Monday, May 28, 2001
FDBD is down today, but since it's still May, I'm guessing that the reading for today is the Gospel. So I got the reading from the daily office calendar. Isn't the Internet wonderful?
Some people find what Jesus says in this passage too harsh. They say he comes across sounding like he doesn't care about people, about family. But I think what he says really needs to be considered in context. Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem to be crucified. These people who want to follow him have to do it now or forever lose the opportunity to be with him in person. Jesus is trying to impart this sense of urgency, that God must be first, must be now, and everything else must be secondary. I can relate to the would-be followers in this story. When I first considered becoming a Christian, back in seventh grade at Mount Hermon, I decided that I needed to wait until I became a better person first so that God would accept me more easily. Fortunately, at the time I was surrounded by knowledgeable and caring counselors who taught me that God didn't need me to meet some sort of standard before accepting Him, so I didn't miss that opportunity. But how many people hesitate, make excuses, decide that they need to check with their family first, etc. before becoming a follower of Christ, then never actually go through with it? That's why Jesus is so adamant in today's reading about following him first, and dealing with the rest of the world afterwards.
posted by Susanna King 11:48 AM
Friday, May 25, 2001
I like the writer's interpretation of today's reading. It's different than what I expected. Sermons I've heard on this passage focused on Jesus' being the son of God, about how that was different from being just a prophet, and how the disciples had trouble comprehending this. While that's all good and true, I never thought before of what Peter, John, and James thought of Jesus' transfiguration. When you've shared a miraculous experience, it changes you and those you shared it with. How can you describe it to those who weren't there in a way that makes sense? Well, you can't, really. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be shared. Those three disciples eventually told someone the story, or else it wouldn't be written in Luke. And we read it and try to understand, if only in part. I have a really hard time telling people about my faith, about miraculous things that have happened. But just because it's hard doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. Writing this journal helps me get across the ideas I have a hard time expressing out loud.
posted by Susanna King 10:13 AM
Monday, May 21, 2001
I'm back, after a too-long absence for no good reason, and we're still in Luke. I guess that's good because it's not a book I'd choose to read on my own, but it's an important book to read. Even so, I'm looking forward to next month and a new FDBD writer.
Throughout the four Gospels, Jesus tells the disciples and people he's healed not to tell anyone about his miracles. I never understood why Jesus did this, until today. He tells the disciples not to tell anyone that he is the Messiah, and then goes on to say, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." (vs.22) If the elders, chief priests and scribes understood that Jesus was the Messiah, they never would have handed him over to be killed. It was essential that Jesus not be too popular with the ruling class in order to implement God's plan of salvation. Now I understand why he didn't want people spreading rumors about his miracles and his being the Messiah. Jesus wanted people to hear his teachings instead, repent, and "take up their cross daily and follow me." (vs.23)
posted by Susanna King 11:44 AM
Saturday, May 12, 2001
Luke 7:18-28, 31-35
The FDBD writer makes a good point today. As far as their lifestyles were concerned, Jesus and John the Baptist were near opposites. The first sought out people, the second was a recluse; the first feasted even when he wasn't supposed to, the second fasted more often than not. And yet the religious leaders of the day disliked both. I guess it shouldn't surprise me though that the status quo disliked these extreme men. They might have been happier with more moderate prophets who didn't shake things up so much. But God put them on earth for that very purpose, to change the course of history. It makes me think I'd better take care not to be a part of the status quo, and not be too content with the way things are. If God wants to shake things up, I have to be willing to go along.
posted by Susanna King 10:31 PM
Friday, May 11, 2001
I like today's reading. I hadn't thought about it before, about how verse 13 demonstrates Jesus' compassion for us. I have been sort of at loose ends this week, not really interested in anything. But I need to remember that Jesus doesn't share my apathy. Even when I don't care, he does. And if I love him, I will care what happens to me as much as he does. There's a thought to bring me back.
posted by Susanna King 7:17 PM
Thursday, May 10, 2001
Good stuff. I think we all know this passage, but how many of us truly act on it? Many people use Jesus' words against hypocrisy (vs.39-42) to justify their own sin. That is, if there is any fault in the person who pointed out your wrongdoing, you might as well keep on doing wrong because the messenger was flawed. I don't think this is what Jesus meant. Rather, in the following verses he reminds us to look at our hearts and see what our motives are. He wants us to check and make sure we've built our lives on God's firm foundation. I think this passage is about personal accountability, and using it to condemn others for their imperfections goes against what Jesus is saying here.
