The Waystead is a Hermitage of the Lindisfarne Community, established with the intent to foster the love of God in the world. Our resolve is to follow the Way of the One in Whom we live and move and have our Being.
We trust that by thoughtfully founding, and steadfastly keeping, a dwelling place and setting it apart as a place of prayer, reflection, and contemplation, we will be able to hold onto that resolve.
Search This Blog
Wherever You Go, There You Are
Old Testament 2 Kings 5:1-19a
17Then Naaman said, "If not,
please let two mule-loads of earth be given to your servant; for your servant
will no longer offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god except the LORD.
is the story of Naaman being healed of leprosy by Elisha. Naaman was arrogant
and stubborn at first, wanting to be healed according to how he thought it
should work. His servants convinced him to try it Elisha’s way, which tells me
two things: First that Naaman’s servants and slaves loved him in spite of his cantankerousness,
and second, that Naaman’s attitudes were practical and flexible. That’s
probably why he was such a good war-leader. Anyway, after he was healed, Naaman
wanted to give gifts to Elisha, but Elisha would have none of it. I couldn’t
figure out what the two mule-loads of dirt was all about, and had to look it
up. Naaman wanted earth from Israel to take home to his own country so he could
build an altar to the God of Israel on top of it. I was reminded of how
my sister and I pick up stones and other natural objects from places we visit
that have some kind of spiritual importance to us. The breathing air of those
places seems to be carried along with those objects somehow. (On a side note, Naaman asked for a dispensation from Elisha so that he could continue to accompany his own king into the temple of the god Rimmon, and bow down there. Elisha gives this without a second thought. Think about that for a minute!)
sort of fell in love with Naaman in this story: forthright, loved by his
servants, quick-tempered, loyal, honest, fair-minded, and generous. I can
almost see him in my mind’s eye. Not young, but not old; with a penetrating
gaze, a straight back, callused hands, and laugh wrinkles around his eyes. A
man you would follow into battle without hesitation, because he trusted you to.
I had a sergeant like that once, who just by being himself, convinced me that I
was up to the job. He used to end his briefings by saying, “Fight crime; cheat
death.” The air seemed clearer around him somehow, and the little things never
bothered me when I was in his company. I think Naaman must have been like that
New Testament 1 Corinthians 4:8-21
you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you
have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might
be kings with you! 9For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of
all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the
world, to angels and to mortals.
You are glutted already? You are rich already? You have become kings, even
though we are not? Well, I wish you really were kings, so that we might share
the kingship with you!9 For I think God
has been placing us emissaries on display at the tail of the parade, like men
condemned to die in the public arena: we have become a spectacle before the
whole universe, angels as well as men.
much? Paul is a master of derision. I
can’t help it, I keep hearing him in a Yiddish accent. That’s why I put in the
translation from the Complete Jewish Bible. “Again with the complaints? Enough
already!” He’s fed up with those schmucks in Corinth. I just wish I felt better
about Paul’s certainties. I read a bit about ancient Corinth, which had a
reputation as a town full of prostitutes, drunks, and sailors. It was pretty
much ‘anything goes’ in Corinth. Maybe it was a bit like modern Las Vegas.
Anyway, the problem seemed to be what modern scholars call an “over-realized
eschatology.” The Christians in Corinth thought they had already inherited the
Kingdom of God, and thought that meant that the authority to rule over that
Kingdom had been conferred on them personally. Therefore they had no need to
think in terms of sin and salvation, and they were free to do whatever they
felt like doing.
is that I personally subscribe to a form of realized eschatology, and I don’t
think that was the real problem at Corinth. I think the problem was that each
person thought only in literal, personal terms, without reference to anyone
else. They didn’t include everyone in their understanding of what Jesus meant
by the Kingdom of God. They thought that if they had inherited the Kingdom,
then they could rule over it as dictators, having literal authority to
administer it. They turned a blind eye to much of Jesus’s teachings, but in
their defense, they probably only had oral stories about Jesus to rely on, and
a few letters and treatises that were being copied and passed around. They didn’t
have the advantage of the whole collection of writings we now call the New
Testament. Paul couldn’t point to the Sermon on the Mount, or Jesus’s saying
about how you shouldn’t put God to the test. So all he could do was go back to
the basics: Love one another, and show it by treating each other right, with
respect and dignity and courtesy. I think if I had been in Paul’s shoes, I
would have given up on ever getting them to change. I mean, these were people
who thought that because Paul was poor and humble and subject to mistreatment by
others, that he couldn’t represent the dignity and power that should belong to
the emissaries of God. I also found out that Paul was being very snide about the “tail of the parade.” He was actually
comparing the Corinthians to those victors in war that Rome honored with a
triumphal procession. They wore a crown of laurel and the colors of royalty, painted
their faces red, rode in a chariot, and displayed all their spoils of war
including captives that were destined for death in the arena. Those captives
marched at the tail of the parade. Paul was telling them that they couldn’t
have their cake and eat it too. If they were going to lord it over other
people, then they better pay attention to just who they were dragging to death
as captives at the tail of their parade.
Gospel Matthew 5:21-26
22But I say to you that if you are angry with a
brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother
or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, "You
fool," you will be liable to the hell of fire.
