The sign of Jonah

Then some of the Jewish leaders including the scribes and Pharisees said to him “Teacher, show us a sign.”

But he said “An evil generation demands a sign, but only the sign of the prophet Jonah will be given. In the same way that Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for the same amount of time. In the same way that Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation. The men of Nineveh will stand up and condemn this generation at the Day of Judgment, because they repented when Jonah spoke to them, and something even greater than Jonah is here right now! The Queen of Sheba, the Queen of the south, will also rise up and condemn this generation at the Day of Judgment, because she traveled all the way from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and something even greater than Solomon is here right now!

MT 12:38-42, LK 11:29-32

An unclean spirit’s return

“When an unclean spirit is cast out of a person, it wanders through waterless places looking for a place to rest. When it doesn’t find anywhere to rest, it says to itself ‘I will return to the house that I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and gathers up seven other spirits who are more evil than it is, and they enter and make themselves at home in the man. The result is that the man is now worse off than he was before. This is how it will be for this evil generation.”

MT 12:43-45, LK 11:24-26

Knowledge of Father and son.

Then Jesus became filled with joy from the Holy Spirit and said “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because it pleased you to hide this knowledge from those who are wise and educated, and have revealed everything to children. My Father has entrusted me with everything. Only the Father knows the son, and the Father is only known by the son, and those who the Son has chosen.”

MT 11:25-27, LK 10:21-22

“Come to me, everyone who is worn down by life, and I will raise you up. Everyone, work alongside me and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and with me you will find rest. If we share the work together it will be easier, because I will give you only light burdens.”

MT 11:28-30

Speaking privately to his disciples he said, “Your eyes and ears are blessed because of what they see and hear! There are many prophets, kings, and righteous people who wanted to see and hear the things you see and hear now, yet didn’t.”

MT 13:16-17, LK 10:23-24

The Cold 2 (an ephemera story)

parking pass

They left the car with James, so his namebadge said. 20? 17? Young, with just a handful of years of driving to his credit, to be sure. Maybe he likes getting paid to drive lots of fancy cars. Only fancy cars got valets. Poor people couldn’t afford going to places that needed valets. They had to park their cars on their own, just like every other thing they had to do in their lives.

Janice and Bill didn’t have a fancy car. It wasn’t even theirs. A 1987 Ford Festiva, faded brown. The rust spots blended in well, and they were small. It belonged to the community, same as everything else. Share and share alike. Even their clothes were community property. Everybody gave what they could and borrowed what they needed.

There was a truck, and a van, and a handful of sedans in the parking lot at the Ranch along with some smaller cars. The keys were in the ignition of every one, ready for anyone who needed them. There was no fence, or a gate around the lot. If any neighbor, not officially part of their community, wanted to borrow one, they could. They never did. They were always invited to Friday supper at sundown, and Sabbath morning services in the barn, but they never came.

The car was just enough for the mission. Not too big, not showy. It was reliable and didn’t call attention to them. That was important right now. They needed to blend in, invisible.

Tonight was the opening of The Nutcracker. Plenty of people, plenty of excitement. It wouldn’t take long to do what they came for. High emotions made the viruses act faster. Calm people didn’t get sick. Everybody at the Ranch prayed for at least four hours of every day just to keep their spirits in the right place. Well, that, and to get the Messages.

A Message came to Zeke last week. They were to focus on public performances next, no more hospitals. They had to send a Message that such goings-on were sinful because it took away from studying the Word. What would the LORD think if He came and found them all laughing and going on, not on their knees in prayer, but giving standing ovations to some singer or actor? Who of them had ever healed a blind man or raised to girl from death? Not a one. Why did they deserve applause for their “work”? The LORD never got applause. He got ridicule and death. It was time to reset all their priorities, give them all a mental adjustment.

Two by two they went out, some to the ballet, some to the movie theater, some to a play. They had their pamphlets and their plagues. Sure, they prayed for everyone there, that they would turn from their sinful, self-serving ways. They would die either way, saved or not.

Thoughts on public displays of grief.

There are several different ways that people publicly grieve. Here are few I’ve noticed that seem especially modern. Many seem counterproductive to the healing process. Many seem to exacerbate and prolong grieving.

Commemorating relative’s deaths on Facebook. Every year we hear when their relatives were born or died. Sometimes the birthday post will say “Happy Birthday Mom! You would have been 87 years old today!” Is it suitable to wish happy birthday to someone who has died? Mom has been dead for 20 years. Many of the people who are their friends never even met their Mom.

The side of the road memorials. These often have crosses with the person’s name on it and some fake flowers. Is that where the person died? Was there a car crash? Is this meant to warn others that this is a dangerous area and to drive safely? Is it legal to put private roadside memorials on public property? Could the memorial itself become a safety hazard by distracting someone? How long is too long to leave one of these up? When did this start? These have not always been.

The stickers on the car – “In loving memory of (insert name here)”. These are very large, some of which cover the entire back window of the car. Sometimes there is a profile of praying hands or of Jesus. Often there are birth and death dates. There is a possibility that the sticker itself could be a hazard to the driver, making it hard to see when they are changing lanes. The people on the road most likely did not know that person. How is this message relevant or helpful to them?

Tattoos for the dead. Either with birthdates and death dates, or an image of the person, or both.

Many of these different public memorials are designed to be permanent. Sure, we want to remember the dead. To not remember them and what they meant to you is to make it as if they didn’t exist. But is it helpful to grieve forever? It is meaningful to show your grief to complete strangers? They don’t know your loved one. Is it a way of saying that your grief is worse, because you are showing it off? We all have loved ones who have died. It seems that to have a public display of grief indicates that you feel that others do not grieve.

Grief is a long and difficult process, and Western society does not have a very healthy relationship with it. This is the same society that doesn’t even acknowledge death as a natural part of life. The dying process is seen as an aberration or something to be treated. No wonder our grieving has no set pattern for beginning, middle, and end. No wonder it gets so messy.

I’m not questioning the need to grieve. I’m questioning the need to grieve publicly and permanently. Is that healthy? Is it productive? Is it fair to everyone else?