The First Noël

The following took place during my thirteenth year . . .

A week before Christmas Day, a gaggle of us self-conscious teenagers loaded into three cars. We headed to Elgin State Hospital, formerly called the Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane. Our church’s youth group leader had decided that, in the spirit of Christmas, his charges should bring hope and joy to the less fortunate.

Four of us sat bunched together in the back seat of one of the cars. We kidded each other about who was the crazier. We cackled and fidgeted and sniffed the mimeographed sheets of Christmas Carols and became giddier. None of us knew what to expect. “But for the grace of God” is all I heard the youth group leader say before I got in the car.

The high school senior driving our car asked us if we wanted to hear about “Elgin State.” We became quiet and ready to squeal like when the four of us sat at a campfire last summer. Jeff slowly spun out his words and waited for our reaction.

 “They say the place is . . . haunted … horrific experiments had been performed there . . . spirits of the unclaimed dead walk the cemetery grounds and, . . .  in the buildings, . . . the criminally insane live there.”

It didn’t take much. Jeff’s description of Elgin State and the winter wind that howled through Jeff’s rusted-out car gave us goose bumps. I wound and unwound the pretty purple printed sheets. Lise snapped her gum. Mary kicked the front seat and Joan kept biting her nails.

The three cars drove through the front entrance and down a long driveway towards the largest brick building I had ever seen. I suddenly felt out of place. I saw no signs of Christmas anywhere.

We parked along the front of the building. The youth group leader led our group of sixteen through the front door. He announced us at the front desk. Soon an older gentleman came down the stairs.

Dr. I-Forget-His-Name was bald and wore thick-rimmed glasses. In his white lab coat, he looked like the mad scientist I’d seen in a movie that I wasn’t supposed to watch but watched anyway at a friend’s house. Up close, I could see small blood vessels on his nose and cheeks. Whispering to Lise, I wondered if that is what happened when you work here. I tried not to stare when he escorted the group upstairs.

On the second floor he directed us to a double-door entrance. We walked through it. The room before us was bigger than any church sanctuary I had been in. There were large windows along the length of the room. They were foggy, providing a pale spectral light. None of the patients stood near them.

There were no curtains around the windows. There were no pictures on the walls, no paintings, and no Christmas tree or decorations. The furniture, wooden chairs and tables, was scattered around the room on the dull linoleum floor. The hall seemed soulless and indifferent toward the fifty gowned inmates within it.

The patient’s voices, moans, yelps, and shrieks sounded like they were coming out from a deep cave. Many sat staring off blankly. Some of them bobbed their head endlessly. Those who walked around seemed content to be walking in no specific direction. Our appearance at the double-door made no difference to them.

We gathered in two rows just inside the doorway and began signing Jingle Bells. Our voices reverberated and then seemed to go off somewhere. Our captive audience didn’t stir. We followed with Silent Night. There were a couple of moans of recognition. Then we sang The First Noël.

The First Noel the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds
In fields as they lay
In fields where they Lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s…

Out from the hallway behind us came a naked man. He began shouting and writhing right in front of us. One of the girls shrieked. The patients whooped and hollered.

Two men with white coats tried to grab the man. But he squirmed and threw them off again and again. free. He jumped and shouted and flung his arms right in front of us. He wanted to be right in front of us.

More white coats came to help. They surrounded the man and subdued him. He was dragged from the room.

It took a few minutes for our youth group leader to get us back to singing. When we did, we kept looking behind us to see what was next. But nothing happened after that.

When we finished singing our host escorted us down stairs. At the door, he thanked us for coming. On the way home we had a lot to talk about. Jeff said nothing.

That night I told my parents about my experience at Elgin State. Father said he was reminded of the Gadarene demoniac. Mom said “That poor man.”

Two weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, I was allowed to stay up late. I sat with my father as he watched the newsman recap what had happened in 1965. Something was said about demonstrations and Vietnam and The Great Society. But I sat there thinking about “that poor” wild “man” in Elgin State. He sure reacted to The First Noël.

Are We to Be Their Playthings?

“There is no question in my mind that very significant powerbrokers around the world have either planned to take advantage of the next pandemic or created the pandemic.” – Dr. Michael Yeadon, ex-Pfizer VP

Sixty years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell address January 17, 1961, warned the nation:

“. . . we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

The “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” persisted by the means of self-preservation: generate kinetic military action to generate the continued sales of military armament.

Clearly this “misplaced power” existed in the Bush-Cheney and the Obama-Biden administrations. Both made sure to continue world strife.

The Nobel Peace Prize winning 44th president launched more drone strikes than “43” carried out during two full terms. Obama launched two undeclared wars, and—as he bragged in a speech defending the Iran deal—bombed no fewer than seven countries.

Sixty years later and we are witnessing and are subject to another disastrous rise of misplaced powerGlobalist Oligarch Tech World Order Kyrioi Enclave (G.O.T.W.O.K.E.).

 The “military–industrial complex” was described as an “iron triangle” with government officials, legislators, and military-industrial firms at adjoining angles.

G.O.T.W.O.K.E. can be described as an inverted pentagram. The five interconnected points of darkness are globalists, oligarchs, techno-utopians, politicians and the media. Within the star are the stakeholders: government entities such as the CDC, NIH, DHS, etc., the Party of Davos, Pope Francis, and a supporting cast of useful idiots such as Progressive Christians -Evangelicals, Catholics, Jesuits – and election-stealing Democrats.

The inverted star represents the consortium of power and Satanic influence at work to subvert the created order.

Literature has analogies to G.O.T.W.O.K.E. For, the evil that man does to man has been repeated throughout history. Those who write to warn us, take the implications from the record of atrocities and apply them in a post-contemporary setting which contain new means to apply the same evil.

The three authors below published their novels after WWI and WWII. They understood the horrors resulting from progressivism and totalitarianism.

Aldous Huxley, in his novel Brave New World wrote of the World State and its motto “Community, Identity, Stability”.

In George Orwell’s 1984 we read ofthe “Party” and its enigmatic leader Big Brother. Of course, the Party has slogans: “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is strength.”

C.S. Lewis penned a space trilogy. In the third novel in that series – That Hideous Strength – we learn of the National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments (N.I.C.E.) N.I.C.E. is a scientific and social engineering agency and a front for dark supernatural forces. There are significant parallels of N.I.C.E. activity to what is happening today.

Like N.I.C.E., G.O.T.W.O.K.E. will stop at nothing to get their way. The epigraph and the following is from the article Ex-Pfizer Vice-President: COVID-19 Vaccines to Cause “Mass Depopulation” Event Within 2 years | The Red Elephants (the entire post is a must read!)

