My belief about Jesus in a nutshell.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been to Oz and seen behind the curtain, and so I can’t pretend anymore. 

Jesus isn’t God, and Jesus isn’t my Savior. Everything I was told about Jesus didn’t match up with what I read about him in the Gospels.

For me, Jesus is the Messiah – in that he kept pointing people back towards God. When someone called him “good teacher” he got upset, and said only God was good, and only God should be your teacher. God never intended for the people of Israel to have a King. God was to be their King. But they felt left out, because all of the other nations had kings. So God relented and gave them Saul. And boy howdy, that should have cured them of a desire for a king!  So, the Messiah is supposed to be the new King. But the problem with that is that any person who says they are King – is once again taking away the focus on God. God should once again be worshipped as King of Israel, and the world. And the rebuilding of the Temple – Jesus was totally right on that. The human body is the Temple, and the intent is for the Holy Spirit to dwell within. That was God’s plan all along. Anyone who thinks it is a building is practicing idolatry. Jesus also wants us all to be equal – nobody is to be higher or lower. So: no ordained ministers. 

So, yeah, I’m too Christian for Jews, and too Jewish for Christians. I don’t fit in with Messianic Jews either, because they are all about Jesus as God and Savior, but with Jewish holidays. 

To all the Others on Mother’s Day

To all the Others on Mother’s Day,

I see you.

To all the Others who don’t have a Mother

perhaps because of death, or abuse, or neglect,

I see you.

To all the Others who wanted to be a Mother

but can’t, perhaps because of money or biology or pressure,

I see you.

To all the Others who are Mothers

but your children are absent from your sight,

I see you.

To all the Others who are Fathers

doing the job of two,

I see you.

To all the Others who are doing the work,

who are showing up,

who are doing the best they can,

I see you.

Family Monkeys

You know the phrase: “Not my circus, not my monkeys”.  Sometimes you have to admit that it isn’t your problem to fix. But sometimes – it is your circus because the monkeys are in your family.

And then it is OK to tell them to shove off so they don’t throw shit at you – because that is what monkeys do. And then, it is OK to talk about it publically, because their bad actions aren’t yours. There is no reason to feel guilty for someone else’s bad behavior. If they try to make you think otherwise, that too must be exposed. Darkness hates light.

To paraphrase Anne Lamott- if people want you to talk better about them, they need to behave better.

My brother spent years attempting to brainwash me into remaining silent about *his* illegal and unethical actions, somehow twisting them into “family” secrets that should be hidden. His sins aren’t mine.

I have a sister-in-law who attempted to convince our parents-in-law that I was crazy and should be treated with suspicion, all because I refused to accept her abuse. This is especially concerning since she is in the mental health profession and her opinion could have been seen as a diagnosis.

I would have thought that someone who had been involuntarily committed by her own parents would understand the danger in accusing someone of being insane. Her statements to them were unethical and unprofessional, and untrue.

Thankfully the parents-in-law knew me better than she did, and they did not take action on her views.  

No matter who they are, how they are related, how long you have known them, evil people must be confronted with their actions. If they do not change, remove them from your life or else be drawn into their orbit of evil.

You are under no obligation to tolerate people who treat you badly.

It doesn’t matter who it is – friend, family member, coworker, or customer.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve known them forever or if they’ve been kind to you in the past. 

It is OK to tell people how their actions have negatively affected you.

It is OK to set boundaries and decide what kind of behavior you are willing to accept.

It is OK to speak up about how their bad behavior makes you feel – even with other people.

And it is OK to cut off all ties with people who treat you in a way that isn’t OK.

That includes in person and online.

You do not have to allow anyone to treat you badly.

This also goes for strangers on the internet who think they have the right to have a negative opinion about your writing or art.

Illegal immigration thoughts

I’m in an odd position about immigration / citizenship. So many people are illegally here already. And because they are illegally here, they are the new slave class. They work for very little money and have no protection against workplace dangers. And yet they stay – because it is better than where they came from. And if they speak up, they risk being sent back. So that tells me a lot about what they are trying to flee. 

