Created with Sketch.
29 minutes | 14 days ago
Sheep, Goats, and Judgment
Some interpretations of the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25: 31-46) are downright terrifying. It seems to condemn the “goats” – “accursed” nations – to eternal damnation. Terrible fear-based religious violence and persecution has come from the idea of eternal hell. So where’s the “good news?”Translations and context make all the difference. The judgment in this parable is for the nations, not individuals, although individuals do shape the character of the nations in which they live. And the word translated as “eternal” is better translated as a “time” or “age.”You can reconcile faith in universal reconciliation with this parable, while still holding onto the infinite urgency and dire warning within it. Ultimately, the way we collectively and individually treat the most vulnerable will have lasting consequences. Adam and Lindsey explore further.
30 minutes | 18 days ago
Talents Shouldn’t Be Buried (But Imperial Greed Should Be!)
In a world where money equals power and upward mobility is the ultimate sign of success, those who seek another way, a message of hope to the poor and downtrodden, would hardly expect Jesus to reinforce a brutal status quo. Yet a surface reading of The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) might seem to suggest that.A master leaves and entrusts three servants to his fortune, giving 5 talents to one, 2 to the second, and 1 to the third. The first two servants trade and double the master’s money, but the last buries it in the ground. When the master demands a reckoning, the third servant tells his master that he was afraid because he knew his master was a harsh man, so he buried his coin in the ground. The master kicks the “worthless slave” into the “outer darkness” of weeping and gnashing teeth.Was the master, who trusted so much to his servants, generous or brutal? Was the last servant’s judgment clouded by fear, or did he see the most clearly?So often this parable is interpreted to mean, “Don’t waste your talents!” Indeed, a talent is a terrible thing to waste. But Adam and Lindsey look below the surface, for the truth often lies buried under layers of misunderstanding.And, of course, any time someone is cast into “outer darkness,” we must ask ourselves, did Jesus cast anyone out, or was he cast out himself?
29 minutes | 25 days ago
Share Your Oil! Changing Our Perspective from Win-Lose to Abundance
In the first podcast after the election, the lectionary gives us the perfect challenging text! The parable of the 10 Bridesmaids (Matthew 25: 1-13) appears to be about being prepared for anything – a good lesson for turbulent times in the wake of the 2020 election! But there’s much more to the parable than might first meet the eye!Lindsey and Adam examine this difficult parable. Who is the bridegroom, and if it’s Jesus, would he really slam the door on the “foolish” bridesmaids who fail to bring oil for their lamps? Would the Jesus who multiplied loaves and fishes condone the “wise” bridesmaids’ refusal to share?There are different ways to interpret this parable, but if it ever looks like the “Christ figure” of a parable is harsh and unforgiving, then either it’s not the Christ figure, or something beyond conventional wisdom is going on.In the end, we’re called to ask ourselves: Do we see life through a lens of winners vs. losers, fend for yourself at the expense of others, some are in and some are out? Or are we being pressed to imagine a better way?We end with a prayer for our nation and world as we seek to apply this wisdom to our lives in the wake of this turbulent election.
33 minutes | a month ago
The Ultimate Authority Affirms Same-Sex Unions
Pope Francis has come out in affirmation of same-sex unions! In doing so, he is fulfilling the greatest of the commandments, to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That’s what this week’s lectionary, Matthew 22:34-46, is all about, and Adam, Lindsey, and friends are celebrating! Jesus’s interrogators don’t approach him with love, though, when they try to trap him with their question. In response, Jesus challenges their understanding of authority as well. When scripture and tradition are used to trap and to hurt, they are abused, and Jesus counters this abuse by reminding his interrogators that there is a deeper authority than the human interpretation of tradition. Similarly, Pope Francis appeals to a deeper authority than church tradition to affirm same-sex marriage. Because the greatest authority isn’t scripture, the Pope, or the church. The greatest authority is Love.
26 minutes | 2 months ago
God, Empire, Taxes…Oh My!
