Reading an old Book

augustine

I am reading St. Augustine’s “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” and found this quote. It is interesting because I am curious what pre-scientific era Christians had to say about Genesis.

Book 1, paragraph 25

“…although water still covered all the earth, there was nothing to prevent the massive watery sphere from having day on one side by the presence of light and on the other side,  night by the absence of light.” (underline added)

Hmmm. So much for flat earth thinking.

Dual Dual Natures

creation_of_man_by_hel999We are reading and I am preaching Genesis, John and later Revelation side by side.  This is an interesting way to see these books from a different perspective. The text’s should not be forced to correlate, but it is interesting how often they do.

In Genesis 2, there is a clear statement of the dual nature of the first human.

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”    Genesis 2:7

So this states that humanity is of the dust of the earth – we are made of the matter that surrounds us.  Unlike some views that see the world as a trap or an illusion, the Bible calls the material world (before sin) good. It is doing what it was made to do.  And so human nature ties us to the world.  Adam and Eve are created in the context of a material place – Eden.

While all creatures have the breath of life in them, even the mouse living in your attic has that. Only of “adam” was it said that God directly breathed into him the breath of life.  So this is to say there is a spiritual nature.  The word for “breath” is used here, but it suggests the spiritual nature of humanity.

We have a dual nature – we live and are tasked with working, caring for and enjoying life on the earth – together with others.  Yet we in a unique way have a bond with the creator that is unlike the members of the animal kingdom.

In John 2, there is a wedding.  Jesus and his disciples are in attendance. This is the same Jesus who was described in John 1 with this statement.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14.   In this chapter the Word is the pre-existent, eternal Son of God – present with the father at the creation of the world.  So we see the divine nature of Jesus.  yet the Word became flesh. He did not take up humanity as a disguise, but he became a man.  Jesus has a dual nature that is far beyond ours. He is Divine (“the word”) and Human (“became flesh”)

At the wedding, Jesus took water and with the power of the Creator (“through him all thins were made” John 1:3) turned it into wine.  Compared to Genesis 1, this is a small act.  but compared to how men and women usually make wine, it is a sign of his divine nature. “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him.”  John 2:11

dual

The church councils did a lot of work to hammer out our confession that in Jesus we have one person who is fully God (the Word) and fully man (became flesh).

People sometimes accuse these theologians of splitting hairs, but it seems to me that Genesis and John are written in simple terms (we can all understand words like word, dust, breath and flesh) but are also deeply theological.

Not everything can fit into Twitter.

(art)

A Holiday Meditation

mulledciderLast Sunday’s message followed the rubric RAMP. Read it here  Being Light

  • Read
  • Apprehend
  • Mull
  • Practice

In the “M” portion of this message we mull this over.  I use the word “mull” because that is what Meditate is in the Bible. In some forms of meditation, such as mindfulness mediation, the point is to empty our minds and be present without thinking. The Bible’s use of the word mediation is to think about God or the Word of God.  It is to “mull things over.”

Have you ever had mulled apple cider? Someone pours a bunch of cider into a pot, adds cinnamon sticks maybe orange peels and other spices and lets it simmer. We call that “Mulling.” In the process the spices work themselves into the cider and the result is delicious.

That is Biblical mediation. You are the cider and the word of God is the cinnamon sticks and orange peel. You need to apply time and thought so that the word of God works itself into your thinking. From there it works into your living.  It becomes part of you and determines how you live.

 

63 Years is just a start

pianoWe lost one of our members last week.  A year before we had honored her for 63 years of service to our music program at the church.  She did much more than that, but she did play piano, organ and sing in the choir and various duets, trios, quartets and so forth.  Her license plate, to make the point clear, was “MUSICK”.

It strikes me as good practice for eternity.  Take a look at the scenes of heaven found in Isaiah 6 and various chapters of Revelation, and you will find praise and worship.  Some of our familiar songs come from these chapters, such as “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

With whatever else we may be doing in Eternity, we will be offering worship.  What is 63 years? It is incredible to us. How can anyone do that for so long?  Yet what is eternity?  All our accomplishments and longevity will be like a drop in the bucket of eternity.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the Psalms – 150 songs of worship.

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Psalm 122:1

Larry

old-shoes-bernard-jaubert

He came the first time, 20 years ago now, holding a pair of shoes out to me. “Pastor, I need some money. Will you give me $10. I’ll leave these shoes with you.”

Well, there is an actual verse about not taking a persons cloak in pledge. Exodus 24:12

12 If the neighbor is poor, do not go to sleep with their pledge in your possession.

So I helped him. that was the start of a number of visits. He came to the office, he came by my house at times.  There was always a small need.  He had a prescription, but needed a co-pay.  He needed a few dollars for gas to get to a food pantry.  He turned out to wear my size of shoes and pants, so I would save any shoes that were old but not worn out and give them to him.

He did day labor when I first knew him.  He had a series of old cars that somehow he kept running.  Over time he was not able to work due to his health.

Yesterday his partner of 30 years came by in tears. Larry had died on the evening of Thanksgiving.  They were not married, so she did not know if she could see him.  I called the funeral home and we arranged to meet there the next today. She asked for a bible and a prayer, which we did in the parking lot.

Larry was laid out. down stairs in a small room,  under a cover.  He looked calm, as he usually did.

She wanted to know if she could kiss him. Yes she could.

Larry had some family and a few friends who were there, saying good-by.  His brother read a couple of verses from the New World Bible.

What is next?  Larry is in the hands of the Almighty, as is his partner for many years. He on that side and she on this.

She kept saying, “I want to take him home.”

I tried to say that he is home.  “You can take him home in your heart, but he has to stay here.”

If you read this, pray for Larry’s partner, Donna.

Jesus v. Santa Smackdown

jesus3-600x675

Yes, this is how I think of Advent. In our present state of missing the point of Christmas, I think of Advent as a way to fight back – a Jesus v. Santa Smack down.

“In this corner, weighing in at well over 200 pounds, and dominating the retail scene from Halloween to December 24 is Santa Clause, also know as the Reindeer Runner…in the other corner is the Lord, trim and already a victor.  This will be a 27 rounder, from November 27 to December 24…”

Advent give you a chance to read and reflect on the history of the Promise from the earliest days (Genesis 3) through the prophets and down to the birth of Jesus (Luke 2).  The story is not over until He returns.  There is a lot there.  So I encourage you to find a reading plan and follow the story.

Here is a place to start –Readings

Here are some more – More Readings