I do not ascribe to the NewSpeak of “undocumented people” or “refugee”.  I call a spade a spade.  If you are illegally in this country, you are an illegal immigrant. Changing the terms does not change the facts. 

I’m opposed to anyone illegally here getting free anything – education, healthcare, etc.  However – if they do, it is the fault of the government for giving it. It isn’t meaningful to demonize illegal immigrants for getting anything for free.  The system needs to be fixed on the government side. 

Also, the American government needs to stop: 

giving money to other countries

going to war with other countries

We have enough problems here that need to be fixed. 

Americans need to get over the idea that this is “our” country.  We stole it from the people who were already here, and then committed genocide. That must be addressed and healed. We will not move forward until that wrong is corrected. 

Our immigration laws are racist – Europeans invade an already-occupied land and colonize it.  Then they make rules about who can and can’t come here – that are often skewed towards other Europeans and away from anyone who is not white. 

It is as if someone invaded your home, kicked you out, and then changed the locks and only let their friends in. 

The new cyberbullying

I’ve finally realized what call-out culture is.

It is Newspeak for codependency.

If you focus on what is wrong with other people you don’t have to work on what is wrong with yourself.

And deep down, further back, it is the old “speck and plank” tale all over again.

And worse – it is a new form of cyberbullying.

There are very few people who make an effort to make their social media page a safe space to discuss ideas. All too often I have been dogpiled by friends of friends to the extent that I don’t feel safe discussing anything with them. So sometimes I bring the discussion over to my own page, where I know that my friends are civil and can discuss without being ugly.

This image is a case in point –

The idea of “we can agree to disagree” is the topic – but note the derogatory term from the lady on the right. The use of the word “bitch” immediately changes the conversation into something hostile.

I had two friends who consider themselves to be activists (both white) who grew very upset about this post, saying that my focusing on the language of the lady on the right is more concerning.

I said that “Change will not happen by insulting, silencing, or cancelling people.”

The one who had originally posted the image said “I think you’re missing the woods for the tree here. And I don’t appreciated being subposted on your timeline to make a point.”

She was trying to shame me to remove it, which I did. But I also unfriended and blocked her. The post was not her creation, nor did I tag her in it. It was not connected to her. So I don’t understand how she could be upset.

However, she proved my point. It is impossible to discuss anything of meaning these days.

Another former friend finally admitted that she had no desire to educate people who had less-progressive ideas. (Translation: agree with her.)  Her activism consists of quickly and vigorously telling people they are wrong. She has no desire to change people’s hearts and minds or actually break down barriers. She just wants to be angry.

I was surprised how virulent their friends were towards me when I would ask a question about something she had posted on her page. But, that is her page, so her choice.  I chose not to discuss anything on her page.  But then she started arguing with my friends on my page and I asked her not to.  She complied and limited her arguments to just me.

After a while it became interesting to note how quickly she would argue with anything controversial that I posted.  Guaranteed within 10 minutes she would protest and tell me how wrong I was. She would rarely comment on anything else.

Please understand: I am for polite disagreement.  I am not for arguing and being talked down to.  I finally realized she had zero desire to educate – it was simply all about arguing and calling out.  I feel that kind of activism is counter-productive. It can actually cause someone who was on the fence to become radical.

I have considered myself a liberal, but these days I’m not so sure. I’ve been attacked by liberals in their effort to be “woke”. And if you don’t use whatever the current New Speak term to talk about an issue, you are demonized.

Soon we will all be in echo chambers of our own creation, where we are surrounded by people who think just like we do. There will be no growth.

Imagine, instead, remaining friends with someone who thinks differently from you but is still open to conversation. You will continue to have a chance to influence them. But if you silence them, they will most likely become more racist or homophobic, or any other “-ist” or “-ic” you can think of.

It is a mark of maturity to be able to discuss topics from different viewpoints without insulting each other. Otherwise no one will ever develop informed and mature opinions. And it is also very likely that someone who might have been an ally could become an opponent from being badly treated.

