Poem – Guilt and expected death

There’s a guilty feeling the caregiver has
when their loved one dies.
Be it spouse, parent, child,
you’ve taken care of them
for a long time
and they have finally
passed on.

Nobody talks about this.
They talk about how hard it is
to take care of
someone you love
for a long time,
someone who is terminally ill.
Someone who isn’t going
to get better,
and the only cure
is the grave.

Your life is finally back
to being yours.
Your time is yours.

You should feel bad if you
give your time
to help them
– but you did, and now it is over.

There shouldn’t be guilt
about surviving,
guilt about feeling relieved
that it is over,
guilt about being glad
your duty is done.
But there is.

You are glad for them
that they are no longer suffering,
but also glad for yourself
that you can do
what you want to do

You aren’t so crass as to say
you’re glad
they are dead,
but you are.

It is a weird feeling,
made weirder
by the mixture of grief,
the exhaustion of being
an unpaid,
untrained nurse,
there 24/7.

Dining with sinners

Then Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his house for a large feast. A lot of the other people who were there were tax collectors and those who were disreputable, because these kinds of people flocked to Jesus. The Pharisees and their scribes complained about this to the disciples, asking them “Why does your teacher associate with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus overheard their question and replied “Only sick people need a doctor, not the healthy. Go study this teaching from the Scriptures – ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ My whole purpose is to call sinners back to God, not those who think they’re perfect.”

MT 9:10-13, MK 2:15-17, LK 5:29-32

Love God? Love God’s creation. All of it.

It is Christ-like to be an environmentalist.

Jesus said, speaking about how people treated others who were considered lesser than them, “Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me.” He meant that you should treat everybody like you would treat somebody important. Consider this – animals, plants are the “least” as well. Who says it just has to be for people?

If we are to “Love your neighbor”, then doesn’t that mean everybody and everything? God created everything. We show reverence to God by respecting God’s gifts.

Why find another planet? We will just have another to mess up. All that money on building a spaceship and terraforming another planet… Why not work on clean water and air here? Why colonize another planet? We need to learn how to get along and reduce our population here. We need to learn to live within our means, and be proper stewards of “our island home”, as Carl Sagan called Earth.

We don’t need laws for this. We need to change minds and attitudes.

Poem – Hardened

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart
to make God’s glory shine.

A man was born blind
so that God’s glory
may be made manifest.

The difficulties in your life
are there on purpose,
to make you really take notice
when you overcome them.

Moses had to go before Pharaoh
10 times
to ask him to let the Israelites leave.
God warned him,
told him,
repeatedly that God was going
to make it difficult.

Think of all the things
you do
all the time
that are for the good.
Not the things you do
to pump up yourself,
but the things you do
for God.
Often it feels like you are
singing the “hole in the bucket” song.
You have to get one thing
right or fixed
before you can do
another part.
It is never straightforward
and it is never easy.
When you finally
push through
you really get a sense of accomplishment.

God does this to us.
It isn’t an accident.
We grow from it.
It strengthens us,
teaches us. Our bones
get stronger,
not our skin.
We don’t get hardened
against the world,
we get toughened
so that we
can heal the world.

Predictive text poem – “hand”

How many times have changed your life?
Here is that.
Here we are.

Any idea that is a little bit heavy
is the best for us.
All of them are not as fruitful.
All paths are valid, but I know a little something –
some will get you there faster
and with fewer scars.

Note this: time to work on your path
won’t be handed to you.
Note this: sometimes (often)
You’ll be alone, alien, along the way.
Note this: you can change paths
as quickly, as often, as needed.

Do you.
Do or do not.
Don’t try.
Give it all you have as long as it
gives you
what you need
but don’t
give up
give in
too soon.

Sanctified by commandments.

Many Jewish prayers that are said before doing a mitzvah, a commandment, include words praising God “who has sanctified us by Your commandments…”

Let’s look at that again. We are sanctified by commandments. They separate us and make us special. When we do what God wants, we become more human and less like animals. Animals and small children do whatever they want without thinking about it. They don’t care about the repercussions or plan for the future. They live for right now and what makes them happy. Rules are for other people.

A sign of maturity is being able to willingly follow rules, not just following them out of a sense of duty. To see the rules as a blessing, as something that causes us to become holy, is really special.

What “altar” really means.

The Hebrew word for altar is

Mem, Vav, Vet, Chet. (read right to left)

Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a meaning, and if you string those meanings together, you can understand what the word truly means.

Mem means – water with no boundaries, chaos.
Vav means – “and”, hook, nail
Vet (also Bet) – means tent, house, enclosure
Chet means – fence, separate, a new beginning or new creation.

Together, this can be taken to mean “From the waters of chaos I have rescued you and brought you into a new life.”

It refers to the waters from the beginning of time – when “God moved over the waters” to create the world. It refers to the waters of the Red Sea, through which God sent Israel to escape from slavery in Egypt. It refers to the waters of the womb, where God creates us by dividing us, dividing the cells into their individual roles – an eye here, a stomach there…

God separates us, divides us to form us, to make us unique. God “hooks” us, grabs us, takes us into the tent, the house of God. The tent can be seen as the tabernacle, the same temporary house of Sukkot, the temporary dwelling of our bodies.

God is the God of the living, not the dead

Let us consider when some Sadducees were challenging Jesus about the resurrection. This story appears in MT 22:23-33, MK 12:18-27, and LK 20:27-38. They were asking him a legalistic question about marriage and inheritance laws. They thought that they were going to trip him up on the religious authority of Moses. Just before, the Pharisees had tried to catch him up regarding civil law. Both groups were trying to discredit him by making him refute higher, established authority. This would get him in trouble with the crowds and make them leave him. It might also get him arrested – something they wanted. They desperately wanted him to stop talking and for people to stop listening to him.

Instead, Jesus turned the tables on them and taught them even more than they were asking.

Here’s my condensed version of the most important part here –

–He continued, getting to the real reason for their question. “Concerning the resurrection of the dead, don’t you remember the passage in Scriptures when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush? He said ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ We learn from this that God is the God of the living, not the dead, because in God’s eyes, all are living with him.”–

Note that God uses the present tense, not the past. If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their forefathers from thousands of years earlier, were dead in God’s eyes, God would have said “I was…” not “I am…” This is essential to his argument, and essential for us today.

If we live in faith and in accordance with God’s will, then we, the real part of us, never die. Our bodies are just vessels for our souls. Our bodies are temporary, while our souls are eternal. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were with God when God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, and are with God right now.

This is proof of eternal life. The death of the body isn’t death, not in any real sense. Jesus wanted the Sadducees to know this, and wants us to know this right now.

The Sadducees and the Resurrection

The same day some Sadducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection approached Jesus to challenge him on the laws of Moses.

“Teacher, Moses taught us that if a married man dies childless, his brother must marry his wife and have children with her – legally, they are his brother’s children.

Consider this – once there were seven brothers. The first married and died childless. The second brother married her and he too died without having any children. One after the other, all seven of the brothers married this same woman and died, leaving her childless. Then she finally died. Therefore, when the resurrection happens, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven of them?”

“None of you know the Scriptures or the power of God,” Jesus said. “People in this age marry and are given in marriage, but it won’t be like that in the age to come. In the resurrection, people are like angels. There is no need for them to marry.”

He continued, getting to the real reason for their question. “Concerning the resurrection of the dead, don’t you remember the passage in Scriptures when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush? He said ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ We learn from this that God is the God of the living, not the dead, because in God’s eyes, all are living with him.”

They were impressed with what he had just taught them.

MT 22:23-33, MK 12:18-27, LK 20:27-38