Many Meanings

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August 1, 2014

Many Meanings ~ Anthony B. Robinson

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip with a request, “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” From John 12:20-33 NIV

At Jesus Birth Gentiles, magi, came seeking him. Now, as a kind of bookend, Greek s—Gentiles – came once more just before Jesus’ death, also seeking him. “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” What powerful words!

Their words have more than one meaning. On a literal level, they request an audience, an appointment, a little time with Jesus On another level, “We would like to see Jesus,” is to say we want to become disciples of Jesus. We want to see and follow him. And at an even deeper level, they are saying we want to have a spiritual blindness healed and truly to see.

Perhaps not in so grand a way as this, but many of our words and conversations too have layers and levels of meaning. There’s a literal level. But often there’s more, much more. Do you listen for the “song beneath the words” in the words or requests of others? Do you listen to the longing that our own words as well as the words of others to us, both hid and reveal? Have you experienced being heard, deeply and truly, by another human being? It’s an incredible experience. When it happens, it feels holy. We feel that we have been in God’s presence, that in some way we have seen and been seen by Jesus himself.

PRAYER: Okay, Lord Jesus, two ears, one mouth. Now I get it, listen twice as much as you speak. Help me hear, really hear, someone today. Amen

 Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 227.

A Loving Challenge

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July 28, 2014

A Loving Challenge ~ Anthony B. Robinson

He came to Jesus by nigh and said, “Rabbi, we k now you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if god ere not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. From John 3:1-13 NIV

Welcome to the weird world of the Fourth Gospel, where conversations can give you the feeling of ships passing in the night. A religious leader, Nicodemus, dropped by for an after-hours conversation with Jesus. Two experts talking shop. “How do you do it, Jesus?” Perhaps Nicodemus hoped to learn Jesus’ secret and get some of that power himself?

Nicodemus did learn Jesus’ secret, and he was never the same gain. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus was stunned and confused. He had wanted a little knowledge, maybe some advice – not a whole new life. Jesus said, “you must start all over again.” Jesus dared to challenge Nicodemus.

The thing about the challenges that come from Jesus is that they are rooted and wrapped in love. He challenges us because he loves us. Sometimes our love of others is empty of challenge or the invitation to grow. And often our challenges are short on love. “Those whom we would change,” said Martin Luther King, Jr., “we must first love.”

PRAYER: god, we affirm that you are still speaking. May we still listen. Amen

 Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 223.

Free

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January 27

Free – Quinn G. Caldwell

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "if you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered him, "we are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘you will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, "very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin." John 8:31-34

Two what are you enslaved? What forces, institutions, people direct your energy and productivity without your consent? What are the drives, the needs, the addictions that control who you are and what you do? From what do you long to be free?

Jesus says that the truth of God as revealed in him has the power to free us from sin. I believe that to be true? But I think Jesus was being a little too modest. I think the truth of God in Christ has the power not just the free us from sin, which is anything that separates us from God. I think it also has the power to free us from that which separates us from ourselves, and from one another, things like addiction, and over-consumption, and fear – – not since, exactly, but forces that enslave, nevertheless.

One of the ways God sets this power free in the world is the church. In the church at its imperfect best, we are reminded by good people as fragile and messed up as we are of our heritage as beloved children of the Creator of the Universe, heirs to the promise of God. We are reminded that God longs to be in control of our lives, and that we will be better – – and freer – – if we let that happen.

PRAYER: God, thank you for the church. Through it and in it, give me the strength to ask for the freedom I need, and the grace to accept it. Amen.

 

God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 29.