Please note: I have not named anyone or given details about them. There is nothing to indicate who I am talking about. Demanding that I remove this post (this has happened to me before, so I’m not being paranoid) is censorship.

Women and Jesus

There are many feminists who reject everything about Christianity. They cite that it is patriarchic and oppressive to women.  They point out that the Christian church has minimized the voices and experiences of women, most notably by not allowing women to be pastors or leaders until very recently (if at all).  I agree with these assessments.  But I also think it is important to read what Jesus said about women and see how he interacted with them.  The Church would do well to follow Jesus’ example.   

Note: the Gospel verses are from the Condensed Gospel, copyright 2015 by Betsy Nelson. They are a rendering of the Gospels as one book, in order, with no repetition. Each line in boldface is the title of one unique story.

The angel Gabriel predicts Jesus’ birth 

Six months after John was conceived, God sent the angel Gabriel to a village in Galilee called Nazareth to visit a woman named Mary.  She was engaged to Joseph, a descendant of King David.

The angel said “Rejoice! The Lord is with you! You are blessed and favored among women!”

Mary was perplexed by his words and wondered what he meant by this greeting. The angel continued, saying “Have no fear Mary, for God has chosen you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and called the Son of God, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor King David. He will reign over the house of Israel forever and his kingdom will have no end!”

Mary asked the angel, “How is this possible since I have never been with a man?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be overshadowed by the power of the Most High. Therefore this child will be completely holy and God will be his father. Consider this – your relative Elizabeth who was barren and elderly has conceived and is six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible with God!”

“I am a servant of the Lord,” said Mary. “May everything happen to me that you have said.” Then the angel left.

LK 1:26-38

Jesus and the Samaritan woman

Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee when he learned that the Pharisees heard he was baptizing and making more disciples than John. Jesus himself did not baptize, only his disciples did. On his way he traveled to a town in Samaria called Sychar, which is near the piece of land that Jacob had bequeathed to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there and around 6 in the evening Jesus sat down near it because he was exhausted from his journey. A Samaritan woman came near to draw water from the well. Jesus asked her to give him a drink. His disciples had traveled ahead into town to buy food.

She replied “Why are you, a Jew, asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” Jews normally did not associate with Samaritans.

Jesus answered, “If you understood the gift of God, and who is asking you for a drink, you would be asking him, and he would give you living water.”

“Sir,” she said, “the well is deep and you don’t even have a bucket with you. How and where are you going to get this ‘living water’? You aren’t more powerful than Jacob, our father, are you? He is the one who gave us this well.  He, his sons, and their livestock all drank from it.”

Jesus said “Anyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I offer will never ever become thirsty again! In fact, the water I offer will become like a spring of water, flowing from within that person for eternal life.”

“Sir,” she said, “let me have some of this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to come all this way to draw water here again.”

“Go get your husband and come back here,” he told her.

“I am unmarried,” she replied.

“You are correct in saying ‘I am unmarried,’ because you’ve been divorced five times and the man you are with now is not your husband. You have spoken the truth,” Jesus countered.

“Sir, it is obvious to me that you are a prophet,” the woman replied.  “The Samaritans worshipped here on this mountain in years past, yet you Jews believe that Jerusalem is where people should worship.”

Jesus said “Believe me; the time is coming when you won’t need to worship the Father here or in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you don’t know, while we Jews know what we worship, because salvation comes into the world through us.  However, it is now the time when true worshippers will worship God in spirit and truth.  God wants this kind of worship from us.  Since God is spirit, God should be worshipped in spirit and truth.”

The Samaritan woman said “I know that the time is coming when the Messiah will arrive” (the One who is called Christ). “He will explain everything to us when he comes.”

“I am the One who is speaking to you.” Jesus told her.

His disciples arrived at this point and they were surprised he was talking with a woman.  But none of them asked him what he wanted or why he was talking to her.

Then the Samaritan woman got up, left her water jar there, and went back to town.  She told the men “Come with me and see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done! Is it possible this is the Messiah?” They left the town and went straight to where Jesus was.