“I think the end game is going to be, ‘everyone receives a vaccine’… Everyone on the planet is going to find themselves persuaded, cajoled, not quite mandated, hemmed-in to take a jab. 

“When they do that every single individual on the planet will have a name, or unique digital ID and a health status flag which will be ‘vaccinated,’ or not … and whoever possesses that, sort of single database, operable centrally, applicable everywhere to control, to provide as it were, a privilege, you can either cross this particular threshold or conduct this particular transaction or not depending on [what] the controllers of that one human population database decide. And I think that’s what this is all about because once you’ve got that, we become playthings and the world can be as the controllers of that database want it.” 

And so it is that one of the pointy fingers of G.O.T.W.O.K.E., the media, invoked a representative of an increasingly Progressive Christian college to call out, persuade, and cajole White Evangelical Christians to submit to “a jab.”

“If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,” said Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois.”

White Evangelical Resistance Is Obstacle in Vaccination Effort – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

We are told in the NYT article that “Distrust of scientists has become part of cultural identity, of what it means to be white and evangelical in America”.

So, we are to trust Anthony Fauci, who with Francis Collins of the NIH, was behind the gain of function experiments gone awry in Wuhan China? Are we to trust scientism – scientific claims devoid of empirical evidence and debate and derived from ideology?

I wonder. Do Progressives pray “woke will be done on earth as it is in my belief system”? This would make sense with the following.

One of the rules Victor Davis Hanson lists in his article Radical New Rules for Post-America, Americans privately fear these rules, while publicly appearing to accept them is . . .

“Wokeness is the new religion, growing faster and larger than Christianity itself.”

Of course, to be a woke crusader one must wield the sword of wokeness. One must slash scientism deniers with cutting edge wokeness.

While woke warriors are fighting the good fight with yard signs, bumper stickers, virtue signaling, and interviews they are too busy to notice what G.O.T.W.O.K.E. is doing. This is by G.O.T.W.O.K.E. design.

The COVID-19 “pandemic” is being employed to produce a feudal state. The new class structures will mirror Medieval times.

 Following a remarkable epoch of greater dispersion of wealth and opportunity, we are inexorably returning towards a more feudal era marked by greater concentration of wealth and property, reduced upward mobility, demographic stagnation, and increased dogmatism. If the last seventy years saw a massive expansion of the middle class, not only in America but in much of the developed world, today that class is declining and a new, more hierarchical society is emerging.

The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class by Joel Kotkin (goodreads.com)

One major way to bring about a feudal state is the control of money.

You may be aware that the Fed has propped up the stock market with low interest rates. But those not in the stock market and with a savings account have not earned interest on their money. So, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer – by design.

And, when the Biden regime talks about spending trillions of dollars for infrastructure (‘crumbling roads and bridges”) they mean they will spend a small portion on infrastructure and a massive amount to produce Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of society. The inordinate spending will mean increased taxation and not just of the wealthy. Raising your taxes is in the docket.

With the amount of government spending based on printing money and accruing debt beyond our GDP, a devaluation of the dollar and inflation will soon hit the economy. The middle class and poor will be hit hardest. Inflation means that the cost of goods will go up but wages will remain stagnant so that businesses can afford the cost of goods. Your purchasing power will decline.

With a devalued dollar, the Fed will create a digital world currency to replace physical currency. This may be done under the guise of securing public health: “cash passes on disease and pandemics”.

You will be required to exchange your physical dollars into the new digital dollar (DUSD). But here’s the kicker. The exchange rate will not be one for one. It will start out less than one for one and then decrease over time. This will serve to persuade, cajole, and force you to exchange your USD for DUSD.

And, as Dr. Michael Yeadon infers about the vaccine, a digital currency means we become playthings and the world can be as the controllers of that database want it.” 

Your smartphone is to become the controller’s means to monitor your behavior. A social credit system will be set up using your phone. This is not science fiction. This system will parallel the China Social Credit System mandated by the Chinese Communist Party. China’s population of 1,443,585,192 is controlled digitally.

Your money, your health, your contacts, your purchases – everything about you will be monitored in light (dark, really) of G.O.T.W.O.K.E. social policy. G.O.T.W.O.K.E.’s Great Reset is going to make this happen in our lifetime.

Consider what the above means for Christians. G.O.T.W.O.K.E. is led by atheists, nihilists and narcissists. None of them want anything to do with God. The tower of Techno-Babel they are building has nothing to do with God. They desire to delete Christ with their apps and algos and then by persecutions and deaths.

Some place their hope in a “horses and chariots” election, in an outpouring of rebuke against what is happening. But what I have written about above is taking place now and will not be overcome by voting in the ‘right’ candidates. We must prepare for what is next.

So, I believe it is time for Christians to prepare to go underground. Get rid of personal debt. Get rid of church buildings, building programs and church debt.

The underground church is nothing new. And, it is necessary. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist as Christians in China are fully aware.

We go underground to recover what it means to follow Christ and to steel ourselves with prayer and intimate community for what is coming.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

Isaiah 60:2

*****

Episode 852 –they are coming for people of faith NY Times and Liz Cheney
Episode 854 – Occam’s Razor … Fauci’s Virus and Open Borders Superspreaders
Episode 858 – Naomi Wolf Cryptocurrency and China’s Passports … The CCP’s Next Attack

You can choose to not submit your yourself to those who would use you as playthings:

Here it comes:

CDC declares racism “a serious public health threat” – Axios

Bill Gates, George Soros Team Up To Form Organization Tasked with Policing with ‘Disinformation’ – Conservative Brief

Some women report heavier and more painful PERIODS since getting the COVID-19 vaccine | Daily Mail Online

Second Vaccination Site Halts Operations After Adverse Reactions to Johnson & Johnson Vaccine (theepochtimes.com)

Beautiful 28-Year-Old Nurse Died Because of the Pfizer mRNA Injection – Shaneya.Info

They Are After Your Child – They Want to Inject Your Child With Dangerous Synthetic mRNA Technology – Shaneya.Info

Mandatory Vaccines, Mandatory Tracking Bracelets and Mandatory PCR Tests Are a Pretext to Mandatory RFID Implants Into Our Hand and Brain – Shaneya.Info

Georgia is the fourth state to pause Johnson & Johnson vaccine (nypost.com)

We are CNN’s Playthings:

*****

Note: The “rapture” is a fantasy imposed onto Scripture. We should see the Scripture in the context it was written and not add fantasy notions to it. The Apostle Paul, by the Holy Spirit, gave us the imagery of Christ returning in power. In 1 Thessalonians 4.15-16 the Apostle “Paul is casting a vision of Christ’s return wrapped in political overturns (he actually does this a lot!)”. There will be no “rapture”. “The Late Great Planet Earth” and the “Left Behind” series of ‘end times’ books are fantasies imposed on Scripture. These books are not worth your time.

