Aloha Friday Message – March 23, 2012 – Fifth Friday in Lent

1212AFC032312 – Catholic Letter Series

Read it online here.

KJV 1 Peter 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

NIV 1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone– rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

NAB 1 Peter 2:4 Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, 5 and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Aloha nui loa, Beloved. Today we are going to look at a beautiful letter attributed to Peter, also called Cephas (KAY-phus) which means Rock in Aramaic and is also a Greek word for rock Κηφᾶς.

In this letter, Peter gives us many beautiful images, draws many examples from Old Testament writers, and presents a wide array of topics that address many aspect of life in the early Church. The one I chose for the open in this message is one of my very favorites. In this he makes a connection between Christ, “the stone which the builders rejected,” and believers who have become “living stones,” that is to say like Christ in that they are to be Holy, submissive to God, and to build a holy dwelling which will be a Holy Nation serving God. The word for “living” used here is ζῶντα zaonta {dzah’-on-tah} from za,w zao {dzah’-o}. za,w is the verb “to live,” and ζῶντα is “living.” But it carries a much deeper connotation that being “merely alive.” One example is in the term “living water.” This is water that has “vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul.” It is living that is fresh, strong, efficient, active, powerful, and efficacious. We come to Christ as living stones animated with the same capacity for holiness found in the Apostles because that holiness comes from and through Christ. What a mighty image that brings to mind!

Peter tells us Christ was “chosen by God and precious to him.” Christ, the Messiah is “called ‘elect,’ as appointed by God to the most exalted office conceivable.” And we are called to that same life as his servants. We are called the elect, the chosen because “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4) This word is ἐκλεκτός eklektos {ek-lek-tos’} and it denotes the best of its kind or class.

As living stones, we are to be built into a “spiritual house,” a family for generations, offering up ” spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” WOW! That is such a powerful statement, because it describes not only our calling, but also the fulfillment of that calling.

In 1 Peter 1:8-9 Peter tells us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” What is that inexpressible joy and how do we feel it? How do we recognize it? It is the power of his love as delivered to us in and through the Holy Spirit that makes our hearts and minds leap for joy as we raise hearts and hands and voices to praise god for his generous love, unfailing promise, and awesome presence in our lives.

In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter tells us the reason God has fashioned us a living stone. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” God is Light. We are called to live in the Light, to let our Light shine, to be the Light shining in the darkness. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

There are dozens of power-packed images like that in this single short letter. Scholars generally agree that it was written by Peter, with help from Silas (who may have been a “professional writer,” helping Peter achieve a very polished Greek text which might have been a bit out of Peter’s reach normally). The letter is addressed to churches planted by Paul and his fellow sojourners in Asia Minor: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. That may have been the order in which a courier might have delivered the letter to those churches.

The letter mentions persecutions, suffering with Christ as we daily take up our cross, even dying under persecutions for the Gospel and for the joy we have of being so close to our Savior and God. I looked at several analyses of how this letter is put together, and here is a listing based on those reviews:

 

  1. 1 Peter 1:112: The JOY we have in knowing God loves us so much he provided a Perfect Sacrifice for our salvation – his only begotten son.
  2. 1 Peter 1:132:3: God’s love should inspire us to v-be some much like him that we strive mightily to be holy as he is holy.
  3. 1 Peter 2:412: Israel, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was the People God chose to be distinctly his own, the People of the First Covenant. Despite the many times they ignored that, God honored his promises, and not only made Abraham the father of many nations, he also us part of Abraham’s descendants through Jesus sacrificial suffering.
  4. 1 Peter 2:13-23: We can share in, identify with, and submit to persecution and suffering with Jesus and for the Gospel. Whenever we do so, we die a bit to ourselves and to the world, but we also glorify God.
  5. 1 Peter 2:2425: Jesus’ expiation (The complete reconciliation of God and humans brought about by the redemptive life and death of Jesus) of our sins is a powerful, awesome, incomprehensibly valuable gift – it is a gift given through the Grace of God, and that brings us back to the “Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls – our Creator, God. How can we begin to measure how grateful that can make us feel?!?
  6. 1 Peter 3:17: God is community as the Trinity. He established family as a community through the sacrament of marriage. Husbands and wives can honor this sacred vocation by honoring one another, loving one another as God has loved them. Dishonoring one’s spouse is point-blank dishonoring God.
  7. 1 Peter 3:822: This passage begins, ” Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” Peter goes on to say that under no circumstance or persecution and suffering should we seek to harm those who bring about that persecution and suffering. If we suffer for doing what is good, that is so much better than suffering for doing evil!
  8. 1 Peter 4:111: The World wants us to be like them, and constantly entices us to live “in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” They make fun of us for being “religious nuts,” but when Judgment comes, they will have one hell of a time coming to them. As for us, we are to ” keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (theirs and ours). Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another. Jesus blood cleansed you of your sins – the ways you have hurt yourself, your community, and your God; is blood also cleansed the sins of those who hurt you, hurt your community, and offend our God. His sacrifice covers all completely, permanently, eternally.
  9. 1 Peter 4:1219: “No matter how you struggle or strive, you’ll never get out of this world alive.” And struggle and strive as we might, we will always be facing situations where our suffering persists. Rather than wail and gnash or teeth, we can rejoice because are blessed, in that suffering when “the Spirit of glory and of God rests” upon us. ” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
  10. 1 Peter 5:16: When the World sees us acting this way – joyous in serving, joyous in suffering – they will want to know more about our joy and more about our shepherd. Those who are chosen for servant- leadership through the gifts of God will serve gladly, equitably, humbly – as did Christ. I probably will never be easy, but Peter tells us ” after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
  11. 1 Peter 5:714: God will do all these powerful and wonderful things to and for us because of his intense, eternal, infallible LOVE. No matter what Satan tries to do to us to destroy our relationship with God, that relationship is always restored when we reconfirm our alliance with God and rejoice in the wonder of his uncompromising love and care.

Share-A-Prayer

M&PC wrote to tell us, “We are praying for whole world for peace, safety, and wellbeing everywhere.” What an excellent prayer intention. Maybe you can add it to your list of intentions. So many places around the world are experiencing terrible weather, terrible acts of evil, terrible acts of violence. Pray that Peace will rule the planet, and let it begin with you.

Please continue to pray for the family of Baby Cheyanne. She lost her battle with multiple health problems. It has been so difficult for Mom and Dad, and for the whole family. They know Cheyanne has found 100% healing in the Light of His Glory and Love. The loss of that sweet child, however, was a hard blow. Pray for them to return to the joy they anticipated the moment she was born.

Pray for those who suffer for their faith. You would think that “in this day and age” religious persecution – even to the point of martyrdom – would be nonexistent. But it is not.

Pray for everyone who suffers poverty, injustice, hunger, loss of work or loss of income; for those who suffer through illnesses like cancer, mental illness, chronic disease, acute or chronic pain; pray for those whose family are falling apart and for those whose families are just beginning or just beginning to heal.

Finally beloved, pray for one another. You know there is a Daily Intercessory Prayer List. Whenever you pray the MBN prayer, that short prayer includes all of the intentions in the Intercessory prayer list – over 100 now.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

chick

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Aloha Friday Message – HOSANNA! – Sixth Friday of Lent

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Happy Hosanna Friday, Beloved!

Today I am thinking about Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. What a wonderful story is there. We’ve heard it before, maybe seen it enacted in a movie or a play, and we have a pretty good idea of the events. I want to look at some of the characters and symbols in this story. In Matthew it goes like this:

Matthew 21:1 When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. 3 And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.” 4 This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: 5 “Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.

7 They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 8 The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. 9 The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

And in Luke 19 we have these details:

29 As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. 30 He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.'” 32 So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” 34 They answered, “The Master has need of it.” 35 So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. 36 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. 38 They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

In Zechariah 9:9 we read: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. So the fact that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey was, in part, a fulfillment of scripture. But there’s more. In Jesus day, and in many Eastern cultures, a donkey is seen as symbol of peace. A king who rides in on a donkey is coming peacefully. A king who rides in on a horse is coming in war. It is also significant that the colt Jesus’ disciples borrow is one that has never been ridden. Here the King of Peace is so gentle and so humble that even a young colt never before ridden submits to Jesus’ presence. Instead of bucking him off, the colt meekly carries a full-grown man. It is interesting to me that the disciples who went to fetch it did so without question, and then they put their own cloaks on the back of the colt to make a more comfortable seat. I think it might have also been more comfortable for the colt! And you know, I think that colt’s mama walked next to him on that journey. Read it again and see if you think so, too. But how did this come about?

How did the owner know it was OK to lend his animal to Jesus’ Disciples? The gospels don’t say, but as often as Jesus traveled through that area, he sure must have had more friends than just Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Since this must have been shortly after Lazarus was raised, maybe the guy who owned the colt had told Jesus, “If you ever need anything at all just let me know. It’s yours!” Just speculating about that is kind of fun, but really, we don’t know exactly what happened in that part of the story.

Jesus was in Bethany, close to Bethphage (“Place of new – or unripe – figs”) somewhere perhaps around the Mount of Olives. He gets on the colt in Bethany – about 2 miles from Jerusalem, and heads into town. On the way people who have seen him, who know him – some intimately, some only be reputation – get excited about seeing him, and they begin to remember Zechariah 9:9. They start pulling down palm fronds and laying them on the path in front of him or waving them in the air. The palm was a symbol of victory – even Holy Victory. In addition people were laying their cloaks down in the road and letting the little donkey pass over them. A similar event is reported in 2 Kings 9. [They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”] Elisha had just anointed Jehu (“Yahweh is He”) as King of Israel, and had ordered him to go avenge the murders committed by Jezebel’s forces when she had the prophets slaughtered. The king, Ahab, had permitted this, and Jehu was told to destroy Ahab as well.

