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John’s Signs of Enlightenment: The Second Sunday of Christmas January 3rd 2016

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The Second Sunday of Christmas January 3rd 2016

Jeremiah 31:7-14 Psalm 147:12-20 Ephesians 1:3-14 John 1:1-18e

John’s Signs of Enlightenment

This is the third time the introduction or Prologue of John has come up in our recent lessons. In our adult studies Sunday mornings at quarter of nine, we’ll be looking closer at this very important Gospel. I’ll use some verses as building blocks to understand God’s Word for us. Don’t forget that it is the 7th Day of Christmas and considering “the Word become flesh” keeps us in the glow and the light of Christmas.

“The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” “Flesh” in Hebrew is their idiomatic way of referring to human beings. “All flesh is grass …the grass withers”[1] and dies. That means human beings are mortal. Thus it means that the word or logos in Greek became a human being. That verse has to be seen in the light of John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that God gave God’s only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, will not perish but receive everlasting life.

Thus the good news is that the way God’s heart ached for the Hebrew slaves suffering in Egypt, now God’s heart ached with so much love for all of us sinners that God self-differentiated into the Father and Son and became one of us in Christ. (I think I can use that term.) John has a very high Christology. The Word or the second person of the most Holy Trinity was God and with God at the creation. A low Christology is Adoptionist, that God saw how good Jesus was and adopted him as a Son. John begs to differ.

Now this Prologue is like a flashlight whose beam shines through the whole Gospel, just like God thought through the whole creation, through the redemption brought by God’s Son, Jesus, all the way through our salvation in the Holy Spirit.

In the incarnation heaven and earth become one. That’s why the shepherds could see the angels on Bethlehem’s hills. And we somehow become taken into God, taken into the Blessed Trinity. Each Person of the Holy Trinity dances mutually in the other Persons and their predominant assignment. So the Son is also completely involved in the creation. Perichoresis is the great word for this dance in the wonderful mutuality of the communion of the Persons of the Trinity with their involvement in each other. The word “perichoresis” comes from the Greek. And then Jesus includes us saying:

On that day you will know that I am in the Father and you in me and I in you.[2] (and then some chapters later) As you, Father are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us…The glory that you have given me, I have given them, so that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me that they may become completely one…[3]

We too are caught up in the perichoresis of the Holy Trinity, so that our empathy with each other, our communion, mean that our selves completely are in there with each other to shoulder each other’s burdens.

Roughly, the Gospel of John moves from the Prologue to the Book of Signs, ending with the Passion story. Remember how the Prologue says, “In the beginning was the Word and that Word was with God” from the very foundation of the world. The Son is the Word of God, the Light of the world. In the words of the Psalm,

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!…For with you is the fountain of life and in your light we see light.[4]

That is the light which existed before the creation of the sun, moon, and stars: the fountain or source of all our lives and our sentient consciousness, and the birth of love. The One from heaven brought even our material and natural world into existence, because our text says, through the Logos all things were created and without him not one thing was created, to translate the Greek somewhat differently.

According to a theologian, Teilhard de Chardin, the birth of life was followed by the birth of thought, which was followed by the birth of love. But that loving creative Word was there at the beginning, so love gave birth to life, which gave birth to thought. Then our text states, the One, who was the true light, come into the world to enlighten everyone.

We sing, “This little light of mine,I’m going to let it shine, ” but did you consider that we receive enlightenment in Christ?

Here’s where John’s signs come in. The other gospels call the acts Jesus performed miracles, but John calls them signs, which for him are not merely miracles, but significant acts, which for our seeing eyes and understanding minds symbolize eternal realities.[5]

In John’s book of signs, Jesus begins by changing water into wine, which is his first sign, showing that the Old Testament is now transformed into the New, the law of Moses is fulfilled in the truth and grace of Christ, the commandments replaced by the promises of God that give us the strength to fulfill them. The whole quality of our existence and all our relationship are transformed, like water compared to wine. Then Jesus heals a boy through his access to the fountain of life. Later he raised Lazarus from the dead and even is raised by God himself. But he always cries out, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!” In his signs he opens the ears of the deaf, opens the eyes of the blind, and opens the minds and hearts of the people, so that they, in that day and we today, become enlightened by the love and light by which Christ Jesus lived. He heals a person who is paralyzed, meaning that we too can be empowered to do all kinds of creative and good works.

