Sunday, December 16, 2012

Superstitious Neo-Something-ism

Heard a story from a friend the other day.  A person they were talking to wouldn't use the number 9-9-9-9 because "you know what that means upside down".

Another acquaintance spoke up saying that she'd talked to someone who'd referred to 666 as "5+1, another 5+1..., etc."

Those people may think they're somehow being holy by not associating with "the devil's number", and everyone must follow what they think is right.


I really don't think there's a place in Christian faith for this sort of fear.  And superstition.

Once again, we're faced with people who don't read the Bible, but only skim through it.

What about Phillipians Chapter Two? "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father"

Or am I wrong in assuming that means that Jesus has more power than the number 6666 upside down?  

No, I'm not.

This begins to get into things like the Lordship of Christ.  Is God only the God of the church, or of all of creation?  Just the other numbers, or of the number 6, as well?

It's almost a kind of idolatry.  Idols were pieces of wood, stone, or whatever that were said to have miracle powers, but the Bible is quite clear that in worshipping them, people are only worshipping what their hands have made.  In a similar way, to fear "666" as if it has some mystical power all on its own as a set of numbers is simply ignorance.  

Study the actual words.  Not what you THINK they mean.  And that goes for the writer the same as any reader.  We cannot assume we know what Christianity is about, or think we remember what the Bible says.  Check, check, and check again!

Over and out.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Disheartened & Disenfranchised

Speaking of 'beyond belief' and wondering about how much the church is like what Jesus wanted, give THIS a look.

I could rant on and on, but I just don't have the heart after hearing this.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Writing this will of course ruin all the symmetry, but I would be lax if I didn't mention that as of this writing, this blog has had 333 views.  Not only is this a triple repetition of the number three (which often represents trinity), it is also half of the ominous number 666 mentioned in the Bible.

I can't in my wildest imaginings (and I just took Claritin) put any spin on this at all- but I thought it was worth noting.  Carry on, my wayward sons (and daughters).

the thigh bone's connected to the kneeebone, the kneebone...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Buddha of Boston

I'm not becoming Buddhist, or suggesting you do, but check out this guy and his company.  Good, thought provoking, local stuff.  Certainly better than watching that funny YouTube video your friends sent you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Joe Davidson: A Sermon

  Any of you who know me are aware that I love to look at old things from a new perspective.  So when I was doing research for last nights Christmas Eve sermon and I found a sermon by my old preaching professor that looked at Christmas from Josephs point of view I was intrigued.  Especially this year, with little Baby Kristoff on the way, I'm intrigued with Joseph.  He alone is in a unique position in his faith in God.  Mary is a participant physically in God's work through Jesus in a way that Joseph isn't.  But Joseph was still a father to Jesus, all his life.  Any of you who know anything at all about adoption know that you don't have to share genetic markers to share love with a child.
    Let your mind relax just a bit, and think about what it might be like if we could talk to Joseph this morning, if he could walk into our church on this Christmas morning.  I'm not going to put on costumes or speak in a funny voice, but just imagine along with me what he might have to say to us.