Spreading cloaks or other object to “pave the way” was a common demonstration of respect for the dignity and power of a person – a King, a general, even a prophet. So now we have Jesus on a baby donkey (my mind keeps hearing the Christmas Carol “Little Donkey, Little Donkey, With a heavy load,”) and everyone is shouting and happy and cheering and dancing and running ahead and coming back and just going nuts over what Jesus is doing. He is finally defining himself as the Messiah, the Ruler of Israel, The Son of David! And, they surely thought he was about to kick the Romans out of town as the Rightful Ruler.

But, he was on a donkey, not a horse.

Can you imagine what’s going on in Jesus’ head? He’s going to Jerusalem in just six day to celebrate Passover for the last time. Then he will die a most horrible, terrifying, painful death. And he will be forsaken by his Father. On the way into town he looks out over Jerusalem and sheds tears because of what they have missed out on while he was with them, and then He just goes into town and busts up … Not the Romans! The Temple!!

Whoa! That was a surprise! And from there on, things sort of unfolded into The Last Supper, The Garden of Gethsemane, the pavement at Gabbatha, and finally Golgotha. In less than a week he went from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him!”

Now you know a little about the story. When you are holding your palm branches Sunday, think about that little donkey and what a privilege it was to carry Jesus. Beloved, you can carry him too; in your heart, not on your back. Spread out your best things for him and invite him to have a seat. Carry him wherever you go and once in a while, just for the sheer JOY of it, shout, I said SHOUT, “HOSANNA!!”

Share-A-Prayer

• A special request from WT to pray for J. Joseph who was admitted to the hospital in her continuing fight with cancer. Pray for hope, healing, and health.
• Our MBN friends I Haiti report that many of the children and the workers too are ill. Sounds like a virus is sweeping through their numbers. Pray for return to health, and that the many new infants they have with them can stay hydrated and be strong enough to recover.
• Thank you for your prayers over the past few weeks. Please go back and look at the prayer requests from the beginning of Lent. I believe as you take the time to look at them, God will move your heart to make a special effort to embrace one or more of those requests.
• Thanks for the family of EW for sharing the news that E had gone to meet his Lord. He was – and still is – a remarkable man. You might remember him here.
• Thanks also from KV who reports prayer has been working for her and she feels pretty darn good!

Thanks everyone. Next week the message will be about Good Friday – sort of. Please watch for it on a computer screen near you!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

chick

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Aloha Friday, August 10, 2004 – The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

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Aloha, dear friend! Another week comes to an end. For so many people, this has been a week of severe testing – Florida, Iraq and Afghanistan, Sudan and Indonesia. For some it has been a struggle in their own homes, and for others a deeper struggle in their own bodies, or their hearts and minds. How are we supposed to respond to all of this? It is, in all honesty, overwhelming.

These difficulties are so prevalent that we can sometimes feel – and see – hope is defeated. Not so. If you look at the terrible and difficult things that are happening in the world and in our lives, it sort of follow that old Pareto rule, that 80/20 thing. Pareto’s rule states that a small number of causes is responsible for a large percentage of the effect, in a ratio of about 20:80. Expressed in a management context, 20% of a person’s effort generates 80% of the person’s results. The corollary to this is that 20% of one’s results absorb 80% of one’s resources or efforts. And we could extrapolate that to say that 80% of the things that try our spirits are caused by 20% of the things that happen. Or maybe even that 20% of the things that we view as catastrophic are natural physical events – like volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, lung cancer, plagues of locusts, and the like. The other 80% might be spiritual like war, terrorism, pornography, crack and speed, infidelity, hopelessness, depraved indifference to human life from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and so many other things that often make being alive more difficult than it should be for so many millions of people.

What can we do about all this? Perhaps we can choose to live a spiritual life at home, at work, at school, at play, and even (incredible!) at church. Here’s a little quote from NIV Bible:

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Well, at least there shouldn’t be. We find ourselves confronting those “unwritten laws” that say living a spiritual life is not acceptable; we are out of touch with reality if we believe such things really make a difference. In the world’s views, that is. In God’s view, these things ARE life. And they’re not so difficult to live with either. In a recent article that appeared in THE CATHOLIC HERALD the diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Honolulu, Fr. William J. Byron, SJ, had this to say about these seven gifts of the spirit:

Love is service and sacrifice.
Joy is balance at the center of the soul.
Peace is good order.
Patience is the ability to endure whatever comes.
Kindness is attentive regard for the other.
Generosity is the habitual disposition to share.
Gentleness is courageous respect for other.
Self-control is a voluntary check on the appetite for success.

We are created in God’s image, and part of the heritage of that image is the gift of self-determination. If we choose to remember what these things actually mean, we can bring that choice, that spirituality into our lives, our world, our 80/20 mix. Here’s the thing: It’s also true that 80% of the good things in this world come from the 20% of our spiritual gifts we share with each other. Today I challenge you to go for 21%. Print out this note, or cut and paste Fr. Byron’s examples into another document you can print out and hang on your wall (I made a really pretty one with fancy lettering and images). It’s just a reminder, but it’s also just a way to change the world and maybe even the future population of heaven.

Love in Christ,

Chick

PS: Here’s a bonus just for you. http://m11.t3media.net/t/15274/8554348/694/0/

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Aloha Friday Message – June 22, 2018 – His name is John

1825AFC062218 – His name is John

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

 Luke 1:59-60 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.”  61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! It’s already getting toward the end of June! The Summer Solstice has arrived and passed! How did that happen so quickly? It was just a day or so ago when we passed out Valentine Cards, wasn’t it? It’s always surprising when something you’ve looked forward to for a long while suddenly arrives at your doorstep, and then >>¡POOF!<< it’s over!

This coming Sunday would customarily be the eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. However it is one of those rare occasions when June 24th occurs on a Sunday. The most recent previous time was in 2012. It will happen again in 2029, 2035, 2040 and 2046 (the year I turn 100!) June 24th is the day many Christians celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. It is given the rank of a Solemnity, a festival day of the highest rank in the Roman Catholic calendar. Solemnities have additional Masses associated with them – a Vigil Mass the preceding evening, a Mass at Dawn, and a Mass during the Day. As with certain Christian feasts, the event is not intended to celebrate a specific date, but rather to commemorate a significant occurrence. The Nativity of John the Baptist is linked to the Nativity of Jesus on December 25th and is set 6 months in advance because when Gabriel announced to Mary she would bear the Messiah, he told her “… your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.” (See Luke 1:36-37) John plays a essential role in the early days of Jesus’ ministry. He is referred to as “The Forerunner” in some cultures because of two very specific prophecies in Isaiah and Malachi:

Isaiah 40:3A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Malachi 3:1 1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

The Apostle Matthew in his Gospel first states Matthew 3:3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”

Later Jesus himself says of John Matthew 11:10 *– 10 This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’

(*I strongly encourage you to read Matthew 11. It won’t even take 2 minutes. The link provided will display the entire quotation of what Jesus said about John.)

In the Gospel of Mark, the author states in Mark 1:1-3 1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John the Baptist even makes a statement about this himself. (See John 1:19-34.) He denied that he was the Messiah, or Elijah. He declared that he did not know who the Messiah was – yet – but knew that his arrival was imminent. He said “‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. (Use the link to see this in context.) He grew up in the wilderness, and was probably about 30 years old when he started baptizing people “for repentance.”

He was named by “an angel of the Lord” – Gabriel – who appeared to John’s father, Zechariah. Zechariah was told to give him the name John: Luke 1:13-15 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. In Hebrew he would have been John son of Zechariah (Yokhanan ben Zkaryah) In Luke the Greek name is Ἰωάννης (Ioannes) {ee-o-an’-nace} a name of Hebrew origin: יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) {yo-khaw-nawn’}.

The name Yokhanan means “Jehovah is a gracious giver.” Certainly to his parents, who were well beyond childbearing years and had no children because Zechariah’s wife, Elisabeth was barren, the gift of a child was indeed a very gracious gift! His parents knew the purpose of this wonderful gift – remember that Elisabeth knew Mary was pregnant with Jesus the Messiah and when Mary greeted her, Yokhanan recognized the presence of the Messiah and Elisabeth said, “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.” (See Luke 1:41-45) We might deduce that the two boys grew up separately – Jesus spent some time in Egypt as a child and went to Nazareth in his youth and John apparently stayed in Judea in the hill country and desert.

John continued baptizing even after Jesus had selected at least some of his Disciples. There are some indications that Jesus’ Disciples were also baptizing (See John 3:23 and Mark 4:1-3) eventually, though, John began to realize that his assigned role was coming to an end; he had announced the coming of the Messiah, and angered King Herod by condemning him for an unlawful marriage. Here’s what he said about his career as The Forerunner:

John 3:30-36* 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” 31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34 He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath. (*The link provided opens the Gospel at verse 22 to show the whole dialogue of John’s statement.)

John was indeed the herald of God’s greatest plan – the coming of the Messiah. The world had been waiting for uncountable years for that to happen, then >>¡POOF!<< there he was and just a short while later >>¡POOF!<< he was gone. John left this life a little sooner than Jesus, but not before seeing that the prophecies about him and is cousin were true. There are other men named John in the Bible. There is the Apostle John – the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James the Elder –  who wrote the fourth Gospel and was known as the Belovéd Disciple. He is also quite possibly the author of three of the catholic letters. There is also John Mark – Mark is his surname – who was a colleague of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. Lastly there is another man about whom little is known other than the fact that he was in the Sanhedrin (See Acts 4:1-6); he may have been known as Jonathan. Yokhanan ben Zkaryah, however, is still most famous for his role in pointing out the Messiah – “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.” John is still with Jesus. They are both alive and calling us to meet them soon. As the Ages roll on, many are still expecting their Messiah to arrive; many more have entirely given up on that. As for me and my house, we await the Lord’s return with boundless hope because we know if we don’t see him here today, we will see him soon there. What a Blesséd Assurance (↔ Music Link) we have in that!

