Then She Fell off her camel

Here we have the a Biblical story of true love.

 

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Genesis+24

Its kind of a funny story, because it has a lot of loopholes. Sarah has died, and the hope is that Isaac will find a wife among his own people instead of the Canaanites, which makes sense at that time. Arranged marriages worked, primarily because the matches were made among those couples who had similar backgrounds.

Here we go, Isaac is to try to find a wife among his father’s people. His father Abraham, sends a sworn-servant to find such a woman, but if he can’t he’s released from his vow. (Which I find hilarious). Then the servant goes to the well, the Meeting place of all the people & decides that the best woman would be one who will give water to not just him but also his camels.

Here’s the thing, Israeli wells are dug deep into the earth. These uneven and slippery steps are climbed by women with cisterns of water. So, when the servant says he will choose such a woman he is indicating this woman would be not only nice, but also generous, and strong, and capable.

For a woman who hardly speaks, we learn quite a lot about Rebekah from this interaction.

After she waters the camels (10 of them!) The servant explains the situation and she agrees to marry, then they go to her family, the servant tells the story & she agrees again.

Then they go to Isaac, to tell the story, and Rebekah is so surprised by the sight of Isaac she falls off her camel! It then becomes clear that this is a love match (what a way to fall in love).

What’s amazing about this photo-fairy tale story, is this is before fairy tales. Fairy tales and true love and generosity and hard work being rewarded really come onto the scene with the advent of Jesus Christ, and the modern concepts of blessings. There is no such thing as “happily ever after” until Jesus Christ and heaven and the idea of building God’s kingdom on earth become a part of culture. Before this, gods only are thought of as beings who mess with humans for their own amusement. This is even before the Ten Commandments. There is no “love your neighbor as yourself” yet, only the practice and culture of generosity.

But here we are, love at first sight, good deeds rewarded, generosity at the heart of the family. This hints at who our God is! Our God is not a God we worship to placate or get good crops out of (unlike the contemporary gods of the time). We worship our God, because our God is a generous God, gifting and blessing us beyond our imaginings.

So here we are, a meet cute scene, with a fairy tale ending. The beginning of the understanding of who God is!

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#hopewins #notafraid #diwali Practicing Humanity & Defeating #Terrorism

Today is diwali the celebration of light winning over darkness, how fitting a reminder, for me a Christian when mercy and justice are hard to find today.

Fear Not!

Every time an angle appeared, every time God speaks, fear is cast out. God doesn’t want us to live in fear, God wants us to live into hope.

But that’s hard, its hard when attacks occur all over the world on one day–Beruit, Paris, Baghdad. Its difficult when gun violence continues to cause school shooter drills and institutional racism is unveiled again and again and again.

So what I do is, I cry. I pray. I look at the stars. I light candles.

(until we find the right words, we’ll light candles–Martha Spong)

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I live in hope.

This expression is one I use when things are uncertain. I toss it off in casual conversation as though it is easy, but it is so, so difficult.

Worrying is a human past time. Its a way to cope with the reality that evil is in the world. It is a tool that can be overused to the point where we worry too much and forget to live.

Fear also, is interesting. As Christians a tenant of our faith is the fear God. We are not supposed to base our decisions on what could happen, we are not supposed to live our life based in fears, we aren’t supposed to live into the worry and the guilt, because the truth is, we humans do not function well in those state.

When we are anxious and afraid, when we are guilty or judgmental, we make bad decisions.

No doubt, this is why over and over again we are urged only to fear God. “Those who fear God” is an expression in the Old Testament to describe all those who are trying to follow God instead of giving in to other things. But then God tells us over and over again to fear not. And counsels us to hope and trust in what is going on….

Its hard not to fear, not to worry that I’m not secure enough in money or friendships. Its hard when my body does not function the way I want it to, or when my children get hurt from the bad things that go on in the world. Its hard when the news talks a lot about the problems of the world and little about the solutions. Its hard when refugees and children are dying from violence and rejection. Its hard when people proclaim “its not like it used to be” with authority as if evil is new and spreading instead of being old and already defeated by Jesus.

But I live into hope.

I practice not being afraid.

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Building trust, assuming people are trustworthy, treating everyone with respect and kindness.

Because those are hope building practices, and this is how to defeat evil. This is how #hopewins, this is how we defeat #terrorism, not with weapons or policies, but with the refusal to live a life of fear.