    Hello.  Merry Christmas.  I guess it would be a good idea to introduce myself.  My name is Joe.  Joe Davidson.   Many of you already know me --Ive been hanging around Christmas for a long time.  But if you're like most, I'm sure you don't know me very well--I get sort of hidden in the story.  Sometimes I feel a little like the father of the bride at a wedding --nobody notices him, but he pays for the whole affair.  It's clear that you enjoy celebrating Christmas, and that makes me happy,  but I want you to know that Christmas cost me a lot.
    If I had anything to boast about during my life, it would be that I happened to be a descendant of David, Israel's greatest king--and, in case you haven't figured that out, that's why my name is Joe Davidson.   Well, my father thought it was clever, anyway.  Of course, in the whole scheme of things, being a descendant of David was not much to boast about, really.  He had lived a thousand years before me, and by the time I came along, I had thousands of cousins, great-aunts, uncles, whatever,  all descended from David.  In fact, that's one of the things that makes my story so interesting to people.  When that brood gets together, there's no room for anyone.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.
    When I lived, King David had been gone a long time--and so had the great glory days of Israel.  We were living in bondage to the Roman government and in spiritual darkness.  Id say the spirit of the whole empire seemed very cold.  The only Hot spots, if you will, were the occasional uprisings by zealous Jews in Palestine who would announce that the Messiah was coming and would start some skirmish. But the Romans quickly quelled those activities- with the sword.
    I grew up in the town of Bethlehem, a little village about 7 miles south of our capital city of Jerusalem.  We didn't have cars like you do, and traveling was hard, so I didn't often get to Jerusalem.  As a young man I went up north to the hill country near Galilee Lake and settled in the town of Nazareth.  It was a very small town--in fact, it was so small that people used to make fun of it.  They would say Can anything good come out of Nazareth?.   But, I didn't go to Nazareth because it was a great city. I went there to work.  I am a carpenter, and business was not good in Bethlehem. But in Nazareth, there were not so many carpenters, and a man could make a decent living.  Not that a carpenter would ever be wealthy, of course.  Carpenters were fairly low on the social scale back then.
    Now, we Carpenters are practical people.  We're not philosophers or priests or writers.   I like to work with my hands.  I'm not at home in the world of ideas.  Give me a good piece of wood--something you can handle, measure and cut.     ™Wood is an honest thing.   I like wood that's wood clear through, solid, wood with integrity.   And I like that in people, too.
    I loved my life in Nazareth.  I liked the people, I enjoyed working for them, being neighbors with them.  But the best thing about Nazareth is that it is where I met Mary.
    She was not quite 16 years old when we met. But what a wonderful young woman.   Before long we were betrothed--that's something like your engagement, only more serious. This lasted about a year, sometimes longer.  It was a time for the two families to get acquainted.
    The more I got to know Mary, the more I loved her.  She was not only a devoted follower of Yahweh, but she was also nice to be with.  She was thoughtful and always seemed to have a song in her heart for the Lord--in fact, she was a songwriter, sat around with an old guitar and wrote songs of praise.   I was admittedly a little starry-eyed in those days--I used to lie awake at night thinking of plans for a house I would build for Mary and our children.  I thought a lot about what it would be like being her husband.
    Isn't it strange, though, how dreams can so quickly turn into nightmares --how your best plans can be instantly shattered.  I began to notice that all of a sudden, Mary was quiet and withdrawn.  When I asked her what was wrong, she just said she couldn't talk about it.  I wondered if I had done something to offend her, or if her family had found something in me that displeased them.  Finally, one day, I couldn't wait any longer.  I told Mary I could not stand her shutting me out of her life, and that I needed to know what was wrong.  I was not prepared for the answer she gave me.
    She looked at me and said, I'm pregnant.  She started crying.  Of all the things that could have been wrong, that problem had never even occurred to me.  I thought Mary was chaste, but I had certainly not been with her in that way.   So who could it have been?  How could this have happened?  I was afraid to find out, but I had to know.
    When she answered me, it was like a slap in the face.   She told me an angel had appeared to her and told her that she, a 16-year-old girl living in a nowhere village-- was going to be the mother of Israel's Messiah.   And that the Spirit of God had miraculously planted the baby in her womb, and she was still a virgin.
    It was one thing for her to betray our love, but it was quite another for her to treat me like a fool, with stories that bordered on fairy tales and blasphemy.  How could she expect me to believe that?  You wouldn't have believed it, would you?