Belovéd, his name is, not was, John. And because it is John, we know him for who he is.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

 

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Aloha Friday Message – June 15, 2018 – DEEP-SEE diving

1824AFC061518 – DEEP-SEE Diving

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Mark 4:30-32 30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we will look more deeply into this idea of “faith the size of a mustard seed.”

Before we begin, I need to ask if you are using the links-to-Scripture I provide. The purpose of these articles is to get us into the Word. I want you to be able to see what Scripture actually says. That’s why there always are at least 3 “translations” – three versions in different language styles – of ever passage I list. I also always use the full name of every Bible book so that there’s no question about the location of the reference. For example, many writers would denote today’s Key Verse as Mk 4:30ff. I’ll always give you the full reference and provide you with a link so you can look at it more than one way. Do you do that? I hope so; I don’t plan to change that approach in the foreseeable future.

Often I will also give you hints about what the passage(s) say(s) in the original language – as much as is possible – so you can see the Hebrew and/or Greek words that impact the connotative and denotative meanings of the Scripture we’re looking into. Again, the intent is to give you a more “in-depth” look into the Word. That’s why we have that punny title DEEP-SEE Diving. We want to see deeply into Scripture and fish-up the meaning. Then, the next time you see it or hear it, you might be able to remember, “Oh, yeah! That was when Jesus was talking about …!” So what do mustard seeds have to do with fishing (or diving), anyway? Let’s take a deep-see dive. Where else in Scripture does Jesus use the mustard seed as the basis for a parable?

Matthew 13:31-32 31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19 18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

In addition, we have these passages:

Matthew 17:20 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Luke 17:6 The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

If we “combine” the messages in these parables, we see that a mustard seed starts off really small and grows into a shrub or bush so large that birds can nest in it. This tells us a little bit of faith nurtured well yields a large volume of blessings that benefit many others. We also see that if our faith were “even as large as” a mustard seed, we could accomplish amazing things. We can toss around mountains or mulberry trees on just the strength of faith if only it is “even as large as” a mustard seed. Have you tried that? Me, neither; but I’d like to. How big is “even as large as” a mustard seed? Take a look at this comparison:

 

Celery Seed – 1.5 – 2 mm
Mustard Seed – 1 – 2 mm
Poppy Seed – 0.7 – 1.0 mm
Amaranth Seed – 0.9 – 1.4 mm
Some orchid seeds (check that out) are only 1/300 of an inch long!

So how large does a “mustard bush grow?” here’s an example from a post back in 2011:

Mustard Seed Tree

Yep, that’s ONE plant! They can be somewhere between 6 to 20 feet tall and have a ground footprint of about 20 square feet. That is pretty amazing for one really small seed. Maybe this will help you see it more clearly:

Jesus told his Disciples in Matthew 5:20 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Righteousness and faith go hand in hand, so if the most righteous people you know are not faith-filled enough that their righteousness will not gain the Heaven, where does that leave the rest of us?

The impact of that parable would have been immense to Jesus’ audience! It should have that same impact on us as well. You probably remember that other parable about seeds, the Parable of the Sower. That can be found in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15.

We still depend on the people who feed us with crops produced from seeds. In the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:37-39, Jesus says “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.” Throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, “seed” means “descendant.” The seed of Abraham means all of his descendants – more numerous than all the stars or grains of sand in the desert. Those “seeds” must be tended to as much as one tends to herds (See “The Good Shepherd“). We also know that we plant “seed verses” in our hearts, passages from Scripture that grow within us when we nurture them with love. Those seeds of faith produce a crop “some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (See Matthew 13:8).

Beloved, where is our crop? Where is our mustard-seed bush, our acres of wheat, our vineyard of grapes, and our orchard of the Fruit of the Spirit? We cannot expect a harvest if we do not commit to the stewardship of planting. In Matthew 25:14-30 we hear about a greedy king who harvested where he had not sown and gathered where he had not scattered seed. He coerced others to do these things on his behalf. Good stewards saw that opportunity and profited by it. If our harvest is small, unsatisfying, and unsustaining, did we plant enough seeds? When we plant the Word in the “good soil” of our hearts, we have to plant more than one seed to get a harvest. We must also add to the stewardship of planting the stewardship of nurturing. And if we nurture the seeds, the crop they bear will require us to add the stewardship of harvest. It is from the harvest that the sower gets seed for the next crop and grain for the bread to feed himself and others.

The verses and Scripture passages we have looked at today are like seeds planted in our hearts. I call them “Seed Verses.” Seed verses are passages of Scripture that we have pondered over, ruminated upon, perhaps memorized, and when we “harvest” them by bringing them out to feed ourselves and others, we have “seed for the sower and bread for food” (See 2 Corinthians 9:10) so that we will multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. We get better seeds when we store seeds. Do you have any Seed Verses? Here are a few of mine:

See if you feel a seed-like response when you read the first few words of these Seeds:

“The Lord is my shepherd…” Psalm 23:1
“For God so loved …”  John 3:16-18
“I was glad when they said…”  Psalm 122:1
“Some men brought him a paralytic…” Matthew 9:2
“We live by faith, not by sight …” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“… everyone born of God overcomes …”  1 John 5:3-4
“Thy Word have I hid in my heart …”  Psalm 119:11-16
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith …” Hebrews 12:1-2
“anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me …”  John 5:24
“I am the resurrection and the life …”  John 11:25
“There is salvation in no one else …”  Acts 4:12
“Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all.”  Acts 10:36
” … every tongue should confess … ” Philippians 2:9-11
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord…”  Romans 10:8-9
“For I know the plans I have for you…”  Jeremiah 29:11
“… so that being justified by his grace we might become heirsTitus 3:4-8
(See also 1209AFC030212 – Titus The Evangelist – Catholic Letter Series
“… if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  Romans 8:25
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  Romans 12:12
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15
” … be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord …” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Settle for nothing less than God in Christ Jesus.” That’s not a Seed Verse from the Bible. It is a seed from my mustard tree. In fact, this whole series of messages that stretch back to the early years of last decade are harvested seeds from those original seeds planted by my parents, pastors, Sunday School teachers, friends, and hours of deep-see diving in God’s word (no, that is not misspelled. It is DEEP-SEE – Look Deeper).

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

 

PLEASE USE THE INTERCESSORY PRAYER LIST. PEOPLE ARE COUNTING ON US.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

This is a mustard seed charm similar to the one my mom

had when I was about 5. It travels with me on my rosary.

The round Medal directly below it was the first one I got on my own.

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Aloha Friday Message – June 8, 2018 – Site Unseen

1823AFC060818 – Site Unseen (↔ Music Link)

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Mark 3:35 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.

Psalm 116:10 10 I kept my faith, even when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”

 

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Did you try it already? If you did, then you know something about where we’re going this morning. If you didn’t try it, why not? Go ahead and try it now. ( the ↔ Music Link  up there in the title )

Yes, that is the “site unseen.” We don’t know what it looks like, we don’t know its location, but we know how to get there – at least we think we do. Today we’re going to do some probing around in the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. There are gobs and gobs of golden gems in that letter – like “we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” (See 2 Corinthians 4:7) and “the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (See 2 Corinthians 3:17). You’ll also find a heavy dose of Music Links; all of them are really great!

Let’s begin with the quote from the Gospel of Mark. In this passage, Jesus has been teaching a crowd of folks in his home town. Some Pharisees have come up from Jerusalem to check out this new street-preacher. His family and friends hear that he’s talking about things people don’t understand. He told the crowds to repent and believe the Gospel. He had driven out demons and healed the illnesses of many persons. He healed a paralyzed man whose friends had lowered him through the roof, and – in the process – told him “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” That got the crowd stirred up! They asked “By whose authority do you forgive sins?” Jesus challenged them, “Which is easier, to say ‘your sins are forgiven’ or ‘get up, take you mat, and walk’? Then he turned to the young man and directed him to do just that – get up and walk away.

In the Capernaum synagogue, he healed a man with a withered arm on the Sabbath. He appointed twelve Apostles – men who would share in his ministry and be his representatives as they traveled together. He and the Apostles were traveling extensively through the region of Galilee, and they had become that region’s “Fast Breaking News.” Word of his activities reached his home town of Nazareth, and his mom and some of his family went down to see what was going on. They were thinking maybe he was behaving irrationally because of what he was saying and doing; the reports they got “back home” were alarming. “Maybe he’s gone off the deep end with all this attention! He himself may have an unclean spirit!” The place where he was teaching was so crowded they couldn’t get near him, so they sent word that they wanted to talk to him. Perhaps his reply only confirmed their fears: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” then he pointed to the crowd and said, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” As he was teaching, he was also relieving the afflictions of others – and in his day, that allowed them to reenter society and family. The Psalmist said he kept his faith even in times of affliction. Jesus was establishing faith where faith seemed impossible – in the shunned and marginalized members of the community.

Very early on in his ministry, then, Jesus laid the foundation for the community of Family in God. We become members of that family by doing the will of God, and who better to show us the will of God than the Son of God? What did he show us?

Jesus showed us, through his teaching and actions, that the will of God is to love God and neighbor; we are to love God so much that knowing God intimately as Family is as easy as knowing our brothers and sisters and parents. Why? Why is that important? Why does God want us in his family? Answer: God ALWAYS wants us in his family. That’s why he gave us a way to rejoin his family in the perfection of his Presence. We’re supposed to be as intimately present with him as were Adam and Eve before that darn serpent showed up! And where are we supposed to rejoin that family circle which will eventually be unbroken again? Yes! There! In that site unseen, Heaven! This world is not our destination or our home. And yes, that is why that super big hint is at the top of the message. This world is not our home.

My Home is Heaven. I don’t know where it is, but I know I’m getting closer. I was born a long way from Home, but that doesn’t matter – I’m on my way, and as I go, my way is made clearer and easier every time I remember how to be Family: Whoever does the will of God. God’s will is that I serve him by serving others. It’s so simple that it sounds crazy, but not the kind of crazy the folks in Capernaum were thinking – crazy like demon-possessed. It’s crazy like un-worldly. In these crazy times, we do best in life when we shun The World. It’s time for us to act crazy – as The World sees it. ‘Ain’t it great to be crazy? (↔ Music Link)

And now it’s time for even more music! Please, please, please – play these songs!