Meanwhile, the disciples kept urging him to eat something.  But he said “I have food that you are unaware of.”  The disciples began to wonder among themselves, saying “Could someone else have brought him something?”

Jesus told them “My food is to do God’s will and to finish God’s work. Isn’t it common to say ‘There are four more months before the time for the harvest’? Listen clearly – raise your eyes and look at the fields – they are ripe for the harvest! Right now the reaper is being paid and gathering the harvest for eternal life, so those who sow and those who reap can celebrate together.  Here the saying is true – ‘One sows the seed and another reaps the harvest.’ I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work for.  Others have worked and you have benefitted from their work.”

Many people from the Samaritan town believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony when she said “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” Because of this, they asked him to stay with them when they came out to see him at the well.  Jesus stayed there for two days.  Many more people came to believe because of his word.  Then they told the woman “We don’t believe just because of your testimony. We have heard him for ourselves and we know that he truly is the Savior of the world.”

JN 4:1-42

Much forgiveness, much love  

One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to dine with him at his home. He accepted the invitation, and as he was reclining at the dinner table, a woman from that town who was known as a sinner entered the home, carrying an alabaster flask filled with expensive perfume.  Weeping, she knelt behind him at his feet with her tears falling upon them. She wiped her tears from his feet with her hair and then began to kiss his feet and anoint them with the perfume.

When the Pharisee noticed what was happening, he thought to himself “If this man really were a prophet he would know that the woman who is touching him is a sinner!”

Jesus, knowing his host’s thoughts, said “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.

Jesus then told him a parable. “Say there is a man who loaned money to two people. To one he loaned $5000 and to the other he loaned $500. Neither one was able to pay him back, so he graciously canceled both their debts. Which one do you think loved him more?”

“I suppose the one who had the bigger debt,” Simon answered.

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus said. Then he gestured towards the woman and said to Simon “Do you notice this woman here? When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me any water to wash the dust off my feet as most people do, but she has washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss as most people do, but she has not quit kissing my feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint my head with olive oil as most people do, but she has anointed my feet with expensive perfume. Therefore, her many sins are forgiven because she loves me greatly, but the one who has a smaller debt of sin to forgive shows a small amount of love.”

Then, looking at the woman, he said “Your sins are forgiven.”

Those who were at the table with him said amongst themselves, “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. You may go in peace.”

LK 7:36-50

Many women support Jesus’ work

Jesus was traveling all over the region, preaching and sharing the good news of the kingdom of God. His twelve disciples were with him, along with women he had healed. They included Mary Magdalene, (who had been freed from seven demons), Joanna the wife of Chuza (who was King Herod’s steward), Susanna, and many others who were supporting them and their ministry from their own personal resources.

LK 8:1-3

True blessedness 

While he was talking, a woman in the crowd spoke up and said “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and blessed is the one who nursed you!”

Jesus replied “Those who hear and keep the word of God are even more blessed!”

LK 11:27-28

The parable of the yeast

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixed into 50 pounds of flour until the yeast spread through all of it, making it all leavened.”

MT 13:33, LK 13:20-21

A girl raised from the dead and a woman healed from bleeding 

A synagogue leader named Jairus fell down on his knees at Jesus’ feet, begging him to heal his child.  His only child, a 12 year old daughter, was near death.  He pleaded with Jesus to come to his house and lay his hands on her so she would live.  Immediately Jesus and his disciples followed him to his home.

While they were on their way, a crowd of people surrounded Jesus, almost crushing him.  In the crowd was a woman who had suffered from menstrual bleeding for 12 years.  She had given all of her money to doctors for a cure, and not only had they not healed her, she had gotten worse.  Approaching Jesus from behind, she touched the corner of his robe where his tzitzit were attached, thinking just doing that would be enough to heal her.  As soon as she touched his robe she could tell that she was completely healed.