In this episode, Lindsey and Adam discuss Matthew 22: 15 - 22. Pharisees and Herodians teamed up to entrap Jesus. After buttering him up, they asked him whether or not it was lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor. Jesus has them produce a coin, asks whose image it bears, and then tells them to give to the Emperor what is the Emperor’s and to God what is God.This is mic-drop Jesus at his best! Adam and Lindsey discuss what is so badass about Jesus in this passage, including how he cleverly evades danger, what it means to be made in God’s image, and why Pharisees and Herodians teaming up = scapegoating. They also discuss the noncontroversial topic of the morality of paying taxes, taking care to point out the contrasts between Jesus’s context and our own.
31 minutes | 2 months ago
Getting Kicked Out of the Wedding Banquet
In this episode, Adam and Lindsey discuss Matthew 22: 1 - 14. A king threw a banquet and no one came. So, the king burned the city to the ground, and then invited new guests. No one dared refuse! But one got kicked out for wearing the wrong outfit.What are we to make of this terrifying story? Do we tie ourselves in knots trying to justify the king’s actions because we think the parable wants us to identify the king with God? Is there a Christ figure in this parable, and if so, who? What does this mean for us in tim
36 minutes | 2 months ago
Wicked Tenants and a Merciful God
In this episode, Lindsey and Adam discuss Matthew 21: 33 - 46. Jesus tells a parable of a landowner who leased his vineyard to tenants. But when the landowner tried to collect the produce, the tenants killed his servants and even his son! What will that landowner do?Does this parable challenge our understanding of a nonviolent God and universal salvation? Lindsey and Adam find hope and a call to responsibility in a parable often interpreted violently, warn against anti-Semitic readings, and discuss the authority of violence versus the authority of Love. We warmly invite you to join the conversation every Wednesday afternoon at 5 CT /3 PT on the Raven Foundation Facebook page!
36 minutes | 2 months ago
Why Prostitutes and Tax Collectors are First in God’s Kingdom
“Jesus Unmasked” returns, now a FB live as well as a podcast! We warmly invite you to join the conversation every Wednesday afternoon at 5 CT / 3 PT on the Raven Foundation Facebook page! Adam and Lindsey unmask Jesus from exclusive theology and violent cultural lenses. But, during Covid times, Jesus would wear a mask! Loving others as Jesus loves us requires us to wear a mask too! In this episode, Adam and Lindsey discuss Matthew 21: 23- 32. Some of the chief priests and elders demand of Jesus, “What gives you the right?!” What gives Jesus the right to overturn the Temple, turn the world upside-down, and create a new order that centers the marginalized? Adam and Lindsey and friends talk about what authority is, how John the Baptist and Jesus both challenged established authorities without using violence, and why prostitutes and tax collectors are first in the Kingdom of God! “Jesus Unmasked” seeks to remove the masks of exclusive theology and violent cultural lenses that obscure the truth of Jesus’s unconditional love. Scripture passages are read from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. “Jesus Unmasked” is a Raven Foundation production.
23 minutes | 4 months ago
9th Sunday After Pentecost: From Emptiness to Abundance (Feeding 5000+)
Imagine your cousin and friend has just died for speaking truth to power. You know you can’t be silent, and you’re pissing off all the same authorities. So you know your hour is near. You are weary, grieving, and yet you know you’ll have to continue to speak out for a better world. But first, you need to get away from the maddening crowds and spend some time in solitude, where you can remember you’re not really alone, because Love always surrounds you.This is where Jesus finds himself at the beginning of Matthew 14: 13 -21, which Adam and Lindsey explore in this episode.John the Baptist has just been killed, and Jesus is utterly drained. Who knows how many tears he has cried… for his cousin, for a world so caught up in violence that it keeps killing the very prophets who try to lead the way to better?So he goes out in a boat to a deserted place. But when he comes back, there are multitudes of people awaiting him. Thousands and thousands.If I were Jesus, I would probably want to walk away without a word. Or scream, “Why don’t you leave me alone for once?” But Jesus, utterly spent, finds in that moment that he has more to give.His “heart goes out of him” in his compassion. The Greek word used literally means “to rip the internal organs out a victim.” Yikes! But here, as with everything else Jesus does, the meaning is subverted. Instead of a mob coming to rip Jesus apart (as Jesus knows will happen to him as it did to his cousin), Jesus sees a crowd of seeking, vulnerable people, and offers his own heart. He wanders into the crowd and befriends them. He shares wisdom. He cures the sick.And when evening falls and the disciples tell him to send the crowds home so they can find food, Jesus says, “You give them something to eat.”The disciples protest that they have almost nothing. Yet Jesus has just modeled a way to give and multiply blessings even when you feel empty. He has just modeled the way a little bit of love can be multiplied. And he tells his disciples – he tells us – to do likewise.Adam and Lindsey explore this miracle of abundance and all of its meanings. One potential key to understanding: look at those who are almost left out of the story – the women and children.
