Archive for the ‘Miracles of Jesus’ Category

Being Remembered

There has been little the past six months that has spawned my desire to blog. Thank God for Easter kicking my rebel mind into high gear. And a word of warning: If you are going to CHOOSE to be offended by what I say, stop reading and close this page. I don’t need the grief.  If, however, you are willing to have your thinking challenged in a way that may be very uncomfortable, then read on.

As people around the world seek to find an appropriate and sometimes elaborate way to memorialize the death and resurrection of Jesus, I have found myself wondering what he thinks about all of this. Please indulge me for a moment as I take this though process through its steps.

I have had a number of older family members (grandparents) pass over the years in the usual sad yet relatively mundane, uneventful ways–heart problems, cancer, old age, etc. I have known a few people who have died horribly tragic deaths–violent, graphic, unfair deaths.

In each instance, I find myself asking, “How would they want to be memorialized?”

Would my grandparents want everyone to gather around a hospital bed year after year at the appointed time and cry as each of us remembers their departure?

Would those who were killed in tragic accidents want their families to reassemble at the place (or a substitute place) where their death occurred and re-enact the events that led to their death?

Would they want a bigger than life monument erected so that everyone who passes by could see and remember how they died? Maybe it would be a crushed car three stories high, or a fifty foot replica of the handgun with which they were shot, or a giant ligature with which they were strangled.

Pretty gruesome, when you think about it, right?

I think in each case, they would want to be remembered for what they did in life, how they made a difference for others, what they contributed to the betterment of society.

Ask yourself  how you would like to be remembered? Go ahead and take a moment to think through how you want your family to reflect on your life and death each year.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Why do we think Jesus wants to be remembered as a gruesome bloody body suffocating to death on a cross? Why would he want us spending time and a buttload of money erecting crosses to repeatedly remind us of how much he suffered? Would your loved one want that?

No where did he ask us to remember his suffering by putting crosses throughout our homes and along our highways. He simply suggested we eat some bread and drink some wine in his memory….

Oh……and do what he did: heal the sick, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and love our neighbor.

One other thought that is likely to send a few more people over the edge…

I find it ironic that we have conveniently forgotten the commandments about no graven images, idols, statues, objects of worship as well as that whole Tower of Babel story that are found in the Old Testament, but we can’t seem to move past the notion that homosexuality is an abomination and they must be put to death (right alongside your neighbor who ate pork last night).

Happy Easter everyone. May your day be filled with opportunities to bless someone’s life without judgment.

Asking Why

A lot of why’s have been on my mind lately. When I was a kid, growing up in the somewhat conservative Church of Christ, there were plenty of adults in my life life willing to tell me what I should believe. I didn’t ask a whole lot of why’s where church matters were concerned.

That was always pretty black and white.

My left-brained, orderly sequential self just needed the list of rules to follow. The only why’s that were necessary were the answers that we were taught to use when attempting to convert someone.

Fast forward twenty years.

My why’s have changed significantly.

Why do we accept the Bible as the inerrant divinely inspired word of God when it was written by men, translated by men, and compiled by men?

Why do we say the Bible is perfect for all times when we pick and choose what we will apply to our lives today and what we assign as “having passed away”?

Why do we tolerate and explain away the glaring inconsistencies of a supposed divinely created library?

Why do we accept as perfect for all times a collection of writings that promote slavery, oppression of women, racial bias, and discrimination?

Why do we ignore those teachings that make us uncomfortable or no longer fit our culture, yet we embrace those teachings that endorse our remaining prejudices?

Why are we okay with a God who gives ten commandments, one of which says “Thou shalt not kill,” then turns around and tells the recipients of that commandment to slaughter  every human being in the land of Canaan?

Why do we feel compelled to justify that slaughter by saying it was because those people were evil?

Why do we accept as our loving father a God who required a human sacrifice to be able to forgive us when we have stupid moments?

Why do we demand that the ten commandments be posted in front of our publicly funded facilities, when Christianity was about releasing that old law?

Why do we accept as literally truth the notion that the earth is only about 6,000 years old when there is significant evidence to the contrary?

Why will we believe that a virgin birth happened in Christianity, but deny that it actually occurred in other religions and mythology?

Why do we accept as logical an all powerful God who supposedly wants us to love him, gave us a free will so we can choose whether we will love him or not, but threatens to banish us forever to a fiery place call hell if we do not choose to love him?

Why do we call ourselves Christians, yet pay more attention to the teachings of people other than Jesus Christ?

Why do we believe that there is a magical age of accountability when a child is instantaneously transported from not responsible for his/her actions to responsible and subject to the fires of  hell?

Why do we participate in organizations that promote exclusivity and “I’m right, you’re wrong” ideology when we don’t truly agree with their extreme views?

Why do we believe the writings of authors who were not even eye-witnesses to events 2000 years ago, but doubt the testimony of those who claim to have been abducted by aliens or visited by a ghost?

Why can we accept as gospel, legends of miracles from two millennia ago, yet dismiss as coincidence the spontaneous healing of an organ previously labeled as diseased?

