Sunday Speculation (The Mind of Christ) March 31, 2013Posted by Dan R. Dick in Devotional Reflection, Easter, Personal Reflection.
add a comment
Even if Jesus believed — knew — he was coming back; what did coming back actually feel like? Defeating death is no small feat. To the extent that there was any question, any doubt, Easter morn was the complete and total validation. In a time and place where empirical evidence was the highest form of proof, the reappearance of Jesus would be the crowning miracle of a truly miraculous career. It is small wonder that even his closest followers and friends had trouble believing the evidence of their own eyes. Mary didn’t recognize Jesus; she and the women certainly didn’t believe what Jesus told them — they came to care for a corpse, not to serve a living Lord. When the disciples heard the word, they didn’t run out looking for a risen friend; they ran to an empty tomb. They didn’t seek proof that Jesus was risen, only that Mary was correct that the body was gone. Faith was not in strong supply Easter morn — and it wasn’t even in large supply when they DID see Jesus, because belief grounded in proof really isn’t faith after all. Faith is the assurance of things unseen, and Jesus himself blessed those who did not need proof, but believed anyway.
Saturday Stillness (The Mind of Christ) March 30, 2013Posted by Dan R. Dick in Devotional Reflection, holy week, Personal Reflection, Theological Reflection.
Tags: holy week
1 comment so far
All is darkness. Was Jesus sentient at all on the Sabbath? It is a disquieting association –Sabbath rest with death, yet on this seventh day, Jesus rested. At what point did resurrection occur? We know when the followers experienced it, but when did it begin? When did the pneuma — the breath, the Spirit, the essence — return? When did awareness dawn? When did Jesus come back to himself, and begin the return journey? What passed through his consciousness? The gospels give some glimpses. I believe there were two things Jesus hoped against hope would NOT happen, though he was fairly certain they would. First, I believe Jesus hoped he would not find anyone gathered at the tomb to prepare him for burial. No stronger evidence is possible that they did not understand or believe in him (though they loved him). The second hope would be that his followers and friends (and family) would not be in hiding, but that they would be preparing for his return. As unlikely as this would be, I think Jesus wished with all his heart and soul that someone — anyone — would live in the assurance of his return. As I say, hope against hope.
Friday Festerings (The Mind of Christ) March 28, 2013Posted by Dan R. Dick in Devotional Reflection, holy week, Lent, Personal Reflection, Theological Reflection.
Tags: holy week
add a comment
Life contains a series of liminal points, thresholds we cross that can never be uncrossed, actions taken that can never be untaken, transformative occurrences that change everything for all time. The inevitability of the cross increased in certainty from the moment Jesus was arrested in the Garden — everything in the ensuing hours swept Jesus forward to his destruction. I believe this was what Jesus engineered, yet I cannot help but wonder what these hours must have been like – intellectually, emotionally, mentally, viscerally, and spiritually? Often, I KNOW what I should do, and I have a deep conviction of the moral rightness and need to act, and my conviction is grounded in both personal and shared values — but this doesn’t make it any easier. For my 50th birthday, I jumped from an airplane (for the first and probably only time in my life — it resulted in a broken leg…), a lifelong dream come true. I wanted to experience the jump more than almost anything I can think of. The first 98% of the experience was everything I hoped it would be. Yet, I remember the moment poised on the lip of the doorway briefly thinking, “Am I nuts?” It didn’t stop me from jumping, but I would be a liar to say it wasn’t there. Once out the door and aloft sans plane, all doubt immediately fled — there was absolutely nothing I could do but enjoy the ride (come what may — stupid landing…). It is blatantly apparent that you cannot “unjump” once you’ve jumped. A peace and acceptance comes quickly once the decision is beyond your control.
Thursday Thoughts (The Mind of Christ) March 27, 2013Posted by Dan R. Dick in Devotional Reflection, holy week, Personal Reflection, Theological Reflection.