28 minutes | 5 months ago
7th Sunday After Pentecost: Jesus Was A “Weed”
“In gathering the weeds, you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both grow together…” If we would only pay attention to what Jesus is telling us to do, we wouldn’t need to worry so much about that scary stuff at the end!For the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Adam and Lindsey reflect on one of the more seemingly frightening parables of Jesus, the Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat (Matthew 13: 24-30 and 36-43). There’s even an explanation that seems pretty straightforward. But, as with everything Jesus says and does, it’s subversive, world-turning, and infinitely better news than it appears to be at first glance!The word Jesus uses for “weeds” refers to a type of weed that resembled the wheat so closely that it was hard to tell them apart. When we try to root out evil, we also may have a hard time recognizing it. Scripture and history both testify to humanity’s poor track record when it comes to judgment. Scapegoats have been condemned, whole peoples have been marginalized, tribes and ethnic groups have warred against each other.These words of Jesus recall the utter indiscrimination of war and violence, the all-consuming cycles that spiral out of control. Bombs don’t distinguish between the innocent and the guilty, and what do those words even mean in the context of war when each side loses its distinctions in the violence? That kind of doubling where distinctions are eroded is what Jesus is referring to. If we try to be good and righteous and pull out the weeds, we become weeds ourselves!So, Jesus tells us not to. Rooting out evil with violence is not our job.So Jesus will root out the evil himself, right? He’ll send heavenly armies to burn evildoers, right? Doesn’t it say so right in the text?Don’t be so sure. After all, these words are all being spoke by the one who was himself judged to be a weed! Jesus himself went to the places of weeping and gnashing teeth, to the poor and the marginalized, to the sick and the suffering. He went to heal them, and was himself cast out and killed. And… death did not have the last word. If we are to follow Jesus, but we are expressly told not to root out evil, then what are we to do instead? What is Jesus doing instead? Adam and Lindsey dive deep into the weeds and the wheat, and invite you to join them in this episode of Jesus Unmasked!
27 minutes | 5 months ago
6th Sunday After Pentecost: The Sower Sows Love
So remember, if you’re not fertile ground for the seed, the devil will take you away! This is not good news… and it’s not the Gospel. For the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Lindsey and Adam discuss an oft-misunderstood parable and how interpretations of it can be dangerous or life-giving depending on the perspective from which it is approached. This is the Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13: 1-9 and 18-23.“Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”What a difference an interpretive lens makes. If we see God through a lens of harsh judgment, presider over a might-makes-right world, capriciously saving and damning whomever, we might envision God recklessly scattering humanity in dangerous places… but some just happen to fall into good soil. This makes it sound like God is fickle and much of humanity is doomed.If we interpret this parable to mean that most of the time faith won’t take root in poor conditions, we may end up struggling very hard to create what we perceive to be the “right environment” for faith. And very often, that looks like staying away from “troublemakers.” Maintaining purity by forming outcasts. Becoming judgmental. Doing the exact opposite of what Jesus does.Matthew’s Gospel doesn’t make it clear exactly what the Sower sows, but Mark’s does. “The Sower sows the word.” What is the word? Jesus.It’s Jesus – it’s Love – that goes through the world with reckless, abundant generosity. Love will go where the soil is rocky or where the thorns are overgrown. Love goes to the margins, to those perceived to be condemned, love goes even to the enemy! Love goes through the danger and the trouble, and we never know where love will be received. But where it is received, it yields results. Love grows and multiplies. We can read this parable through a lens of fear or power, or we can read it through humility and love. Parables are tricky, and how they are read and interpreted makes all the difference. Go deep into this parable with Lindsey and Adam in this week’s episode of Jesus Unmasked!
