Sunday, March 19, 2006

March 26, 2006 - Year B - Lent 4

Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10
John 3:14-21

What do you see as the cause of the ill-health of your various systems - personal, familial, congregational, communal, national, environmental?

By your analysis will come your own sign and action for healing?

How does looking upon Jesus Christ heal?

How do you become a sign of healing?


  1. John 3:14-21

    The New Interpreter's Study Bible notes: "'Eternal life' does not speak of immortality or a future life in heaven, but is a metaphor for living now in the unending presence of God."

    I have used this quote before and think it quite to the point at every point along the way. We tend to get so caught up in ultimates that we lose track of the importance of the temporal. It is not until we have dealt with such a small thing as the present presence of G*D that we will be entrusted with the larger thing of a future presence. In some systems this means there never will come a future because we are always where we are.

    This is another way of getting at the presence of paradise instead of the distance of heaven.

    Pray with me: For the gift of practicing the presence of G*D, thanks. For the perseverance to continue practicing, thanks.

  2. Ephesians 2:1-10

    If we look at this passage through the eyes of folks in the snake-pit of Numbers 21, the issue of being saved through faith in Jesus can be connected to being healed through looking at a bronze serpent.

    Now how do you do your parallelism? Is "being saved" connected with looking (activity) or bronze serpent (object)? Which connects with "faith"?

    When it comes to Jesus, do you primarily pair him with salvation or with faith?

    I am aware these are intertwined issues, but my experience is that I weight things differently according to my current state of being and active stage of spiritual maturity. I simply find my language changing and, accordingly, my sensibilities, perceived connections, and engagements.

    For now I appreciate faith being an action (looking toward) not a settled doctrine (bronze serpent). In the same way I acknowledge the way in which Jesus has been turned into hardened forms where we tell Jesus how it is to be Jesus and what he is to do for us. Jesus has become a magical catalyst for having our wants met and a shield against having to change.

  3. Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

    The redeemed (those who recognize G*D's steadfast love and are able to respond to it instead of react to it) give thanks that steadfast love, beyond any expectation that it would still be there, is yet available. This action of thanks is a spark or flow of energy that comes from a completed circuit.

    Remember back to your own days and moments of thanksgiving that goes beyond official turning on and off of thanks (a proclaimed national day, a letter to grandma for a birthday gift, etc.). Now can that be turned into anticipation of thanks to come and an intentional working toward that which completes a circuit between steadfast love offered and responsive love returned. When working well this small circuit has become connected with other similar circuits to become a larger presence of steadfast love now awaiting additional responses.

    Whether an individual sized circuit or a congregational sized circuit, the experience of wholeness leads to a life of activity oriented toward an expansion of thankfulness. Whatever might get in the way of such an expansion is thankfully left behind (read sacrificed).

  4. Numbers 21:4-9

    Snakes were and are symbols of both death and danger and fertility, life, and healing. Around and around goes the snake, tail in mouth.

    To make a bronze snake is to stop the motion in one state. In theory, the snake here gets caught in healing mode. But even that doesn't stop the cycle. There are reports of this bronze serpent continuing on with the people (see 2 Kings 18:4) and turning into an idol, a source of separation and death. Thus it needs to be cast away as it does the same thing the complaints about lack of food has done in the wilderness, hearkened folks back to what they saw as a preferable time - back to Egypt, back to slavery.

    The bronze serpent eventually ends up at the same place as the golden calf. The time frame of their getting to the death place is different, but the arc or cycle of meaning is the same.

    Questions of Jesus coming around from being a source of salvation, healing, wholeness to being an idol spring to mind.

    What, today, acts as a symbol of healing for the moment but will blowback death? Is it the idol of democracy that will soon raise up worse demagogues than we now have as the fears of the people are exacerbated and played upon? Is it the idol of a free market that never has been free and has always been played by those for whom it is a marker for being successful in society? Is it the idol of settled doctrine that says God was once alive, but has since cease to be a living God that can move on?

  5. Ephesians 2:1-10

    To be raised up with Christ Jesus in the heavenly places sounds good. It will, at the least, show a portion of immeasurable grace by G*D. Whew! We're in.

    The important addition to this perspective based on a G*D of all time, is a showing of immeasurable grace in present times. To be raised with Christ Jesus in earthly places is of more immediate concern for ourselves (remember the James doctrine, "Faith/Heaven without works/earth is dead!") and for others not included in a limited heaven (remember the Trix doctrine of "Silly Church, Heaven's for everyone!") This present focus is of particular importance if you are one who sees deeds as evidence of spirit.

    It is all to easy to stop with the heaven talk and never get around to good works which are to be our way of life in this present age.

    May you be raised to life in this life and trust that whatever life is next will bring its own life.

  6. John 3:14-21

    I am blanking on where I recently ran into information about what has been translated "believes in him". The point being made was that the Greek was not about propositional orientation, but active emulation. It might be said that those who are healed are those who get what Jesus is living about G*D and apply it to their lives. The understanding of what results from this process of living one's faith is revealed in the subsequent verses -- G*D's love of all creation.

    When it comes to faith or belief, deeds expected by G*D, deeds done in G*D, become the proof of the pudding.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.