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Look at #HarryPotter, (with help from Diana Butler Bass) and Christ & Culture

I have an ongoing theory about where religion is going….

It happily matches Diana Butler Bass’s, though is from a differing perspective

In undergrad I got a BA in Hist and Engl and (almost) a minor in Philosophy…but really, I was studying fairy tales & fantasy. I did my thesis on that.

Then in seminary, I would sneak off and read fantasy and try to study Lewis and L’engle on the side, of course taking Osmer’s Fantasy class (I got to help with the reading list that year) YAY!

So….I’ve noticed how fantasy is not only the sort of fiction our souls need, as the inklings theorized, but also that its mirroring of spirituality is amazing.

Here is the thesis in a nutshell: Fairy Tales did not exist before Christ, before that there was no forgiving God, no happily ever after. (Cupid and Psyche is simultaneously the last myth, the first fairy tale)

There the idea of Human Progress and Mythic Recess. Science was on the move, Oz has to be hidden, Narnia can’t be find, the Elves are leaving in Tolkien.

Science is taking over there is no room for magic/religion

We are now, in 2015, witnessing the Harry Potter generation coming into adulthood. If I am at the beginning of the millennial time (I was born in 83), then my sister (born in 93) and graduating from undergrad this year, I think will be the end of it, and the beginning of the new generation. How can it not? The economics have changed, religion has changed, rights have changed….read Diana Butler Bass’s book Christianity after Religion for more.

This Harry Potter generation read about Muggles and Wizardfolk. Side by side, intertwined. The magic is hard to find, but once you discover it, it parallels and is (and as it turns out has been) integrated into “regular” life. Urban fantasy, by the likes Charlaine Harris &

I feel this is a signal to where religion/faith is going in the future. How does our spirituality fit into our lives?

More (w)holistically to be sure, more diverse, more interspersed with those who are not typically religious.

People like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Neil Gaiman, Madeline L’engle, Robin Mckinley all of whom speak to the truth of fantasy….

I know it is but a mirror, but the fact that fantasy was founded as a conversation about Christ and Culture, and looking to the big questions

Where does humanity start? How is the great battle between good and evil going? What is the individual’s call within that battle?

(Geek moment. I consider Science Fiction to be about adding technology onto humans to augment and change it. Fantasy to be about what happens when magic is thrown into the normal world. Both are about the state of humanity, what makes someone a person?)

I think that as the Harry Potter Generation, those who literally grew up with the books, signal where interest in spirituality might be going next, and that their might be a revival…..and I find that fascinating……

Still mulling about that wonderful Dystopic Fantasy…I think Diana Bass Butler’s theory about the bridge of change….is helpful ….even more helpful for me is to move beyond the flat narrative and looking more carefully at the narrative of those who have to bear the burden of those changes, people of color, the poor, the LBGQT, etc.

#God #time #daylightsavingstime #philosophy (you know little concepts)

Why Daylight Savings Time, Why?

Most people don’t like Daylight Savings Time, I will admit that as a pastor it is a little terrifying to know that if I get the time wrong I’ll miss doing my job (yipes)

However, my kids have already adjusted their systems (at least 10 days ago) do the new time. Yep, they’ve been getting up and going to bed earlier. Apparently they have great cicada rhythms. So in some ways it will be easier for me.

On the other hand, we humans love time. We calculate it, we keep it, we try to control it. Daylight Savings Time & Leap Year serve to remind me that Time is a human measure.

Consider creation, we all still don’t know what “a day” to God was, but probably God experiences time differently than us.

When I was in Seminary, a Spiritual Practice I tried to remember when I considered deep theological questions, was the fact that God is timeless….God does not need to measure things in time. Because we do, I’m sure God does take it into consideration, but the taming and capturing of moments is a human need, not one that God has…

Puts me in mind of two beautiful concepts

Wrinkle in Time/Tesseract

Tesseract

and Dr. Who

timey-wimey

Go forth. Spring Forward (or fall back)

And think deep thoughts about God….Time…..and Humans relationship to God, Humans relationship to to time, and how we all fit together…..

