Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
You know, you sit down to write a simple blog post and you learn something new. Apparently the question of how many times the Fear not/Do not be afraid motif appears in the Bible is a matter of some controversy. Nevertheless, my original thought still applies.
Maybe it's just me, but when I read that line, particularly coming from the mouth of Jesus himself, my western Christian upbringing kicks in and I see Flannel Graph Jesus, very Caucasian, sitting on a log with a rosy-cheeked, also very white kid under one arm, and a cute l'il lamb under the other. He's speaking in his Jack Handy voice, he's smiling, and everyone around him is smiling. You know the picture.
I wonder now if we had that all wrong.
I wonder if, when people listened to Jesus speak, they freaked out... just a little. After all, what he was saying was counter-cultural, counter-intuitive, outrageous... even blasphemous. Dangerous stuff. If we made a movie about Jesus (I mean another movie) I think the scene would have a lot of that crowd noise, with the odd alarmed voice shouting out, some for, some against. There would be a muffled scream from off stage somewhere. Maybe the sound of breaking class. You know, the usual low-grade riot effects.
Now that Sunday's talk is behind me and the crew is back from Bangkok it's time to tackle some of the stuff I've tried to avoid thinking about for the last couple weeks.
When I saw this tweet last week my mind immediately started racing... before I even bothered to read the piece. In my head I started to compose a rant about language, and our use of it. When I finally did get around to reading Julie's post, I smiled because she too was focused on the language, and does a great job of playing off the etymology of the word Gospel. Here Julie quotes from Wikipedia:
Good News is the English translation of the Koine Greek ευαγγέλιον (euangelion) (eu “good” + angelion “message”). The Greek term was Latinized as evangelium, and translated into Latin as bona annuntiatio. In Old English, it was translated as gōdspel (gōd “good” + spel “news”). The Old English term was retained as gospel in Middle English Bible translations and hence remains in use also in Modern English.
Here's a thought: I wonder if we ought to declare a moratorium on using English translations of the Greek for a while. Instead of the Gospel, let's talk about the good news for a change.
Why? Because quite frankly some of what I've seen and heard passed off as "the gospel" hasn't sounded like good news to me.
I had a good time Sunday hanging out and sharing with friends at The Bridge Community Church in Langley. I tried a mash-up of a couple of other talks, and had some good conversation afterwards. If you're interested you can check it out here (May 23), and as an added bonus you get to hear our buddy Matt Beimers introduce me.
I finished off NT Wright's After You Believe during a trip to Colorado several weeks ago, but haven't found the time to write any kind of review for you. Let me just say I love the Bishop's writing, and this one didn't let me down. Lots to think about on the subject of the formation of Christian character. Given my long-standing belief that being a follower of Jesus requires us to live a certain way... to do something, you just know this one resonated with me. I even took the only four copies I could get my hands on from local bookstores and gave them away to friends in Africa.
I recently returned from a speaking engagement at the Bethlehem Bible College; and what I witnessed firsthand sent chills up my back. Listening to the horror stories told to me by oppressed Palestinians elicited feelings ranging from indignation to compassion. What was particularly upsetting were the pained questions of an elderly Christian Palestinian woman, who asked, “Why don’t our Christian brothers and sisters in America care about what is happening to us? Do they even know we exist? Do they know that their tax dollars paid for the Israeli tanks that destroyed my house and the houses of my neighbors?”
I've been home from South Africa and Kenya exactly one week, and it's been an interesting seven days, to say the least. I think I'm finally over the jet lag, which is a good thing. With Sue and Jen in Bangkok with four other women (our trips overlapped by two days) there's been no time for me to go to bed early and try to adjust, so sleep has been at a premium.
And while I've still been processing through my Africanexperiences, I've been distracted by the violence in Bangkok. Linwood House goes to Thailand every year at this time, and every year there seems to be political turmoil while they're there. This year has been the worst though, which explains my distraction.
Here's the thing: Sue travels a lot, and I travel a lot. The only way we can do this and stay sane in the process is to completely release the other. Sue does not need my "permission" to go anywhere, and I would never suggest that she stay home when she feels she needs to go. This is how we live, and it works for us. Needless to say I've been keeping a close eye on the situation on Bangkok, and keeping in touch with the team as we are able. Sue and Jen are smart, wise leaders, and I'm confident in their ability to assess the situation and make the right calls. It's growing experience for all of us.
It's been interesting for the women on the trip. Because of the volatile situation their plans have had to change, several times. Now, the question becomes "If we can't do what we came to do, why are we here?" I think this will be an incredible experience for the six of them. Are they able to let go of preconceptions, of the very Western mindset that says "This is why we are here; this is what we must accomplish while we are here."? Will they be able to be really present in a foreign land undergoing political and social turmoil? What will it mean to stand with the Thai people in these circumstance?
Lots of great questions. I'm looking forward to debriefing with them when they get home.
All spiritual teachers tell us “DO NOT JUDGE.” For those of us raised in a religious setting, this is very difficult. In a strange way, religion gave us all a Ph.D. in judgmentalism. It trained us very early in life to categorize, label, and critique. It told us all about worthiness and unworthiness. This judgmental mind told us what is right and wrong, who is gay or straight, and who is good or bad. This sort of mind never creates great people, because everybody has to fit into our way of thinking. At an early age our grid was complete. We had decided who fit in and who did not fit in. We fashioned our own little world.
Christianity that divides the world in this manner and eliminates all troublesome people and all ideas different from our way of thinking cannot be mature religion. It cannot see the multiple gifts of each moment, nor the dark side that coexists with it. This mind does not lead us to awareness, and above all, this mind will find it impossible to contemplate. To practice awareness means you live in a spirit of communion; your world becomes alive and very spacious, and not divided by mere mental labels.
Richard Rohr, Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening (CD)