Page 2

For those of you who had the wild-hair idea to press the Page 2 tab, I hope you are not disappointed.  This will probably be a place where the not-good-enough-for-a-real-blog-post writing ends up.

For one reason or another, the creative juices flow through my fingers while typing.  I know that sounds odd while at the same time a bum deal for my computer…creative juices…computers and liquids…don’t mix…

Anyway, this area of my blog will probably be filled with much more random, less cohesive thoughts as I continue on this wild journey through life.

  1. June 12, 2009 at 10:59 am

    So, as I track through the lectionary, to teach a group of roughly 12 teens, most of whom are 9th grade and under, I often wonder, am I fooling myself? I mean, 90% of the population doesn’t even know the word lectionary exists, church folks included. Yet, it is within this tension that I find myself.

    As I stated above, something happens while I’m writing here. God does some things in my mind, allowing a plethora of thoughts to continue building on each other. And honestly, that’s what’s been happening for the past month and a half as my wife and I have started this new chapter in our lives in Oklahoma.

    So, this week, one of the selected readings is Mark 4v26-34. It’s parallel verse in Matthew is 10v31-34. The great story teller, Jesus, is at it again.

    Real quickly, a few thoughts. I’ve learned, even in the past two weeks, to look at scripture a little bit differently. I believe it is imperative that we read the Bible through the eyes of the author and listen with the ears of the original recipients. Too often, especially in our western, modernized understanding of the church, we totally miss what is really being said.

    Case in point, the story of the mustard seed in both Matthew and Mark. I believe there is also one in Luke, but I’ll just worry about these two today. First things first, read these two stories without any kind of background knowledge and what do you find? Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds which grows into a MIGHTY TREE, right? Thus the Kingdom is such that it starts small and then lord’s itself over the rest of the world. That’s what the scripture says. And it’s here we run into our first problem. In my tradition, we claimed to be a people to “speak when scripture speaks, and we are silent when it’s silent.” We didn’t take any time to read between the lines because what is written is exactly what was meant to be said, nothing more.

    Here’s what we miss if we only read the words that are written without engaging our brains and allowing our imagination to participate. Why does Jesus talk so much about seeds? It’s because in those days, you didn’t stop at Wendy’s on the way home to pick up dinner. People grew their own food. That means, they prepared the soil, planted the seeds, tended the garden, kept things watered and then were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Now typically, when Jesus uses the mustard seed as an illustration for the Kingdom, we get all pumped up ready to go knock some heads around because something small will turn into some big and ominous. So, we need a little history. The mustard plant, for 1st century Jewish gardeners, was more of a menace than a snapshot of power and beauty. In fact, it was written in Jewish law that they were not to plant mustard in their gardens because they would take over. Yes it starts out small, and yes it grows, slowly taking over everything around it. But, really it doesn’t turn into an oak tree or giant redwood. It’s more of a large garden bush.

    Isn’t it funny that Jesus would choose this particular plant as a metaphor for the Kingdom? Why would he do that? Here are some of my thoughts, built upon the tireless work of Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. Jesus is someone that even today, we do not completely understand. This Kingdom that he describes and insists is near all through scripture is NOT what we want it to be. His glorious dream of a Kingdom is not one of military might, worldly beauty and strength. Christ said himself that he came to serve and not be served. He rules with a towel. We take pride in our humble circumstances. Love rules. Those things that we think are menacing are probably the very tools Christ wants to use to invite us to be participants in the Kingdom. Jesus does not break into this world with our modern understanding of a war machine type kingdom. He LIVED differently, thus WE [LIVE] differently. He said over and over again, the Kingdom of Heaven is NEAR. It’s not something that will be, or is in the unforeseeable future, it’s here, and it’s now! And it grows, not in majestic, awe-inspiring ways, but rather in ordinary, often weed like ways.

    It’s a Kingdom of the ordinary. It’s a Kingdom for everyone. It’s a place where the whole of creation experiences salvation, not just the individual me. It’s a Kingdom of love that starts out with the smallest of genuine, loving gestures and grows and infects, almost like a virus, everything around it. I mean, Jesus warned so many times against the poison of the Pharisees. They knew the law. They knew mustard was strictly prohibited. I’m sure it was probably really offensive to them to think that God’s Kingdom grows in ways that they themselves have deemed unholy.

    Love rules. Jesus rules. Everything else comes second. Christ’s Kingdom, the one that rules with a towel and is the one that will take over the entire garden. Jesus is offensive, and that’s the beauty. We think we’ve got him pegged, but it’s time to open ourselves up to the possibility of being wrong, of being transformed, of being recreated, refurbished, overhauled. And when we pull out of that garage with Christ’s true, life changing love, there’s not much that can stops its growth…

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