Tags: holy week
1 comment so far
Can we truly imagine a death sentence, even of our own choosing? What goes through one’s heart and mind when the narrow path forward leads to pain, anguish, violence, humiliation and destruction? What sources provide the internal fortitude to face such an overwhelming crisis? When such a terrible fate awaits mere hours in the future, how might one choose to spend those last few hours? Second guessing, doubts, recrimination, things left undone and unresolved, concerns about legacy, lack of confidence in his followers, impending conflict and pain — a veritable miasma of negative energy swirling through Jesus’ head. What a scary, isolated, lonely place to be? I would imagine Jesus wanted to find a port in the storm, a place to rest and prepare, a space to gather with friends to say good-bye and share parting words. Jesus, leaving nothing to chance, had arranged for a secluded, private room, and asked his friends to prepare the space for gathering — for the Passover or not, depending on your gospel source; for a Seder or a Maundy. Jesus sought a calm before the tempest.
Tuesday Twists/Wednesday Wonderings (The Mind of Christ) March 26, 2013Posted by Dan R. Dick in Devotional Reflection, holy week, Personal Reflection, Theological Reflection.
Tags: holy week
add a comment
Continuing my speculative reflection on what might have been going through Jesus’ mind the week of his crucifixion…
Jesus crossed a crucial point-of-no-return by his actions in the temple. He became not just a nuisance, but an enemy of the Roman empire. It was just a matter of hours or days until he would be arrested and punished. This meant that Jesus had to act quickly, and in the run-up to the Passover observance, Jesus took every opportunity to insult the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees, the priests, and even his disciples. Almost every encounter is a form of confrontation. Every action is a metaphor for aggression. The fig tree, the temple, unprepared, the unwatchful – bad things are going to happen. Jesus is downright rude in his replies to authority, and he delights in making them look stupid and ignorant. He appealed to the poor and marginalized, but not so much to lift them up as to insult the rich and powerful. He flouted social and religious convention — to the horror of the Jewish leadership and to the delight of the cultural riff-raff. Jesus literally makes fun of those in authority and ridicules them. Jesus is not an unkind man. His whole message has been about a different way to live. Suddenly he becomes not merely confrontational, but in some cases cruel. What’s up with that?
Monday Musings (The Mind of Christ) March 25, 2013Posted by Dan R. Dick in Devotional Reflection, holy week, Personal Reflection, Theological Reflection.
Tags: holy week
1 comment so far
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5) is reverberating through my head as I approach this year’s Holy Week. Now, I realize that I am treading on thin ice here, but my reflections for this week are nothing but my limited attempts to imagine what might have been going on in Jesus’ head as the days passed. Before anyone takes too analytic a lens to my meanderings, please note that I am NOT saying this is what actually happened or that I am drawing from any historic or analytic sources. And as far as consistency goes with scripture, well, we are talking about the Passion narratives – four very different tales about the same event used by four different “evangelists” to communicate four very different messages. I am contemplating mainly on Mark’s version (from the Greek rather than any modern English translation), though I cannot escape the influence of the other three canonical gospels as well as that offered by the gnostic Gospel of Peter. I am also influenced by a year’s study of and investigation into first century Middle Eastern culture. So I am going to use my blog to think out loud and conjecture. Please hear what I write as “I wonder…” or “What if…?” rather than “I think…” or “I believe…”
Manipunativity December 16, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Advent, Christmas, Devotional Reflection, Seeker spirituality.
Tags: Advent, Christmas, Spiritual seekers
I can quite honestly say I am having a “cognitive dissonance Advent”. Late in November I received a monograph from two graduate students for review and comments. One of the most intriguing aspects of the monograph is that its authors are young females — one Israeli and one Palestinian. Their subject is an examination of the poor in first century B.C.E. Palestine (drawing mainly from sources written 60 – 2 B.C.E.), primarily in urban settings, but with rich detail comparison to rural life. It is slow going because I have been asked to do some source checking, and I find the work both well-researched and exhaustively documented. The problem with it is that it is challenging all of my 20th-21st century dearly held beliefs about the birth of Jesus! Our wonderfully crafted modern mythologizing transforms the accounts from Matthew and Luke into a pageant — grand, noble, inspiring, but also sterilized, palatable, and comfy.