*****

The Eyes Have It

At the cross. At the burial. At the empty tomb. Three wait-and-see days. Three women.

The gospel according to Mark begins with the ushering in of “the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son” (Mk. 1:1). Composed of short narratives that could be easily visualized by those who heard its reading, Mark’s terse and unembellished gospel clears a straight path so that the reader can see and perceive Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises (Mk. 1:3).

For example, Mark uses literary bracketing (inclusio) to focus in on that fulfillment. Two accounts of blind men receiving their sight bracket Jesus telling his disciples (three times) that he will be rejected, handed over to the authorities, killed and then rise from the dead after three days.  (Beginning Bracket: Mark 8:22-26; End Bracket:  Mark.10:46-52.)

Because of their own unwillingness to really really look at Jesus (cf. Mk.8:25) the disciples do not perceive Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises through death and resurrection.

At a mission critical point in the gospel account -Mark chapter 8 – Jesus reproaches his disciples for their lack of understanding. We learn from the brutally honest account that those closest to Jesus, each with two good eyes and two good ears, still did not grasp that the Messiah had to be crucified and then rise again. We hear that in Peter’s repudiation of that mission (Mk. 8:32).

Peter is Mark’s principal eyewitness source of what Jesus said and did and of the disciple’s reactions. But after the end of Mark chapter 14, where Peter’s denial is recorded, Peter and the male disciples are nowhere to be seen or heard from.

Three women are introduced into the passion narrative (Mk 15). They are the source for Mark’s passion account. They are eyewitnesses of what occurred at the cross, at the burial and at the empty tomb.

Earlier in the text, Mark wrote of the blind gaining sight, of those with two good eyes not seeing and not perceiving what was taking place. Mark now places emphasis on seeing that would lead to perceiving and, hopefully, to belief. He records the seeing of the women seven times:

Henry Ossawa Tanner

At the cross. Some of the women observed from a distance. They included Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. They had followed Jesus in Galilee, and had attended to his needs. There were several other women, too, who had come up with him to Jerusalem. (Mk. 15: 40-41).

(Note that Mark added that these women had also been with Jesus for most of his ministry. He is telling us that they had observed Jesus from his early ministry to the empty tomb. These women likely heard Jesus teach his disciples new things: about him being handed over to be killed and his rising from the dead after three days. (Mk. 8:31-32; 9:31-32; 10:32-45)

At the burial. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where he was buried. (Mk. 15:47)

At the empty tomb. After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could come and anoint Jesus …” who’s going to roll the stone away for us?”

Then, when they looked up, they observed that it had been rolled away. (It was extremely large.) (Mk. 16: 1-4)

So they went into the tomb, and there they saw a young man sitting on the right hand side. He was wearing white. They were totally astonished.

“Don’t be astonished,” he said to them. “You’re looking for Jesus of Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been raised! He isn’t here! Look – this is the place where they laid him.

“But go and tell his disciples – including Peter – that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just like he told you.” (Mk. 16:5-7)

The earliest manuscripts of Mark’s gospel account end at 16: 8:

They [the three women] went out, and fled from the tomb. Trembling and panic had seized them. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

This is a curious ending for a gospel that begins with “the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son”. Mark clearly wanted the readers to perceive Jesus as the Messiah, God’s son. He clearly wanted the reader to take in the crucifixion of the Messiah and his bodily resurrection. Why end good news with fear and trembling?

Mark’s gospel account may have had a longer ending. If the original manuscript was written on a scroll (likely), the edge of the scroll containing his ending may have deteriorated. This also happened to many dead sea scrolls.

Later copies of Mark contained appended text (Mk. 16: 9-20). This text may have been added by a scribe in the second century who was familiar with Luke’s gospel account. There are similarities. Mark’s promise of “the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son” has been restored- fulfilled – with the added text. And so was Mark’s emphasis of those not perceiving what is taking place.

Mark’s narrative emphasis on hardness of heart leading to unbelief – rejecting what has been seen and heard by eyewitness accounts– is reinforced in the added text:

When Jesus was raised, early on the first day of the week, he appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told the people who had been with him, who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive, and that he had been seen by her, they didn’t believe it.

After this he appeared in a different guise to two of them as they were walking into the countryside. They came back and told the others, but they didn’t believe them.

Later Jesus appeared to the eleven themselves, as they were at table. He told them off for their unbelief and the hardness, for not believing those who had seen him after he had been raised. (Mk. 16: 9-14)

At the cross. At the burial. At the empty tomb. Three wait-and-see days. Three women seeing seven times. Eleven hard-hearted disciples. And you? You still don’t get it? (cf. Mk.8:21)

All God’s promises, you see, find their yes in him: and that’s why we say the yes, the “Amen,” through him when we pray to God and give him glory (2 Cor. 1:20)

The eyes have it. Amen.

****

Episode 836 – No Sanctuary in a Church … Mask Police Attack Pregnant Woman
Episode 843 – The Deep Church … Fraud and Fines Against Christians
Episode 847 – Descent Into Hell Transhumanism and the New Human

****

“Nowhere in early Christian literature do we find traditions attributed to the community as their source or transmitter, only as the recipient. Against the general form-critical image of the early Christian movement as anonymous collectivity, we must stress that the New testament writings are full of prominent named individuals . . . Compared with the prominence of named individuals in the New Testament itself, form criticism represented a rather strange depersonalization of early Christianity that still exercised an unconscious influence on New Testament scholars.”[i]


[i] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, MI), 2017), 297

“You still don’t get it?”

“I can see people,” said the man, peering around, “but they look like trees walking about.”

A blind man gains partial sight. He interprets the forms he sees via his prior limited understanding. Did he know at this stage that his perception was off?

The gospel according to Mark is composed of short narratives that could be easily visualized by those who heard its oral performance. Mark would have the listener hear, see and perceive who Jesus is. He would have the listener understand that seeing and hearing alone are not sufficient for the followers of Jesus. Understanding is what is required. At a mission critical point in the gospel account -Mark chapter 8 – Jesus reproaches his disciples for their lack of understanding.