Our prayer for the day emphasized “doing,” i.e., that “we reflect the light of the incarnate word in all that we do.” But we first have to reflect that light in all that we are.

Mary and Joseph found no room at the inn. We have to pray: “Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, there’s room in my heart for you.” We have to accept him as opposed to his coming into his own and his own people not accepting him. But all of us receiving him, who believe in his name, Jesus gives the power to become the children of God, who are not born merely naturally, but born of God, born from above, born of heaven.

That means where our natural parents left off, where their up-bringing ran out, God starts bringing us up. That is where we can be sure of experiencing growing pains. I remember in the throes of the inner-city ministry how we exclaimed, “My mother never said it would be like this!” The only way through it is through it. But it leads from one maturity to the next, grace upon grace, so that people will also behold the glory of Christ in us, full of truth and grace, with the life of Christ in us, and his loving heart throbbing within us.

These signs of Christ also become our living experience. From a rule and law based-existence, our existence is caught up in the promises of God. We begin to live lives of faith, throwing all our worries overboard and trusting God, who in Christ is a person of his word, keeping his word to us, so that all the promises of our lives come true.

Our enlightenment comes when God opens our ears. As Isaiah says, “Morning by morning God awakens, wakens my ears to hear as an apprentice” that means, learning the skill of hearing. And the Lord God gives me the tongue of an apprentice, so that we can lift up, sustain, the weary and the depressed with a word.[6] When we are born from above out of God we receive new senses, because we become part of the new creation.

And believe it or not, God chose us before the foundation of the world. We were the twinkling stars in God’s eyes even before the world was created, in the words of our epistle. And we do not take our heavenly places after we die, but after we have been baptized and died in the death of Christ, so that by the death of death, we are catapulted into our eternal life right now, here and now is the acceptable time, here and now, we can become enlightened by the light of Christ. We can hear with our ears, see with our eyes, understand with our hearts and say, “Our Father in heaven, let us hallow your name, we willingly let you rule over us, so that we have a foretaste of heaven even here on earth. The foretaste refers to the feast to come. Perhaps a more understandable metaphor for today comes from the movies: we can’t have the feature presentation here, but we can have the preview of heaven’s coming attractions. Amen.

[1] Isaiah 40:6.

[2] John 14:20.

[3] 17:21-23.

[4] Psalm 36:7, 9.

[5] From C.H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, (Cambridge University Press, 1970), page 90.

[6] Cf. Isaiah 50:4-5.

Written by peterkrey

January 3, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Blogging my thoughts: Binding Christ rather than the Strong Man

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“No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed, the house can be plundered.” Mark 3:27.

Binding the Strong Man

When I asked the anti-racist working group of the discipling team of our synod why we had over a $3,000 deficit and no money in the budget to do anything, even though ant-racism work was a priority of the bishop, I was told that some church in Davis had gotten a resolution passed that the synod was not allowed to run a deficit. (Sorry a quick thought takes all these words to explain.) Now when a synod is not allowed to use debt and the elasticity of credit, its ministry becomes bound.

Now granted there could be frugality and concern for future indebtedness involved in this resolution which is good, but the good can be used by an evil spirit. An alcoholic searches for a very good person as a co-dependent, so the demon of the bottle has full sway.

So let me submit that the resolution can be calling a growing church evil, like big government, and wants to restrict its ministry. Isn’t this the case of binding the good guy and letting the bad guy loose to run rampant? Why does the church bind Christ so that ministry becomes restricted?

Written by peterkrey

October 14, 2015 at 10:19 am

A Response to Wayne M. Martin’s “The Judgment of Adam” and the Symbolism of the Snake

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A Response to Wayne M. Martin’s “The Judgment of Adam.”