22 But I tell you that anyone who nurses anger against
his brother will be subject to judgment; that whoever calls his brother, ‘You
good-for-nothing!’ will be brought before the Sanhedrin; that whoever says,
‘Fool!’ incurs the penalty of burning in the fire of Gei-Hinnom!
I got frustrated with the commentaries on this one. I would
rather interpret this passage as follows: “If you are constantly angry with other people, you’re
likely to get fired from your job; if you constantly insult them and call them
names, you’re likely to get hauled into court; and if you think other people
are stupid and useless and you go around telling them so all the time, it’s
likely people will think your whole life is a waste, and you might as well get
burned up in the incinerator with the rest of the trash.”
My research taught me that in the Jewish judicial system of
the time, there were three levels. For civil cases, a court of three judges was
enough. They could enact a kind of temporary excommunication called a rebuke or
nezifah. Because there was no separation of church and state back then, I
compared that to getting fired from your job. The second level was to get
hauled before a council of judges, a partial Sanhedrin, who could actually enforce
penalties like corporal punishment and fines. I compared that to a modern day
court of law. In Jesus’s day, the Sanhedrin
could not execute people, the Romans wouldn’t allow it, and so the third level
of penalty could only be analogous. However, the people who did get executed by the Romans were generally criminals who had
done reprehensible things. The Bible uses the word “Gehenna,” which didn’t mean
at all what we mean today by the word “Hell.” Rather, it was a sort of burning
landfill where the carcasses of executed criminals and other people who didn’t
rate a decent burial were burned along with the rest of the rubbish.
As far as the word “liable” goes, my grandmother used it as a
synonym for “likely,” and would say things like, “You’re liable to get in
trouble in a minute, young lady!” I don’t think Jesus was using the word as a
synonym for “guilty of.” That definition is way down the list anyway. “Liable”
means ‘accountable’, or ‘responsible for’. Basically, Jesus is saying that if
you act like a jerk, it’s nobody’s fault but your own if people end up thinking
you are a waste of skin.
So this passage is not about supernatural penalties for cursing,
it’s about plain old everyday consequences for being a jerk. I think it’s
evident that is exactly what Jesus meant, because he goes right on to talk
about what to do if you are getting hauled into court and how, if you start
being nice to the other guy and manage to work things out, you can avoid being
taken to court. Jesus also says that you shouldn’t make an offering to God if
you have something against someone. He says, go make up with them first, and then
your offering will be acceptable. Think through the implications. Jesus is
saying that you can’t compartmentalize.
If you are mean and nasty to other people, you can’t make
nice with God, because he will see right through it. (Duh!)
You can’t say, ”Well, I’m one sort of person when I’m around
God, and another kind of person when I’m not.” Because God is always around. (Hello-o!)
It’s kind of like that saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
So, don’t be a jerk.
(I originally wrote this in November 2015, after reading a book on understanding Jesus's teachings in the light of first century Jewish Temple mysticism. I had been struggling with the cannibalistic implications in the Eucharist of "eating Jesus's body and drinking his blood." It was such a relief to discover this interpretation which connects neatly with the way his disciples would likely have understood the language Jesus was using.) Eucharist A little bit of research on the internet produced a
description of Jewish ritual sacrifice in the time of Jesus. A person, say a
woman named Sarah, offers a goat. She buys it and takes it to the priest at the
Temple. He examines it to see if it is “perfect,” i.e. healthy and unblemished.
He then takes it and slits its throat with the ritual words, “This is Sarah’s
blood.” The meaning should obviously be, that this is the blood belonging to
Sarah and offered on her behalf. The blood would then be poured out at the base
of the …
Lectio: Psalm 137 *****3 when
those who had taken us captive
asked us to sing them a song;
our tormentors demanded joy from us —
“Sing us one of the songs from Tziyon!” 4 How can we sing a song about Adonai
here on foreign soil? **** 7 Remember, Adonai,
against the people of Edom
the day of Yerushalayim’s fall,
how they cried, “Tear it down! Tear it down!
Raze it to the ground!” 8 Daughter of Bavel, you will be destroyed!
A blessing on anyone who pays you back
for the way you treated us! 9 A blessing on anyone who seizes your babies
and smashes them against a rock!
Micah 7:11-20 13 The earth will be desolate for those living in it,
as a result of their deeds. 18 Who is a God like you,
pardoning the sin and overlooking the crimes
of the remnant of his heritage?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in grace. 19 He will again have compassion on us,
he will subdue our iniquities. You will throw all their sins
into the depths of the sea.
almost always have a feeling of discontent (dukkha) when I encounter a way of
looking at the world that exhorts me to define suffering as victimization. This
way leads people to become social activists, fighting “injustice,” “poverty,”
“violence,” and causes them to want to change “society” to make it a 'better'
place. This way of thinking seems to me to miss the point. I call it
"bootstrapping,” because it makes me think of the old saying that describes a
certain kind of futility by the phrase, “trying to pull yourself up by your own
bootstraps.” It can't be done. It seems to me that people often perceive
concepts like "injustice" as entities in their own right, with a kind of
inimical but impersonal life of their own. This leads to the belief that ideas
can do battle in the arena of social activism and when righteousness is the
victor, then "society" will change for the better. I see this as a form of
delusion, and exactly the sort of error tha…