    I am a righteous man.  I try to live according to the exacting Laws of the Scriptures.  I had a reputation in the community. When the people would inevitably hear that Mary was pregnant, they would of course assume I was the father and my good name as a moral man would be destroyed.  So I had decided to make it public.  I was going to go before the elders at the gate as quietly as I could and sever my relationship with Mary, explaining that though I didn't know what had happened, I was not responsible.
    Partly as relief Mary had left town to see her cousin Elizabeth in Hebron.  I wondered if maybe she would decide to just stay there and live with them.  Elizabeth's husband was a priest and could afford to give her a home and protection.  And in Hebron the shame would not be as great and she could raise her child alongside Elizabeth's (who was surprised by a pregnancy, too-- she and Zechariah had never been able to have children before).  Mary stayed away for three months--three months of misery and loneliness for me, I might add.
    I just couldn't seem to get the pain out of my heart.  I would work at my bench, then get distracted and go for a walk; I would pray; I couldn't eat or sleep.  Then one night I had a dream.   It was rare that I would dream so vividly or really, that I would even remember a dream, but I dreamed    I was walking through a dark place, and suddenly up ahead there was a blinding light.  In the center of the light I saw an angel.  I was terrified, but the angel quickly told me not to be afraid.  The angel said, Joseph Davidson, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus.
    When I awoke, I realized this was more than a dream, and I was so happy.  I had a message from heaven certifying that Mary had told me the truth!  I got down to Hebron as soon as I could and apologized to Mary for doubting her word.  I took her back to Nazareth and we were married right away.  But in those next months, I never... acted like a husband-- not until the baby was born.
    Then in her ninth month we got word that we had to travel quickly to Bethlehem, my birth place, in order to register for the census and the taxation.  In those days the census taker did not come to you--you went to them, and there were no excuses.
    So, in spite of her condition, we went.  I took Mary along, rather than leave her in Nazareth to face the criticism and gossip alone.  And I tried to think of everything to make her more comfortable.  But what I did not count on was the crowd.  I noticed your shopping crowds in this area, but imagine if those people were all from out of town and they all needed lodging here in Fairlee.  And they had to stay within the town boundaries--well, you get the idea.  Even though Bethlehem was where most of my family lived, there was still not a bed available anywhere.  So, weary from the travel, and desperate for some sleep, I found a cave at the edge of town which served as a stable.   We lay down on the straw.
    I lit a fire to keep us warm.  It was probably the long trip, I don't know, but Mary went into labor that night.  Well, I sure didn't know what to do--I'm a carpenter, not a doctor!  Mary had to serve as her own midwife.  I did my part by cutting the cord with my carving blade and cleaning the child up, as best I could.  The only place for the child other than in Mary's arms was a feeding trough.  The rest of the floor was just filthy from the animals.
    I had a lot of unanswered questions that night.  If Mary was highly favored of God, how do you explain a cave for a birthing room, and the smelly, dirty company of cattle and sheep?  No family was there with us to celebrate.  Well, actually, a few shepherds did show up, saying an angel had told them to come and see our baby boy, because he was the Messiah, the Lord.  I understood how they felt, unsure if they'd been dreaming or prophesying!
    Well, after all the hubbub of that census had subsided, we decided we would stay in Bethlehem.   With all the gossip in Nazareth, and lots of family in Bethlehem, well, even though there wasn't as much work, we thought it would be best for the boy.  We rented a house and I took in whatever work I could.  It wasn't much.
    When we'd been there a year or so, some astrologers from the country you now know as Iran came to see us.   Or, more precisely, to see Him.  The boy.  They said they read heavenly signs which led them to Jerusalem.  When they got there they went to Herod to find out where the King was born.  Herod didn't know, and they followed the signs in the sky, which led them to Bethlehem.  And here was our boy, Jesus, just a toddler.   The dignitaries entered our home, and, as soon as they saw Jesus, they fell to their knees and worshipped Him.  They gave Him gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.   Then they left.  To tell you the truth, I thought that gold would come in handy.  We were about as poor as a family of three could be.
    It was shortly after the visitors that I had another very vivid dream. I was warned by that same angel, to take Mary and Jesus south into Egypt for our safety.
    We were aliens there, outsiders, and there was certainly no work there for Jewish carpenters.  That's when I knew that gift of gold was a godsend, literally.  We stayed there for two years until the political unrest had settled, and God directed us to go back to Nazareth, if you can believe that.  We did a lot of moving in those days.  I carried a lot of packages.  That's where my bad back comes from that plagues me to this day!
