Archive for April, 2021

the in-between

Apr 10 2021 Published by under Experience Reconsidered,Telling the Story

The past year is done. We’re waiting to start the next SpendaYearwithJesus cycle. We’re in the in-between.

In a recent conversation, I asked a question about Jesus’ schedule. My friend replied, “I picture him always teaching and healing.” I did, too, for years.

For some reason, it’s natural to assume Jesus had no in-between. But we also know that first-century experience had plenty of pauses.

First, there’s sundown. We read comments from the ancients like “work while it is day.” 2,000 years later, we say “lights out” to mean, “end the day.”

Then there’s harvest, two of them. Spring barley and wheat and fall fruit were times of busy-ness for the community as harvest times are today.

Three festivals coincided with the harvests. The adult men of Israel and also their families traveled to Jerusalem to gather at the temple mount.

The fall period between summer heat and winter rains was an opportunity for home repair and winterizing activities.

And we have to mention Sabbath. Every week Jesus’ community had scheduled down-time. They could not work.

There is plenty of in-between in life. Enjoy it. I’m sure Jesus did.

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Apr 09 2021 Published by under Experience Reconsidered

The Jerusalem economy was the temple economy. The temple employed hundreds if not thousands of people–priests and Levites who were butchers, leather tanners, singers, tailors, etc. And there were all of the auxiliary industries surrounding the temple from the farmers who raised the grain for the grain offerings to the shepherds who raised the sheep and goats for the burnt offerings. The skin of the animals most likely went to leather tanners and parchment makers. Meat offered to God for vows and peace offerings was also butchered and eaten in the temple courts.

If Jesus was a threat to that economy, then he could have put thousands of people out of work. James, the apostles, and Paul continued to worship at the temple throughout their “church” ministries, however. In this in-between, the reality of the temple economy alongside the temple worship raises many questions.

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If this is the end, then I want . . .

Apr 08 2021 Published by under Experience Reconsidered

Jesus’ experience had its share of great deeds. Perhaps we could say overwhelming deeds.

So when we get to a statement like the final sentence of John’s Gospel, “Jesus did many other things” (John 21:24) we tend to generalize on the sensational; i.e. “Jesus performed many other miracles.”

At the writing of this post, my mom has been gone for two months. If I could spend just one more day with her, you know what I would like?

Really, what I would like is to talk with her at the breakfast table and drink a cup of coffee together.

For all the wonderful deeds my mom performed, the breakfast cup of coffee and conversation is what I would like with her if I could have one more hour.

Our humanity gets lost in the sensationalism of great deeds and large crowds. Jesus’ humanity gets lost. Frankly, if I’m Peter, I get my wish on the lakeshore (John 21:1).

Jesus returns and has breakfast with his friends. I can imagine them with fish juice dribbling down their fingers and beards, smiling, talking, enjoying one more morning together.

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Auto Draft

Apr 07 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

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Another year completed

Apr 05 2021 Published by under Experience Reconsidered

Another year of SpendaYearwithJesus is completed. Am I improved for the year I spent following Jesus’ experience?

The reality is that I am not.

In fact, life goes on at the dizzying pace that it always has…

…with 3-5 fewer daily text messages.

It occurs to me that Jesus’ original followers lived a similar reality. For all the impact we impose on their experience, what really happened to them in the day-by-day?

Maybe that’s the point. I may not recognize it, but I am just a little more understanding of others — the people around Jesus in his day as well as the people around me today who are trying to understand their own experience.

I hear Christians talk about the resurrection as if it was the definitive moment of history, but look how little changed before and after that moment in reality. A handful of people changed.

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He died on a Friday

Apr 02 2021 Published by under Experience Reconsidered,Ideas Vizualized

My brother died on a Friday. But it’s third-day-complicated.

There was an apartment fire on Friday morning. Three people, including my brother, were missing.

The concrete upper-story floor pad had fallen on the bed where he was sleeping, so “finding him” wasn’t simply a matter of peeking in the room.

Saturday, we waited. Excruciating, inevitable waiting.

Sunday, they rolled the stone away, and we learned what we already knew.

Jesus died on a Friday. His brothers were in Jerusalem for the Feast. They must have heard, must have responded. I wonder how they spent Saturday.

Jesus was human. Jesus’ story reveals his was not a perfect family. Mine wasn’t isn’t either.

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Dead.line: being human and succession planning

Apr 01 2021 Published by under Experience Reconsidered

Every person in the first century crossed the line between life and death, including Jesus. It was part of being human. We don’t need to be reminded that it still is.

Preparing to cross that [dead]line is also part of being human. We anticipate that death will change things. It will bring loss. It will also bring closure.

I have to wonder if Jesus looked at the twelve men around him and felt a sense of gravitas. He had been engaging in succession planning for three years.

  • He had already communicated that he had come to fulfill the Law, thus bringing closure.
  • The previous spring he had commissioned the twelve to declare the nearness of the kingdom.
  • The previous summer, he began to speak of the end, though the disciples understood “dying and raising” as a metaphor.
  • He could reasonably anticipate escalation of conflict in Jerusalem (since he was a wanted man for raising Lazarus).

In Jesus’ experience, he and his disciples refreshed Israel’s past by reading the Law every Sabbath day. When they read about the ordination procedures and dedication ceremony for priests, the practice reminded them of the inevitability of succession planning.

As Jesus sat with his men in the Ephraim wilderness and as he sat with his men this evening, the twelve vaguely anticipated ordination (echoing the priestly ritual) in a new kingdom. Jesus knew his dead.line loomed.

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