimately self-serving and oppressive at that time.
  • Using their own scripture to show them how silly their little story is.
This is relevant because
  • Many "Christians" still read Scripture just like the Sadducees and molest it in a way that proves what they want to prove.
  • Jesus speaks to them in their own language to show that their own scripture talks about resurrection.
  • The idea of "heaven" isn't as simplistic as we like to make it... it may have a much deeper meaning.
  • Many people, Christians and other people like to make these kind of ideas literal so they can try to "prove" or "disprove" something. If it is not meant to be so literal and the beauty comes out in symbolism, metaphor and poetry... we don't get into these arguments and we find truth in beautiful ways.
  • This is a shift from "modern" logic and reason based thinking to "post-modern" creative and intuitive kind of thinking. Maybe Jesus was "post-modern" and that's why nobody gets him a lot of the time. (just a joke, kind of...)

a little help from my friends

I want to thank all of you that participated in this weeks message. Your comments helped to craft a sermon that reflected both the ideas of the religious community and those outside of it. I appreciate your help and in my opinion it went really well on Sunday. I didn't record this one, but I hope to have recordings available on a regular basis, in the near future. I am only ever as good as the people around me. Thanks to the internet, I am surrounded by all sorts of great and different people as well as the great people I am physically surrounded by. I will post this weeks scripture soon... but it is a tough one and I need to either figure it out or change it so I should have something posted later today or tomorrow. Thanks again everyone and keep up the good work!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A "Wii, Little Man"

Luke 19:1-10

19He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

  • What we notice about Zacchaeus: 1. Seeking Jesus 2. Chief Tax Collector and rich 3. His size and the crowd kept him from seeing Jesus 4. He did what he had to do despite what anyone else tried to do to stop him 5. Welcomed Jesus 6. Took action, Participated 7. Realized that what was "his" was not really "his" 7. Did what he could to make up for his mistakes 8. Didn't just pay for his mistakes, but for the mistakes of other Tax Collectors by giving away half of what he had before even paying back those he wronged.
  • Why is the Nintendo Wii so popular? Because of the participatory nature of it? Zacchaeus is an example to us because he "participated" and didn't just play church or play Christian. He was authentic and real. His actions prove this.
  • Tax Collectors were mostly thieves and ripped people off regularly... a "chief tax collector" probably even more.
  • The "crowd" keeps people from Jesus... how does the church "crowd" keep people from Jesus?
  • Verse 10 "For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” Is that what the church models? Is that what we are here for? Is that our goal? Or is it to "get something out of it" or to be comfortable. If church is not for the "lost" what is it for? Does the church "seek out" the lost and meet people where they are and give them something to "get out of it?"