The Servant Song “Will you let me be your servant? (↔ Music Link)

Servant Song (McGargill) “I am Your song and servant.” (↔ Music Link)

Normally, instead of “site unseen,” we say “sight unseen” as if we haven’t seen it but know it as if blind but somehow sighted. We can be blinded by the World. In fact, the World cannot perceive the Gospel because it remains hidden to them – behind a veil as it were – and when we share the Gospel people say of us “S/he must be out of her/his mind!” BUT we have such a humongous hope, the hope of rejoining that unbroken circle on the Family of God! Here are some additional thoughts from 2 Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Oh, how I long to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God! Like the blind man at Jericho, my prayer is, “Lord, I want to see!” I want to see with the Eyes of my Heart (↔ Music LinkS) and so I pray – in songOpen My Eyes, Lord (↔ Music Link) “Help me to love like you.” If I could just love like HIM as I serve him by serving the Gospel, ahhhhhhhh, that site-I-cannot-see will be within sight. I will see it in you, Belovéd, even though I’m “just a-passing through.” The angels beckon us through Heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this World any more.

Thank you for your prayers this week! Our three-year-old little sister in Christ is recovering quickly and well! Please continue to support others in prayer by using this link.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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Aloha Friday Message – June 3, 2018 – On the Offense

182AFC060118 – On the Offense

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

John 6:61 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you?” (offend: Scandalize, scare you off, make you doubt?)

Matthew 24:10-11 10 Then many will fall away,* and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

*Stumble, be scandalized, disapprove of what we see in another, be offended, prejudiced against another; to cause to sin (“backslide,” fall away, give up stumble). σκανδαλισθήσονται skandalisthēsontai from σκανδαλίζω skandalizo {skan-dal-id’-zo} (“scandalize”)

Luke 7:23 23 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.

Matthew 11:6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.

Matthew 26:31-34 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters** because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 33 Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

** σκανδαλισθήσεσθε skandalisthēsesthe = stumble, fall away, leave, fall away beside, “back-slide,” betray

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! I begin with helping you read the title. It says “On the Offense.” Most of us would read that as On the OFFense. What I will look into today is On the Offense. You might think that should be Offence but both spellings – offense and offence – are correct and the definitions are identical. When we think of Offense, we maybe think “sports,” and taking it to the competition offensively. When we think of Offense, we think of a “wrong,” a gaffe, a faux pas, or an insult. That’s the meaning I’m after today, and I do sincerely hope that by the time you finish this (if you finish this), you will not feel offended. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get goin!

This coming Sunday, June 3, 2018, is called The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is also referred to my many as The Feast of Corpus Christi. It is a day when Catholics recall the institution of the Eucharist – Holy Communion – and what it means when we hear the words “Take, eat; this is my body.” Here is that phrase in context:

Matthew 26:26-28 26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the [new] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

26 While they were eating, Yeshua took a piece of matzah, made the b’rakhah, broke it, gave it to the talmidim and said, “Take! Eat! This is my body!” 27 Also he took a cup of wine, made the b’rakhah, and gave it to them, saying, “All of you, drink from it! 28 For this is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven.  ~~ Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

It is Catholic Tradition, and Dogma, that the bread and wine used during the Mass become the True Presence of Christ on the Altar. The process is known as TRANSUBSTANTIATION. This is one of several “Mysteries of Faith” that we cherish and believe. Similar baffling, inexpressible Mysteries include the Divine Trinity, Jesus’ birth to the Virgin Mary, and the Resurrection of Jesus. These are things that are public knowledge but are effectively impossible to explain because only God can adequately explain it; it is a fact of Creation known only to and by God and is therefore beyond human comprehension. The word used in the New Testament is μυστήριον (mystērion) {moos-tay’-ree-on}. This word is not quite like our accepted connotation of “mystery” but more along the line of “mystical.” Mysterion is not something beyond understanding. Notably, it can only be known through revelation, and in matters of Faith for Christians, it becomes known  only when God reveals it. It is a secret to all who have not been informed by God. A prime example of this usage can be found in Mark 4:11 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; This mystery was revealed to the Apostles, and they passed that revelation down to us.

For non-Catholics, this is a sticky subject. For Christians who are not Catholics, it is very difficult to accept that Holy Communion is Christian Fellowship in the Holy Spirit with the Real Presence (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity) of Jesus. (See last year’s discussion of κοινωνία in 1724AFC060917 – Koinonia ) Even is one professes that the Bible alone is the sole authority for knowledge of and faith in Jesus the Christ of God (“Sola Scriptura“), the prevailing interpretation of Matthew 26:26 is that the unleavened bread Jesus blessed, broke, and shared represents his body while the wine Jesus blessed, tasted, and shared represents his Blood. As a Catholic, I look at those words “Take, eat; this is my body” as being mystically but literally True. It is not a representation of the Body and Blood. It is the actual, mystical, literal, and eternal Divine Presence of Christ that I consume in the Eucharist (Greek eukharistia ‘thanksgiving). I become what I eat.

For nonChristians, this idea is absurd, even bizarre and disgusting. Even among the early Disciples of Jesus, this teaching offended many and they just said, “That’s enough! I’m outta here.” I took some time to discern whether or not to add this passage – rather than just a link to it – and I believe it’s important to plant it firmly here (another mystery). One of the Key Verses for today is from Matthew 6. Here is that passage in context:

John 6:50-65 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

This is the revelation of the Mystery of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We can believe it, or not. In my case, it’s sort of like “believe it or else.” The “or else” for me would be to contradict what I see in Scripture:

τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου
touto estin  tosōma mou
this     is     the body  of me
* “omnitemporal” was, is, will be

That is in my mind whenever I receive the Precious Body and Precious Blood (↔ Music Link). It is neither my goal nor my desire to convince you, dear reader, that this and this only is correct. I believe it is TRUE. IF you believe as I do, what I have written here should not offend you. IF you do not believe as I do, what I have written here might, perchance, offend you – scandalize you – but my purpose here is only to state my negligible understanding of a Great Mystery (mystērion) of Faith. I give it to you in Love. I hope you accept in the same way.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

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Please help us out by clicking here and spending a few moments in prayer “for everyone who prays for us and everyone who asks for our prayers.” We especially pray for 3 year-old MCQ hospitalized with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome – a serious form of kidney failure. She’s on dialysis 24/7, receiving blood transfusions, and potent antibiotics. That’s a lot for a toddler! Pray for a fast recovery and for strength for her parents and hospital caregivers.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

Here is a little table of places in the New Testament where the verse(s) speak about “stumbling,” or being offended, or an offense.

New Testament Matthew 5:29 Matthew 5:30 Matthew 11:6
Matthew 13:21 Matthew 13:41 Matthew 13:57 Matthew 15:12
Matthew 16:23 Matthew 17:27 Matthew 18:6 Matthew 18:7
Matthew 18:8 Matthew 18:9 Matthew 24:10 Matthew 26:31
Matthew 26:33 Mark 4:17 Mark 6:3 Mark 9:42
Mark 9:43 Mark 9:45 Mark 9:47 Mark 14:27
Mark 14:29 Luke 7:23 Luke 17:1 Luke 17:2
John 6:61 John 16:1 Acts 24:16 Acts 25:8
Acts 25:11 Romans 4:25 Romans 5:15 Romans 5:16
Romans 5:17 Romans 5:18 Romans 5:20 Romans 9:33
Romans 14:20 Romans 14:21 Romans 16:17 1 Corinthians 8:13
1 Corinthians 10:32 2 Corinthians 6:3 2 Corinthians 11:7 2 Corinthians 11:29
Galatians 5:11 Philippians 1:10 James 2:10 James 3:2
1 Peter 2:8
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Aloha Friday Message – May 25, 2018 – All in One Family

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Romans 8:15 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Deuteronomy 4:39 39 So acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

Matthew 28:20b And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This Sunday is Trinity Sunday – a day when we acknowledge the very powerful concept that God himself is community. God is Three Persons, yet One Being, Eternal and Almighty. God is Family, and God chose to make Family the format for life on Earth. We are Children of the Father, Siblings of The Son, and Heirs to The Holy Spirit.

Belovéd, those are some powerful words. If I did not believe them, they would be incredible –  unbelievable, implausible, barely credible, inconceivable, far-fetched, and – by Worldly standards – absurd! I’m going to put them here again. Let’s read them together, slowly:

GOD HIMSELF IS COMMUNITY. GOD IS THREE PERSONS YET, ONE BEING, ETERNAL AND ALMIGHTY. GOD IS FAMILY, AND GOD CHOSE TO MAKE FAMILY THE FORMAT FOR LIFE ON EARTH. WE ARE CHILDREN OF THE FATHER, SIBLINGS OF THE SON, AND HEIRS TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.

We have received a spirit of adoption by whose power we SHOUT “Abba! Father!” In the passage from Deuteronomy this Sunday, Moses says in Deuteronomy 4:34-38 34 Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by terrifying displays of power, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? 35 To you it was shown so that you would acknowledge that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. 36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, while you heard his words coming out of the fire. 37 And because he loved your ancestors, he chose their descendants after them. He brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, 38 driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, giving you their land for a possession, as it is still today.

God is Family. God created Family – in the beasts of the fields, the birds of the air, the fish of the deeps, and in the people he set in Eden. God’s Plan is for us to live in family, to work the earth in family, and to walk with him as family. He chose a specific group to be HIS Family, and through them – in his ineffable wisdom – ordained that every living Soul would be part of that Family if only each could accept the call of adoption as his sons and daughters through the Spirit.

