Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bible Story Time

I just found this in my email. If anyone remembers the Fractured Fairy Tales from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons , they might suspect this is the biblical version! Enjoy.

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did. Then God made the world.

He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars. Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable. God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments.

These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff. Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and thenbarfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats. Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that theynamed a terrible vegetable after him. Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead. Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again.

He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Is This All There Is?

What do these three things have in common?

1. The bus sign campaign in London proclaiming, ""There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and go and enjoy your life.""

2. This song (originally by Peggy Lee, covered nicely by Bette Middler):

3. And the book of Ecclesiastes:

"Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless."

What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?


What is our reason for striving? For persevering? For pressing on? Even "the Teacher," though he refers to God still limits his search for purpose and meaning to this physical life. And I guess the conclusion of all three of these pieces is that there is no meaning to be found if we limit our viewpoint that way. Somehow a transcendent view is needed or we will never come to a satisfying conclusion as to our purpose here other than to find enjoyment.

But is that possible? Does anyone truly find enjoyment when the big questions of life remain unanswered? Or is it just denial we settle for? As long as nothing comes along to shake us out of that state of fragile bliss. And of course one thing is guaranteed in life. Something will always come along and do just that.

Then what?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wrath of God? (2)

Continued from part (1)...

So - what's with this wrath of God that must be satisfied? Is God so blood-thirsty and angry that I should be afraid all the time? Why should Jesus die like that? What's that all about anyway?

Got me thinking...

First of all, I thought about a Reconciliation Seminar that took place in South Africa during the days when apartheid was being dismantled. A group of people were organized into sub-groups. Each was assigned a name related to the various issues involved in reconciliation. I don't recall all the titles but some were Mercy, Forgiveness, and Justice. Each group met to discuss reconciliation from the sole perspective of each title. Then they all came together for an over-all discussion.

When the folks representing Justice got up to speak, they took the Mercy and Forgiveness groups to task. "You always want to rush past us along the way! You do not want to face up to the fact that JUSTICE must be served before true, lasting reconciliation can take place!"

It gave me pause when I heard about this. They were right, I think.

But I also came to the realization that justice from a human perspective is too limited. Our forms of justice always end up at "an eye for an eye," and "a tooth for a tooth," sort of solutions*. And endless bickering about who-wronged-who first. Its like this from the sandbox to every on-going conflict in the world today - as so sadly illustrated by the middle east conflicts.

And here's where the image of Christ begins to form. Perhaps he is God's unequivocal statement that God has a better way. God promises to take all the punishments for crimes against humanity and against God (aka sin) onto Him/Her self. Otherwise, how can justice be served and reconciliation begin. How else can we get past the endless striving for human justice that never ends?

At first I pictured this in the setting of a parent in the sandbox with two scrapping kids. To stop their anger from destroying one another I might say, "Here, hit me instead of your brother! Vent your anger on me, not your sister! I put you both in the sandbox so ultimately your offenses against one another are my fault anyway. So, take it out on me! Then when your anger is spent, turn back to one another and get along..."

But my thoughts soon turned to a more shocking place. Sandbox scraps are one thing. But what about the real crimes that go on in the world? I thought about the horribly-named Lord's Resistance Army that is infamous for recruiting child soldiers. They kidnap children of 8 or 10 years of age, then threaten to cut off their arms (and do!) if the children don't take a gun and murder their own parents. Or worse! What an ugly illustration of the evil that human beings are capable of. Shouldn't crimes like this provoke God's Wrath? And I'm sure you can think of other equally horrible examples.

Now the term Wrath of God takes on more meaning. I want, No! I need, to believe that God's Wrath cries out against such abominable things! How can I ever "forgive" someone who would perpetrate crimes like that unless I know that they have first faced the demands of justice?

Then I come up against the biblical teaching that all sins are connected. There is no "degree scale" that separates my "little" offenses from someone else's "huge" offense. We don't fully realize what each of us is capable of because most of us are spared the deeper horribleness of life. But I've read enough from survivors of these horrors and caught enough glimpses of my own dark corners to at least fear what I may be capable of. I hope I never to have to find out.

Yet, the shocking part of the Good News is that God is willing to remove all forms of separation that keep his children away. God is willing to invoke Divine Justice to reconcile all human children to the Creator and somehow God absorbs all this evil without being destroyed by it. Jesus cried out while dying: "It is finished." And so I must believe that somehow, beyond my limited understanding, it is.

I'm no theologian. Books have been written about this topic that go way beyond anything I can understand. But now I at least understand a little of why that line is in the song. And I'm in awe of a God who holds out the promise of justice beyond my comprehension that is Divinely Fair, and yet need not be feared. A justice that is ultimately about our own good. And it is a first step towards mercy and forgiveness and reconciliation. And somehow it is all represented within the being of Jesus Christ, the saviour of all.

(* I once read that in contrast to how many would understand these terms today, when this was given in the Bible as part of the expansions on the Law of Moses, it was intended to stop the constant escalation of violence. That is, a punishment must not exceed the crime!)

Wrath of God? (1)

A facebook "conversation" and some youtubing brought me to the modern hymn, In Christ Alone. In verse 2 it says: "The wrath of God was satisfied..." - which made me cringe as images of a Vengeful Old Testament God came to mind. "Why can't God just be nice?" sort of questions instantly popped into my mind. Which led to a thought or two about that expression The Wrath of God. But I'll post that next.

First, here's a video interpretation of the song, with the lyrics below:

"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

(Wrath of God (2) coming up asap)