The disciples had been mumbling about not having brought enough bread for their boat crossing. Yet twice before they had seen with their own two good eyes Jesus multiplying loaves to feed thousands. They had picked up the leftovers! And now they are mumbling about not having enough bread!

“Don’t you get it? Don’t you understand? Have your hearts gone hard? Can’t you see with your two good eyes? Can’t you hear with your two good ears?”

“You still don’t get it?”

Right after this rebuke is the narrative of the blind man who receives a two-stage healing of his eyesight (Mk. 8:22-26). The man’s depth of field is made whole. He could see everything clearly. Men were no longer like walking trees. His perception was growing.

Mark then increases the depth of field for those visualizing the account of the blind man’s healing:

Jesus and his disciples came to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who are the people saying that I am?

(I suppose in this setting that Jesus’ question could also be stated as “What do people perceive about me?”)

He gets feedback.

John the Baptist,” they said, or, some say, Elijah. Or, some say, one of the prophets.

Like the blind man whose initial vision is without depth of field and lacking clarity, people are reporting that they are seeing a form that they were vaguely familiar with.

What about you? asked Jesus. Who do you say that I am?

Peter, recently admonished about the bread incident, doesn’t hesitate to declare “You’re the Messiah.”

The people perceived Jesus to be one of several polemical figures: Elijah, John the Baptist or a prophet. The people were looking for just such a figure to re-enter into their times and bring about God’s judgement on the wicked.

Peter, like many Jews during the second temple period, looked for a new emergent figure: the messiah.

Hearing Peter’s reply, Jesus gave his disciples strict orders to not disclose this to anyone. It would appear that Jesus had more to teach the disciples and he didn’t want them to go public without them seeing/understanding what he sees. Mk. 8:31:

Jesus now began to teach them something new.

Jesus tells the disciples that the son of man must suffer and die at the hands of those who reject him.

Peter is clearly rattled with this new teaching. Clinging to the vague figure of a messiah and projecting onto Jesus that image, Peter rebukes Jesus for saying things that would alter his own view of things.

Jesus sternly rebukes Peter for rebuking him.

Get behind me, Accuser! he said. You’re thinking human thoughts, not God’s thoughts.

Even after all that he had witnessed, including an unclean spirt that identified Jesus as “God’s Holy One”, Peter still did not perceive who Jesus is. Peter still didn’t understand. Peter, with his “human thoughts”, was still in “men as trees walking” mode.

Jesus does not hold back. Jesus goes on to describe what is required of those who follow him. He talks about life altering choices. He talks about accountability. (I think Peter, at this point, wanted to go back to passing out bread.)

Having taught them something new, Jesus, his mind set like flint towards Jerusalem, brings his closest disciples on a field trip. Peter, James and John go with Jesus up atop a high mountain. There, Jesus is transfigured into heavenly splendor right before their eyes. Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets, are standing with Jesus.

Peter, again using human thoughts, didn’t know what to say but he said it anyway . . .

I tell you what – we’ll make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!

Peter (“You still don’t get it?” Peter) gets another stern rebuke:

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud: This is my son, the one I love. LISTEN TO HIM!

This same Peter declares to bystanders who are questioning his relationship to Jesus, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

A Roman centurion who stood before the cross, saw how Jesus died. He declared “This fellow really was God’s son.”

Seeing, hearing and perceiving. “You still don’t get it?”

****

Mark’s skillfully structured biography uses a literary device (inclusio) to emphasize that seeing, hearing and perceiving things from God’s perspective are absolutely essential traits for followers of Jesus. Between healing-of-blind-man narrative brackets, Jesus takes his disciples aside and talks mission detail. He relates what His father has told them. He wants the disciples to take this in. This information will prepare them for what is coming.

Beginning Bracket: Mark 8:22-26. We read of a blind man receiving a two-stage healing. Then, in Mark 8:31-32

There’s big trouble in store for the son of man, he said. The elders, the chief priests, and the scribes are going to reject him. He will be will be killed – and after three days he’ll be raised. He said this all quite explicitly.

And, again in Mark 9:31-32:

The son of man is going to be given over into human hands. They will kill him; and when he’s been killed, after three days he will rise again.

They didn’t understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.

And, again in Mark 10:32-34:

“Look, he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem. The son of man will be handed over to the chief priests and the legal experts, and they will condemn him and hand him over to the pagans. They will taunt him and spit at him and flog him and kill him – after three days he will rise again.

End Bracket:  Mark.10:46-52. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus receives his sight after calling out loudly to Jesus “Son of David! Jesus! Take Pity on Me! … Son of David take pity on me! . . . Teacher, let me see again.”

****

Both hardness of hard (Mk. 3:5) and the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod (Mk. 8:15) can keep one from seeing and perceiving who Jesus is and what he is about. Jesus warned against both.

When the disciples asked about his use of parables (Mk4:10-13), Jesus’ response included words from Isaiah 6: 9-10:

The mystery of the kingdom is given to you, but for the people outside it’s all in parable, so that ‘they may look and look but never see, and hear and hear but never understand; otherwise they would turn and be forgiven.’

Don’t you understand the parable? He said to them. How are you going to understand all the parables?

When Jesus confronts the disciple’s mumbling about not bringing enough bread (Mk.8:17-18) he questions them as to whether they are just like the outsiders he talked about in his response to parable use:

Can’t you see with your two good eyes?

Can’t you hear with your two good ears?

Many today do not perceive who Jesus is. They, like Peter, readily associate themselves with Jesus, as Jesus appears to them as being “on the right side of history”. But they remain clueless as to who he is. Instead, they project onto Jesus a form they are familiar (and comfortable) with.

Some are not comfortable with a Jewish Jesus. Some project onto Jesus a Catholic or Evangelical image. Some project onto Jesus an image of a Progressive social justice warrior. Some say he is Elijah, some say John the Baptist and others . . . Oprah, for instance, projects a Pluralist-Pantheist-Playdough image onto “the Son of God”.

***

Why was Jesus pressing so hard for his disciples to gain understanding? Human thoughts deny the reality of Jesus every time. With God’s thoughts, God’s perspectives, we can see beyond our present circumstances and our present suffering and grab ahold of God’s resources.

The apostle Paul, who wrote of unwise hearts growing dark (Rm. 1:21) and teachers possessing an outline of knowledge and truth (Rm. 2:20) prayed for the church at Ephesus. He desired that the church receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus.

I personalized Paul’s prayer, found in Ephesians 1: 17-19, so that those of us who follow the Lord can pray and grow in the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of our Lord.