Immediately Jesus felt power leave him, and he began to look around him, asking “Who touched me?” His disciples looked at him in amazement.  They wondered how they could possibly know who it was, as the crowd was very large and dense.  Since her plan to do this secretly was foiled, the woman threw herself at Jesus’ feet and confessed that she was the one who had touched him, and why.  He looked at her and said “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace.”

Just then, a messenger from Jairus’ house came to say to him “Don’t bother the Teacher anymore – your daughter is dead.” When Jesus heard this he said “Don’t be afraid – just believe, and she will be healed.”

When Jesus got to the house, he saw a crowd of mourners had already arrived, making a lot of noise with their wails of grief.  He said “Why are you going on like this? She isn’t dead.  She’s just sleeping.” The crowd began to laugh at him.

Jesus got the crowd to leave the house. Going inside with just Peter, James, John, and the girl’s parents, he went up to the girl, and taking her by the hand, he said “Talitha koum!” (Which means, “Little girl, get up!”) Immediately her soul returned to her and she began to walk.  Jesus told them to get her something to eat, and strongly told those present to not tell anyone about this.

MT 9:18-26, MK 5:21-43, LK 8:40-56

A Gentile mother’s faith

Jesus traveled to the area of Tyre and Sidon. A woman who wasn’t Jewish approached him and kept crying out to him “Have mercy on me Lord, son of David! My daughter is tormented by an unclean spirit.” Jesus didn’t reply to her, but his disciples approached him and asked him to make her go away because she kept following them and yelling for help.

Jesus said “I am called to help only the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But the woman came and knelt before him, begging him to drive the demon out of her daughter.

He said “Let the children have their fill first, because it isn’t right to take their bread and throw it to the dogs.”

But she replied “Yes, but even the dogs under the table eat the crumbs that fall.”

Jesus answered “Your faith is great, woman. Because of how you answered, you will receive what you have asked for.” Her daughter was free of the demon that very hour.

MT 15:21-28, MK 7:24-30

An adulteress is forgiven

Jesus went to the Temple complex at dawn. A large crowd gathered around him.  He began to teach them after he sat down.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman into the center of the gathering.  She had been caught committing adultery.

They said “Teacher, this woman was caught committing adultery. The Law of Moses says that we should stone her for this.  What do you say we should do?” They said this because they wanted to corner him into breaking the Law so they would have a crime to charge him with.

Jesus leaned over and began writing in the dirt with his finger.  They kept questioning him, so he stood up and said “Whichever one of you who has led a sinless life should throw the first stone at her.”

He crouched back down and started writing on the ground again.  Having heard this, the scribes and Pharisees started leaving, with the older men leaving first.  Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left, with her standing in the center.

Jesus stood up and said “Woman, where are they? Is no one here to condemn you?”

“There is no one, Lord,” she answered.

“I do not condemn you either,” he said. “Go, and don’t sin again.”

JN 8:2-11

Martha and Mary

While Jesus and his disciples were traveling they arrived at a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening while he taught.

Martha was anxious about everything that she had to do to prepare for these unexpected guests. She said “Lord, do you think that it is fair that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to give me a hand.”

Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things, but only one thing matters. Mary has made the right choice, and I won’t take it away from her.”

LK 10:38-42

Healing a daughter of Abraham 

Jesus noticed a woman who was disabled by a spirit while he was teaching in the synagogue one Sabbath. She was bent over and could not completely straighten up, and had been this way for eighteen years. Jesus called to her and said “Woman, you are released from your disability!” He laid his hands on her and she was instantly restored to health and began to praise God.

The local synagogue leader was indignant because Jesus had worked on the Sabbath. He said to the crowd “There are six days in which people are allowed to work – therefore come to be healed on one of those days and not on the Sabbath!”

The Lord answered him, saying “Hypocrites! You all work on the Sabbath! Don’t you untie your ox or donkey and lead it to water on the Sabbath? Satan has tied this woman, a daughter of Abraham, for eighteen years. Shouldn’t she too be released on the Sabbath day?”

All of his adversaries were humiliated when he said this, and the whole crowd was rejoicing over all the amazing things he was doing.