By Dr. Peter D.S. Krey

A Preface addressed to Prof. Martin:

Thank you for leading me to your article, “The Judgment of Adam[1] after I responded to your study of “Hegel’s Bad Infinity.” Your thorough analysis of Lucas Cranach’s “Adam and Eve” painting in this study helped me see that there is a whole literacy involved in “reading” a painting that I did not know about. Lucas Cranach seemed to be presenting Luther’s theology through the medium of paint. The painting you analyzed was his Courtault picture of Adam and Eve of 1526.[2] In it all the layers of the interpretation of the snake 1) as the bronze serpent lifted onto a pole by Moses and 2) here painted on the tree with Adam and Eve and 3) as the snake that Cranach used for his signature can be reflected upon. Using the snake in his signature, Cranach following Martin Luther’s lead, probably wanted to imply that his painting like images and art per se were not evil, but just good or evil depending on their use or abuse, – the latter case if worshiped.[3] Islam strictly avoids all images. More relevantly for this study, at the time of the Reformation iconoclasm was in full swing, where Zwingli and Calvin white-washed the walls of their churches and proscribed not only art, but even music, both of which Luther championed.

When I first read the Genesis Lectures about how Luther called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil a church, it seemed bazaar to me. Now I realize that it was under trees that the ancients worshiped and they even sometimes worshiped the trees themselves – was it Boniface (or Winfrid?) who chopped down the sacred Oak tree of Thor? He did it to destroy a false ultimate. And in the book of Genesis, God appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre.[4] That these trees are mentioned with the theophany seems significant. They may also have been a place of worship.

According to Cranach’s painting and of course the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, shame and consciousness were awakened in humanity there so like a lion, we could no longer cruelly eat the warm meat of an animal that had not yet even died. While nature is red in tooth and claw, we received a conscience and we could feel shame. We could do right and wrong. We became aware that there was such a thing as good and evil. The Garden of Eden story can be related to evolution in the sense that we became human by dint of God, the consciousness of the universe, raising us up.

I also thank you for getting to the basis of Luther’s anthropology by declaring that we are in a helpless estate – Luther calls it being passive before God. Finding ourselves quite a way “east of Eden” and then when we are completely honest, we have to admit that we face evil choices whichever way we turn unless the Holy Spirit helps us live out of a new birth and a new strength from God’s consciousness on high. Perhaps the latter could be opposed to what you call our ontological self-consciousness: Adam knowing himself just enough to recognize Eve as his mate, but not yet really having human consciousness and conscience?

To admit that we face evil choices whichever way we turn, I’m thinking about our negative legacy here in the USA: the genocide of the Native Americans that continues in the reservations; the hangover from slavery and colonialism, where so much of our high standard of living has been at the expense of the oppressed. We never gave the slaves forty acres and a mule and have attempted to short change them at every turn for the unfair advantage of us Whites ever since, now as we realize we are in a new version of a Jim Crow era. Where is our protest against these injustices?

Thank you so much for writing that study and getting me to read it.

Part II: Now I am taking one more step in thinking about the symbolism that Wayne Martin discovers in Cranach’s painting:

Through his painting Lucas Cranach is superimposing the later story of Moses lifting up the bronze serpent in the wilderness[5] upon the snake in the sacred tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Paradise of the Garden of Eden. The former serpent, perhaps like a scapegoat absorbed all the evil venom of the people bitten by snakes, allowing them to be saved; the latter snake beguiles Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, making her become conscious and ashamed of being naked.

The symbolism of the snake or serpent has so many phenomenological layers, because one can take the next step into the New Testament as well: because Jesus also refers to his crucifixion with the same symbol: “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”[6] And thus the Lenten prayer:

Who by the tree of the cross gave salvation to all humankind, so that where death arose, life might rise up again, and that he (the snake) that once overcame by a tree, might also by a tree (the cross) be overcome, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Now we will not go even further and relate the serpent, Tiamat, the nature god of the sea, the personified ocean, representing chaos or Tohu va Bohu in Hebrew. Nor will we delve into the ubiquitous medical symbol, where two snakes are depicted climbing up a pole. Nor will we relate how a stick can be used to render a snake more harmless or the strange fact that poisonous snakes are milked of their venom to be used in vaccinations against snake bite.)

Lucas Cranach himself additionally, uses a winged snake with a crown, also looking like the primordial dragon, for his painting signatures. In this 1526 Courtault painting of Adam and Eve, he places his signature right onto the trunk of the sacred tree of the knowledge of good and evil.[7]

As already mentioned, Luther believed that that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the place of worship in the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit brought about the Fall of creation. Perhaps we could identify the cross of Jesus Christ as the Tree of Life, which brings about our human ascent and that of all creation, so that God’s will can be done on earth as it is in heaven. We may not be able to experience the feature presentation here on earth, but we can get the previews of coming attractions. We can go in reverse as well and say the same about hell.