30 minutes | 5 months ago
5th Sunday After Pentecost: The Wisdom of Infants
“For Martin Luther King came marching and preaching, and you said, ‘He is an enemy of the state,” and Colin Kaepernick knelt in silence, and you said, ‘He is disrespecting our flag.’” These may not be the exact words of Jesus, but they’re an eye-opening modern translation. For the fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Adam and Lindsey read Matthew 11:16-19 and 25-30.Jesus’s opening words are strange. This generation is like a bunch of dissatisfied children who didn’t get what they expected. What does this mean?In Jesus’s time, men marked festivities by playing the flute and dancing. Women would lead ritual mourning at funerals. Children learn by imitation. So children playing in the marketplace are learning how to live in the world by imitating the roles of the adults around them.But something is going wrong. The rituals are breaking down.Children see what happens on the surface, and it takes time for them to learn all the meaning behind it. Jesus sees this generation responding to their rituals breaking down with no deep understanding of why.What’s happening? A few verses ahead we see, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news.” Justice is coming, breaking down hierarchical barriers. Mercy is coming, welcoming in the outcast. It’s shaking up the order of things, and people don’t know what to do. Equality can seem threatening when you’ve always found your identity over and against others. Those threatened by the inauguration of justice will find one reason or another to denounce or demonize the heralds of justice. They did that to John the Baptist and Jesus, for opposite reasons. They did that to King and Kaepernick, too.But Jesus says the wisdom of God has been revealed to infants. He’s not talking about age. The marginalized and oppressed, experiencing and expressing the love of Jesus, understand the truth that conventional “wisdom” gets wrong: our infinite worth is found not in measuring ourselves over and against others but in living with and for others. This is the wisdom of infants because it’s still so new to us. Even 2000 years after Christ, we are still learning how to live not by rivalry and competition, but by love and cooperation. We are still growing into this wisdom. Come and listen and share your wisdom as we grow together in the new life of love that Jesus opens.
26 minutes | 5 months ago
4th Sunday After Pentecost: What Is A Prophet’s Reward?
As prophets arise all over the United States, Lindsey and Adam reflect on Matthew 10: 40-42. “Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward…”What is a prophet’s reward?Jesus also said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.”Those who bear witness to injustice, speak truth to power, and rise up to challenge a status quo built on inequity are lauded as heroes… except by the authorities and those who benefit from the status quo in their own nation. Right now, we are witnessing the crackdown of authority on the prophets of our time, as militarized police and the National Guard enforce curfews and often use excessive force in response to Black Lives Matter protests. Several people have died; hundreds more have been injured.And the officers quelling protests are the front lines of the system of injustice and racism created and sustained by racism, scapegoating, and sacrificial order. The blood of the prophets is on the hands of everyone not working to transform injustice. Lindsey and Adam recognize their own accountability as well.So, a prophet’s reward is scorn, injury, and death. But.As the Spirit of Truth moves through the world, and more and more people stand with the prophets, change happens.The prophet’s reward becomes hope. Transformation. And ultimately, justice.We become prophets when we let the Holy Spirit speak through us. And as that happens, truth dispels the fog of racism, of over-againstness. Love casts out fear. Mercy casts out sacrifice.Even the smallest actions we take in the spirit of Love ripple through the world, replacing the crumbling foundation of injustice with the firm foundation of compassion. Even a cold cup of water given to the vulnerable helps to build a world of love.Join Lindsey and Adam as they ruminate on how we can participate in this holy transformation in the latest episode of Jesus Unmasked!
