Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Clearing the Temple.....

Giotto    'Cleansing the Temple'

This morning I went to a  new site set up to promote the work of women artists. To apply to be included, there were many 'defining' options, so that buyers could select and support (I guess) an artist whose viewpoint aligned with theirs. One of the options listed under 'philosophy' was 'Christian.' I looked at it, and my first impulse was to leave it blank and move on. I AM a Christian: I DO believe in Christ as the son of God, and as my personal Savior. But I realized that I did not want to align myself with what is passing itself as 'christianity' in my country today. So, as I frequently do, I asked myself, 'what would Jesus do?' 

I am a very visual person. The answers to the questions I ask myself almost always come to me visually, like Sherlock Holmes 'mind palace.' The vision that came to me as I asked myself that question this morning was of Christ clearing the temple, as told in the book of John.

I cannot align myself as an 'American Christian,' when they have openly supported a leader for our country who publicly spews forth hatred and bigotry towards - well, everyone. My Christ came to show the world that hatred and bigotry are not God's way. When asked what the commandments are, he said there are only two commandments: To love the Lord God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and to love others as we love ourselves.

How can people who call themselves Christ-followers forget that? But it appears that they have done so. I do believe very strongly that Christ would NOT have aligned Himself with the men who are being chosen to lead our country.  No matter what race, what gender, what life experiences, even what sins, Christ loves everyone, and He has a special place in His heart for the poor, for the misused and abused. The only ones He treated with anger that over-rode His love were those whose greed was taking advantage of others, in His Father's name.

Are you in that temple? I think we all are, if we call ourselves christians. But where are we? Are we being reprimanded by Christ for letting our greed overcome our compassion, or are we on Christ's side, knowing a bit of temple cleansing is just what is called for right now? And maybe we need to clear our personal temples as well.... We are the Temple of the Living God.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Martha, Martha......

I have been thinking a lot lately about the story of Mary and Martha: sisters with very different temperaments in the gospels. They have come to mind frequently of late because I feel that I have been being very much a 'Martha.' I don't believe what Martha did in the story - or her life choices - were at all 'wrong' or 'sinful.' I see her as a woman who lived much like I have been living; doing the next thing she saw that needed to be done. If people needed to be fed, she got busy and prepared food and fed them, then cleaned up the mess. I see Martha as a woman who was perhaps worn out, because there would always be something needing to be done. After guests were fed, and the mess cleaned up, probably beds would need to be prepared for Jesus and others spending the night. A long day was ahead for busy Martha, and to see her sister 'relaxing' (in Martha's eyes) at Jesus' feet might just have tipped her over the end of her exhaustion. I know that feeling. I totally empathize with Martha.

I am not sure the teaching I've always heard about this story, about these two women, totally hits the mark. The point I've heard made is that, on that day, at that time, Mary made the 'better choice' to learn from Jesus rather than busy herself with anything else. Of course, that is true, but I believe Jesus knew these women better than that; I believe he was teaching with more depth than that single moment in time. He knew Martha was resenting being the one who always look care of the needs of those around her. He knew she was jealous of her sister, and He knew she was wearing herself out. Mary, on the other hand, was probably no sloth. I don't believe Jesus could have praised that lifestyle at all. I'm sure she did not always sit, letting her sister do all the work. But I believe Mary knew her own limits and her own needs, while perhaps Martha did not. Mary could choose what she needed, and even put her own spiritual needs before the needs of others at times. I believe Jesus praised Mary for that because He also sometimes left the crowds and the very real needs and demands of others to refill Himself spiritually. Sometimes, it is important to take care of our own needs. Jesus knew that, far before pop psychologists did. If we burn out, even in doing good (or just 'necessary') things for others, we empty ourselves, and become resentful, exhausted, sick and whiney, much like Martha.

Martha - I'm betting she was the first one called when stomachs were empty, or when a child was sick, or when a class needed a teacher at synagogue. But I think Mary would have been the one others would turn to for comfort, laughter, friendship, and love. She was not 'used up.' She remembered the important thing: that she needed to refill her own cup, so she would have overflow to give to others.