Painting as an art deals with pictures and images and can be enhanced into sculpture so that churches are filled with statues and paintings. In Cranach and Luther’s time an iconoclastic movement was in full swing. Image makers had become image breakers. Zwingli in Zurich and Calvin in Geneva emptied their churches of all the images and paintings, white-washing the walls of their churches. They did not even permit music, except perhaps, for intoning a psalm. On the other hand, Luther argued that Moses lifted up that bronze serpent in the wilderness, so an image was not good or evil per se, it all depended on its use or abuse. Thus to worship an image makes a person guilty of having a false ultimate and being idolatrous, but when someone like Cranach expresses Luther’s theology in paint, so that people can “read” his painting, then it represents no abuse, but a perfectly appropriate use of art. Wayne Martin asserts the latter conviction to be the most likely reason Cranach, Luther’s close friend, used the winged snake as his signature.

From the cross of Christ, absorbing all the sin of the world and becoming the scapegoat for the forgiveness of all our sin and evil, Christ was like that serpent raised up on the pole by Moses in the desert; and like that serpent in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, people trying to be like God, made all things ambiguous, now vulnerable and at the mercy of their use or abuse, able to be used for good or evil. But in the eating of the forbidden fruit consciousness was won as conscience, so that Adam and Eve realized that they were naked and became ashamed; but they became aware as well that they would one day die. After Eve eats the apple, the animals on her side of the painting also awake and the lion gets ready to pounce on the doe and take that poor creature out of Paradise. Thus consciousness was won, but Paradise was lost. They experienced how the earth also could be cursed and not yield its fruit, even with hard labor and the sweat of their brows. But Christ transformed that curse into a blessing on the tree of the cross, when he was lifted up like that serpent in the wilderness, drawing all of humankind heavenward too God:

“For when I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.”[8]

These are some of the symbolic layers of interpretation:

  1. Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness to save the snake-bitten people
  2. Christ describing his crucifixion by means of the Moses story
  3. Luther seeing Moses’ action as an affirmation of painting, sculpture, music and all the arts, because images are not evil per se, but good or evil in their use or abuse. Images cannot be done without in thought, language, and culture.
  4. Cranach superimposing the Moses story upon the story of the Fall. He depicts the sacred tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden as a snake on a pole once more, where consciousness and conscience are gained but paradise is lost.
  5. Cranach uses the image of a snake in his own painting signatures, even placing that signature on the trunk of the sacred tree affirming his vocation as an artist. But, of course, when culture represents the worship of elite secular people, it is an abuse of art. When art expresses the human condition before God, places a mirror before people, in which they can see themselves in, (like the deer in the painting seeing its reflection in the pond from which it drinks) generating consciousness and conscience for good and evil, right and wrong. Art can even be the painting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified showing the way of salvation.

____________________________

[1] Should you want to read Wayne M. Martin’s Study of Cranach’s painting, click on “Judgment of Adam”

[2] To view and study Cranach’s painting of Adam and Eve with a detail feature tool for the purposes of comparison, click on “Adam and Eve”: by Lucas Cranach

[3] Pope Gregory I (590-604) noted that “the illiterate could contemplate in the lines of a picture what they could not learn by means of the written word.” In a sense, Wayne Martin contemplates Cranach’s painting and in its lines reads Luther’s theology.

[4] Gen 18:1.

[5] Numbers 21:4-9.

[6] John 3:15.

[7] See a detail of his signature with the tool provided: Cranach’s signature

[8] John 12:32.

Your eye is the lamp of your body, Luke 11:33-36.

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Luke 11:33-36: Your eye is the lamp of your body.

By Peter Krey (12/27/13

with a Response by Mark (1/21/14)

and a Response of mine again to him (1/21/14).

In rereading the Gospel of Luke, it seemed rather foolish to consider Jesus merely a revolutionary peasant in the way of the Zealot, by Reza Aslan. Reading this passage and thinking about Jesus as the light of the World, as we are wont to do over Christmas, makes me realize that Jesus was enlightened and had fully become conscious of his unconscious in the experience of the fullness of self-knowledge and of others in God’s presence. Buddha can throw light on Jesus, but Jesus is not only completely enlightened personally, but also enlightening the whole people of God for the Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps Jesus is not as individually oriented as Buddha.