In the verses immediately preceding today’s Gospel Key Verse (Matthew 28:18-19) we read, “18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority* in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …

* ἐξουσία (exousia) {ex-oo-see’-ah} – universal power through universal authority. Jesus’ Crown of Glory is the reward for his universal obedience and represents his authorization to rule over all of Creation for all of Time. Since Jesus has Universal Authority, he gives the Apostles – as well as we who are Disciples – a Universal Mission to Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is possible only because the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. This is the Family to which we are called, the Family ordained in God’s Eternal Plan.

At Jesus’ Baptism, the whole Trinity was there. We interact daily with the whole Trinity, for whenever we pray to God we pray to God-in-Three-Persons. Even if we pray, “Loving Heavenly Father,” or “Jesus my Lord and my God,” or “Spirit of the Living God,” we pray to God-in-Three-Persons. God is the Whole of Divinity in One Being – he’s not “the force,” he’s not “the guy upstairs,” he’s not “the intelligent designer.” He is GOD – known by many names to be sure (see 818AFC050208), but still just GOD-in-Three-Persons – Blesséd Trinity. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of our Salvation. That salvation comes from Jesus who is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16-17) and who is one with and in God (See John 14:10-20)

In revealing to us the Truth about the Trinity, God – El Shaddai-Olam, Almighty Everliving God in Three Persons – has given us another glimpse into the majestic mystery of his power and grace; he is that eager to have us know him intimately, personally, and mysteriously simply because We are Family (↔ Music Link and Lyrics).

You can also find more information about the Holy Trinity here. I will give you the last paragraph of the central theme which was based on the popular British nursery rhyme and cumulative tale “This is the House that Jack built.” You may find it fun to go to that post called “Whole in One” from May 29, 2015 to read what precedes this paragraph:

  • This is your Eternal and Complete Joy in discovering that your Salvation through Jesus Christ is clearly explained to you by encountering God through His Word, the Bible, which is entirely the story and revelation of Jesus The Christ, the Son of God, who exposed the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees who were servants to the Kings and Priests who ruled the Kingdoms that persecuted the Prophets, that proclaimed the Law that Guided Israel, the House built by the Eternal Triune God.

Belovéd, we have that House – The House of David, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the House of Many Mansions – as our permanent address if only we believe in our hearts and confess with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord (See Romans 10:9) and that we are all in One Family to the end of the age and to Eternity beyond!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Share-A-Prayer

Please, dear family, help me with the prayer list! I know many of you have your own prayer lists (and I am deeply grateful for those of you who have put me on one of those lists!), so perhaps you could just use the MBN Prayer or just when you pray say, “Heavenly Father, remember all the requests in the current MBN Prayer List, and in your Wisdom and Grace, grant each in accordance with your Will.”

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Message – May 18, 2018 – Double Birthday!

1820AFC051818 – Double Birthday!

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Acts 2:1-41 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This is a BIG weekend for our house. Today, May 18th, is Crucita’s birthday. In a little twist on a popular saying, “She’s old enough to know better – and so she does better.”She is the zenith of integrity, super-smart, and the love of my life. We are preparing to celebrate our 50th Anniversary next year. This weekend is also the Birthday of the Church. This coming Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost. I want to spend a little time with you today talking about what Pentecost means, how and why the Feast originated, and why it is very important to understand it in the same context as the Early Church knew it. So, I wish a very happy birthday to my Dearest, Darling Wife, Crucita, and happy birthday Church. Now, what is Pentecost and why is it important to The Church today?

As Christians we think of it mostly in terms of the Second Chapter of Acts – the first four verses, the strong, driving wind, “cloven tongues as of fire,” speaking and prophesying in many languages (some of them possibly angelic languages), and Peter’s amazing proclamation of the Gospel. But what does it mean “… when the day of Pentecost was fully come?” Let’s look a little into what Pentecost is all about.

We begin by turning to Leviticus 23 where God is telling Moses about the feast days – Festivals – he wants celebrated. Leviticus is the third book of the Bible after Genesis and Exodus and the middle book of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The name Leviticus refers to the fact that most of the content of this book is the “Policy and Procedure Manual” for the Tribe of Levi, the Priestly Tribe. There are 27 chapters of rules, advice, and information on topics like sacrificial offerings, purity, holiness, the prescribed conduct and values for priesthood, rules for the sanctuary, and definitions and procedures for all of the feast days. In chapter 23, there are several feasts listed. They are given in the order in which they are to be observed and there is information on preparations for each and in some cases the reasons for the feasts and the rules that go with them.

Here are the feasts described in chapter 23, the section of Leviticus devoted to “Holiness Laws.” The Sabbath is described and then come other annual memorials. First comes Passover. Next is the Feast of Unleavened Bread which begins the day after Passover and lasts one week. During that time, Israelites ate unleavened bread. Then comes the Feast of Firstfruits, the day after Passover’s Sabbath, a Festival of Harvest and thanksgiving to God for the blessings of food. This was an offering made in hopes of further blessings from God. Usually this would be barley as it is one of the first grains to ripen.

Then there is the Festival of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah which commemorates the creation of the world. No work was to be done on that day and all of Israel was to bring offerings to the temple when they heard the blast from the trumpets. This is the fifth of the Seven Feasts. The Feast of Trumpets begins on the first day of the seventh month. It is the opening Festival of the “High Holy Days.” These three feasts (Feast of the Trumpets, the Feast of Atonement – Yom Kippur, and the Feast of Tabernacles – Succoth) bring to a close the Liturgical Year of Israel and together foreshadow the Plan of Redemption made manifest in Jesus. So, the Seven Festivals are:

  1. Passover (Pesach)
    2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi)
    3. Firstfruits (Yom Habikkurim)
    4. Pentecost (Shavu’ot) The Feast of Weeks or Festival of Harvest
    5. Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah)
    6. Atonement (Yom Kippur)
    7. Tablenacles (Succoth)

Pentecost is described in Leviticus 23:15-22. There was a period of seven weeks – a week of Sabbaths – that were measured off. On the day after the end of the seven weeks – the fiftieth day, a celebration was prescribed by God. The name “Pentecost” comes from the Greek term for the celebration, Day of Pentecost Πεντηκοστή ἡμέρα (pentekoste hemera) {pent-tay-cohs-tay ee-air-ah} – Πεντηκοστῆς = “of Pentecost,” which means fiftieth day. The offering for that day consisted of two loaves of finest yeast bread made from the finest flour, seven one-year-old lambs, one bull, and two rams offered as burnt offerings. Verse 19 says, 19 You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of well-being. It is also in this passage that the directive to allow for gleaning. It was the law of gleaning that brought Ruth and Boaz together and Ruth became part of Jesus’ genealogy. That’s for another lesson, though.

Jesus was crucified during the Feast of the Lord’s Passover, and he ascended 40 days after his resurrection. The Holy Spirit came 50 days after the Resurrection, which was of course, 10 days after the Ascension. Because of the importance of this feast, which God said, “This is a statute forever in all your settlements throughout your generations.” (See Verse 21) Jews of many nations would be gathered in Jerusalem in pilgrimage for this festival. When Peter, therefore – with the Holy Spirit rushing upon him and the other Apostles – stood up and addressed the crowd that had gathered around the place where the disciples were staying, persons of many languages and cultures were attracted to these curious events. The sound of the rush of a violent wind harks back to Genesis 1:1-2 where a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. The “tongues as of fire” are a fulfillment of John the Baptist’s prophecy of Jesus in Luke 3:16: He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. The parallel here is that God validated the Law given on Mount Sinai to Moses with fire (See Exodus 19:16-18), and in the New Covenant, validated the arrival of the Paraclete with fire as well. Whereas in the First Covenant the fire was only in one place, in the New Covenant it was in many, many people – every believer!

The Feast of Firstfruits stands as a foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Christ as the first fruits of those who have died (1 Corinthians 15:20) in the expectation of further blessings from God – an even greater harvest. Pentecost foreshadows the coming of the Spirit, and the resultant harvest as the beginning of the “High Holy Days” of the Church.

Rosh Hashanah prefigures the Resurrection, the sounding of the trumpets and the dead being raised as Paul described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58. This is one of my favorite Bible passages because it is one of my favorite solos in Handel’s Messiah – #’s 47 & 48 (↔ Music Link). I’m getting the shivers just thinking about it right now! Give it a listen!

Yom Kippur was the singularly-unique Festival of the year in which the Most Sacred space in the Temple, the Holy of Holies (or “the Most Holy Place”), was entered. You may recall from a previous Aloha Friday Message that it was where the Ark of the Covenant was the location for the Sh’khinah Glory of God to reside. God’s presence literally inhabited the area above the Ark, and no one was permitted into the Most Holy Place except on Yom Kippur and only in the precise manner which God had established. It was on this day that the sins of the whole nation were considered atoned – expiated, wiped out, redressed – for the preceding year. With Jesus’ Atonement, the sins of all time are wiped out forever. How’s that for a change?

So, now we know a bit more about why Pentecost is called Pentecost, why everyone was in Jerusalem at the time, why it is 50 days after Easter and 10 days after Ascension. We also know why and how it relates to the Seven Great Feasts God told Moses and the Levites to establish forever for the people of Israel. As we are the adopted children of Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the Life, Passion, and Resurrection of Jesus the Christ, we really should know how these feasts came about and why they are important to us.

And now, Belovéd, in closing I ask you to reflect on what you have read as you consider what God has planned for the Second Covenant Feast of Tabernacles. “The Spirit is a-movin’!” Go stand in the Wind and catch FIRE!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Share-A-Prayer

We have another long-term prayer request. This one is from AT and it’s for CM: CM has just been diagnosed with liver bile duct cancer…a 1/200,000 chance of such a thing!  She had her port placed Friday and will begin chemotherapy Monday 5/14/18.  The tumor is already 3½ inches.  She will see the liver transplant team on Tuesday.  We are praying hard for a miracle, as we know they happen with God’s help.

