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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

They Walked Away, the Oldest First...

The Bible has some amazing throwaway lines. It was somebody like Don Miller who commented on the line in Genesis that said "And God also made the stars"(Genesis chapter 1 verse 16). Sort of understated. If Richard Branson had made them, Genesis would go on, and on, and on, a bit like a Crass record..

It also has teasers that are really annoying. Heres some:

John 8 v 6. Jesus writes in the sand when a woman "caught in adultery" (weird the bloke wrestled free, wasn't it?) is dragged before him. What was he writing? Hello? Hello John? Earth calling John? No, dont start on what he said, till you deal with what he wrote...oh, great. Now we're into something else.Thanks.

And the most annoying is John chapter 21 verse 25- "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written"

You suppose, John? But why not give it a bash, given that you are locked in a tower for the bulk of your adult life? They haven't invented Blu Ray or XBox, so theres no excuse. I'm serious, rip down the Amazon, I need to know all the other stuff! We can start with his missing childhood, because frankly Im not satisfied with the "missing during the trip to the Temple" bit. Thats like a film teaser and no film!

Jesus at College: Part 1

I want to hear about Jesus' childhood friends and maturing ministry skills. Maybe stories about Mary and Jospeh washing up and looking out into their garden, and dropping the pots in panic when they see little Jesus playing with Marcus Rotatingheadicus, the local centurions boy, and Thor and Loki, the unhinged barbarian twins with weird blond hair who moved in next door a few weeks ago. Can you imagine the conversation?

Mary: "Joe, I told you to tell him about bringing gentile kids back here...I mean have you seen Thor and Loki's father? He wears a winged helmet and walks round drinking lager out of a skull"

Joseph: "I did. He said 'Dont be religious, Dad. God loves everybody'. He mixes with everybody Mary, you know that. That all started in the barn he was born in- remember those Babylonian witchdoctors who came with all those expensive presents? And those smelly shepherds...."

Mary: "I know. I know. Im thinking of him, really. It's going to cause him trouble. He even jokes around with the tax collectors in the business district and the women from the bordello"

Joseph: "Look, Mary, you have gentiles in your family tree. Including a loose woman, while were on the subject"

Mary: "Youre not striking the correct tone here, Joe."

Joseph: "Frankly, I'm more worried about some of Jewish neighbours we have. That creepy Iscariot kid, and that horrble old Pharisee from number 57. What did Jesus call him?"

Mary: "An uptight death peddling walking grave with no personality"

(Both laugh)

Joesph: "Jesus! Dont touch the water jug! What is it with you and water jugs? Loki! Put the cat and the axe down! Now!"

Mary: "Oh, great. Here's those Samaritan sisters with the weeping lip sores...." 

But seriously, folks, what was Jesus like at 11 when he was learning? Did he ever break a limb falling out of a tree?

And the real burning questions; how did somebody sinless interact with siblings on a long holiday trip on the back of the donkey? In 30 degrees in the shade, with no air con?

"Abba, Jesus won't share his Action Levite"

"Yeah, like that's true, James"

Exhibit A

Or what about with a tired and stressed parent getting it wrong when dealing with a crisis? 

Given that Jesus "had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him", one can extrapolate that he may have had a face only a mother could love. How did he deal with comments on that theme from good looking boys and girls, while he was in the boiling hormonal sea we call adolescence? See, if we knew that, we would all be better parents......

So, coming back in to land.

Where I'm going with this is about the received wisdom of God. Some stuff in the Bible is for children. Certainly the gospel is. Other stuff you need to chew on, and some stuff, frankly, is off its head. What the Dickens was Ezekiel on about? Anybody understand Revelation?

But some of the throw away lines are very loaded. And going back to the opening one that gives us the title of today's entry (which is from John 8 verses 9-10) the point I'm making is this; when you get a bit older, you get wiser, and have undertanding and grace. And in this verse, the older people knew Jesus was not only right, He was calling an end to us projecting the things we have done and got away with onto those caught in the act. When we are young the heat of our convictions make us merciless, or at besy clumsy in doling out justice or action.

(Time for a text formatting problem I cant solve, without loosing all my links and stuff. Why do computers do it? Why would it want to change the spacing? Just suddenly? With no context?)

I used to think that Jesus let the "woman caught in adultery" get away with it totally, which in a sense is cool, but not if you want to understand what Jesus came for, or who is is. But of course what she did was dealt with on the cross.

Other mysterious passages in the Bible, or very outspoken rude ones, are also loaded with truth we have to be in the zone to hear. Thats why Jesus kept saying, like a gameshow catchphrase, "he who has ears to hear, let him hear"

For instance, Paul seems to say some pretty anti women stuff,- til you get wisdom and read up around the Greek he was using, and the context. The stuff about women being silent and wearing head coverings- one half of a purposefully misconveyed (by theolgians) conversation. What Paul really meant was women were not to teach heresies based on Gnostic myths of all powerful, to- be- worshipped Earth Goddesses, but were otherwise to teach and learn- like Jewish men, in submission and silence. He also uses a word hitherto unused within Scripture- "authentein". Paul also warns women not to hang with old wives and their gossip. Rather than a proto misogynist sneer, Paul is trying to stop people listening to Gnostic myths- many of which were very dark and antiChrist (for instance implying God the Father was an evil junior God in a massive pantheon of others) These myths were genuinely passed on by old women (only) as a sort of dodgy ministry within that culture. Intrigued? Have a look at this great book.....

Great book. Dont hold your breath for the film

 And the old classic about it being better not to marry for the sake of gospel- it's just a practical truth. For years I thought Paul was saying marriage was bobbins, which was setting me off because it reeked of that high church dislike of "relations" and stuff.

But, married, you can't take the bolder risks the unmarried do, because you have your spouse and little children to think of. You can't respond in the Spirit and jump on a flight to Bogota to meet a man with a green cap waiting in a coffee shop in that city's favella because...well, try it if your married and see what happens. I know many people think Paul was married (especially as being a religious Jew pretty much required this), but I struggle with the idea he still had a wife by the time of his apostleship (maybe his wife disowned him on his conversion)

I mean, can you imagine Paul telling his wife:

"Right. Im off to Macedonia for several years, where its quite dangerous"

"Thats funny Paul, as we are going to the Bar-Jonah wedding in two weeks. You're doing the dips. Oh, and you can tell that raging extrovert Barnabas to stop hugging me. He squashed my hair last time"

For seasons, decades, for some of us the entirety of our lives, we are unable to hear. We hear audible voices, but it doesn't go in. Like the years I wanted a this ministry, this thing, a life partner-whatever- and just couldnt hear the wisdom given me on that subject by all around. Or the thing were doing our way, or the needs we're pushing....

Like the character flaws that my conscience, the Holy Spirit, and others have brought to my attention over the years but I was too lazy and too unwilling and too deaf to deal with.

Like the deeper I delve into the darkest times of the adoption journey. I am beginning to find it wasnt the kids or the other noise but me being.....a jerk. 

Thank goodness- and youve heard it before ladies and gentlemen- Im not overweight or irritable.


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