Women’s Bible Study, 2010 - 2011
I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with you in God’s Anthology. It is the joy of my ministry to open the pages of this amazing text with God’s people and together, discover anew the story of the Triune God in the midst of our story.
The Bible is one primary means by which God reaches the heart and mind of the world with the hopeful message of Jesus Christ. When we fill ourselves with the images and stories of the Bible, we give voice to the Holy Spirit in our spiritual formation. These stories and images are the language of the Holy Spirit, and through them, the church finds its purpose: to love God and neighbor!
Keep up your studies.
Stay in the text above. And remember, don’t read to understand, read to get better acquainted. God will open your mind and heart at the right time. Read with energy: use a pen, a notebook, write in the margins. Grow into the text, and the text will grow into you, too. Glory be to God!
What Revelation Is Not
Written at the earliest toward the end of the first century, a time of uncertainty and growing persecution, Revelation is a book for anyone living in hard times.
Who is John? We don’t know. He’s not the disciple found in the gospels. But we share his faith in the love and victory of God!
How to Read Revelation
Rev. 12:7 & Daniel 10:13 & 21; 12:1
It’s also helpful (sort of) to note that these things occur in heaven – John is witness to a “movie”: “Come up here, John, to see what must take place (4:1) and John sees these things “in the spirit” (small “s”, i.e. a vision within in his own spirit; or capital “S” – in the power of the Holy Spirit. Either way, John “sees” the final plan that leads to glorious victory.
The Theology of Revelation
With the initial message of assurance made clear, God now begins to look at seven churches which embody the frailties and faults, and the glories and joys, of most any church anywhere at any time:
Points Worth Noting
Full of God's radiance 21:11
Everyone Has to Decide
Everyone Has to Decide … in light of their reading of the preceding 65 books what seems best, instructed by reliable teachers and grounded in the central traditions of the Christian faith. Remember: all theology is biography – our life, our values, our sense of right and wrong, how we grew up, life experiences, and a thousand other little things all add up to who we are and how see our world, how we read the Bible and interpret it, what the foundational words will mean to us – words like grace and peace, salvation and eternity, judgment and hell, forgiveness and mercy.
The Bible is a chorus of voices: The Bible is hundreds upon hundreds of voices all calling at once out of the past and clamoring for our attention likes barkers at a fair, like air-raid sirens, like a whole barnyard of cockcrows as the first long shafts of dawn fan out across the sky. Some of the voices are shouting, like Moses’ voice, so all Israel, all the world, can hear, and some are so soft and halting that you can hardly hear them at all, like Job with ashes on his head and his heart broken, like old Simeon whispering, “LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” The prophets shrill out in their frustration, their rage, their holy hope and madness; and the priests drone on and on about the dimensions and furniture of the Temple; and the lawgivers spell out what to eat and what not to eat; and the historians list the kings, the battles, the tragic lessons of Israel’s history. And somewhere in the midst of them all one particular voice speaks out that is unlike any other voice because it speaks so directly to the deepest privacy and longing and weariness of each of us that there are times when the centuries are blown away like mist, and it is as if we stand with no shelter of time at all between ourselves and the one who speaks our secret name. “Come,” the voice says, “Unto me. All ye.” Every last one [Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember, p.37].
Good and faithful theologians who have devoted their lives to the study of God’s Word and doing their best to give expression to it have gone with all three views.
The gift of the Book of Revelation is its faith in the final victory of God in the face of odds insurmountable for us. In the end, God! On that day, when all is made new, our suffering and our prayers will be vindicated, and the truth made known to all the world.
We needn't fear the day of judgment ... it's best understood as the day of vindication, when all wrongs are righted, sorrow banished, and sin is no more.
A time of no tears: because we will see God and everything will make perfect sense – we will be at peace with our life (as Jesus was with His scars).
It is a day to which every Christian can look forward to, a day for which our hearts yearn ... as the book itself ends, "Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen."
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
August 8, 2017
A kindly friend asked me to share my thoughts on the Bible, Jesus and stewardship of land and water.
Books, big books, and then some, have been written on all of this, but here goes, my version, and brief …
It’s here … and can’t be ignored. It’s been read by millions as “holy writ” … God’s Word and all of that. In the hands of some, it’s become a weapon, to hurt. For others, a means to heal. Why it should be so easily used for such diametrically opposed purposes is a clue to the nature of the Bible - it’s here, and it refuses to tell us how to read it. It’s up to us.
And speaking of that, it’s important for us to know something of our own story - the values we hold, the kind of family that reared us, and what it is that moves us.
Knowing that will shed some light on how we read the Bible. Angry people find anger; frightened people find fear; proud people find support for their pride; hurting people find hope; lost people guidance; generous people love.
I think there’s a dialogue of sorts between us and the Bible … but much of what we read is determined by what we bring to it.
And maybe the Holy Spirit … but that’s for another book or so.
He’s there … in the text … in the hymns and stories of faith. The Bible never quite says, “This is who he is.” It leaves a lot to the imagination.
No doubt, there are some who shy away from Jesus and would rather read stuff from the Old Testament, about conquering, killing and punishment. It makes them feel better, in a very strange sort of way.
Jesus himself seems to have his favorite items … it’s important, or so I think, to pay attention to that.
To follow Jesus is not easy … nor should it be.
To know something of Jesus may well lead us to the Father … or remind us that the Father is our Father … and to God we belong, in life and in death. Period.
Is there anything after this life?
Whatever one says, it’s helpful to ask why we would want that?
When it comes to Jesus, I like to think that we need someone like him to take our hand, when, like Peter, we in water over our heads, which happens a great deal.
We’re wonderful, and shitty, all at the same time … we need something, grace; we need someone, Jesus, to tip the scales toward the wonderful side of things. The shitty part remains, but with some help, it doesn’t have to be so strong. Better angels, and all of that.
Anyway, back to Jesus … he’s there, in the text … Christianity is all about him … though Christianity has paid less attention to what he said and did, and mostly to his death … a bloody business that seems to please a lot of folks, who claim it as their passage way to happy times after this life. Oh well …
I think Jesus remains enigma … and so he should … yet some things are clear, at least for me: be kind, be loving, forgive quickly and deeply … hang in there … give rather take … again, the Holy Spirit … but, as Is I say, that’s another book, and likely a big one.
God helps us, I think … some have tried to turn this into a religious business, and put it on TV. But that pretty well messes it all up.
To follow Jesus … yes.
And better, far better, to do that with others.
In the end, to hope that others will say our life was worth the living, that they’re grateful to have known us, and in our own little way, we made this a better world. For me, in the mix of all of this, Jesus remains … for me, from little on … to this very moment … Jesus.
Stewardship of land and water.
They are here.
And of God.
And good …
To use them, yes … but with care.
Endless exploitation for short-term pleasure is the death of these remarkable elements, and then our death. Endless technology will not save us from our own greed.
Pay attention to what land and water say to us. If we listen, we hear the word of life, and words of warning, too. They will survive us, outlive us. Or maybe, like Mars, one day they’ll be gone, too, and this blue-green planet will turn dry and read and barren.
But until then …
To honor land and water is to honor God … to honor what God made … what God declares good, and what God intends to hold together for a new heaven and a new earth.
For me, putting it all together, the Bible, Jesus, land and water … they’re all here, one way or the other … before I got here, and after I’m gone … and it pays to pay attention, serious attention, to things of this magnitude. They’re bigger than me; much bigger, and hold lessons and memories and majesty.
Can only hope and pray, work and weave … and sing, “This is my Father’s world” … or Mother’s, too … because God is both, and then some … but that’s for another book, a very, very, very, big one.