Friday, April 1, 2011

Paintings of Jesus

A pastor asked the Sunday School children, "What did Jesus look like?"

You can imagine that he got all kinds of answers. 

Then he asked them, "How do you know?"
One boy was heard to say, "We have a picture of him at home."

Over the last two thousand years artist all over the world have painted their idea of what Jesus may have looked like. I grew up looking at several pictures in my home and they each looked slightly different. One had him with blond hair and blue eyes. When I traveled to Japan in 1963 I visited a Christian Church there and saw in the pastors office a painting of the Crucifixion and Jesus looked Japanese. In an African Church there was a painting of Jesus who was black. 

The truth is that no one in Jesus day painted a picture of him or gave a detailed description of Jesus. So no one really knows what Jesus actually looked like. Artist painted pictures of Jesus in their own image or the image of their own people. 

There is some truth to that idea in that you should be able to see the image of Christ in each faithful Christian. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

They Were Just Like Us

After two thousand years we think of the Disciples of Jesus as special saints of great spiritual power but they were just ordinary people living ordinary lives. Yes they were just like you and me dealing with day to day living. They were fishermen, tax collectors, merchants and so on and then they met Jesus the rabbi. Then they became his students [disciples] and followed him as he walked the country side teaching and preaching.

We must note that they were not always particularly good students either, C+ at best and sometimes an F- for grades. Time and again they just don't get it! Even Peter when he made the "Good Confession," getting an A for that, turned around and got an F for not understanding that Jesus must die on the cross. Like all of us today they had their ups and downs in learning about their faith.

That gives me hope! 

If those who walked and talked with Jesus himself had difficulty grappling with faith issues then my efforts may also succeed if I keep at it. I remember that it was only when the Holy Spirit filled them that they had enough power to be the Disciples who became leaders of the Church. I too need the Holy Spirit to be a good Disciple of Christ.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Our Turning Points

What to do in retirement is just as exciting as a young adult asking what to do with my life. In both cases what we bring to our choosing points is a lot of baggage from our parents and even distant ancestors. So understanding that condition is important to our planning.

Understanding our parents as young adults is often next to impossible. The reverse is also true. I had trouble dealing with my father, my daughter had trouble dealing with me and she has problems dealing with son. His teenage children will experience the same problems all over again. It is just nature’s way.

As parents we raise our children to be independent adults then we are shocked when our teenagers want that independence way too early. By that time putting the breaks on is almost impossible but we try because we want them to be safe. This is very hard on both parent and young adult child. Providing our children with a safety net, while letting them spread their wings is nerve racking at best.

Every stage of life has its privileges and its responsibilities that are compatible for that age. When you are at one of those points in life of letting go of one set and reaching for another it is a turning point and that is always an exciting but an uncomfortable place to be.   When you make that move to be totally responsible for your self you will discover a new set of rules that are not imposed by your parents but by society. I have discovered that society can be very cruel to those who do not conform. We must each discover by trial and error our way in society at each turning point. It is not easy on anyone involved.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Faith and Individuality

As Americans we value individuality almost too much. We think that we are self-made, self-sufficient and that we can do it all ourselves. We want to stand on our own two feet and pull ourselves up by our boot straps.

We even apply all that to our faith experience. We often say it's between me and God and my faith is a private matter. The most vibrant faith finds its strongest expression in relationships of community. Jesus himself invested in a small group of followers and encouraged them to love and  support one another.

When we are accountable to other believers we grow in our faith and life. When we pray with and for others our spiritual awareness is strengthened. When we listen to others our sense of wholeness deepens. When we work with others our ability to thrive is increased. The community of faith is for mutual blessing.

Humor - The Chicken and the Road

Why did the chicken cross the road?
That question has plagued mankind for ages.

What might a few famous people have said to answer this question?

Captain James T. Kirk: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

Dr. Seuss: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes! The chicken crossed the road! But why it crossed, I’ve not been told.

Colonel Sanders:  What? I missed one?

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Very Moving Experience

On Sunday afternoon I had the great pleasure of participating in the ordination of David Scarlott at Hurstbourne Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. It is an awesome thing when the congregation ordains someone for Christian Ministry and says to the rest of the church that this person is qualified to be a pastor.

There is always some minor problem in proceedings like this. The church ordered a robe and stole as a gift for the new pastor. They were to be part of the  ordination service. The robe arrived in time but the stole did not. As I have a whole set of stoles I offered the loan one of mine for the ceremony.

The stole was one I purchased in 1999 when I stayed at the Episcopal Cathedral in Jerusalem. It is silk and made by the Cathedral Alter Guild as a fund raiser. My host the Archbishop of Jerusalem was pleased that I purchased the stole and laid it up on the alter and blessed it for me. To see it used in an ordination was a moving experience.