Who Am I?

Jesus Creed 17 – A Society of Joy

Posted: September 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Jesus Creed | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord you God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.

This is a series of reflections on Scot McKnight’s book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others. It’s a book I unequivocally recommend for anyone. Each chapter opens with recommended Gospel readings. The reading for this chapter is: John 2:1-11.

This chapter opens with an exploration of the yearning that is a universal part of the human experience. While there are many good thoughts, quotes, and ideas in the opening, I’m going to skip straight to the following from the book.

Here’s the good news: Jesus claims that the yearned-for joy is already here, that he’s provided us with an abundant drink of it, and that his offer will satisfy our thirst forever and ever. To reveal that joy, Jesus performs miracles that draw down a little bit of heaven’s joy to earth, that suddenly make life in this world light up in glory, and that convert the humdrum routine of reality into the joy of life.

Sometimes it seems like we treat God’s joy, grace, and life as if it’s in short supply. We feel we have to be careful where we bestow it. We don’t want to ‘waste‘ it. And that’s so very foolish. If there’s anything that knows no limit, that overflows with abundance, in which we swim in riches unimagined, it’s the embarassing wealth of grace and life God pours out on us.

Obviously, from the gospel reading, Scot begins his exploration at the wedding at Cana. And he starts by pointing out one of those things that we don’t often consider. Why does John specifically mention that the vessels Jesus’ uses are for ceremonial washing? Here is where we’ve lost some of our points of reference to Jesus’ culture. These weren’t about hygiene. They contained sacred water. It is water used to purify people and things.

People and things are made pure to get them in the proper order before God, to render them fit to enter into God’s presence. Observant Jews wash their hands in this water so they can eat their food in a state of purity.

Think on that for a moment. We talk about those containers a lot but I can’t think of a time when I can say I truly paused to recognize their significance in the culture. I knew it, but never connected the dots. Scot draws a wonderful point from this.

Jesus transforms the water of purity into the wine of joy. … Purity comes, not from water, but from drinking in the wedding wine of Jesus. … Jesus not only transforms water into wine, he does so in abundance. … Abundant joy is a feature of the kingdom…

That’s a powerful thought. Scot closes the chapter with the following.

When Jesus transforms the waters of purification into the wine of celebration he is saying that the daily grind of yearning for joy through purity has come to an end. ‘You need search no longer,’ Jesus is saying, ‘the wedding wine is at the table, drink it, all of you. Drink of me, for I am the wedding wine of joy, for the forgiveness of sin. I am what you yearn for. I make all things pure.


St. Valentine’s Day

Posted: February 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Personal | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Today, of course, is Valentine’s Day, one of the modern Hallmark days for celebrating romantic love. I thought I would reflect on it a bit, both in general, and in my own personal experience.

There seem to have been at least three martyrs named Valentine in the early church. There is not a great deal known about any of them, but what little is known is easy to find online. There is a romantic story that one of them was a priest who performed marriages illegally against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II, but that’s simply a legend. As I’ve explored elsewhere, Christian priests didn’t perform any sort of marriage ceremony until after the Church became the official religion of the Empire.

None of the feast days for the three St. Valentines are on February 14, either. That day seems to have become significant in medieval Europe because it was considered to be the day on which the birds began to pair up with mates. Romance in the Middle Ages was not quite what it is today.

Now, of course, it’s a highly commercialized holiday that many men fear screwing up more than with any anticipation. I’ve never really been one of those sorts of men, but I have grown tired at times of the relentless commercial and unrealistic messages with which we are all bombarded at this time of the year.

Our first Valentine’s Day after we were married, my wife and I were embroiled in the medical care and custody battle for my older son. It was something that dominated many of the early years of our marriage and continued to one extent or another perhaps even up to the present.

Going out for Valentine’s was out of the question and we had little money. So I bought what I could at the grocery store and turned it into the best late night feast and celebration that I could.

The following Valentine’s Day, we added a newborn and so the whirlwind of life continued. We’ve maintained our little tradition through it all to this day. Sometimes now I can afford to be more extravagant with the ingredients than I could those early years. And the “late night” dinner has crept earlier and earlier over time. Traditions are good, I think. They become imbued with meaning and with remembrance. They tie together the years.

Anyone else have any Valentine’s Day traditions?