35 minutes | 6 months ago
3rd Sunday After Pentecost: Why Jesus Is Sending Us Into Hell
This week’s verses are dangerous. They have been weaponized and wielded especially against black and brown children of God. But as Adam and Lindsey read Matthew 10:24-39, they seek to de-weaponize but not disempower these bold words of Jesus. In fact, the weaponization of these words undermines the radical love Jesus speaks and models, and only when we disconnect them from violence can we see their true strength.“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”Strong words, and probably not even the hardest in this passage. But let’s start here…Jesus is not talking about a literal sword. But he is disrupting the “peace.”Any peace built on ignoring the suffering of “the least” of these, any peace built at the expense of the marginalized and vulnerable, is no peace at all. The active love of God will unravel that peace.Jesus also says, “a slave is not above the master.” To use this as endorsement of slavery is to misunderstand or manipulate his words. The obedience to which the disciples are called is the way of loving service which Jesus first showed them. In context, Jesus is warning his disciples that just as he was abused and killed, his disciples, in following him, are also putting their lives on the line. But he says “Don’t fear those who can kill the body. Instead, fear those who can destroy body and soul in hell.”Who can destroy our souls? We can destroy our own souls by giving into violence and apathy. We can destroy souls by building a world of enmity where some are doomed to hopelessness so others can “succeed.” What is hell if not that?But what if Jesus is sending his disciples – us! -- into the midst of hell so that we can help others out of it? What if Jesus is sending us into the suffering and the struggle so that, through compassion and solidarity, we can transform rather than succumb to it?So many difficult elements in this minefield of potential misunderstandings. But if we navigate Jesus’s words with great care and prayer, we can understand the call to radical, world-changing love within them. Explore them with us in the latest episode of Jesus Unmasked!
28 minutes | 6 months ago
Sunday After Pentecost: Cananean Lives Matter
In the midst of a nation rising up for justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Lindsey and Adam look at Matthew 9:35-10:8, when Jesus sent his disciples to be in solidarity with the vulnerable people of Israel. “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.”What does Jesus send followers to do? Proclaim that there is one true way to follow and all others are damned? Of course not.Jesus sends his disciples to do the hard, urgent work of compassion in a dangerous world that has long operated on the myth that some lives matter less than others. In a culture where disease was considered punishment for sin, even by some of the disciples themselves, curing the sick was a political statement on the inviolability of human dignity as well as an act of mercy.And to whom does Jesus give this urgent work?All his disciples, including one “Simon the Cananean.”Wait, weren’t the Cananites those people that “God” commanded the early Israelites to kill?The idea that God cares for some lives at the expense of others, that some people are more God’s children than others or that God might have created peoples for exploitation or extermination… Jesus obliterates that idea.The human projection of violence onto God is exposed by the prophets and particularly by Jesus. Jesus has Moabite genealogy and a Cananean disciple.Cananean lives matter. Black lives matter.Lindsey and Adam discuss these verses of the Bible, which shines the light of God’s expanding, all-inclusive, merciful love, in the context of today’s uprisings for a world in which lives are no longer sacrificed on alters of white or Christian supremacy, or greed, or powerlust.Also discussed in this episode: kingdom economics and the meaning of myth. Abundance, generosity, and sharing. Recognizing the voices of those once silenced. We invite you listen, reflect, and lend your voice and talents to the calling Jesus gives in this episode of Jesus Unmasked.