I pray that the God of King Jesus, our lord, the father of glory, would give me, in my spirit, the gift of being wise, of seeing things people can’t normally see, because I am coming to know him and to have the eyes of my inner most self opened to God’s light. Then I will know exactly what the hope is that goes with God’s call; I will know the wealth of the glory of his inheritance in his holy people; and I will know the outstanding greatness of his power toward those who are loyal to him in faith, according to the working of his strength and power.

****

War Room Episode 795 – Dennis Prager, Transhumanism, and the West

Step Outside

“Late last month the Boundary Waters was named a dark sky sanctuary by the International Dark Sky Association, a nonprofit that works around the world to reduce light pollution and protect night skies. It’s one of just 13 such designations in the world

To qualify, a place has to have exceptional starry nights, and a “nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural or education value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.

 . . . We’re looking at a sky that people looked at thousands of years ago. And to me it feels like preserving a really special heritage. It’s part of the fabric of the Boundary Waters.”

Boundary Waters designated a dark sky sanctuary

Many years before this recent designation of “dark sky sanctuary”, I took in the “exceptional starry nights”. I did this during my two-week canoe trips out of Ely, MN into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The trips were about camping out in a secluded wilderness with close friends. And for me at least, it was about getting out of town and experiencing a different reality. My parents were not campers.

Born and raised in the city of Chicago and later moving to the suburbs, life was lived under manmade illumination.

I ate, played, did homework – did everything – by the light of incandescent, fluorescent or thungsten-halogen lamps. At night I walked or rode my bike under the mango-yellow light of street lamps.

In the Boundary Waters Wilderness there was none of that. When the campfire smoldered out, or when I wandered off from the camp, the firmament provided the only light.

Within that night sky sanctuary, absent of “light pollution”, billions of stars were sending out light. I learned later that the starlight had come to me from the distant past.

The night sky sanctuary is a time machine. Things had been set in motion long before I came around. I needed to step outside my frame of reference to understand this.

****

Within the eyewitness testimony recorded in Mark’s gospel, there is an account not recorded in the other three gospels. We read of a blind man receiving his sight in two stages. The account is situated right after the account of the disciples not “seeing” – not understanding – what is right in from of them.

In Mark chapter 8 vs. 12-21, we find the disciples concerned about not having brought enough bread for their boat crossing. Their concern and confusion began when they did not understand Jesus’ warning.

“Beware!” said Jesus sternly to them, “watch out for leaven – the Pharisees’ leaven, and Herod’s leaven too!”

(One could say that “the leaven of the Pharisees” leads to a rising sense of self-righteousness. And, the “leaven” of Herod leads to a rising sense of self-importance. Both leavens lead to an eclipsing of the light of day.)

Jesus then sternly replies to the disciples and their mumbling about not bringing bread.

“Don’t you get it? Don’t you understand? Have your hearts gone hard? Can’t you see with your two good eyes? Can’t you hear with your two good ears?”

Jesus goes on to point out the obvious to his disciples: they were directly involved in feeding the five thousand and the four thousand. Each time they started with only a few loaves and ended up with baskets full of leftovers. How could they not understand and take in what took place in their presence?

Then comes the account of the man without two good eyes. Mark 8: 22-26:

They arrived at Bethsaida. A blind man was brought to Jesus, and they begged him to touch him. He took his hand, led him outside the village, and put spittle on his eyes. Then he laid hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything?”

“I can see people,” said the man, peering around, “but they look like trees walking about.”

Then Jesus laid his hands on him once more. This time he looked hard, and his sight came back: he could see everything clearly. Jesus sent him back home.

Don’t even go into the village, he said.

The blind man recovers partial sight after Jesus touches him. He gains full sight after Jesus touches him again. The man looks really, really hard all around. Everything then came into view for the once-blind man. He can now “walk perfectly on all his paths.”

Though I’ve read this passage many times before, what stood out this time – Jesus leading the blind man out of the village before restoring his sight. Did the village represent an established framework of thinking – a frame of reference – that needed to be reorientated by Jesus?

Was the variation in setting, from where the man had long groped for a path to outside the village, meant to be an object lesson for the disciples? They also groped for understanding. Did they need to step outside the village understanding of things?

Was the relocation outside the village for the healing a means to clear away obstacles from the man’s path? To straighten out paths for the blind man and the understanding of the disciples?

The disciples and Mark’s readers would no doubt understand the meaning within this account. Seeing and not seeing correlate to understanding and not understanding in words of the prophet Isaiah (Is. 6: 9-10). And both states correlate with the path one walks. This is heard in the words of the Damascus Document found near the Qumran community.

The “Teacher” exhorts the reader to “Listen to me and I shall open your eyes so that you can see and understand the deeds of God . . . so that you can walk perfectly on all his paths” (CD2:14-16)

The gospel of Mark opens with quotes from prophets Isaiah (40:3) and Malachi (3:1) in reference to John the Baptist:

“Look! I am sending my messenger ahead of me; he will clear the way for you! A shout goes up in the desert: Make way for the Lord! Clear a straight path for him!”

In the verses that follow we read of relocation, redirection and the clearing away of impediments in order to walk perfectly.

Mark writes of John the Baptist appearing in the desert announcing a baptism of repentance. A relocation outside the village.

Then we read that “the spirt pushed him (Jesus) out into the desert.” A redirection from villages. (Imagine the night sky over the desert – a dark sky sanctuary declaring the glory of God.)

The blind man, once groping for a path, stepped outside his frame of reference with Jesus. There, he was healed and saw what the disciples had yet come to see– that Jesus is the Frame of Reference. All else is darkness, murkiness, groping, and . . . mumbling.

****

2017 Biologos Conference, Astronomer and President of BioLogos Deborah Haarsma: Christ and the Cosmos

Playing the “Ice-game of Reason”?

Years ago, now, I read the folk stories of Hans Christian Anderson to my two youngest. Storytime included The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Little Match Girl, The Princess and the Pea, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and… The Snow Queen.

First published in 1845, The Snow Queen centers on the struggle between good and evil as taken on by a little boy and girl, Kay and Gerda.

Below are the seven stories of the Snow Queen (audio and pdf).

