Spiritual but not religious – poem

“Spiritual but not religious”?
So was Jesus.
Jesus didn’t come to create a religion
he came to start a relationship.
Jesus wants you to know
that God loves you personally.
That God isn’t some
amorphous thing in the sky
waiting to catch you screwing up.
God loves you
God made you.
God wants you
to know God personally,
directly,
without an intermediary.

Jesus couldn’t stand
the religious authorities
of the day
and how they made sure
that people
saw them praying,
and saw how big
their prayer shawls were.

Jesus wants people
to show
how big
their hearts are.

Jesus wants us
to be in relationship
with each other
and with God.
He wants us to serve God
not by religious observance
but by taking care
of each other.

Jesus would rather a person
never go to church
than spend all their time
in church
and none of their time
helping people.

With Jesus,
your religious observance
would be in a soup kitchen
or helping people clean up
after a tornado
instead of sitting for an hour
in a building, in “church”.

Jesus came to tell you
that you
are the church,
not the building.
That we collectively
make up living stones.

Jesus didn’t want us
to be anything
other than equal.
We are not supposed
to have
ordained and lay people,
but all the same people.
We’re not supposed
to have
bishops and popes.
The only one
above us
is God.

So “spiritual but not religious”?
So was Jesus.
His teachings are true.

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A choice to return

It is tiresome to hear someone point out negative things all the time. Like a coworker I had who was always talking about the bad things – patrons, news stories. Like the friends who have to share only bad news on Facebook – their own, the world’s. It is hard to stay centered and focused and calm when this happens.

But we are told to love our enemies. That is the test. It is easy to love people when they are good. Jesus tells us that even unbelievers do that. But the rubber meets the road when people and situations are difficult. That is when we must rise above our human nature.

The only way to do that is to ask Jesus into the situation, to take up his yoke. It is when things are hard that we are given an opportunity to grow, to get stronger, to get better. It is when things are difficult that we have a reminder an opportunity to recommit to our path. It is then we can choose again to follow Jesus, and not the world.

From the East

James Hilsden, the lead singer of the Israeli band Miqedem, explained the meaning of their name at a recent concert at Kol Dodi Messianic Congregation, in Nashville TN. He explained that “Miqedem” means “from the East” – but it also means from ancient times. The Hebrew word for the East refers to the rising sun.

He then reminded us of the story of the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were sent out from there, they were sent to the East of it. In Genesis 3:24, we learn “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life”

The cherubim were large angelic-looking creatures with huge wings.

Now notice this –

behind the veil

This is a replica of the veil that separates the Holy of Holies – the innermost section of the Tabernacle (In Hebrew it is מִשְׁכַּן “mishkan”, meaning “dwelling place”).  God’s instructions for how to build the Tabernacle are in Exodus 25.  Instructions about the curtains begin at Exodus 26:1.

“Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker.”

This is for the inner part of the tabernacle, which is then covered with a tent made of the more durable fabric of goat hair.  The curtain for the Holy of Holies is described in Exodus 26:31-33

31 “Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.”

Notice that the curtains are to be embroidered with cherubim!

Note that the entrance to the Tabernacle is from the East.

tabernacle-17

The Holy Temple – the building in Jerusalem designed to be a permanent version of the traveling Tabernacle – was also oriented with its opening to the East.

her_tem_plan

When you enter it, you are essentially returning to the Garden of Eden.  The cherubim, who were guarding the entrance to the Garden, part to allow you to enter.  You are once again allowed to be face-to-face with God.

This is, of course, if you are of the Priestly line.

This was true until Jesus died on the cross.  Before then, only people who were blood-kin to Aaron (Moses’ brother) were allowed into that inner sanctum, when they were serving as the High Priest.  But when Jesus died, the curtain was supernaturally torn in half, from top to bottom.

Matthew 27:51-53

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

His death opened up direct access to God to all who follow him.  His death brought life to all the faithful.

Much thanks to James of Miqedem for providing the important pieces of this teaching. I had not noticed the connections before between Eden and the Tabernacle facing East.

(All Bible translations are NIV, all images are copyright their respective owners.)