Please pray that CM’s treatments will proceed well with a good outcome. In a similar way, we continue to remember NAS who is also on the waiting list for a liver transplant.

Remember, anyone can ask the MBN to pray for any need. We are a group dedicated to intercessory prayer. I sent you an updated list on Tuesday, May 15th. Thank you and God bless you!

Spread the fire!

Nicole Amorette Southern

February 22, 1975

To

May 17, 2018

Rest in Peace Little Sister

100% HEALED

and in Jesus’ arms

 

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Aloha Friday Message – May 11, 2018 – Bridges

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Please take a moment – or two – to use this link to view the new Poetry Page. It’s in the upper right column in the Pages List. Much appreciation to Ryan and Kate Wilmot and Svetoslav Sabev for their support, help, and guidance in achieving this dream!

A quick personal update. I had my right hip replaced 5/7/18. I now have one thigh that looks like it belongs to a linebacker! It’s painful, but bearable. I’m focusing on getting through PT with a positive attitude so I can have the other one done within the year. Thank you again for your prayerful support. It’s a big help I assure you!

Since sitting for long periods is not a good idea, I’m going to pull out an Ace and use material a Guest Contributor today, John Kretser, a long-time friend, mentor, and fellow laborer in the harvest. John sent me this message back when I was having shoulder problems and was weighing the possibility of having to use speech recognition to dictate my posts. That didn’t happen, fortunately, thanks to a great physical therapist named Todd Strong. Enough introductions! On with the message and John, MAHALO NUI LOA!

Bridges

“Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down.”           Paul Simon

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Have you ever considered the impact of a broken bridge?

In 1987 spring arrived early in upstate New York. The snow melted quickly with the onset of unseasonably warm weather in March. Then, for ten days straight the skies opened up and heavy rain fell steadily on the already saturated soil of the hills and valleys of the Catskills and Mohawk Valley, transforming normally gentle rivers and streams into raging torrents of muddy water. In the pre-dawn hours of April 5th, just a few miles west of the city of Amsterdam, the relentless assault of the surging floodwaters undermined the foundation (a condition called “bridge scour”) and a thirtyfive-year-old bridge gave way, crumbling and tumbling into the swollen, angry Schoharie Creek. As a result, Interstate 90, a.k.a. the New York State Thruway, that major four-lane route spanning the Empire State from border to border was no longer the unbroken ribbon of concrete and asphalt it had always been since it was completed in the mid-1950’s.

Only a few hours earlier Elton and Sarah Richards, homebound for Chicago, had bidden their daughter and her family an emotional, reluctant farewell, with many loving hugs, kisses and tears, following a pleasant vacation and family reunion in Hartford, Connecticut. Everyone was already looking forward to getting together again at Christmas time.

In the swirling mists, darkness and drizzling rain, it was unlikely that Elton was aware of the breech over the Schoharie until the very last instant when his sedan suddenly ran out of pavement and plunged off the highway, plummeting through 120 feet of naked space into the turbulent waters churning below, even as Sarah’s terrified screams were swallowed up in the damp darkness. The Richards were not to be the only victims. Before authorities would learn of the bridge collapse and could erect barricades on the site, eight more souls would join the Richards in a watery death on that terrible Sunday morning.

For me, learning of this tragedy had great impact because I was able to easily visualize the location which was near where I grew up and the site was familiar. The bridge, over which I had traveled numerous times, was located at the bottom of a long, steep hill where Schoharie Creek flowed into the Mohawk River which paralleled I-90

Bridge failures, of course, have happened before and since. Remember the earthquake at LA and the bridge collapse over the Mississippi in Minneapolis in 2007?

Actually, fortunately, bridge failures are rare events. However, what makes them memorable is the sudden, spectacular and devastatingly tragic impact they bear on people’s lives when they do happen. Ironically, another truth is that bridges are, for the most part, taken for granted, that is, of course, UNTIL they fail.

We have been talking about physical bridges made of wood, stone, steel and concrete but, what about the emotional “soul-bridges” in our lives?

However, where bridges of concrete and steel connect roadways over rivers, ravines and swollen streams, soul-bridges are the relationships spanning the space between hearts and minds, keeping us safely above such hazards as sorrow, anger, bitterness, fear and despair. Soul-bridges are just as important to our well-being as their steel and concrete counterparts. The condition of soul-bridges reflect the integrity of our relationships with one another and the care and attention we invest in them.

After the collapse of the Schoharie Bridge, the report from the New York State Thruway Authority cited “poor maintenance” coupled with “severe stress” on the foundation of the structure as the reason for the bridge’s failure. So, even though the bridge failure manifested in a catastrophic manner, various forces together with neglect had been working for as long as 30 years leading to the failure which had only the appearance of sudden, unforeseen disaster.

In a similar manner, I think it is fair to ask, “What happens when we abuse our soul-bridges through “poor maintenance” and “severe stress”? How about damage, sometimes irreparable, between any two or more people but experienced most commonly with spouses, friends, family, co-workers and business associates?

Haven’t we all learned the price of “bridge abuse” to one degree or another? The most common outcome of soul-bridge/relationship abuse is seldom a total collapse or closure. Rather it is the establishment of emotional barriers which impose cost, inconvenience, stress and, plain old difficulty in our relationships. One day there was a beautiful, shimmering span between two hearts joined together in a satisfying relationship characterized by harmony, purpose and happiness. Abuse, deliberate or unintentional, takes place. The next day, to our dismay, what had been a bridge with unrestricted access to the other person or persons now features an ugly toll booth, complete with the emotional equivalents of gates, dogs, and armed guards. Restoration becomes a long and painful process and even then, the relationship will probably never be what it once was. Even with an appeal under a white flag, some relationships are never restored or even given a chance to be restored. All these outcomes are all but assured. How dismal, sad…..

UNLESS…. We find a foundation with a strength and power that surpasses pride and hurt feelings, neglect and carelessness, in short, the full array of human shortcomings.

And, now, something that may be a bit of an earth-shaker for some: The most important teaching of Jesus, evident throughout New Testament Scripture, was not on holiness, righteousness, obedience or even faith. Rather, it was on relationships (soul-bridges): first – between God and people, and secondly, and perhaps more urgently, between people. Please note: the terms “bridge”, “soul-bridge” and “relationship”, like the word “trinity” are not found, per se, anywhere in any literal translation of the Bible. However, as we know, the concept is ever-present and found ubiquitously.

Therefore, consider the exchange between Jesus and religious authorities from the temple in Jerusalem:

Mark 12: (Also, found in Matthew 22 and Luke 10) 28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him , “Which is the first [NOTE: the word “first” in the Greek is πρῶτος, pronounced pro’-tos and meaning, per Vine’s Dictionary: Best, Chief, Chiefest, Chiefly, First, Former, Principal (most important)] commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

In Matthew 22:40, Jesus goes even further, declaring – “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Translation, “If everyone observed only these two commandments with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, no other laws, including the “Big 10” and all the directives of the prophets would be needed.” Go ahead – test the concept for yourself.

Examples: If we truly loved God, would we profane His name or make up another God to worship? If we were to love our neighbor as our self and our neighbor includes our spouse would we commit adultery? In the same manner would we lie, steal or murder?

Note that both the first and second (in importance) commandments here describe relationships, i.e. between God and people (love God), between people (love your neighbor). Okay, I can hear some of you thinking, “What! How can he say “people” where the Bible said “neighbor”? Anyway, what does Jesus and the Bible mean by “neighbor”?

Glad you asked!  For the answer, let’s go to the same scene in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10, which varies from the story found in Matthew and Mark in one respect – where a “certain lawyer”, or scribe, asked Jesus, seeking to “justify himself”, in verse 29, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ response made it clear as He then taught through the Parable of the Good Samaritan, that a “neighbor” is anyone, including enemies, aliens and strangers.

Now, let’s back up a few verses to Luke 10:25 for more information in order to frame the whole passage pertinent to our discussion about soul-bridges and “bridge abuse” – And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The question was a sarcastic challenge from what was, in those days among the Jewish people, a professional holy person. It was not an honest question seeking truth. We might say that the lawyer/scribe was attempting to undermine the “bridge” Jesus was building. Jesus’ answer, however, was honest, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:17), both for that lawyer and us, today. Remember what Jesus taught His disciples regarding this issue in Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is a matter of eternal consequences! We would do well to heed Jesus’ words. In a proverbial nutshell, the point of all this boiled down and summarized, is that from God’s perspective, relationships (soul-bridges) are more important than the Law regardless of whether it is God’s Law, which is perfect, or man’s law, which is NOT!

 

This teaching in Luke is in agreement, affirming the many other teachings of Jesus concerning relationships, of which one of the most explicit is found in the Sermon on the Mount”, specifically, Matthew 5:43-48. The NLT version renders the teaching as follows: 43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ (a relationship) and hate your enemy (a relationship). 44 But I say, love your enemies (a relationship)! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father (a relationship) in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike (a relationship). 46 If you love only those who love you (a relationship), what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends (a relationship), how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Relax! The word “perfect”, here, in the Greek carries the meaning complete, not flawless.)

As long as I am pressing a point, let me press a few more! This passage follows other teachings of Jesus in the same Sermon on the Mount that are all about relationships:

  • 21 – Jesus teaches murder and anger are the same.
  • 27 – Jesus teaches adultery and lust are the same.
  • 31 – Jesus teaches that divorce is a sin against marriage.
  • 33 – Jesus teaches God’s approval of integrity and honesty with others.
  • 38 – Jesus teaches kindness and gentleness versus payback and resentment.

Are we beginning to see how “the light that has come into the world”? (John 1:4-9) And, while we are in John, let us consider what may be the ultimate declaration of Jesus concerning relationships, one with which we are all very familiar –  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. In short, this verse may be restated (not improved) in four relational parts: 1. God loved, 2. God gave, 3. We believe, 4. We receive.

It’s all about relationships!