First Story: Which Treats of a Mirror and of the Splinters

Second Story: A little Boy and a Little Girl

Third Story: Of the Flower-Garden at the Old Woman’s Who Knew the Art of Sorcery

Fourth Story: The Prince and Princess

Fifth Story: The Little Robber Maiden

Sixth Story: The Lapland Woman and the Finland Woman

Seventh Story” What Took Place in the Palace of the Snow Queen, and What Happened Afterward

The Unmasking

 

As in a morning field. Was it a vision?
Or did we see that day the unseeable
One glory of the everlasting world
Perpetually at work, though never seen

-Edwin Muir, Transfiguration

Why talk about the transfiguration of Jesus during the time of COVID-19? For one, to provide a respite from the incessant fear-mongering pouring out from the 24/7 news cycle and with it the cloying and Orwellian “Heroes” pronounced upon us for submitting to anti-social behavior. A more important reason is to lift our sights above charts, graphs and, metrics that encapsulate our Pareto-ized lives at this time.

The gospels document Peter, James and John’s mountain top eye-witness account of the transfiguration: Matthew 17: 1-8, Mark 9: 2-8, Luke 9: 28-36. Peter recalls it in his second letter, 2 Peter 1: 16-18.

When we made known to you the power and appearing of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, you see, we were not following cleverly devised myths. Rather, we were eyewitnesses of his grandeur. For when he received honor and glory from God the father, a voice spoke to him from the Wonderful Glory, “This is my son, my beloved one, in whom I am well pleased.” We heard his voice, spoken from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.

John alludes to the transfiguration in his gospel. (John 1:14):

And the word became flesh, and lived among us. We gazed upon his glory, glory like that of the father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Recall that Moses, tasked by God to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, wanted a handle on things. Overwhelmed, he wanted to know who will go with him to make the exodus happen. God replied:

My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

Moses, anxious about new his vocation, wanted further clarity and security:

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

God accepts Moses’ request, as God wants to reveal Himself to Moses (and the people of Israel).

 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Moses was not allowed to see God’s face. But the glory of God shone so much onto him during his encounters with God that his face was radiant. So radiant, in fact, that he had to wear a veil whenever he returned to the people (Exodus 34: 35).

The transfiguration –Moses and Elijah standing with Jesus in dazzling light (representing the Law and the Prophets and the New Covenant) – had an earth-shattering effect on the earthlings. Peter wanted to get a handle on all this. He began to speak, formalizing and institutionalizing what he sees (as many have done since). But then God spoke …

When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone. (Matthew 17: 6-8)

An unmasking, a revelation, had occurred. God Very God could be seen in a glorified human form. The transfiguration happened once. But similar revelations happened throughout the gospels. It happened earlier when Jesus read Isaiah in the synagogue. And, later, at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. The veil of the holy of holies was torn from top to bottom and a Roman Centurion, standing at the foot of the cross, said “This fellow really was god’s son.”

The same thing happened when the disciples “recognized” Jesus after his resurrection. And, when Paul encountered Jesus on the Damascus road. And it will happen when we see him as he is and all faces will look upon him. John makes a point in his gospel (and letters) about recognizing Jesus.

John’s only gospel reference to the transfiguration, we gazed upon his glory, could be seen as the theme of his gospel account. “Look! There’s God’s lamb!” “Come and see.” Remove your blindness. Look at Jesus. See in his human face the living God.

Do you think that Peter, James and John were radiant after they saw the human face of the living God? Do you think that they veiled their wonder and joy when they returned to the people? Do you think they came away with a whole new understanding of the infinite-personal God?

 

The transfiguration of Jesus is not a day on the church calendar or a cool yet detached-from-earth-reality event. No. Rather, it is God coming to his creation – his temple -and revealing Himself to us. What did God reveal to His image bearers, the keepers of His temple? He disclosed his glory, grace and truth – and not in generic theological terms. He revealed in person the character and personhood of God. He spoke. He is aware of his creation. He has a will. He is good.

The luminous transfiguration of Jesus allowed Peter, James and John a glimpse of ultimate reality. It also threw light onto where they lived: a world darkened by disease and evil. Yet, as the texts also reveal, the transfiguration offered no escape route (no Rapture) for Peter, James and John to leave this troubled world. No. Jesus comes down the mountain with them. In doing so, he reiterates without words what they had heard in the Moses account: My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

So be it in the days of COVID-19.

Transformative Knowledge

 

The opening of the poem The Agony by George Herbert speaks of the modern way of knowing: the rational scientific mode (“philosophers” = natural philosophers). Herbert says there is so much more to take into account; there is so much more to knowing. He seeks to balance, heal and re-inform our ways of knowing. To radically transform our ways of knowing, Herbert invites us to turn to Christ at the intersection of sin and love – Christ’s Passion.

Closer to home, have you noticed that churches have ways of presenting sin and love? There are churches that speak about sin and damnation. They are ready to point out sin and make love conditional. And, there are churches that speak of unconditional love and inclusion while making sin conditional. Herbert reminds us that transcendent love can only be fully understood when we come to a knowledge of our sin and the meaning of cross.

 

The Agony

Philosophers have measur’d mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of the seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staff to heav’n, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.

Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through ev’ry vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach, then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.

Lent in the Time of Coronavirus

 

“I’m telling you a solemn truth: unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains all by itself. If it dies, though, it will produce lots of fruit. If you love your life, you’ll lose it. If you hate your life in this world, you’ll keep it for the life of the coming age.” -the gospel according to John, 12: 24-25

These words of Jesus were in response to Andrew and Philip. They came to Jesus saying that some Greeks would like to meet him. It seems to be a strange response for a simple request. But Jesus, noting that the “world” was coming to him for answers and for salvation, speaks of his coming death and the means to a resurrected life by following the same vocation. His words define the essence of Lent.

From the earliest days of the church, times of self-examination and self-denial have been observed. The origin of this practice may have been for the preparation of new Christians for Baptism and a reset of their lives. 2020 and the Lenten season is upon us and with it the government recommended “Stay in Place” until April 30th. Easter (April 12th), resurrection day, is the celebratory end of Lent and a restart to new life dependent on what takes place during Lent.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a worldwide intense focus on physical and financial well-being, As we each hunker down and remain sequestered away from the coronavirus, anxiety is compounded: we want to know if we’ll be OK; we want to know where all of this is going and how it will end. The Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus and first-century Jews with their age-old anticipation for a Messiah to set the world to rights had similar concerns.

It is said that Luke, writer of a gospel account and the Acts of the Apostles, was a Greek physician. This being the case, he would testify, if present today, to the infirmities leading to vast numbers of death in the first century. He would recount that there was all manner of infectious diseases, smallpox, parasitic infections, malaria, anthrax, pneumonia, tuberculosis, polio, skin diseases including leprosy, head lice and scabies and, more. Dr. Luke would be the first to tell you that first-century remedies were ineffectual against the afflictions mentioned.

