Monday, October 23, 2023

Hope 9

 The Hope of Christ 

Word - Logos - Something said, made true by its speaking.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God.

All things  were made through him and without him nothing was made.  In him was life and the life was the light of men.  That light shines in the darkness and darkness cannot comprehend it.  John 1:1-5

Jesus' originalness with God and his participation with the Godhead comes with his identity within it and by proximity to it.  He and God are "one and the same." Jesus becomes the very expression of God to humanity.  

Darkness on earth had obscured the Divine's presence (in creation) and led to an ignorance of people to God's intent for all creation.  The darkness was an ignorance of the Divine that had produced misery and God intended to dispel that ignorance and its resultant misery with the life of his Son.

Jesus's life can now reveal God's purposes for all. His appearance  illuminates God's truth and presence, even to the point that his presence obscures the darkness. The purpose for this expression of God (although he would not be the last, as he indicated he would send the Holy Spirit) was to dispel the lack of understanding of the Divine.

There is now no reason for doubt, since Jesus' intent and expression now provides a channel for knowledge and understanding of the truth of God. It is an ongoing effort by the Holy Spirit through his holy people to have that light of Jesus still shine.  His intent is clear:  we are the presentation of revealed truth in these days.

It is our hope that the light given us will continue to go out to a needy world needing the revelation of the Father who loves them.

You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead, they put it on its stand and it gives light to every in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Hope 8

 Yahal - to wait, hope, expect

The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.  The war horse is a false hope for salvation and by its great might, it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield.  For our heart is glad in him because we trust in his holy name.  Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you!   Ps 33:16-22

    false hope/vain thing - seqer - deception, disappointment, betrayal

    steadfast love/mercy - hesed - goodness, kindness, faithfulness

    trust - batah - security; place of freedom

We have built our "armies" and they have failed us.  The world gives us a formula for success, for protection.  It only helps for awhile and deceives us into trusting it and the work of our own hands for protection and provision.  Personal strength? Yet, we soon realize that we have failed ourselves.  We soon find that the battle will go on too long.  The forces of evil are too strong.  Our deception will be our failure.

The Lord!  He is the one!  He is the one who can save, protect and feed us.  He alone is our shield.  And he is available through the easiest of means:

    regard his greatness highly

    press into his love; look for it

    be patient and watch as he acts

    rejoice in God's being.

Let that hope be on the grounds (foundationally) of resting upon the love of God.  God is for us; who can be against us? 

It has been you all along, Father.  Help me to celebrate the travail and the victory!  Amen!

Monday, October 02, 2023

The Hidden Rules of Religion

 truth - alethia - objective (not situational) truth in any matter; personal excellence, candor;  transparency and authenticity

Alethia is made of "alpha" + "hidden" in the Greek, literally meaning "first revelation."  Truth as the notion of idea revealed (from God) as in true nature of God and circumstances, standing in direct contrast to cultural norms.

The hidden rules of the religious class and church culture often do not reflect the truth of God.  These rules serve to exclude others and build a fortress of isolation around itself.  In religious extremism this is seen in theocracies which sequester their members through clothing (the hajib), food (LDS doesn't allow its members to drink coffee) , or body-expression (remember no dancing or card playing?), often isolating gender (women) from the worship center and creating a hierarchy for participation and service.  It can include violence against aliens and apostates.  

Are we willing to own whether our religious entity (church or small group) is exclusionary?

And the purpose of these rules?  They protect and preserve the religious class. They segregate the haves ("chosen") from the have-nots.  They create conformity to the point of exclusion.  The closed church appropriates Jesus and his message to create a sequestered body, safe by economic and power structures, like Constantine's use and protection of the early church in the 400s, when he made Christianity the religion of the state.

What if our religious culture is more tradition than truth, especially as a way to maintain bias, separation, position and comfort?  What if we have built a fortress instead of a community that is expansive and expanding?   

Are we like Mary and Joseph, who went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the seat and center of their faith, and in their return home lost Jesus in the crowd?  They assumed Jesus was in the crowd of fellow pilgrims...assumed.  They were absorbed in their communal practice, but were not in Jesus' presence.  They didn't know where he was. To find him, they returned to the Temple.  

"Temple" literally means "altar of speech," the place where God speaks, the inner sanctum. Have we been enmeshed in the Christian community and its rules and rituals such that we have missed Jesus' presence?  How do we find the temple where he resides? 

Jesus has assured us the temple is now in a new place: our hearts and souls, where his Holy Spirit now resides. It is the inner sanctum, to which we must return. While we are not to neglect the community, we are also not to forget our first love.  We are to hold them in balance.  Have we?

Yet this:  you have forsaken the love you held at first.  Revelation 2:4