Because we are created in God’s image, bridge building tends to be a natural, almost instinctive process. With each person we meet or speak a new bridge is built. If we stop to think about it, we realize that there are several under construction in our lives right now. Certainly, there are hundreds we have already created and no doubt there are a few we have destroyed or allowed to come to ruin or disrepair on the highway of life behind us that we may never be able to cross again.

The soul-bridges of our lives have the ability to support the full measure, or lack of, peace and joy we will know in this world if we commit to caring for them as we follow the way Christ has revealed to us in His WORD.

Whenever we communicate or interact with others let us pledge to visualize a bridge us and pay close attention to the character, quality and condition of the bridge. Let us further resolve that no relationship is too small or too casual to justify ignoring, misusing or abusing.

Beloved – If a bridge is built on the firm foundation of God’s principal laws of love, then the pillars of trust and respect, supported by the cables of honesty, held together with the cement of gentle understanding and mortar of love, the bridge will always, always, always remain a viable, reliable span that nurtures and sustains the souls on either end, free of anxiety and stress. The bonus? Two – we keep Jesus’ commandment, securing our citizenship in the Kingdom of God and fulfill the Great Commission, which becomes an effortless action. John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture given is from the New King James Version.

Take care – God bless.                                                                                     PJK

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd! Thanks again, John!

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Aloha Friday Message – May 4, 2018 – Now Hear This!

1818AFC050418 – Now Hear This

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

John 15:12 12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This is a familiar passage, one of several that contain Jesus’ command to love, and it is a passage we have cited often in these writings. Today we will look at a few of those similar passages and take a deeper look into how they are connected by looking at the Greek in which they were written. I will use just a couple of examples so that it doesn’t get too technical. We can start with a passage from the First Letter of John. I’m going to show it to you in English and Greek just so you can see the connections.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.Whoever does not does not know God, for God is Love.

Ἀγαπητοί, ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους, ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐστιν, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀγαπῶν ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ γεγέννηται καὶ γινώσκει τὸν Θεόν. ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν οὐκ ἔγνω τὸν Θεόν, ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν.

Now, I also want to show you this same passage in another translation because some readers make it a point to remind me that “Jesus didn’t speak Greek; he spoke Aramaic.” This comes from an excellent resource for studying the New Testament: The Aramaic Bible in Plain English 7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God, 8 Because God is Love, and everyone who does not love does not know God.

As you can see, there is not much difference between those passages. If you use the first link (1 John 4:7), you can see what this looks like in the Authorized King James and the New English Translation as well. Why look at it several different ways? We can see that the key words are in every translation, and by looking at the key words, we can understand the impact of Jesus command. We’ll add one other reference to tie all of this together:

John 13:34-35 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

I’m going to emphasize the English words we’ll be studying in Greek:

I give you a new [καινὴν] commandment [ἐντολὴν], that you love one another. Just as I have [καθὼς] loved you, you also should love one another.

First up – new. The Greek word here is καινὴν [kainós] (kahee-nos) – absolutely and uniquely new and without precedent. It is something that is completely different from anything anywhere anytime because this instant is the first time it ever existed and it is incomparably first-and-only. It is original, unused, and innovative.

Next – commandment. That Greek word is ἐντολὴν [entolé] (en-tol-ay) – a fixed rule unchangeable and inviolable which stipulates how something is to be done to achieve a specific outcome. The rule is abundantly clear in the sense that the command is so obvious that it sounds self-evident. It is so obvious that it is a “natural rule,” a rule anyone can understand because it is a rule anyone could perceive as being valid. The purpose of this rule focuses on the end result. The objective of this command is an expected outcome which comes into being through obedience to the command. The instructions in the command contain all the requirements for obedience.

Finally, just as or in the same way as καθὼς [kathos] (kath-oce) – in exactly the same manner, to precisely the same degree, to the complete extent, and in a way that is identical to. We could go back to the identity expression we have used in the past when we said

LIGHT ≡ GOD ≡ LOVE ≡ TRUTH ≡ WAY ≡ LIFE ≡ FOREVER

We can therefore say

YOUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER ≡ MY LOVE FOR YOU

Now the question arises, “How is this new? Didn’t Jesus say that “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself?” are the greatest of all the commandments?” Yes, he said that. In today’s passage he is saying something bigger, something more intense, something mind-shattering. He is saying, “Love your neighbor (each other, one another) as I do.” When we say, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” we assume that we love and care about our own well-being and that we will treat our neighbor with the same healthy respect we have for our own lives. It’s the basis for the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself (or as you would have them do unto you).” Treat others the way you want to be treated. Jesus isn’t saying that. He’s saying something new. He’s saying to love your neighbor exactly, precisely, and completely in the same way Jesus loves you and your neighbor – Love without selfishness, possessiveness, jealousy, pride, without holding anything back, completely abandoning any claim to be loved in return, sacrificing all for the good of another rather than your own good. And that is a commandment, not an aphorism, not a proverb, not a suggestion, not an optional behavior. It is a commandment – a directive, a mandate, a decree, a law. That is why we so often talk about “Christ’s Law of Love.”

That is a lot to ask! It was, and is, Jesus who asks that of us now – right now.

How? How do we do this? 1 John 4:16 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Jesus commanded us to love one another. We must obey his command. “Whoever loves me will keep my word.” (John 14:23) If we love Jesus, we will want to love each other. Sometimes it seems too simple. Just love Jesus, and we will be empowered to keep his commandment to love each other. The reverse of this also seems simple. Just love others the way Jesus loves them and we will be loving Jesus. Thus, the word “Love” can be a word of obedience, too. It is not as simple, though, as “feeling love” for one another. Love is not a feeling. “Like” is a feeling. Love is an action. We must act on our love, not merely express it or feel it. While it is true that loving Jesus and loving others are inseparable, they are inseparable acts, not feelings. If we believe love is a feeling, then we can be afraid of losing love, or even using love. We must not be afraid.

There is a hymn I learned in our Youth Group around 1960. It was written Ellis Govan 1897-1983, born in Biggar, Strathdyde, Scotland. He served in World War I, and then worked in Kenya for several years. He later joined Faith Mission, the evangelistic agency his father founded in 1886 in Scotland and Ireland. Ellis wrote the hymn, “I Will Not Be Afraid.” (↔ Music Link) This hymn was born among the persecuted missionaries and believers in China during the war with Japan, 1931-1939. They boldly sang it together daily as they were surrounded by constant danger. Music: “Duntroon,” usually listed as Anonymous. As we listen to this simple tune and read the words, we can think about the love in our hearts and examine that love to see if there is any fear within it (remember, Brendan Case taught us FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real). If there is fear, we must “look upward, and travel onward, and not be afraid.” True Love does not evoke fear. We are repeatedly commanded to Love, and repeatedly reminded “Do not be afraid. (e.g., Psalm 56:11) Fear not. (e.g., Luke 12:32)” Love, instead, delivers us from all fear if we will just love one another in the same way that Jesus willing and completely, without pretense or demand, Loves us they same way his Father loves him.

Jesus loves us because he does what his Father commands. We love Jesus because he loved us first, best, last, and always. It is ἀγάπη (agápē) {ag-ah’-pay}. That is love that is centered in and expressed as a moral preference. It typically refers to Divine Love as that is the Love that God prefers. It is preferential love that grows out of reverence toward God that is manifested by reverence toward each other. We prefer to Love rather than not to love because God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Stick with God. You will recall that prophecy begins with the words “Thus says the Lord.” Hear ye the word of the Lord (i.e., NOW HEAR THIS): Love Jesus just like he loves you and you will love each other as he does. Why make it more complicated? It’s a one-word command.

LOVE

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

 

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Aloha Friday Message – April 27, 2018 – Heard It in the Grapevine

1817AFC042718 – Heard It in the Grapevine

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This message is related to a post from 2012, and the story I will refer to in this post can be found HERE. It is also for the Fifth Sunday after Easter. The readings for this coming Sunday, April 29, 2018, can be found HERE.  Now, let’s see what the Holy Spirit has in store for us today.

 

John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

 

Suppose I know that you really love grapes. I decide I want to give you a memorable present, so I go to a vineyard being pruned and gather up a few of the pruned branches, and wrap them in a pretty velvet bow as a friendship present to you. “Not much of a present,” you say. “What am I supposed to do with these? They’re already wilting.” You get the idea. You do not define your life, or anyone else’s, by the fruit that can’t be grown on pruned branches. Like the artist who throws away everything he does not need in a chunk of marble so that only the figure remains, the branches that are pruned are discarded because they allow the true purpose of the vine to become manifest. The vine bears more fruit after it is pruned.

If you are hoping for a very fruitful vineyard, for example, you have to prune the vines. It’s not enough to cut out the sections that have dried up. You also have to cut back the good parts, the living parts, the fruitful parts so that they will become even more fruitful. In verse 2 of this same chapter, Jesus said, “He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes, so that it bears more fruit.” What is it like when God prunes away the deadwood in our lives? It is like laying down that winter coat in the desert (the 2012 story I mentioned). And what is it like when God prunes the live branches? It is like the times we know our lives are reshaped, refocused, and poised for growth; it is when we learn by yielding to the hand of God. It is when our lives become more and more bountiful by being nurtured in the Word of God. That is what we focus on today, being nurtured in The Word.

Where is YOUR Bible?

What comes to mind when we read that description, “The Word of God.” For most of us, it brings to mind the image of our Bible. I wonder, sometimes, where Bibles reside in people’s homes. Many of us have a “Family Bible.” It’s usually a big, heavy, ornate volume with places to record important events in life like baptisms, and marriages, and births. Because it’s so cumbersome, it takes some effort to drag it out and use it – so it basically is “on display.” It might even look like this one a little bit. I have Bibles at home that go back decades. In my “200 section” in our home library I have a Bible I received from my parents when I was in high school. There’s a Red-Letter New Testament with gopher wood covers given to me by a classmate my senior year. Next to my workspace in the living room I have a Bible Crucita bought for me, and right next to my computer I have the New International Version (NIV) Study Bible; my dad gave it to my mom, and my mom passed it to me many years later. In the same shelf I have the NABRE (I pronounce the like “neighbor’) – the New American Bible – Revised Edition. This is the “official Bible” of the Roman Catholic Church in America. Lastly, I have software that contains literally hundreds of translations in dozens of languages. It’s called BibleWorks. I use it all the time – in fact, the NIV, NABRE, and BibleWorks get used almost daily here. Now, what if I told you that none of these fit the definition of what I mean when I say “being nurtured in The Word?”

