Accepted, expected

Old road from Rosh Pina to Safed in the Galile...
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The accepted, expected role of a Jew born in Galilee was to accept the status quo.

The accepted, expected role of a teacher born in Galilee was to side with the establishment.

The accepted, expected role of a challenge to Roman authority at that time?  To be crucified.

The accepted, expected role of someone crucifed was that everyone watched them die a horrible, painful, humiliating death.  The victim was expected to stay dead.  Not only was the leader eradicated: the spirits of his followers would be broken.

Jesus came and demonstrated the confounding of expectations.  And he also preached them.  Turn the other cheek, when the enemy expects us to strike back; pray for the enemy when he expects us to curse him; check the contents of our hearts, when we’re just expected to conform to external rules.

Jesus not only gave us object lessons in confounding expectations in the way he lived his life.  He did more tha speak eloquently on the ways we can incarnate this in our lives.

We had this seperation from God that resulted from our sin.  The expected, accepted result was eternal seperation from Him.  Jesus turned this around, and blazed a trail back to God so that we might reunite with him.

For these last couple blog posts, I’ve been expressing a view about the way that the world is.  There are these accepted, expected outcomes.  Life lived on natural terms is one that consists of an endless series of repeated sufferings.

It would be pretty cool if there was some reward promised to us, that help alleviate the sufferings of this life; it would be pretty cool if after this life we got a vacation of sorts in the afterlife, where we can nurse our wounds, heal our pain, forget our past.

It would be far cooler if the afterlife was more than a recovery period.  If we ended up with some experience that brought meaning to our suffering, it would be a whole ‘nother thing… and this whole ‘nother thing?  I think it’s exactly what we can expect.  I used  to have this idea that I’d experience some understanding, when I die, of what my suffering is all about.

In truth I hope for this understanding.  But maybe I’m not capeable of it.  And in fact?  It’s not really what’s needed to justify my suffering.  Revelations (and other places) speak about how closely we will experience God in that life.  And that experience, I think is what we will need.  Knowing how deeply God loves us, I think, really experiencing his love and his power, it would have to convince us so deeply that our father would never have us suffer unnecesarily. 

But in a way, I digress…

The idea I really want to get is the way that the supernatural entered into the natural; the infinite inserted Himself into the finite.  The predetermined, accepted, expected outcome was suddenly just blown away.  A whole series of new outcomes become living possibilities.

And this is what Easter is about: the idea that the end does not have to be like the beginning; God is a saving God, a rescuing God, a redeeming God who comes back for us, who brings us back to him, he changes the rules and he changes who we will become.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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