No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on the lampstand so those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays. (Luke 11:33-36)

Our enlightenment is for the sake of showing others the way so that they do not fall or lose their way or experience the hopeless and dumbfounding experience of the blind leading the blind. The body can also be understood as the collective of all the people as one heart and soul in Christ as well as in the body of the one person. Jesus sees a person as a beacon, as one who throws light on the path that people go and shows them the way so that they do not become lost.

Having your whole body be full of light seemed to me to refer to transfiguration as well as enlightenment. “If your eye is not healthy” – St Jerome in the Vulgate translates the Greek poneros in Latin nequam sa good for nothing or wicked, which the English “healthy” does not capture too well, even if one of the meanings could be “ill.” Sick eyes probably don’t see very well, but an eye that does not see, one that is useless, is probably what Jesus is referring to.

But comparing the eyes to a lamp for the body made me realize that we understand what our eyes do differently from the way Jesus and the people of his time understood what they do. We see the sun’s rays striking an object and that light going into our eyes and getting reflected on our lens, upside down, as we know, and then getting the recognition of its image in our brain. The eyes function, but they are passive, in our view, and the light external to them is active. Jesus saw the eyes the other way around; they were the active light shining inside the body but also shining outside and not merely seeing by means of the light outside. Sometimes pictures by the ancients showed beams of light coming out of the eyes of a seer. The seeing was not just sight but much more: perhaps spirit, faith, and knowledge. Thus this sight could also be involved in a change of mind that not only saw the world in a different light, but also changed the world by the way the eyes of the heart and mind saw the world.

“Eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear, and a heart that does not understand” refers to useless eyes and a true seer or prophet had eyes, ears, and a heart that penetrated seeing with the light in which we see light. (Psalm 36) Thus God said, “Let there be light” and there was light before the creation of the sun, moon, and stars.

Immanuel Kant spoke of his Copernican revolution in how we know things. David Hume awakened him from his dogmatic slumbers. Hume thought the mind was a tabula rasa, a blank slate upon which impressions from the outside marked and filled the passive mind. Kant said it was just the opposite. The active mind worked on the sensations out there actively shaping them for comprehension and grasp of the invisible hand, so that the representations of the senses could be perceived and reasoned and thought. When Jesus refers to the eyes as a lamp, he is making the spirit, what Kant called the mind, and what is sometimes called our consciousness, active the way Immanuel Kant did.

But Jesus is speaking about more than the mind, even though his call to repentance means a metanoia or a change of heart and mind. He sees the eyes as working when they participate in that light in which we see light. To merely speak about that as consciousness or even God consciousness does not take the presence of God into account and the Kingdom of heaven that Jesus is proclaiming, unless we subscribe to a Jungian collective consciousness. Really it is faith and that not merely understood as our trust but ultimately as faith or the light of the world, Christ as the Holy Spirit living and acting through us. “Your faith has made you well,” Jesus never tires of saying and that means the light of God shining in you and on you and making you well again, somewhat like our soaking in vitamin C while basking in our sunlight.

In the German Christmas Eve sermon this year I realized our living room became transfigured into the Christmas room by the candles burning on the tinsel laden Christmas tree and all the glowing and glistening candles and decorations with the presents lying all around us. Christ had a body full of light and no part of it was in darkness. We often are full of darkness without any light in us, except physical light. In that sermon I quoted hymns that identified the darkness with depression, sorrow, suffering, pain, sin, evil, death and destruction. The light was identified with life, love, forgiveness, compassion, and bliss and the light overcame the darkness.

The metaphors for Christ went from the light of the world, to the Sun of Righteousness, the Sun of Grace, and the Christmas Sun. Luther noted that God spread a heaven of grace over believers, from which God would never shut them out. God’s steadfast love and faithfulness endures forever. (Psalm 117) Christ, the Sun of Grace belongs up in that heaven of grace, making the dawn break on our day full of grace in our transfigured space and time. So for those who revere the name of God the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. (Malachi 4:2) And the friends of God are like the sun when she rises in all her splendor. (Judges 5:31)

Perhaps Plato can help us. He felt that there was another invisible sun, far greater than the merely physical one up in the sky. It was the form of forms, the sun that was the source of intelligence that shone with goodness, truth, and beauty. (I would add life, the source of life and intelligence.) For Plato, although that sun was invisible, it was the really real and it was the true source of all the merely physical copies seen with our physical eyes. Thus in the metaphor of the cave, to be completely captured by the physical sun, was to only see shadows, and to rise up and become enlightened, the way Socrates was, and the way Jesus was, would mean to come out of the darkness of the cave, where mere shadows and reflections could only be seen and up into the sunlight of that sun that was the source of life, intelligence, of thought, of seeing oneself and knowing oneself and seeing the world and knowing the world for what it really is.