“Huh?” Let’s go back to the Key Verse again. It starts out by saying, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” And what about John 1:1? In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. If we are to be nurtured in The Word, we are to be nurtured in Jesus, the Christ of God. Next he says, “Those who abide in me and me in them bear much fruit.” We need to be in the Vine. That’s why my little present of a bunch of pruned grape branches is so useless. They are no longer part of the vine; there may be parts of the vine where life is still happening, cells are dividing, photosynthesis is proceeding – but there will be no fruit! Without the vine, there is no possibility for fruit – or even life. A pruned vine might stay caught in the branches and be near the vine, but it’s not being nourished in the vine. If we are reading the Bible, are we “in the Vine?” It doesn’t really matter how many translations we have, or how many studies we read, if we are not in Jesus, if we are not intimately connected with him, if we cannot share back and forth between the root to the fruit. I can read and write and talk and sing about Jesus all day long; but, if I am not living in him and he is not living in me, all of that is just noise. And why is that?

Let’s examine the last phrase of the Key Verse for today; it says, “because apart from me you can do nothing.” That makes sense, doesn’t it? Belovéd, reading the Bible really is not the same as living in Jesus. The words from The Word certain can, and do, nourish our souls, but without that personal, nurturing, life-giving connection with The Vine, our studies cannot be fruitful. I could write these posts until my fingers fall off, and you could read them until your eyes glaze over, but without both of us being branches in The Vine, it’s like a broken pencil – pointless.

We often have a penchant for pointless things. For some of us there are so many things in life we cling to as if our life depended on it (like that winter coat in the desert). Sin, painful relationships, ill will in families, bad habits. NONE of these are things we need. Let our dead branches be cut out and our living branches be pruned. Friendship, faith, knowledge, charity, wisdom. ALL of these are things you need. Remain in the vine so the vine remains in you. He has loved you with an everlasting love (↔ Music Link). He has created you and shaped you to be uniquely his, and to resemble him closely in your life on Earth. Why should we do this? Look at verses 7-9: 7. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my Love.

It is so clear what he means when he says I am the Vine (↔ Music Link). Can the root produce the fruit? Can the branch yield fruit without The Vine? Can the vinedresser say to the vineyard, “You know how to grow. Do it by the book.”? No. God himself makes sure that his vineyard yields its fruit in due season, for, as Jesus says in John 15:1-2 – I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. The Father is the vinegrower, Jesus is The Vine, we are the branches. When Jesus says removes, the Greek word is καθαίρει (kathairei) {kath-ah’-ee-rei} – to cleanse and remove filth, impurity, and death (like deadwood), and to purge that which does not enable life. Branches without fruit are purged and removed. Branches that can produce are pruned to become even more fruitful. Belovéd, stay in The Vine. Remain in his Love for has he says, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” I love you, too! I stay in The Vine to be of The Vine for him and for you.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

More music? Sure! Use this (↔ Music Link) or THIS (↔ Music Link)

 

 

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Aloha Friday Message – April 20, 2018 – Flock to the Shepherd

1816AFC042018 – Flock to the Shepherd

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!) Before we get into today’s lesson we extend our heartfelt appreciation to all of you who prayed for us during our catastrophic weekend recently. Officially we are told that the Northern end of Kauaʻi around Hanalei received more than 28 inches of rain in 24 hours. In the 48 hours ending April 15 at 6 p.m., Wainiha got 32 inches of rain (Use the link to see the map). That’s more than Mount Waiʻaleʻale — the wettest place on Earth — which got “only” 22 inches. The flooding was epic. At least 3 homes were completely destroyed, several dozen were badly damaged, Our Mission Church – St. William the Confessor in Hanalei – was rendered unusable, and Hanalei Elementary sustained significant damage as well. Multiple landslides across Kūhio Highway, our main North-South road, stranded residents and tourists. It’s going to be an expensive cleanup and will take quite some time to return to normal. Fortunately no lives were lost, but the property damages on all 7 of the main Hawaiʻian islands is formidable. You can find more news here. We deeply appreciate your continued prayers. Now, down to the business at hand.

John 10:17 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.

We all know that tired old debate about the chicken and the egg. The best answer is that the chicken came first because it was what [1] laid the egg, and [2] incubated the egg until it hatched, and [3] mothered the chick to maturity. That makes sense, and contrariwise not much else does. In the same line, we could ask, “Which came first, the shepherd or the flock?” That truly is a tricky question. If we are thinking of Cain and his little brother Able, the answer is that the flock came first because God made all the “living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” (See Genesis 1:24-25). Scripture shows that in verse 26, God decided to create man; so we see that in the Creation story, the flock was there before the shepherd. However, the GOOD SHEPHERD was there before the flock. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus came before Adam (See John 1:2-4), before the cattle, before the dry land, and even before the deep.

It is this same sequence-seeking, seeing which comes first, that sets the scene in our Key Verse for today. Jesus must first lay down his life in order to take it up again. But wait, Jesus is eternal, was there before the sheep were created, and is The Good Shepherd. How can he lay down his life? He can do that because he will willingly sacrifice his own human life in his own human body so that he can take it up again in his own resurrected body. He is eternally The Good Shepherd with or without his human body. He is eternally divine. He cannot be resurrected, though, unless he first dies. We know that makes sense because we know how to answer the question, “Which came first, the Death, or the Resurrection?” The Good Shepherd has always been part of God’s plan for salvation, and it ends with all of us, his flock, being resurrected so when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. (See 1 John 3:2) It is always that way in God’s plan: First things first and Last things last. He has revealed to us that, like a good Daddy, he “saves the best for last.” Let that sink in for a moment.

What is the last thing we do on this earth? We die, and for most of us, that is not a conscious choice. However, that’s not the absolute last thing we do on earth. We also decay. That also is not a conscious choice. These things have to happen first, though, so that the “last things” can happen in their proper order. What, then, is the last thing we experience? Well, properly speaking, the last that happens to us is to be rewarded with eternal life in our resurrected body – also not a conscious choice, but one we willing accept. We are able to accept that reward because of conscious choices we make before we die. What is the last, best, and most important conscious choice we can make before we die?

The last, best, and most important conscious choice we can make before we die is to be in the flock of The Good Shepherd. Let me expose a little flaw in the assertion that the sheep came before the shepherd. The sheep indeed were created before the shepherd, but it is the shepherd that calls together the flock. Without a shepherd, sheep form a herd – a social group of four-legged mammals all of the same kind that live and move together. With a shepherd, sheep become a flock because they come together to move to a different place because of the presence of the shepherd, not because of the instinct of the herd. Sheep choose to follow the shepherd. Now, in popular culture, we regard sheep as mere stupid animals who can be easily led because they don’t think for themselves – hence the term “sheeple.” But let me tell you, unless you have tried shepherding a herd of sheep, you have no idea how obstinately independent they can be. You recall those stories in the Bible about lost sheep? They get lost because they choose not to follow the shepherd. They abandon the flock for their own purposes – however foolish that may be.

The Good Shepherd tells us he lays down his life for his sheep. Shepherding sheep is something that requires presence and committed involvement. Jesus contrasts his care for his flock with the hired man’s lack of care for the flock. Jesus says, This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. (See John 10:12-13 for details) A real shepherd cares more about the sheep, even to the point of risking – giving up – his life for them. One does not lead a flock of sheep by remote control (unless you count this guy on the Internet). The Good shepherd leads his flock. The cattleman drives his herd. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and they know him and follow his voice. The cattleman may know some of the members of the herd but would be hard-pressed to know if one was missing. There certainly are many ways of managing a large group of social animals, and there are also many types of shepherds.

Good shepherds lead their flocks to good pasture, safe places, and refreshing rest. When it comes to humans as social animals, we have seen shepherds who are not good. They do not lead their flock to protection and rest, but instead lead them to destruction and death. We know that, for the most part, humans choose to follow those shepherds, to become part of those flocks, to listen to those voices. Following that kind of shepherd also ends up in eternal life; but it is a life we should not consciously choose – it is a life without the comforting Joy of the Presence of God and his Angels and his Saints. When we choose to flock to The Good Shepherd, we are the sheep of his flock. We don’t hear about a “flock of buffaloes.” There are some critters that are not inclined to be shepherded. There are limited exceptions of course, but generally shepherds and sheep go together. Our Good Shepherd indeed laid down his life for us so that he could take up his and ours again. Once for all – all time and all his flock – he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (See Hebrews 10:14) And who were those who were sanctified? Those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. (See Ephesians 1:3-4) Isaiah 40:11 11 He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering his lambs with his arm, carrying them against his chest, gently leading the mother sheep. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

You can’t roller-skate in a buffalo herd,” (↔ Music Link) and for that matter you can’t roller-skate in a flock of sheep either, but you can choose to flock to The Good Shepherd. He knows you, and he leads you to greener pastures beside still waters. The Good Shepherd leads us in love to Love for Love because he is Love. Blesséd be God For EVER! (See Psalm 118:1)

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Share-A-Prayer
Please continue to pray for everyone around the world – not just Kauaʻi – who has suffered the effects of inclement weather. We didn’t choose the weather, but we have chosen to not only survive but to prevail – with God’s and neighbor’s help.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

Special bonus shot! Not many people know we have a herd of buffaloes here. Some of them got loose during the storm. You don’t see buffalo on the beach very often.

 

 

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