LK 13:10-17

The parable of the lost coin

“What woman doesn’t light a lamp and thoroughly search the house from top to bottom if she loses a single silver coin out of the ten she has? She will call together her female friends and neighbors when she finds it, saying ‘Let’s celebrate, because I’ve found my lost coin!’ Truly, the angels before God are just as joyful when one sinner repents.”

LK 15:8-10

The parable of the persistent widow 

One day Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they needed to not get discouraged but to pray constantly instead.

“There once was a judge who didn’t fear anyone – God or man. A widow kept coming to him to obtain justice for herself against her adversary. He put her off for a long time. But after a while, he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear anybody, there is something about the fact that this woman keeps pestering me that gets to me. I will rule in her favor so she doesn’t beat me up with her incessant demands.’

Jesus said “Look! Even this hardhearted judge will give in to someone who constantly asks for relief. Don’t you think that God (who is good) will grant relief to those who respect God if they keep asking? Of course God will, and God will help them quickly. In spite of all this, when the Son of Man comes again how many will be found who have faith and are praying?”

LK 18:1-8

The widow’s gift   

Jesus was sitting across from the tithe box at the Temple. He saw all the people dropping their money into it. The rich were putting in a lot. A poor widow came along and put in just two tiny coins, barely enough to buy a loaf of bread. Jesus called his disciples to notice this and said “Truly, this poor widow has donated far more than anyone else. They had given out of their excess, but she has given out of her lack. She has given everything that she has to live on.”

MK 12:41-44, LK 21:1-4

The anointing at Bethany  

Jesus was staying in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had a serious skin disease. They gave a dinner in honor of him there. Martha was serving, and Lazarus, the one Jesus had raised the dead, was reclining at the table with him. Mary, Martha’s sister, approached Jesus with an alabaster jar filled with a pound of pure and expensive fragrant oil called nard.

She broke the jar open and poured the oil on his head and feet while he was reclining at the table, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the oil’s fragrance.

The disciples were indignant about this. Judas Iscariot, the one who was going to betray him, spoke up to scold Mary, saying “Why wasn’t this expensive perfume sold and the money given to the poor, rather than being wasted like this?”

Jesus said “Why are you bothering her? What she has done for me is very noble. She has saved this oil for the day of my burial, which she has now prepared me for by anointing my body. The poor will always be with you for you to take care of, but I won’t. I assure you, what this woman has done for me will be told in memory of her wherever the Gospel is proclaimed throughout the world.”

MT 26:6-13, MK 14:3-9, JN 12:1-8

On the way to the cross  115

There was a Cyrenian man named Simon who was coming in from the country. He was the father of Rufus and Alexander. He was passing by as the soldiers were taking Jesus to the crucifixion site. They grabbed him and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross by laying it across him.

MT 27:32, MK 15:21, LK 23:26

There were many women wailing with grief in the large crowd that was following Jesus.  He turned to them and said “Don’t weep for me, daughters of Jerusalem. Weep for yourselves and for your children. The days are coming when people will say that those who never bore children are fortunate. They will call out to the mountains, saying ‘Fall on us!’, and begging the hills to bury them. For if they do things like this when the tree is green, what will they do when it is dry?”

LK 23:27-31

Jesus’ provision for his mother

Jesus’ mother, along with Mary Magdalene and his aunt Mary (who was the wife of Clopas), were standing by his cross. When Jesus noticed his mother standing with the disciple he loved, he said “Woman, here is your son.” To the disciple he said, “Here is your mother.” From that point on the disciple made her a part of his family.

JN 19:25-27

Women with him 

Many women were there who had followed and helped Jesus from when he was in Galilee.  They were watching the crucifixion from a distance. They included Mary Magdalene, Mary who was James and Joseph’s mother, Salome, and the mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee).  Many other women had traveled with him up to Jerusalem.

MT 27:55-56, MK 15:40-41, LK 23:49

Resurrection morning  

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, Joanna, and Salome went to the tomb while it was still dark on the first day of the week, after the Sabbath had ended. They brought the spices and perfumes they had prepared to anoint the body. They were wondering among themselves how they would roll back the stone that was covering the entrance to the tomb.