    And again, my questions presented themselves.  Here he is the Creator of the universe, who knows all things, and he sends us back to Nazareth with all of its gossip and raised eyebrows and dirty jokes?  To be honest, I faced a lot of doubt in those days.  I often wondered if I had made up those angelic dreams,  just because I wanted to believe Mary and wanted so badly to be her husband.  And, you know, Jesus was as normal a little boy as you would ever see--he didn't seem much like the worlds savior to me, I'm sorry to admit.
    Oh, he was a good boy--a very good boy--in fact, I cannot remember Him ever being disobedient.  But when he was a baby, well--you know how people sing that song, ...the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes...  Well, I'm here to tell you, he cried plenty!
    He slept and ate meals just like the neighbors children; he fell and skinned his knees; I held Him on my lap and told Him stories and he fell asleep.  He was...  normal--a good, normal boy.  He didn't work any miracles or walk on water while he was growing up.   So I wondered, was he really the Son of God?  I don't know what I expected from Him back then, but whatever it was, those doubts persisted.
    Although I can tell you that once, when he was 12, we went up to Jerusalem for one of our rare trips, for the Jewish feast days.   All of   our neighbors and family went together.  On the way back, we were gone about a day's journey towards home when we realized he wasn't with us.  That's really not as bad as it sounds.  We could see the pack of children following along as we adults walked and talked and we simply assumed he was with them, as he had been at the start of the trip.  So, while the rest of them went on home, Mary and I retraced our steps back to Jerusalem.  We found Him talking to the leaders of the people asking them very intelligent questions.  We didn't know whether to be angry or proud.  Either way, he needed to be taught a lesson.
    Well, I disciplined Him when we got Him alone.  I laugh at the thought, now.  We told Him we were worried sick about Him, not knowing where he was.  He just said, Don't you know I have to be about my Father's business?  That sounds like a nice answer in church, but when you are a worried parent, and you hear that from your 12-year old...
    All in all, though, he wasn't much different from our other children.  I couldn't really talk with Mary about my doubts.  She was always keeping the promises of God in her heart, and I couldn't tell her I didn't have enough faith to shout down all my doubts.  Of course I couldn't talk to the people in the village.  They already had some very earthly explanations about Jesus birth.
    But one thing I did have was a passage in the scriptures.  800 years before I came along, a prophet named Isaiah had said that a virgin would conceive and have a son and would call his name Emanuel, which means God with us.  And there was that other verse, strangely coincidental, about Bethlehem, and how the ruler of Israel would come from there.  I had a tough time believing, but I held on to those two scraps of scripture for all I was worth.
    Some of you here have a faith like Mary's.  Strong, obedient, deep and devout.  You're God's special people.  Some of you, though, I think are more like me--you're practical people.  You live in a world of real things, like my wood.  You like things you can touch and see and feel and measure.  You like to plan things out and have a hard time believing invisible ideas.  Sometimes you wonder if you really believe at all.  I understand.
    All I can say is that when I faced those questions and those doubts, I eventually came down on the side of faith.  I often had to work hard at believing things I had no evidence for.  Sometimes it was real hard, sometimes it hurt.  Sometimes all I could do is bite my lip and trust when I didn't feel like trusting.  And that is exactly what God used--my feeble trust.
    I, Joseph Davidson, was given the distinct honor of putting my thumb print on Jesus, the Messiah.  Humanly speaking.  I taught Him to be a carpenter--people referred to Him early on as The carpenter of Nazareth.  And he was a good carpenter.   He was especially good at making yokes for oxen.  His yokes went on so easily, and they were so lightweight.  I taught Him that.  Even though he did not have my blood, he was my son.
    Of course, it turned out that he was the savior of the world--you know that now.  And what ultimately happened was, he put His thumbprint on me:  on my soul.  But it wasn't easy.  My kind of faith taught, when I thought I knew what God wanted me to do, I just did it.   I did have enough faith for that. Do you?
    So that's my story.  I enjoyed sharing it with you.  Now it's time for you to celebrate Christmas in your own way.  And you ought to.  Go on worshiping Jesus as the wise men did.  Keep on trusting Him like Mary did.  But when you find it hard, remember me, won't you?  I'm the one who sometimes believed his doubts and doubted his beliefs, but faithed it through.
    I'm not the main character of the story.  But when you read the story, you might remember this.  That when God needed someone to look after His boy, he chose Joe Davidson, a carpenter, who believed the best he could.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Woman Named Willow

A little bleed-through here between my blogs, but I think for good reason.

This article about a bike racer who got pregnant and had to stop rushing around the globe driven by her "demons"- and face her self... it's got some good stuff to say.

She's new-agey and spacey, no doubt about that- but I think this article (and other WKR content it may lead you to look up) asks some very good questions if you're open to hearing them.

Check it out.