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, would tell us how Stoic and Epicurean philosophers dealt with grim reality surrounding them.

The Stoics, around the same time as Epicurus, posited a grim fatalist outlook. Considering themselves cogs in life’s machinery, their response was to lead a virtuous life in spite of “it all”. Materialism and passions were of no interest to them. “No Fear” and apathy towards life’s randomness were the attitudes they wore on their shoulder to appear non-self-pitying. They also advocated for suicide -the ultimate form of self-pity.

The philosophy of Epicureanism, posited by the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) a few centuries before the birth of Christ, offered mankind self-pity with license. Per Epicurus, there was no God or the gods were uninvolved with men. And, for him, there was no life after death. So, mankind had to make the best of the atoms he was dealt. Man was to do so by avoiding pain and seeking pleasure in the company of like-minded friends. Self-pity could be dealt with in intimate and safe surroundings.

Around the first century Epicureanism and Stoicism were evident in Greek, Roman and Pagan life. These philosophies gave words to what was inherent in man from his days in the Garden – a narrative of mis-trust in God. During the first century these philosophies were already fused with pantheism and the zeal to worship pagan deities.

To seek relief, paganism, an early form of Progressivism, enjoined pagans to offer the distant gods sacrifices to secure their well-being. Israel, called to be the people of God, chose to lament – asking God to respond to dire circumstances according to revealed His nature. Many of the Psalms are worship-infused petitions invoking remembrances of God’s ability to save and vows to praise Him as he does so again.

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
 How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me

In the news reports we hear “unprecedented” many times over. Yet, this pandemic is no Black Swan event. History records pandemics, plagues, earthquakes, famines and, all manner of tragedies affecting mankind. In my previous post I mentioned weathering last century’s Asian flu pandemic. And though our response to the current pandemic is “unprecedented” mankind will continue to suffer from unexpected devastating events. Mankind will continue to ask, as did the psalmist (Psalm 22), “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” We read above that the psalmist has put his trust in God’s unfailing love. He awaits God’s salvation knowing that God has acted to save a remnant of the faithful before.

Lent, this Lent in particular, is a time to lament. We want to know if we’ll be OK; we want to know where all of this is going and how it will end. Asking God to consider the dire circumstances and to answer according to his nature, is a conversation to foster during Lent. It is a time to consider that there is an advocate – the Word Incarnate – who pleads for us before the throne of God. He does so with ‘real-world’ experience.

The Son of God entered the unsanitary disease-filled world described above. He is fully aware of the pain, suffering and groaning of his creation and of man’s philosophies, with its grains of thought which produce no fruit. He did not come to give us social justice platitudes. He did not come to create a Progressive party and overthrow the establishment. If, as God-man, he had not made the sacrifice to redeem his creation, then he would have “remained alone” as a philosopher with platitudes. He came instead, as he stated to Andrew and Philip, to be a grain of wheat that falls into the earth and dies in order to bring forth much fruit in his creation.

Per Jesus’ example, Lent is a time to become a grain of wheat that falls into the earth and dies, dies to the flesh on the world’s self-preservation life-support. It is a time to cultivate healthy spiritual habits, habits that produce the fruits that Jesus spoke about when his time of sacrifice was approaching.

As a season for Christians to mark time and to “Stay in Place”, apart for a time from the world’s pervasive influence, Lent is a time for Christians to hunker down, revise routines, and to focus on what matters. It is a time of reflection, repentance and, renewal. It is a time for fasting, growth and, a return to silence and simplicity.

As we do so, we may find that the silver lining we had purchased in the moment, in the midst of dark days of stress and difficulty, was in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. We may learn that the investments we have made – time-wise, financially and morally – are insufficient to carry us forward. We may find that we have greatly leveraged ourselves to control larger and larger positions in life, positions that are more than we can handle. We may have done so to gain acceptance and security from the world. But now there are margin calls we are unable to pay. This may cause us to look to for more security from the world or to God. During this time, we may also learn that our God-given discernment has been used to criticize others and their “sins” and not for intercession on behalf of them.

 

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic ‘exile’, we may be wishing “If only someone would push RESET and we could get on with our lives as before”. A RESET button has been pushed. Jesus of Nazareth, very God of very God and the Word made flesh, came into the world to reset all narratives, including the historical Judaic narrative, by keeping his covenant promises. The epigraph, words to both Greeks and Jews, tells us how.

The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest RESET and the only one that really matters. With it, the power of death had been defeated. Remember Jesus telling Martha at the time of Lazarus’s death, “I am the resurrection and the life. And anyone who believes in me will live, even if they die.” (John 11: 25-26) Yes, Jesus wept at the overwhelming sorrow caused by Lazarus’ death. But he knew that he would overcome death and that there would be rejoicing in the new-life fruit his death and resurrection would produce.

Lent in the Time of the Coronavirus is a time for Christians to plant the grain-of-wheat RESET and to be ready to go on with their lives as never before.

Watershed at the Well

 

This day began like all other days in Sychar. The man that stayed with me last night left my side early, while it was still dark. I turn over and wait. I go out when the sun is highest over Mount Gerizim so as to not rankle the locals.

You see, I have a reputation in this town. It has to do with the men who have come and gone from my life. I keep going back to the well for a different man. Those I’ve been with have been dull, uninteresting and not satisfying at all. The one I’m with now: ehh! I could do better …

No matter. I am supremely self-reliant, like my people the Samaritans. We don’t need the Jew’s affirmation. We have our holy mountain, our Pentateuch and the true religion of Israel. And, I have my ways …

It is time for me to go for water. There is a spring way off in that direction, but I much prefer the water from the well of Jacob our patriarch. Come with me and I will tell you about my people. Cover your head, for the sun is scorching, and carry this water jar. We will fill two water jars today …

My people remained in the land of Israel and were not carried off to Babylon like those of Judah. We are the true remnant of Israel. We are guardians of Israel. We have preserved the true religion of our fathers. Our ways were not altered and distorted by the Babylonian captivity. When the Judahites returned to Israel, they presumed their ways to be true Israel. They presumed their own holy place …

Look at blessed Gerizim. Mount Gerizim is our holy mountain. It has been the true holy place for Israel since the time Joshua conquered Canaan … It is the mountain designated by Moses for our place of worship …

There, at its base is Bir Ya`qub, the well of Jacob our patriarch. That is where we are headed. It is near a crossroad for those traveling north or south … that well is where our father Abraham sent his servant to find the future wife for his son Isaac. The servant was to ask for water. If offered water by a woman there then that was the sign that she would be Isaac´s future wife …

Those who returned from Babylonian captivity despise us. According to the Jewish polemic Ben-Sira, we are “the foolish people that dwells in Shechem” and an enemy of Israel. Over one-hundred years ago a Jewish king, John Hyrcanus, destroyed our holy city of Shechem and our temple on Mount Gerizim. I suspect that the Jewish authorities didn’t like us trying to stop their rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem when they returned. They also don’t like that we married foreigners and took on their ways. They call us half-breeds! …As you can imagine, there has long been religious and ethnic enmity between us and the Jews …Why, they even have hatred against their own people and prophets. They kill them! … So, I want nothing to do with them …

The well is to the right of the road where it bends from the great plain of Makhneh into the pass of Shechem. The well is deep. The water is clear and pure. You must taste it ….