#fairytales #theology #valentinesday

“The great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ – a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” ― G.K. Chesterton |

This is why Beauty and the Beast is my theological fairy tale of choice

Cupid & Psyche–the basis for Beauty and the Beast– is simulataneously the last myth and the first fairy tale ever written…why? Because the transformational power of love and the possibility of “happily ever after” only come into being with the advent of Christianity and a new understanding of what theological hope is, telling a whole different story of good news

#God & #Dragons…God loves monsters…..YAYYYYYY

https://medium.com/@theboyonthebike/god-loves-monsters-4f727db3d046

Beautiful Theology over at theboyonthebike

“The monster was not a threat to God. And while Job had become a threat to his friends, he wasn’t a threat to God either. The creature that the world called “monster,” God called “friend.” The beautiful part then is that the people the world calls “monster” (because their appearance, their story, their otherness feels monstrous to those around them) are the ones that God calls friend. All the things that made Leviathan so frightening to everyone else were what made Leviathan delightful to God. God celebrated all the wild things about Leviathan that made everyone else recoil in horror.”

“In fact, in an especially strange turn of the poem, in some translations God not only celebrates Leviathan — but identifies with Leviathan. Watch how God seems to casually move between how people respond to Leviathan and how they actually respond to Him in Job 41.9–11:”

Happily Ever After #Job #fairytale #harrypotter #hallowsnothorcruxes

Job 42:10-17

10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money* and a gold ring. 12The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. 13He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16After this Job lived for one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. 17And Job died, old and full of days.

So here we are Job (at least one of, if not the) first written fairy tale and it ends happily ever after…so this means that tempted as we are to write this off as a “happily ever after” if this is one of the first AND we make note that there is no such thing

He has more children than before (more boys always important)…is more wealthy and is even able to give his daughters an inheritance….(yay!)

But what makes this a happily ever after is not the kids and the money..its God’s presence...its the knowledge that (remember this is pre-Jesus) bad things can happen to anyone, and it isn’t about judgement.

Happily Ever After is experiencing the love of God!

Its knowing God is present in your life.

Job was GUARENTEED a happily ever after. He has experienced God, and because of that his life will be happy.

No matter what.

Those other details are mere illustrations of the truth of God’s love!

And it makes all the difference…….

That is why after experiencing Jesus Christ, “Happily Ever After” became viable…because we are living into God’s presence…before Jesus Christ there was NO SUCH THING. Now we know death isn’t the end.

We use this theology in fantasy/fairy tales today!

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, p. 328.

  • Engraved on the headstone of James and Lily Potters. Taken from the Bible, (1 Corinthians 15:26)

“It doesn’t mean defeating death in the way the Death Eaters mean it, Harry,” said Hermione, her voice gentle. “It means… you know… living beyond death. Living after death.” p. 329 which of course is what Jesus Christ made possible……changing the world and the way we experience it as we know it

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Here’s to living happily ever after

#Job #wisdom #God #world #suffering #ministryofpresence

 

Job 38

Then God comes in a storm. Thundering his mightiness, showering his holiness, blowing his grace across Job’s Face.

“Who are you to question me?” God asks…..

and God shows who God is to Job

Job 42

Job repents, realizing who God is… Job says that he had “heard” God before, but this is the first time he “saw him”

 

So why does God show up in the storm?

•I do NOT think God was yelling at Job for complaining

•I do NOT think God was TRYing scare Job: although “fear of God” was probably a side effect”

 

Godly Encounter (warning, side effects may include “the fear of God”)
 
I think that when Job glimpsed God, when Job got an inkling of how/who/what God was…
I think when Job felt the MAGNITUDE of God’s LOVE
He realized that knowing the whys and wherefores, having all the answers….being “right” was not going to give him enough to UNDERSTAND the workings of the universe.
 
A better window, was to understand who God is and that God is present
When I was 5 I busted my lip open riding a bike, just before it was to be loaded on the moving truck. I was riding it around one last time, hit a rock and split my lip open. All the way there I cried.
When I got there, they had to put stitches in, and they surrounded me with a curtain. I was on painkillers.
I was crying for my mother
My mom said she was afraid that she was cutting off the circulation to my hand, she was squeezing it so hard, but even though she kept trying to tell me she was just behind the curtain and she was holding my hand–I couldn’t see her.
 
And when I finally did see her….it didn’t make everything better. The pain didn’t go away, I didn’t understand any better what exactly it was the doctors were doing to me.
But I felt better.
That is (I think) how Job felt….once he knew God was there, it didn’t fix things, but it did make things better.
 
And if we get back to what our call is as  Church, as the Body of Christ, as Christians, that is our call. We can’t fix everything (sadly), we can’t. But our call is to be present. Our call is to recognize the Holy Spirit is at work in every being. Our call is to make even those who suffer–a little bit better