Why can we easily detect when modern day evangelists are playing us (or others) for our money and loyalty by using promises of prosperity, fear of infirmity, and the threat of eternal torment, yet we cannot see that an organization did this very same thing 1800 years ago by proclaiming their work divine, destroying documents that would cast doubt, and killing anyone who disagreed with them?

And finally,

Why do I feel so much anger and resentment toward religion? Why am I unable to simply let it be and release any emotion associated with it? With whom am I angry?

My answer to all of these is quite simple.

I do not know.

Jesus Feeds the Multitude–A Miracle Retold

It was one of those epiphany moments. It was an instant in which everything came into clearer view. Something I always thought I knew and understood suddenly shifted into focus. The outcome was the same, however the details of the process were different.

More importantly, my view of the message and purpose of Jesus shifted once again.

Imagine the scene. It’s easy. It’s a story with which we are all familiar. Crowds have begun to follow Jesus and his rag-tag bunch of loyal trainees. He was their guru. They were his disciples. Better than Connan O’Brian or Jimmy Kimmel, this Jesus guy was a boatload of contradictions: sarcastic and straight-forward, funny and serious, aloof and compassionate, wise and seemingly foolish, positive and cynical. People who could get close enough to him were forever changed.

He was simply irresistible.

It’s a typical day in the countryside areas of Judea. The crowds have found the guru. Everyone is gathered in close straining to hear what the guru called Jesus has to say. He’s not some televangelist asking for money. He talks about sharing, but asks for nothing for himself. He mentions loving not only neighbors and friends and family, but also enemies. He says a neighbor isn’t necessarily someone of the same race or clan, but the one who shows compassion.

He mentions how lucky the poor are (this crowd is full of peasant men and women) because they don’t have wordly possessions weighing them down. He shares how the kindgom of God is not something guarded by the priests, but rather is contained within and attainable by each and every person there. He even says little children already “get it” and that becoming like a child is a good way to experience the kingdom.

His words of wisdom continue until later in the day. The disciples begin to let the cares of the world move in as they lose site of the day’s message.

“Jesus, it’s getting late, and these people are bound to be hungry. What are we going to do? We can’t just send them away.”

Here’s where the story takes a turn for me. Most of us are familiar with the only miracle story that appears in all four of the New Testament Gospels. Jesus tells the disciples to see what’s available. They find a small boy with five barley loaves and two small fish. Jesus takes the food, prays over it, breaks it, and miraculously it feeds thousands with baskets of leftovers.

And then this morning, my epiphany.

What if the miracle wasn’t a “powerful deity” miracle, but a “changing hearts” miracle? What if the sudden appearance of plenty of food had nothing to do with the magical duplication of five loaves and two fish, but was instead the magic of an example of sharing as set by a small boy?

What if absolutely nothing supernatural happened to the food supply that day?

And so our story continues, my way.

The disciples reported back to Jesus that a small boy, a child too young to know better than to hide what he had brought with him, had eagerly begged the disciples to take what he had and give it to those around him who were hungry.

After all, his hero, Jesus of Nazareth, had just said the way to experience the kingdom of God was through giving and sharing.

Then Jesus gratefully acknowledged that little boy and showered him with love and adoration. “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'” Luke 18:16-17

Jesus blessed the small meal and began to share it.

And suddenly the hearts of the crowd began to soften. Jesus words about giving, sharing, and being like this little child affected them deeply. Many had brought along a lunch that day. It would have been foolish to travel out to the countryside empty-handed. They never went anywhere without at least a few provisions. Everyone present began to share what they had with the person next to them.

After the crowd had satisfied it’s hunger, Jesus asked the disciples to go around and gather up all that remained. Several more could have been fed from the leftovers.

Jesus made a beautiful point that day. If we take care of each other, share what we have and meet the needs of our fellow humans, not only will there be more than enough for everyone to be satisfied, but there will be plenty left over.

What good does it to do collect and store and stash and hoard if rust and moth ravage the loot? Mother Earth (God) is good to us. There will always be provisions enough to take care of everyone if set our sights on sharing what we have, not from our abundance, but from our very sustenance.

That little boy shared his lunch. It was all he had to eat that day. He didn’t know any better. By doing so, a miracle happened. His example opened the hearts of the entire crowd and everyone shared the little they had brought with them. Before the little boy opened his heart and his hands, no one seemed to have anything to share. Everyone was keeping the meagerness of their poverty lifestyle food to themselves.

One little boy opened his heart, and Jesus used it to open so many others.

Through sharing the most meager of resources, abundance was produced.The kingdom of God was experienced by everyone present, and  Jesus lesson was beautifully illustrated.

I like this version much better than the one that assumes deity must do some type of magic to turn five loaves and two fish into a banquet feast. It puts the power and the responsibility back on us……

….right where it belongs.

What if this were to happen today? What if we suddenly had no need for welfare because we simply took care of our neighbors?

It would take a miracle.

I’m pretty sure there’s a political statement in here somewhere. I bet you can figure it out.

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