If you haven’t realized it yet, I am fiercely independent like my people, the Samaritans. I support myself. I own property, earned through my dealings with men. I am fiercely independent like my people, the Samaritans. And we are an open-minded people. We have welcomed criminals and refugees and the excommunicated – the violators of the severe Jewish laws. They have found safety with us from the Jewish authorities … I am comfortable living as I do among the rejected …

It is good that we go to the well now, while the sun is hot and the chatter cooled. The women of Sychar have all drawn water early this morning and have returned home. We will be left alone …

I am not only a Samaritan but also a woman of the world. When the Greeks came and conquered Samaria, we took on many Greek ways while keeping our traditional ways. We called our sanctuary Zeus Hellenios to honor God in the language we became familiar with. And, why shouldn’t we acknowledge their gods as being the same as our God. We are open-minded and not like those uppity Judeans who returned from exile with their Judaism. They refuse to associate with foreigners and us Samaritans. They keep their distance and we keep our distance. They have their land and we have ours. They have their ways and we have ours. And when the Messiah comes, he will put things right. The Messiah will show those Judeans that we were right all along …

Just a little further. I can almost taste that cool water …wait! Who’s that? A Jew? Why is he alone? Is he a running from the Jewish authorities? One doesn’t come through these parts alone for fear of being robbed and left to waste. Remember those men we passed earlier? Maybe he is with them. He must be passing through … Look! This ‘foreigner’ has nothing to draw water with. We will ignore him and pretend that he isn’t there in our space. Those Judeans have nothing to do with us Samaritans. They think we are all demon possessed. We will have nothing to do with them….

Give me your water jar. I will lower it into the well … there, water cool and clear.

“Give me a drink.”

(Whispering: This is odd. Why is he asking me for water? He is not my husband. Doesn’t he know that women and men don’t keep company? Doesn’t he know that Samaritans and Jews don’t associate? He is crossing a line. I’ll deal with him.)

“What! You, a Jew, asking for drink from me, a woman, and a Samaritan at that?”

“If only you’d known God’s gift and who it is that’s saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you’d have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

“But sir, you haven’t got a bucket! And the well is deep! So how were you thinking of getting living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, with his sons and his animals?”

“Everyone who drinks of this water will get thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I’ll give them won’t ever be thirsty again. No: the water I’ll give them will become a spring of water welling up to the life of God’s new age.”

“Sir, give me this water! Then I won’t be thirsty anymore, and I won’t have to come here and draw from the well.”

“Well then, go and call your husband and come here.”

“I haven’t got a husband.” (Whispering: Where is he going with this?)

“You’re telling me you haven’t got a husband! The fact is, you’ve had five husbands, and the one you’ve got now isn’t your husband. You were speaking the truth!”

(Whispering: Hmmm. This guy is perceptive. Let’s see what he does with this!)

“Well, ahem…Well, sir, I can see you’re a prophet …Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain. And you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

“Believe me woman, the time is coming when you won’t worship the father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You worship what you don’t know. We worship what we do know; salvation, you see, is indeed from the Jews. But the time is coming – indeed, it’s here already! – when true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth. Yes: that’s the kind of worship the father is looking for. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

(Whispering: OK, I’ll try this.)

“I know that Messiah is coming, the one they call ‘the anointed’. When he comes, he’ll tell us everything.”

“I’m the one – the one speaking to you right now.”

(Whispering: Did you hear that? Did you hear him tell me everything about my life? He told me what was true about me and did it without patronizing me. How can someone know me who doesn’t know me except if he is from God? Could he be the ‘anointed One’? …Now, who are these guys? Judean Jews? They must be with him. They are looking at us and whispering. C’mon let’s go back home. I want to tell everyone and bring them here …What’s that? The water jars? Leave them. They will draw water and refresh themselves. They will be here when we come back with everyone. C’mon. Let’s hurry! …I forgot to ask his name! I’ll call him Joshua. C’mon! Let’s run. My community will want to meet him! This man has a new way of looking at things! A new reality we need to hear more of! My people know me well enough to know that I am no fool! ….

… … …

“Everyone! Everyone! C’mon everyone! Come and see a man who told me everything I did! You don’t think he can be the Messiah, do you? …I hear what you’re saying …you’re saying that you already know everything I have done. But listen. He doesn’t know me and yet he told me everything about me. You don’t have to believe me. Come and see for yourselves! He has a different way of looking at things, things you need to hear for yourselves! Come! Hurry, before they leave the well!”

… … …

My friend, thank you for coming with me this day. This day began like all other days in Sychar but ended like no other. My people were amazed at Yeshua’s words. They believed in him, some based on what I had said and others on hearing him for themselves. Now they want to be baptized by his disciples in the Jordan river.

I must go. We have invited these Judean Jews, the ‘anointed One’ and his disciples, to stay with us before they head to Galilee. We created space for them in our homes. Yeshua has much to teach us … We are learning how to love God and our neighbor with “spirit and truth” righteousness. I thought I was clever, but I’ve had to rethink many relationships today …. I am abandoning my pluralistic and sectarian ways. I am embracing Yeshua and his ways. There is no one like Adonai among the gods. Those old ways now seem foolish and childish and full of carnality and resentment. I was like the Dead Sea, always taking and never giving. Now, I want “living water” to flow through me, to refresh and satisfy those who ask me for water.

Before today, my people had no use for the Jewish prophets. But now, because of the anointed One, I will quote his reciting of Isaiah the prophet:

“And the LORD will continually guide you,

And satisfy your desire in scorched places,

And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden,

And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”

 

 

 

 

… adapted from the Gospel According to John, chapter 4