26 minutes | 6 months ago
Trinity Sunday: God is a Dance of Love
The Trinity: A doctrine of confusion, a litmus test for entry into heaven, or the ever-flowing essence of Love? If you’ve been bewildered or angered or hurt by the way the Trinity has been explained or used or… weaponized… Adam and Lindsey can empathize! They grew to love this doctrine when they saw that, rather than condemn or separate, the Trinity reveals our participation in the relationship of Love.For Trinity Sunday, Adam and Lindsey dive into this doctrine, using Matthew 28: 16-20 as their springboard. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.”These proto-Trinitarian words might not have been an exact quote of Jesus. The evangelists tried to capture the essence of his message, but his words weren’t written in real time. But it says no less for the Trinity if this reference to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all together did not come straight from Jesus’s lips. In fact, it shows that the evangelist was able to piece together the connection – the shared divinity – from the larger message, the words and deeds of Jesus’s lifetime, the meaning of his death and resurrection, and the light it sheds on all of scripture before him.The doctrine of the Trinity may not have been codified until the 4th century, but the nature of God as the relationship of Love – love that engendered creation, love that lived in solidarity with the outcast, love that empowers us to comfort the afflicted and work for justice – had become clear.The Trinity is the Love-dance of God. Love is not solitary, it is ever-flowing in relationship. And the nature of God’s relationship is a dance of harmony. The difference between the relationship among God’s own Self and our relationships with each other is that within God, there is no rivalry, only everlasting love. And that difference shrinks as we grow into our destiny as living images of God, following the model of Jesus.Jesus, again, speaks to the crowds from a mountain in Galilee.Jesus has work for us to do, even in our doubts and imperfections. Make disciples of all nations… doesn’t this conjure imperialist imagery? Not if we remember that to invite the way of Jesus is to live into the message he first gave from that mountain. Humble ourselves and be in solidarity with those most in need.Show that God is Love so that all can be swept joyfully into the Dance.
30 minutes | 6 months ago
Pentecost: Love is the Universal Language
Shalom, Assalaamu Alaikum, Peace be with you. The languages are different, but the message God gives to us to give to one another – the message of love and comfort and affirmation – is the same. The Holy Spirit gives us breath to speak and hearts to listen as Love moves through us. For Pentecost, Lindsey and Adam read Acts 2: 1-21. “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability.”The Day of Pentecost is the birth of the Church, the new community founded by the Holy Spirit and built on the foundational love of Christ.The old way of building community and order was based on sacrifice and exclusion. Pentecost is often described as a reversal of the Tower of Babel, where the people sought to build a tower to Heaven to achieve unity and “reach God.” The story of Babel mythologizes – disguises – the violent ways in which people sought unity in the ancient world, and sadly still seek unity today. It was the unity of sacrifice – murder of a victim to achieve catharsis, blaming and killing a scapegoat to form bonds of community over-and-against an outcast. God in this story is recreated in humanity’s mistaken image – petty and vengeful, establishing identity over and against humans by knocking them down lest they reach Heaven, scattering them and confusing their language.But the message behind the myth is that building a world on sacrifice and victimization will always lead to division. Worshipping the false idea of a violent God by violent means – believing that God wants some to live at the expense of others – this is what scatters us. The truth of Pentecost is that God’s universal love unites us and brings us into our fullest selves. A common language cannot unite if that language is violence, if it teaches the lie that God – that the Power that orders the Universe – demands violence. But the God who gives us different languages and different abilities and different gifts brings all of our diverse beauty together so that we may understand and help and enjoy one another.We need not define ourselves over and against each other or against God, but are invited to find ourselves in the Love that creates, sustains, and binds us together.
28 minutes | 7 months ago
Easter 7A: Relationship with Love is Eternal Life
Christ has ascended to Heaven, exalted in Love. On the 7th Sunday of Easter, Adam and Lindsey read a portion of Jesus’s farewell discourse, John 17: 1-11: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”For the last Sunday in Easter, we again go back to before the crucifixion, where Jesus prays for the Father to “glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.” Jesus’s glory is in the crucifixion itself, where, raised high for all the world to see, he forgives the violence that murdered the living God. In that moment, he definitively shows that God is not among the judges but among the judged, that God is not the author of righteous violence but the victim of it, and that mercy has the final word over sacrifice.At the end of the Easter season, we revisit this prayer, and it takes on a new light in the ascension. Jesus went to the cross in Love, to fully embody solidarity with victims and stop hate in its tracks with forgiveness. Now he will be glorified in Love, so that our eyes can be opened to the beauty and wonder and joy of the Triune Dance of Love that created the cosmos and the earth and all of us.Eternal life is not the reward given to those with perfect theology or perfect obedience. Jesus prays for his disciples who “have kept [God’s] word,” even though the disciples messed up again and again. All they have done is remain in relationship with Jesus, because Jesus himself has remained faithful to them. And that relationship is eternal life. And through his defeat of death on the cross and his model of mercy, Jesus has opened that relationship to the whole world.