An angel of the Lord suddenly descended from heaven, causing the earth to shake. He rolled back the stone door and then sat upon it. He shone with a brilliant light and his robe was snow-white.  The guards were paralyzed with fear when they saw him.  The women bowed down to the ground, amazed and terrified.

The angel said to the women “Do not be afraid!  I know that you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  Why are you looking among the dead for the living? He is not here – he has been resurrected! Remember how he told you when he was in Galilee that the Son of Man would be betrayed into the hands of sinners, be crucified, and will rise on the third day?”  Then they remembered that Jesus had said this.

The angel continued, saying “Come and see where they put him. Go quickly and tell his disciples ‘He has been raised from the dead.  He is going ahead to Galilee – you will see him there, just as he said.’ Make sure you tell them this.”

The women, trembling with amazement and alarm, ran from the tomb to tell the other disciples the news.

MT 28:1-8, MK 16:1-8, LK 24:1-8, JN 20:1

Mary Magdalene and the other women see Jesus 

Mary saw a man in the garden not far from the tomb.  She assumed he was the gardener. He was Jesus, but she did not recognize him. When he said “Mary”, she instantly knew who he was.

“Teacher!” she exclaimed, reaching for him. 

He cautioned her, saying “Don’t hold on to me, because I haven’t yet gone up to my Father.  But go and tell my brothers that I am ascending to our Father – mine and yours. I am leaving for Galilee, have them meet me there.”

The other women saw him as well, and they held his feet and worshipped him.

The women reported to the disciples on all that had happened and relayed the message from the angel and Jesus to travel to Galilee, yet they didn’t believe them.  The disciples thought they were making up the story.

MT 28:9-10, MK 16:9-11, LK 24:9-11, JN 20:14-18

Defeating evil

I was hoping to see something like this. The only way we will make things better is when each one of us stands up against bullies and we do what we know to be right. I have had relatives and managers who have used their charisma and power to try to get me to do things that were wrong, and it took a lot of energy to stand up to them. But going along with a bully (out of fear, out of concern for losing a job) is how Hitler rose to power, and how 45 is getting away with whatever he wants. It isn’t the “leaders” I blame – it is all the followers. The followers do what the leaders say without question. We all know that these are strange times, and we know things aren’t right. Complaining about it won’t fix it – and actually adds to the sense of helplessness and anxiety in your audience (your friends). What are you, as an individual, willing to do to throw a cog in the machine that threatens to stop us from being automatons? What concrete actions will you do to say “no” to bullies and “yes” to life?

For instance, there is a library policy that books that aren’t circulated in two years are culled from the stacks. They are sent to be sold, for pennies on the dollar. This is a huge waste of taxpayer’s money, and especially concerning when every year there was a budget crisis where employees weren’t sure they’d have a job. I protested this and was ignored. So I simply refused to do this task. The more of us who don’t participate in doing what we know to be wrong, the better.

What does “brother” mean?

When Jesus says “brother” – does he mean your actual brother?

Matthew 18:15-17

15 “If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. 16 But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector.

Remember, we are to forgive people:

Matthew 18:21-22

21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven.

But does he mean actual blood-relation brother? What does Jesus say about family relations?

Matthew 10:34-36

34 “Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 A man’s foes will be those of his own household.

This refers back to a message in the Hebrew Scriptures –

Micah 7:5-7

Don’t trust in a neighbor.
    Don’t put confidence in a friend.
    With the woman lying in your embrace,
    be careful of the words of your mouth!
For the son dishonors the father,
    the daughter rises up against her mother,
    the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
    a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.
But as for me, I will look to Yahweh.
    I will wait for the God of my salvation.
    My God will hear me.

We are to trust in God alone – not our family of origin. If they too are following the word of God, that makes it easier, but we are to still follow God, not people just because they are related to us by blood. What they do matters more than who they are.

