So grateful for family, the grandkids, dear friends and neighbors, but this Holiday season has really been quite different and yet deeply insightful.
Difficult due to the loss of a couple dear friends and loved ones; insightful, given that my annual read through scripture has me in the Book of Ezekiel, for sure there are few light moments there!
The war in Gaza and Ukraine stirs my heart with deep thoughts as well.
If you are familiar with Ezekiel, Chapters 38 and beyond speak of Israel's enemy's. Some, when geography is considered, speak of their modern neighbors, countries that include Iran, thus Hezbollah and other current foes.
Why is that important?
For those who consider the text of scripture to be taken as literal, one must then also concede to the possibilities that what Ezekiel spoke of was beyond his day, as several times the One who spoke to him promised that never again would Isreal suffer such chaos.
I find that interesting given the current situations in both Gaza an Ukraine.
After all, the scripture does encourage us to "Come reason together, though our sins be as scarlet they may be white as snow." Rather than simply implying redemption alone, perhaps reasoning together moves us beyond accepting everything as literal, historical, even scientific, thus leading to further insights, new revelation when open to the Spirit, just as was Ezekiel.
Don't write me off, as I am just providing food for thought.
I'll say that in an other way. I find it interesting that Ezekiel's prophecy is usually thought to be linked to their captivity in Babylon, but when reading closer, there seems evidence, scattered among multiple chapters that once that conflict was resolved, a commitment, a promise followed that it would never happen again. If so, could today or some future day for Isreal be what Ezekiel saw?
Of course you see where this is going, and as well, when tied to words found in Chronicles, Daniel, even in the New Testament, with I Corinthians 15, I Thessalonians 4 and John's Revelation, the idea of a final Apocalypse is not that far fetched. Even the Quran speaks to a similar last day scenario.
I threw that in for my Muslim readers, so that all might sense the distraction in a religious and fixed view of the message in the text. Not to speak of traditions such as December 25th, along with other seasons set aside for celebration, that can so solidify our focus and prevent any personal insight by the Spirit, as is the case in most all religions. Of course, then there is the imbalance of fanaticism that can also emerge among those less humble.
Perhaps we are blind to what really is happening, oblivious to what could be ahead for us, that even compounded by our privileged lifestyle in America.
Now I sound like a modern day Ezekiel.
My sense is that God has for centuries been patient in accommodating the maturity of the Body of Christ, the true manifestation of what God in the flesh, the Christ in the man, Jesus fully intended. That necessary before ever God should eternally dwell among us, as John shared in Revelation 21, though he like Malachi left a stinging threat to any who should dare add to or take away from his Revelation (22:18-19).
Another interesting point also emerged for me in this read through Ezekiel. From Melchizedek to Moses, Moses to David, David To Ezekiel, and then even in John's Revelation it seems the prophets attempt to describe a place where God would eventually dwell, be that a Tabernacle, a Temple or even a New Earth, when in reality as Jesus declared, you are the Temple!
Christ was God (Love) in a man, a demonstration of the true objective, the message in a metaphor, the Alpha in the Omega!
In our minds, the other, an edifice or a even new earth necessary as a place for the One to be worshipped, rather than an individual occupation, "Christ in us the hope of glory." We seem to prefer creating a physical structure, erected in honor of the One's name. Yet, often when built and occupied further divides the Body, the opposite of Jesus' word, that "we might be One even as I and the Father are One."
We each are prone toward our own way, thus religion and sometimes even war, if need be, rather than true transformation, a metamorphosis, a dying and rebirth as was first manifest in Creation.
Among the lesser creatures we witness an unlearned, maternal carrying for ones young and each other, nurturing all for the greater good. There we see a balanced ecology, in the case of humans perhaps implying our gifts and means shared as well, rather than spending our lives laboring for more personal wealth and toys.
It sounds perhaps like a prescription for primitive tribalism, much less appealing than the individualistic, near narcissistic benefit we prefer in capitalism. Pardon my sarcasm.
We now attempt to balance out the wealth gap by way of tax law, something the Egyptians first developed. The Romans then furthered the concept, one easily manipulated for the benefit of the aristocrat, the powerful, the wealthy.
Now over time we have learned to provide an sanction loopholes for the wealthy, still yet casting for them, a self-gratifying image of philanthropy, though a forced generosity toward those for whom the system does not work. As I have said before, for some, generosity is little more legalized tax evasion!
As I was writing, I received this text:
"Malachi 4:6..... OT ends on a harsh note. The last chapter reads like the prophet ram out of paper.... or scroll? Seems like text is missing. Thought you may have studied this Book a little closer than I".
To me, such words as Malachi's "He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction" imply that even the men and women with whom the Spirit spoke, have captured their own bias, their own fears, culture, adding always a punitive sting so unlike the nature of Christ, save for his criticism of the religious, often creating a misunderstanding of the time of which the Spirit spoke. Again, as with Ezekial.
Perhaps just as Paul spoke of a third heaven, having little knowledge of the galaxies, so is it with our misunderstanding of time and timing, chronos and kairos, relative to scripture. "A thousand years is but a day!"
I could hardly believe the timing of this morning's post by Richard Rohr, sharing the words of my friend Brian McLaren. Yes, I was fortunate to have met Brian back in the early 2000's, sharing occasionally, as at the Wild Goose Festival a few years back, often stirred by his prophetic voice.
His words: "The prophet is somebody who goes deep into themselves to hear the message that’s being birthed in the midst of their pain and their burdens and their frustrations and their sufferings and their questions and their perplexity and their disillusionments. In the foment and ferment of that inner journey, something begins to emerge, and they bring it out and they say, “I can’t just say these words. I have to demonstrate them. I’ve got to find two or three other people who see what I see so that we can do something about it." (See link below for more).
There's a lot missing in our understanding of scripture, but as we dare reason together, over the next 500 years, we might as did Luther, break out of the guarded box of religion once more.
My hope as an elder is to boldly share my own thoughts, the privilege of hearing from the Lord during my 75 years. Hopefully advancing the Body with an ongoing revelation, versus a static religious script, one now being challenged by the next generation.
However, knowing for some it has cost their reputation, if not their life!