So God and the kingdom of heaven is within us and through faith in the light of the world, Jesus Christ, the light shining in the darkness which the darkness has not been able to overcome, is the one who calls us to repent for the Kingdom of heaven at hand. Jesus calls us to have a change of heart and mind and get out of the cave and into the sunlight of the faith in God that heals, gives new life, reveals the real nature of the world, seeing the whole world and all the people in it in a new light, in which we and this whole world become transfigured.

Luther first sees faith as the foreman of all good works, then the captain, and finally as the pure act of God in, with, under, and through us. So faith means the Holy Spirit working in bringing healing, new life, continual reincarnation, as we become Christs to others by our baptisms and rebirths in the continuous creation by God, who is not finished with us nor this world yet.

M. Krey
3:06 PM (3 hours ago) 

Hey Dad,

I really enjoyed your paper about the Eye as the Lamp of the Body that was inspired by the passage from Luke. It has been especially nice to read since I am 6 or so chapters deep into Zealot by Reza Aslan.

I will outline all of my thoughts, comments and the one or two typos I found below. Everything I state will be organized by page number…

( page 1)  “[Jesus] had fully become conscious of his unconscious in the experience of the fullness of self knowledge and of other’s in God’s presence.”

– Does this mean that Jesus had become aware of the power of      one’s own unconscious (i.e. that it shapes the world) and/or he had become aware that he in fact was God’s consciousness?

( page 1)  “… Jesus is not only completely enlightened personally, but also enlightening the whole people of God for the Kingdom of Heaven.”

– Jesus then attains enlightenment by enlightening the world around him, or his own enlightenment is the product of having enlightened the world around him. For example: seeing God in his neighbor.

( page 1) ” Perhaps Jesus is not as individually oriented as Buddha.”

– Jesus is the enlightened one, who is the enlightening of all   people!

( page 1)  ” Jesus sees a person as a beacon,”

– This inspired me to think that the word beacon could be interchangeable with Christ. Thus when we are a beacon for others it is like we are saying we are a christ for others. That is a very fascinating idea you put forth there, Dad, and it’s very well worded.

( page 2)  When you mention that Saint Jerome translates the poneros as wicked and good for nothing, I think that paints a very different picture of how someone’s eye is capable of being. Good for nothing almost sounds like the eye is defiant or a degenerate.

( page 2)  And further down the page you state “… but an eye that does not see, one that is useless, is probably what Jesus is referring to.”

–  That brought to mind that some people ( perhaps atheists) see all of God’s creation around them, yet they do not see God’s creation as miraculous and holy and they fail to see God’s promises and consciousness within those around them in their life.

( page 2)  The second paragraph on the second page captures perfectly the ideas you originally expressed to me that day as we walked through Andronico’s and I am satisfied with the way it is verbalized. ( The Sun reflecting light off of objects versus our own inner sun emitting a ray of our inner light that reflects off an object and gives the whole world purpose and order)

“seeing” by means of the light within, and that sight being perhaps spirit, faith and knowledge, as you state at the bottom of page two. Excellent!

( page 3) “When Jesus refers to the eyes as a lamp, he is making the spirit, what Kant called the mind, and what is sometimes called our consciousness, active the way Immanuel Kant did.”

–  That’s a wonderful way of putting it! Jesus activates the mind!!! Incredible that he was talking about this stuff in first century Judea no less!

( Page 4)  I thought it was very interesting that you make sure to include the participation of God the Father “To merely speak about that as consciousness or even God consciousness does not take the presence of God into account and the kingdom of Heaven that Jesus is proclaiming”

– So we don’t want our own consciousness / lamp to overshadow that of God’s consciousness. God is still ultimately in charge.