Matthew 10:11-15

11 Into whatever city or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you go on. 12 As you enter into the household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come on it, but if it isn’t worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 Whoever doesn’t receive you or hear your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 Most certainly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.

What does Jesus say about brothers?

Matthew 5:21-24

21 “You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, ‘You shall not murder;’ and ‘Whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause will be in danger of the judgment. Whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ will be in danger of the council. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of Gehenna. 23 “If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 

It is important to note that “brother” in this passage is the Greek word “adelphos”, meaning fellow disciple.  It doesn’t refer to blood kin at all, but someone who you are in a committed, covenanted relationship with. 

In this passage, Jesus lets us know that actions are thicker than blood:

Matthew 12:46-50

46 While he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, seeking to speak to him. 47 One said to him, “Behold, your mother and your brothers stand outside, seeking to speak to you.” 48 But he answered him who spoke to him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 He stretched out his hand toward his disciples, and said, “Behold, my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

So, if your actual brother is evil to you, you are to forgive him, but you are not obligated to endure his abuse. He is not in a committed relationship with you. He made no promises to be kind to you. Actions speak louder than words. If he is abusive, let him know how his actions make you feel. If he changes, great. If not, he has chosen to not be a real “brother” to you. This is his loss, and reflects poorly on him, not you.

(All Bible translations are World English Bible, public domain.)

Jesus does not punish.

I’m not sure why the Christian church has gotten into the sin-punishment business, because that was never what Jesus did. Penance isn’t the plan. He never judged anyone, so neither should Christians.

Jesus comes to save the lost – not berate them or make them feel bad.

Matthew 18:11

11 For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost”

His disciples get angry when a Samaritan town rejects Jesus, and they want to call down the wrath of God to destroy the town. Jesus rebukes them because he is about saving lives, not destroying them.

Luke 9:51-56

51 It came to pass, when the days were near that he should be taken up, he intently set his face to go to Jerusalem 52 and sent messengers before his face. They went and entered into a village of the Samaritans, so as to prepare for him. 53 They didn’t receive him, because he was traveling with his face set toward Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from the sky and destroy them, just as Elijah did?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them, “You don’t know of what kind of spirit you are. 56 For the Son of Man didn’t come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” They went to another village. 

Jesus was not sent to judge us at all.

John 3:17

17 For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.

Jesus teaches us what to do if a fellow-believer (what the term “brother” means) has done something harmful to you.  

Matthew 18:15-17

15 “If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. 16 But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector.

You are to stop associating with him.  There is nothing in there about punishment or penance.  The brother has proven through his actions that he isn’t interested in following the same rules as the group. He has chosen through his actions not to belong. You don’t need to do anything.

Jesus came to be a servant, not to be served.  He has no desire to rule over anyone. This was illustrated in the story of the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John, two of his disciples) who wanted them to be specially honored –

Matthew 20:27-28

27 Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus repeats his mission in the story of Zaccheus –

Luke 19:10

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Jesus doesn’t judge anyone – even if they don’t believe in what he says.

John 12:47

47 If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn’t believe, I don’t judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

Jesus again refuses to judge.

Luke 12:13-14

13 One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”

Since Jesus doesn’t judge, neither should Christians.

(All Bible translations are from the World English Bible – public domain)

Super secret mantra

Here is my super secret mantra for how I get anything done.  

It is super secret.  

Are you sure you are ready for it? 

OK, here it is – 

“This shit doesn’t do itself.”

If you have a project that you want to do – that you know your soul needs to do – that you know if you don’t do it you will be super sad and maybe a little bit angry, then you HAVE to do it.  Nobody else is going to do that thing. That is your thing, and you have to do it. 

And sometimes that means reading books or watching videos about it until you can buy the equipment to do it. And sometimes it means learning a related craft/skill about it because the thing you want to do/make has never been done before by anybody and you don’t have a teacher or a guide. 

Sometimes you are the teacher / guide for someone else, and you just don’t know it yet. 

So you have to take little tiny baby steps towards the thing that you have to make/do/bring forth into the world because otherwise it will never be made. And the world will be that much lesser because of it.