Picture Mary. What images come to mind? The “wise” men? The shepherds? The stable and manger? The immaculately clean, well-behaved, reverent animals in western style stalls? The star in the sky? Joseph? The mean old inn-keeper? In its simplicity it is a sweet, gentle, kind, lovely story. Just the kind we love — don’t nobody mess it up! If you don’t want it messed with, stop reading. No, seriously, you won’t care for the rest of this blog. I mean it. Step away from the blog.
Epiphantasy January 6, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Devotional Reflection, Epiphany.
Tags: Christian discipleship, epiphany
1 comment so far
Lo, and behold, travelers from the east and parts southeast and newer developments more to the south actually than the east, were on a quest — some having traveled weeks, others months, others years — all hoping to discover the Messiah promised to the Jews, but with anticipated collateral benefits for various and sundry gentiles, Pagans, and an occasional Druid. Dozens of seers, prophets, magi, prognosticators, and visionaries milled together with camels, mules, donkeys, and one totally confused llama. A few straggled behind.
“Where are we bound this time?” one asked.
“We have heard a rumor that the Messiah may come from Nazareth,” answered a second.
“Nazareth??” exploded a third. “What possible good can come from Nazareth? That’s miles from here!”
“That’s what they are saying,” replied the first. “But the buzz is firstest-rate.”
Whadjagit? December 25, 2011Posted by Dan R. Dick in Christmas, Devotional Reflection.
Tags: Christian discipleship, Christmas
Over the next forty-eight hours, one question will be asked more often than all others combined — “whadjagit for Christmas?” I use the contraction instead of “what did you get?” for a very simple, personal reason. When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I had a classmate – Wiley Mooningham (no lie) — who was a transplant from a southern state, and I remember his bright-eyed enthusiasm interrogating us all on “whadjagit” (strong emphasis on the git) from Santa. It was only years later that I realized that Wiley came from a dirt-poor family and that he was living vicariously through the presents his friends received. When the question “whadjagit” was turned back on Wiley, he would report that he got a pair of work pants, work gloves and a hammer. Interestingly, he never seemed disappointed. Never did he report toys or games or sports equipment — just practical stuff. Wiley’s Christmas did bring any joyful carol to mind, but “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need…” It was ever a mystery to the rest of us kids how Wiley could get so excited over so little.
Garden Club Christianity September 13, 2011Posted by Dan R. Dick in Christian witness, Congregational Life, Core Values, Devotional Reflection, Identity & Purpose.
Tags: Christian Community, Mission & Purpose, Values
Every community has its own unique interests and passions, and when I served in northern New Jersey in the 1980s, that interest was gardening. In Westwood and the three towns surrounding (Emerson, Hillsdale, and Park Ridge), garden clubs were the rage. To be a pastor seeking to connect with the community, one need to be willing to sit in on afternoon long garden club meetings. What I found fascinating was how very different each one was, and the memories I have of the four garden clubs form a metaphor and model of four church types.
Westwood — Love the Garden
In Westwood, women (and a few men) would gather for very nice sit-down catered luncheons where various members would share slide shows of their personal gardens. A number of garden club members never actually touched seed, soil or spray, but paid large sums of money to have others do the work for them. They hired landscapers and gardeners, consulted horticulturists and botanists. They poured through catalogs and ordered rare and wonderful fauna from all over the world. They transformed their living spaces into natural wonderlands, took pictures, and then gathered to compare notes on what fabulous gardens they had. The spirit was one of competition, admiration, and more than a subtle smidge of jealousy. The desire to have the ultimate garden paradise was strong throughout. They loved the beauty and grandeur — the idea of gardens as much as the garden itself. The garden was a place to relax and enjoy.