( page 4)  “Really it is faith and not merely understood as our trust but ultimately as faith or the light of the world, Christ as the Holy Spirit living and acting through us… the light of God shinning in you and on you and making you well again… [like basking in sunlight ands absorbing vitamin C]”

– This passage was very interesting to me, because firstly it gave me a more unique understanding of the trinity, in that it is the “Christ”part of Jesus that traverses the hearts and minds of people making a home in them.

GOD

(made heavens and earth and all of life)

v

v

v

SON

(God taking on the form of human consciousness / flesh / bone)

v

v

v

HOLY SPIRIT

(that consciousness of God that is somewhat conceivable to the human race. That consciousness that resided in Jesus of Nazareth, that can now reside in us through Faith)

– The part about the light of God shinning in you and on you and making you well again (Like the sun and vitamin C) reminded me a little bit of the idea that when we have the Holy Spirit, God can take us (as sinful as we are) and still use us for God’s will. God writes straight on crooked lines as you say 🙂

( page 4)  “Christ had a body full of light and no part of it was in darkness.”

– Do you think it’s possible during times of temptation for Christ, like when he was in the desert being tempted by Satan, that he was struggling with some darkness in his body? Perhaps it was a darkness that was inherent in him simply because of his human form. It’s just an idea. I’m not even sure where I stand on that idea.

( page 5)  The whole section where you compare Plato’s cave to the eye being the lamp of the body concept, is really great! You take your whole idea a step further and illustrate it in a very effective way. With the comparison to Plato, you begin to paint a picture of a heavenly realm. Perhaps we are a step closer to seeing that realm glimmer through this earthly realm we dwell in.

( page 6)  “Jesus calls us to have a change of heart and mind and get out of the cave and into the sunlight of the faith in God that heals, gives new life, reveals the real nature of the world, seeing the whole world and all the people in it in a new light, in which we and this whole world become transfigured.”

– The tradition of calling Jesus “the way, the truth and the life”, almost sounds prophetic to Plato’s cave allegory. Jesus is our path out of the cave into the sunlight of the really real as you state so beautifully. Because Christ incarnated onto this Earth, we have found a way to leave the cave and transfigure the world through him. I would think that if we as human kind meditated on this idea, that we could achieve a paradigm shift of the Earth’s consciousness.

( page 6) I was very interested in your usage of the words reincarnation and rebirths. I’d love for you to expand on that and tell me more in regards to what you mean when relating it to Faith, God’s Healing, Being Christs For Others and God’s Continuous Creation.

In that book you got me about reincarnation I read a wonderful story:

   A God Sage named Narada came from heaven down to earth on a journey which was customary for him. One day he was passing by a man who was meditating in the wilderness and he had been sitting and meditating so long that ants had built a mound around him. He asked Narada “Ask the God of Heaven when he will be merciful to me and when I will attain freedom.” Further down the road Narada ran into another man who was singing and dancing. When the man found that Narada was going to heaven he asked Narada “Ask when I shall attain freedom”.

       Some time later Narada was on the same road and he found the man meditating and the ant hill had completely grown around him. He asked Narada “What did God say? When will I attain freedom?”. Narada told the man “Four more births” and the man began to weep and wail and he cried “I have been mediating until an ant hill has been raised around me and I still have to live four more lives?”

        Narada continued down the road and ran into the other man. The man asked “Did you ask about me?” Narada replied “Oh yes. Do you see this tamarind tree? I have to tell you that as many leaves are on this tree, so many times will you be born and then you will attain freedom”. 

        Then the man began to dance for joy and he said “After so short a time I shall be free!” and then a voice came “My Child, you shall have freedom this instant”.

*****

One other idea I should share with you in regards to my reading of Zealot. Reza Aslan seems to be citing Jesus as a insurrectionist bandit in the passage of Luke where Jesus asks Peter to sell his cloak and buy a sword. Yet Aslan completely leaves out the following passage that Jesus does this so he can fulfill the scripture that said he would be counted among the lawless.

Pastor Jasa used to remind me again and again that Jesus through out scripture is going out of his way to fulfill the prophecies, so that those who know them will see that Jesus is the Messiah without having to be told.