posted by Susanna King 2:18 PM
Tuesday, May 08, 2001
I have to be quick, because I'm about to be laid off in fifteen minutes. I'm glad today's reading was the beatitudes. It's comforting to read "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh." It reminds me that Jesus is still with me through all the trials of today, and tomorrow, and the day after that.
posted by Susanna King 11:17 AM
Sunday, May 06, 2001
This is too funny! The people pestering Jesus in this story remind me of the students George tells me about who want to get an "A" without doing any work. "I need this grade," they argue when they see a big "C" on their lab report. What's sad is that good grades in Physics Lab 102 aren't hard to come by. You only have to follow the instructions given by the teacher. But students disregard the instructions, ignore the facts demonstrated by the experiment, and still demand to get the same reward. The Jews in the temple have been ignoring what Jesus has been demonstrating for months. But they still want their Messiah. Heaven forbid that they should have to change their mindset, change their outlook on life in order to see him! Jesus gives them the instructions for eternal life. If they could stop focusing on the reward for one second and simply follow his instructions, their question would be answered.
posted by Susanna King 8:10 AM
Saturday, May 05, 2001
I seriously hope that the kid writing FDBD this month takes his own advice to heart. I need to remember to pray for him, and those other kids he mentioned, and anyone who reads today's commentary and feels like overreacting.
Anyway, I thought that the parable at the end of this passage was really interesting. Jesus talks about how the old and the new don't always mix very well. "But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins." The Church has torn and burst over the centuries as new ideas wrestled with old. Often, people found it simpler to create new denominations rather then try and force their "new wine" into their old church. But I don't think Jesus meant for us to split as much as we have. After all, as Christians we should basically believe the same things. Understandably, new forms of worship will arise which appeal to some people and not to others, like taking communion in a circle or replacing the church organ with electric guitars. I think it makes perfect sense for this new wine to find its own new wineskin, where people can worship in concord. But we still need to remember that all wine, old and new, comes from the same vine.
posted by Susanna King 5:25 PM
Thursday, May 03, 2001
1 John 5:13-21
And so we continue where we left off yesterday. I think the FDBD writer expresses my thoughts on verses 14-15 well enough, so I will focus on the last paragraph instead. Yes, I'm skipping over the hard stuff in verses 16-17; I don't feel up to it today. Besides, verse 18 is hard enough: "We know that those who are born of God do not sin." This really bothered me when I read it. Did Christians really manage not to sin back in those days? I know they were very devout communities, but have we really fallen so far since then? I hate to think that the Church has become permissive by teaching that sin happens, but God forgives. As a matter of fact, verse 16 tells you to pray for a brother or sister whom you know has committed a sin, so these people couldn't have been perfect. Fortunately, I have a study bible with commentary and alternate, more literal translations from the original language. According to the notes in my bible, the word "sin" in verse 18 is the same as in 3:6, "No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him." It means "sins habitually and constantly." Now that makes sense! Yes, sometimes we stumble, just like they did way back when, but why would anyone who loves God, who abides in him, habitually and constantly turn away from him? "The one who was born of God protects [us], and the evil one does not touch [us]." (vs.18)
posted by Susanna King 7:52 PM
Wednesday, May 02, 2001
1 John 5:1-12
For some reason, I don't read the epistles at the end of the New Testament very often. That's too bad, because I've missed gems like verses 1-5 from today's reading. Plenty of other places in the Bible tell us that if we love God and believe in his son Jesus, we are children of God. But verses 1 and 2 here point out that if we love God and obey his commandments, then we love the other children of God, too. So I'm not just called to love my enemies, to pray for those who persecute. But God calls me to love the woman in the next pew, who perhaps I've never met. Or the people on the vestry with whom I might disagree. Or even those who worship God differently than I do, who live lives different from mine but still pleasing to God. These are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and if I love God and obey his commandments, I love them, too.
posted by Susanna King 10:34 AM