Posted in Sketches

The Oldest Classical Joke

The Oldest Classical Joke
The Oldest Classical Joke (C) 2018 RevAllenC

I guess they don’t know who started the whole shouting “Free Bird” at concerts thing, but I imagine the tradition dates back longer than people have previously imagined.

“Firebird!”

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Posted in Notes

Freed to flee or fight?

ala. Acts 5:12-26

Fight-or-flight is an innate physiological response to an intense, stressful situation. Without thought the mind and body initiate one of two responses: either to flee the situation (flight) or to stay and “fight”.

Peter and the others were imprisoned for saying that Jesus was the Messiah. It wasn’t just that they were stirring up conflict, but the religious leaders were jealous because they were also amassing strong support among converts.

Yet while they were in prison an “angel of the Lord” visited and freed them. Their first response might have been that of flight, to put distance between themselves and those who had arrested them, and who would’ve blamed them? But the angel told them to go to the Temple, the religious center and sphere of the jealous leaders’ oversight, and to keep telling people about the new life offered in this Messiah.

The focus of this story is not how the angel had released them in miraculous fashion. Instead, the key is in how Peter and the others willingly followed the angel’s instructions, against their better human nature. Rather than preserve their own safety after being freed, they went to the heart of those who had imprisoned them in the first place.

When God gets us out of a jam our first instinct is to get ourselves further from it, to avoid the situation altogether. During an occasion of grief we shut down, blocking out all the anger and hurt, and quickly trying to move on with our “normal” routine. When we get ourselves into trouble we hide from the world and the situation, blaming others and avoiding personal accountability.

Even when we find ourselves imprisoned in some way for doing the right thing, for standing up and speaking out for the truth, we give up and limp away nursing our wounds.

God’s grace doesn’t always free us to flee from difficulty. It emboldens us to stand our ground.

To acknowledge our grief and work through its stages, realizing that such is a natural part of life. To take accountability for our actions and do what we can to resolve or amend the consequences they have cause. And to stand our ground, or else go into the heart of the fight for what is right and just, despite lies and transgressions to the contrary.

May God fling open the doors of whatever prison in which you may find yourselves, so that in your freedom you may find the strength and courage to keep up the good fight, rather than thrown in the towel.

Posted in Sketches

Plugging In

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 NRSV

Plugging into the Light

When you plug in a lamp, you don’t do so just to light it up. Instead, you plug it in so that it will light up the room.

Prayer is the same thing. It plugs us into Christ, not just for him to light up our life, but that through our life he might light up the world.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.
Matthew 5:14 NRSV

Take time to plug into the Light, so that you may go and be part of the light in the world.

Posted in Notes, Sketches

Unexpected and unsuspecting blessing

“Everyone serves the good wine first. They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely. You kept the good wine until now.” ~John 2:10 CEB

Water to Wine

Have you ever been publicly embarrassed? It’s not fun, and it may take awhile before you recover, able to show your face again.

In the Ancient Near East the ideology of honor/shame was a major standard of society. Such especially applied to the week-long wedding feasts of the day, for a successful one would bring great honor to the groom and his family, though it doesn’t seem it factored as much to the bride and hers, because … ancient times. However, the great honor for a successful wedding would also apply to the entire village as well, while any shame would linger with all parties for years to come, if not a lifetime.

Something that would have ruined a wedding and been the cause of public embarrassment would have been to run out of wine, just as almost happened in Cana that day.

Jesus’ mother was well aware of this, as she asked her son to do something to help when the wine went dry. Albeit reluctantly, Jesus turned what water they had into wine. Subsequently, not only was the family and the village spared the public embarrassment, they were hailed for saving the best wine for last, when most others would’ve diluted it throughout the week.

In short, Jesus’ miracle wasn’t so much that he turned water into wine but that he turned public shame into great honor, “saving” an entire village in so doing.

Consequently, this was why he worked the miracle in secret, so not to draw attention to himself and still see the family shamed, but just to sit back and smile upon the unexpected and unsuspecting blessing that he had bestowed behind the scenes.

Jesus still helps people who have been embarrassed or shamed find honor and blessing again, even more so.

He isn’t so much the Savior of the proud and powerful, those with unending vats of wine stored up, as he is those whose resources have all but run dry. He came to save those who bore the shame of their imperfections to show them that they were perfect in God’s sight. He came to save those, whom the world may have condemned, so that they might enjoy the unexpected blessings only he could bestow.

So if you feel ashamed, don’t. Not of who you are, what you have, or what you’ve done. Because Jesus is still working behind the scenes on unexpected and unsuspecting blessings, not just for you but to share through you with others.

Posted in Sketches

Treasures in Heaven

ala. Matthew 19:27-30

Singles Reward

Growing up my parents used to reward me with 45 records. It was better than any allowance they could’ve given me.

Good work = reward, that’s what our parents taught us, right? Well, it’s not something we grow out of. Yet it’s not the formula that we should expect from Jesus.

Jesus said that there was reward that came in following him, but that it was something that went beyond any compensation we could ever imagine for any effort of our own.

The reward of “treasures in heaven”, which come by grace alone.

The reward of love, even when love seems lost.
Of knowing you’ve been kind, even if the world has been cruel.
That you’ve done your best, despite the worst.
And that your present circumstance is not your ultimate end.

Posted in Notes

Look, there goes Jesus

ala. John 1:29-42; Acts 3:12-26

Both John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter pointed the attention of the crowds they had attracted away from themselves to Jesus.

John had been proclaiming the kingdom and baptizing great numbers of people in the wilderness, such that they thought he may have been the Christ himself. But he had said he was just a forerunner, and when Jesus arrived on the scene he pointed at him and said,

“Look there, that’s the one! That is the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin!”

Later Peter would heal a lame man (see yesterday’s post) yet when the people turned to him, thinking him to be some divine person, he basically told them,

“Look, it wasn’t me! It was Jesus.”

Peter and John were both all-too-human and, much like us, could have fallen into the easy trap of letting people worship them. Instead, they used their lives, their accomplishments, to help people worship the one, who alone is worthy.

There are plenty of people who adore being worshiped. People who love to hear their name called, their efforts praised and rewarded. People who live a life that points to “Me, me, me” and screams “Look at me!”

We are called to live a life that says, “Look at Jesus!”

We are called to live lives that point beyond ourselves or, better, within ourselves to Christ. His love, his kindness, his peace, and his greatness, not ours.

May we live a life that says,

“Look! There goes Jesus!”

Posted in Notes

Just what Jesus has to give

ala. Acts 3:1-11

Peter told the lame man at the gate that he didn’t have much, but in the name of Jesus he’d give him what he had. Thus the man was healed and didn’t just stand but leaped up, following Peter to learn everything he could about this Jesus.

The healing was possible because the person in the story didn’t expect the riches of the world but accepted what Christ alone could give him, which was just what he needed.

In life we expect great things to happen, and sometimes they do, but most times Jesus only gives us just what we need. Nothing more, nothing less.

May we never miss the best that Jesus is trying to offer because we are too busy waiting for better things to always come along.