18 minutes | 7 months ago
Easter 6A: The Spirit of Truth
Let’s get some Holy Spirit up in here! For the 6th Sunday in Easter, Lindsey and Adam read John 14:15-21. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.”Another Advocate.Jesus himself is the first Advocate, the defender of victims and the accused. He has shown the disciples that advocacy is solidarity; that is, the way to show concern for the poor and marginalized is to become marginalized and live among the poor. He has fed, healed, and comforted those against whom society had turned their backs. He has eaten with “sinners and tax collectors.” He has redefined “sin” as exclusion itself (rather than a valid reason to exclude), and he has redefined “righteousness” as mercy.Now he will model the ultimate solidarity with the “least” according to the world’s standards, being executed as a criminal and a blasphemer, in order expose the upside-down order of a world that operates on violence and sacrifice. God is not the author of sacrifice. God is the victim of sacrifice, the Advocate for all sacrificial victims, and the Love that unravels sacrifice and brings life out of death.The world will see him as another crucified criminal. But the disciples will see through the lens of mercy, which will shine ever brighter after God reveals the limitlessness of God’s mercy on the cross. They will see through this lens that Jesus lives. And because he lives, hope and love and mercy will spread through those who follow in Jesus’s footsteps and “keep [his] commandments.”These verses may appear exclusive, as if only a select few can truly know “the Spirit of Truth” while the rest of the world remains clueless and condemned. But the only condemnation the world receives is the condemnation it generates. God does not condemn but forgives the world. At first, those who know this, those called to be Christ’s body and do his work of forgiveness, will be few. But the Spirit of Truth cannot be contained; she blows where she will and sets hearts aflame with compassion, and her holy fire will burn through the lie of sacrificial violence until only Love remains.
30 minutes | 7 months ago
Easter 5A: The Most Misused Verse in Scripture
The Gospel lesson for the fifth Sunday in Easter is a doozy. Adam and Lindsey explore John 14: 1-14, wherein there is nestled one of the most misused quotes of Jesus in all of scripture. Interpreted through the lens of mercy, the words he speaks are life-giving, but too often they are twisted through the lens of sacrifice. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”These words have been quite a source of confusion. Through a lens of sacrifice, “No one comes to the Father except through me” seems pretty cut and dry… and unyielding. It leaves little room for people of other faiths or our own doubts. Many have tried to wrap their understanding of love around an exclusivism that has so long been the primary interpretation of this verse.This is backwards.Jesus is the embodiment of solidarity with the marginalized and the outcast. He is compassion, mercy, and love incarnate. To reduce the way to God to a narrow belief or creed or dogma is to go completely against Jesus. He is not “the way, the truth, and the life” because he demands absolute adherence to a religious formula, but because he lives into the fullness of his humanity as the incarnation of God’s love.“No one comes to the Father except through me” means that the way to Love is the way of solidarity, compassion, and mercy that embraces, not excludes. Not only is this path always open to all, it is the path of openness itself. God leads all of us through it. We just have to recognize God in the one we might look down upon, exclude, or condemn. This path is universal, but still difficult, because it tells us that the way to God is not what we thought it was. The Good News is that it’s infinitely better!In the midst of Ramadan, when Muslims so beautifully embody the very solidarity with the hungry and poor that Jesus models and prescribes, it’s urgent to understand the true meaning of Jesus’s words not as exclusion, but as the ultimate call to including all within the embrace of love and solidarity. Adam and Lindsey and the whole Raven flock wish all our Muslim friends a blessed Ramadan!
Terms of Service
© Stitcher 2020