Glimpse of the Philosopher King

There is a story Luke tells about Joseph and Mary assuming somehow that Jesus was in their large family group as they returned from Jerusalem the year he was 12. It is the last chronological reference to Joseph. It raises legitimate questions about either their parenting or the point at which a boy was considered an independent in their culture. Both probably.

But more than that it was a handful of days where the Messiah was the Messiah in full public views. He said and did and was who he always was and always would be. Luke writes that the people he interacted with acknowledged his mastery of the subject at hand.

Why is this story here? Why aren’t there a million others? I want to know what Jesus ate for breakfast every day, not to mention what he said those days, years before his public ministry.

And I want to know more about his interlocutors. What did they gather from their

Brief encounter with the Philosopher King?

Lazarus was at the table

John 12:2-3 NIV

[2] Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. [3] Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

What do you or I know about spikenard? It is named for a place or places, it grows in the Himalayas, it came from afar, a pint would have been a fortune, an amount of almost incomprehensible treasure.

I say almost because Mary knew what she was doing.

The incomprehensible treasure was the Man at the table.

This scene so similar to the earlier one–

Martha served

And Lazarus was at the table

Only we know now, what Mary knew then–

He is the perfume that fills the house

Dead raised to life, his life for mine,

Nothing will ever

Be the same

The Remarkable, “Yes!”

John 4:12 KJV

[12] Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

I have sat in the noonday sun with these two people for hours here and there over the course of my own friendship with the Man in the story.

He could have just answered her–

Yes!

You betcha!

Absolutely!

But he knows I will be listening, that others will be listening so..

John 4:13-14 KJV

[13] Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: [14] But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

A person cannot go wrong with living water.

But it is worth noticing the question she asks–

Is Jesus more powerful than Jacob?

Strange to think of all the days when

The hope of Mankind hinge on the Jacobs of history.

When Jesus was coming

The Breaker

The strong right arm of God

The one who makes all other heroes look

Like chumps and losers

Jesus–

Living Water

Woman Up!

I have never been a roller coaster girl. Too queasy, but these days the ride is all mental grit and actuarial tables–I stop in the credit union parking lot just as the preacher on the radio quotes Jesus–ask anything in my name and I will give it to you!

Ok, God, I tell Him, make those doctors brave

Could substitute kind, generous, humble, compassionate

Feels impossible, I tell Him then

He reminds me

Impossible

Is His specialty.

Who protects the wary?

John 5:3-4 KJV

[3] In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. [4] For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

My first question for you is–do you believe there was an angel who came down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the waters?

So one person each time could be healed?

Crazy, right?

But no crazier than believing that Jesus healed the man who had been at the pool so long, who does not turn out to be the most grateful healed man.

I have skirted the issue of the angel at the pool for years, choosing instead to focus on Jesus and the man and the religious oligarchs who made it hard for Jesus.

I understand that angel complicates everything–messenger of God who brings some healing, brings some hope only

In a certain season.

This Little Girl

I want to say so many things to

This man who does not really see

“This little girl”

But I know You

See her, see me, see them

All the little ones who

Need a God like You

Take my sins away, heal my wounds, stay until I am well, bring justice in your wings, never blame the victim, never stop searching for treasure

You

who were, who are, who always will be

Just You,

and “this little girl”

Eschaton and testing for Covid-19

About a month ago I spent a day dragging my family through a crash course in coronavirus. It was appalling.

  • The range of symptoms is highly variable.
  • Carriers can be asymptomatic.
  • With over 200 mutating strains, the range of severity in this disease can be highly variable.
  • A person can be exposed to the mild strains, and still get hit by a secondary, more severe infection.

We put too much emphasis on testing. Testing would be great only if there were limitless tests and the tests were far more reliable than they are. If that were the case then we should all follow a protocol of weekly prophylactic testing.

Not feasible right now.

A few years ago my family started to play a modified version of a very complicated fictional tennis game from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. His version was very apocalyptic (fitting); ours was as well but with a fraction of the complexity.

In our version two teams of as many people as you have (evenly divided, of course) face each other on either side of the net. We divided as many balls as we could muster and started hitting them across the net relentlessly. The opposing team did the same. At a predetermined point (like music chairs), we would pause the game. The team with fewer balls on their side won that round and then we would continue.

Great cardio workout. Quickly exhausting.

That is coronavirus. We will all face an onslaught of a relentlessly moving, mutating virus which can spread quickly, if not effortlessly, through contact and fomite transmission.

Eschaton is a fun game.

This is not. But if I know one thing about how to “win” at eschaton, it is organize your team and don’t stop lobbing the balls back across the net.

We don’t play eschaton right now. Our tennis court is closed. That is a good thing. The best way to “win” at this is to assume we are all spreaders and keep us all

Six feet apart.

Pray. Pray because our lives depend on it. Imagine what a simple game of eschaton would look like if

God were clearly on

The winning side.

Matthew 17:20-21 KJV

[20] And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. [21] Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

The Real Quiet Place

In the stories of Jesus’ public ministry there are accounts of people who have been healed of skin diseases which would have set them apart from their communities due to infection prevention measures codified by the Mosaic law.

In some of these stories, Jesus heals them and gives them permission to not tell people they were ever infected with these diseases.

I think this injunction was made (at least in part) to allow them to have a new life, unencumbered by prejudice.

When my family moved to a new place a few years after we found out that our adopted son had sexually assaulted some of our children, I realized that this was our chance to “start anew.”

We had pushed for legal consequences for Charles. We had a good counselor in the aftermath. We moved to protect the children. We were open with everyone in our previous community.

But we chose to continue

To tell our story.

The result has been fascinating and lonely.

There is a lot of prejudice about victims of sexual abuse and their families, maybe especially in churches.

We could be contagious?

Maybe

Or maybe it is our openness that scares them.

Either way, we call it “the island.” We live on an island

An island made of truth and pain and loneliness

With a single, unwavering resident

The one who heals us.

The one who knows this quiet place.

The one who tells us the truth will set us free.

My family is healthy, happy, and stable because we have never tried to hide

The story of our grief

But it can be quiet

On the island.

The Wedding Sermon

First of all, let me reiterate that I do not expect you two to go the distance–not that prophetic considering where you are today and the inauspicious nature of this ceremony of disaster.

Most weddings are full of shi…..ps, little paper boats people fold along seams, scribble on, and push out onto whatever river they believe in. They write platitudes for the pain, use costly words all wrong.

Then the little boats float off

Leaving you there at the altar, no more substantial than cake topper avatars

Not ready for this:

Loves fierce resolve

To begin and end/end and begin

Together.

We Speak in Tongues

I have sometimes heard

The voice of God

remarkably salty

And full of fire

He is both

Placable and implacable in His anger

The first with sullen men

Then unsparing with his only Son

No siblings without the unendurable

No blind and lame set free

Without his blood for me

1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV

[1] If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.