THE COMING OF GOD’S SPIRIT

Psalm 104:24-35 & Acts 2:1-4
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

Wind and Fire and Spirit

Wind and Fire and Spirit

In the Psalm
we read how when God’s Spirit
is sent out in the Spring
new life springs forth across the land.
In Acts
we read how when God’s Spirit
is given
on the day of Pentecost
new life springs forth
in a small group of social outcasts
who had chosen to be followers of Jesus.
What’s up here,
does God have two spirits,
or is something else going on
in a sub-text we should know about?
And, what is Pentecost, anyway?
For the Jews:
Pentecost, the Greek name for Shavuot,
and is seven weeks,
fifty days,
after the 2nd day of Passover.
It is the spring festival of wheat—
the empowerment of life after winter.
It is a celebration
of the fulfillment of God’s Covenant
by the revelation of the Torah—the Law—
on Mt. Sinai.
For Judeo-Christians, us:
Pentecost is seven weeks after Jesus’ Resurrection.
It is the elevation of God’s Spirit
over what had become known as, Law,
and the empowerment of
the Christian Church.
It is also considered a strengthening
of those early Christians
to fulfill the Great Commission of
the resurrected Jesus to his disciples,
which was to spread
his Gospel to all the nations of the world.
Because of this later
it is considered to be the birth of the Church.
The Holy Spirit
is by many considered to be the
third aspect of what is known as the Trinity—
Father, Son, Holy Spirit—
which seems to only work
in a paternalistic context.
But what is Pentecost for us?
It is the promise of continual renewal,
an invitation to us to be always open to God’s way,
an offer by God
of strength sufficient for the living of our lives,
a sign of love and compassion,
a knowledge
that old, stale, ways can be transformed
into newness and hope,
and that love has more power than tradition.

ASKING ON OUR BEHALF

Hope #3

Hope #3

John 17:6-19
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

It is appropriate that Jesus asks
all this good stuff for us.
Because how would we even know
to ask this for ourselves?
It is good to be guarded and kept safe.
It is just fine that we are led on the right paths.
It is just fine that we are made to feel special,
and know that Jesus,
at least Jesus,
sees that we are not part of the God-rejecting-world.
And so his prayer is only for us
and totally exclusionary of outsiders.
Wait! What?
And
this causes me to wonder just who
actually wrote this scripture,
and why?
ANNNND,
if Jesus actually said this?
This is purported to be
Jesus’ great pastoral prayer,
and the exclusionary elements
are mostly overlooked because of that.
But I have committed myself
to doing my biblical studies
through a lens of love,
and of a sudden
this prayer seems not so great after all.
I like being cared for
by God and all that
but,
if we are to take this reading at face-value,
we are forced to ask,
why did not God give the rest
of the “God-rejecting-world”
to Jesus?
Why not pray for them,
too?
The time has come for love,
and that time came with Jesus.
By using the absolute,
unconditional and mind-blowing
love of God
that is revealed in Jesus
as an interpretive principle
by which to read scripture,
I discover the human thinking
and intent behind this text—
The writer wants to show the church,
us,
just how special they/we are,
and can only do so
by creating an us-and-them
polarization.
Love expects,
demands,
more than that…
Love is an open heart
that will always include,
love,
and protect—all!

A DIALECT OF THANKSGIVING

135=72 -- Sun & Sky on Tree #1 --- A Dialect of Praise

135=72 — Sun & Sky on Tree #1 — A Dialect of Praise

Ephesians 5:3-4
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

A vocabulary
dialect
of Thanksgiving…
This text reminds us
of just how far
many of us have gotten
away from the core
values of our
holy and sacred
existence.
To have a dialect
of thanksgiving
means that while we may have a
language
that is common to our national heritage,
we, nonetheless,
speak out of a
sub-culture of thanksgiving.
We know
and understand
the language of
grump, carp, complaint and dissatisfaction,
but in our region,
over here where we live,
in this appellation,
thanksgiving is spoken.
Jeremiah 31:29 says:
“In those days they shall no longer say:
“The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
And again Jeremiah 31:30 states,
“But all shall die for their own sins;
the teeth of everyone
who eats sour grapes
shall be set on edge.”
Which is to say
we are responsible for our own
emotional and spiritual well-being.
Us not them.
We choose,
move to,
the appellation in which we live,
and the dialect we speak.
We always get to choose.

IT’S ABOUT LOVE

It's About Love

It’s About Love

John 10:11-18

© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

Sheep, shepherds, owners, hired hands,
wolves, authority, life, flock, fold, pen,
murder death, sacrifice —
the many diverse images in this text
that are supposed to tell us about love.
The whole accumulation of metaphors
is meant to explain part of what
God through Jesus has for us.
Should…
Yet, I find something missing.
I think the problem here,
as well as the problem with most of God-writing,
is its lack of actual, honest emotion
and its fixation with concepts.
John is supposed to be the most emotional
of all the Gospel texts,
and yet, even at its most sacrificial,
it still comes off as a little bloodless—
a watered-down ember
of what there is to actually tell.
But, you know, it is always like this
when we try to explain love in words.
The word love is a metaphor for an action,
a state of existence,
a way of being;
the word is a verb not a noun,
it is a symbolic expression for
a feeling, an emotion, a desire;
a zero score in tennis,
an over fondness for fondness,
a bad trick of the heart:
all of these things,
but it is also an implicit comparison
for the being we think of
when we think of God.
So we get a whole set of writings that express love
in ancient, near-eastern expressions of violence,
acted out on altars and through sacrifice,
death, and resurrection—
this is not even how we think
in our own First World time and place.
In searching for some new,
or at least workable, God-writing
for how we can understand
God’s love through the life and death of Jesus,
I am again struck by Jesus’ actions.
He walked, worked,
ate with those who were lesser
in the eyes of the establishment—
this made him suspect.
He did his godly work
on days when he shouldn’t do anything—
this made him an outlaw.
He challenged the traditions,
ruling classes,
and religious beliefs—
this got him killed.
But, and here it is,
he did all this
because he was motivated by the love
he felt for the downtrodden
and the compassion he had
for those who are suffering.
What Jesus did in and with his life
was/is an example of forgiveness and mercy.
God-writing and its attendant metaphors
in our own time
must be mandated to eschew notions
of temple sacrifice and murder
and to focus on the gifts of grace
and tenderness of heart,
the emotions,
we find in the consequences of Jesus’ living —
it’s about love…