This is comparable to what Artists in our day and age do. Some artists go as far as claiming to be the reincarnation of other artists, for instance Liam Gallagher of Oasis claimed to be the reincarnation of John Lennon. Liam went out of his way to sing like John, write songs that sound exactly like John’s songs as well as other things. He did this so people would see and believe that he was John Lennon reincarnated. Only problem was, John Lennon died six years after Liam Gallagher was born.

Regardless of that, I think Jesus ( or at least the writers of the Gospels whoever they may have been), are trying to give the reader the sign that Jesus is the Messiah and I don’t believe Jesus ever had any intention of using those swords on the centurions coming to get him.

I think he was just trying to make sure he met all the requirements of the prophetic Messiah and he even states it so it would be on the record “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled”.

I think the reason this Zealot book has been getting so much attention is because it’s a very different take on who Jesus was despite the fact I think it’s very inaccurate.

This paper on the eyes being the lamp of the body is very good. To allay your fears that you weren’t concise enough or didn’t express it as clearly as you did that day we were in Andronicos, I will tell you now that it goes above and beyond your original revelation and adds to it with Plato’s Cave. There’s nothing I would change in it, if I were you. I hope this response is something you can enjoy, Pop 🙂

Love

Mark

1. I only understand this as the psychological definition of full human maturity. A fully mature person has made conscious his or her unconscious. Jesus also had full self-knowledge and thus also the knowledge of others. I’m not sure about the word “God consciousness, because I’m not sure about everything associated with it.

2. Page 2. “God’s promises and consciousness” works for me. The former are the Gospel and the latter is that aspect of the Holy Spirit with thoughts and ways higher than ours as the heavens are higher than the earth.

3. Going right to

4. Sure I think temptation was threatening the Light of Christ. But his light shined in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it.

5. Going right to

6. I don’t mean a reincarnation or rebirth of some else from the past. What I mean is a continual incarnation, meaning that we become Christs as Christ is born in our hearts in our rebirth and then matures as we continue his ministry and have our own passion stories and become raised with him. But our rebirth also means become the true and unique individual selves who we were really created to be. God also did not create the world way back in the past and now is resting from creation. The creation is not finished yet. New stars are bursting into existence and out at the edge of our growth God is also not finished creating us yet. I once thought John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah, but that is not a theological concept belonging to our tradition. John dressed like Elijah and resembled the spirit of Elijah, but they were two very different prophets. I think there are different conceptions of reincarnation, but the Platonic one has an eternal soul being recycled in an infinite number of bodies. In that way the individual, unique, individual person seems to become lost. Perhaps not if there are also an infinite number of souls. But we believe each person has his or her own soul. I confess that I often say that we have to be one heart and soul together in Christ. but let me go with Teilhard de Chardin: “True unity differentiates, it does not confound.” Unity does not allow conformity or uniformity. How can the same person have different lives? Sometimes in the same life, we face so many changes we feel like we already are living a different life and then a chain of another previous life is living a different life in the same life?

Written by peterkrey

January 21, 2014 at 7:05 pm

How beautiful are the feet! in Romans and Isaiah: An Exegetical Note

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An Exegetical Note: “How beautiful are the feet!”

Rom 10: 15: As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

In Martin Luther’s words:  Even though one can interpret “feet” literally in the sense that the coming of the preachers of good things is eagerly awaited by those who are in anguish of sin and an evil conscience, they signify more correctly their very words or the sound and the syllables or the pronunciation of their words and preachings.” From his Lectures on Romans.[1]

Luther moves from literal feet to “feet” as the “very words or the sound and the syllables or the pronunciation of their words.” It is but a small step to understand “feet” as actual feet or meters of poetry. Perhaps because the regular beat of the syllables of language can be derived from regular steps, or the regular strokes of an oar, or the galloping hooves of a horse, for example, the feet that poetic lines are divided into may also be derived from feet taking steps in time. So it would be possible to interpret Romans “How beautiful is the cadence of the language, how beautiful is the poetry of those who preach the good news.” I thought that Luther’s interpretation went into that direction. But then I thought – what about the Greek and the Hebrew? Could they also refer to the cadence in language rather than the physical feet of the herald? For that matter, I don’t know what the word in German for a foot in a poetic line would be.[2] But in Greek, Rom 10:15 has horaioi hoi podes ωραιοι οι πόδες  (an aspirant should be above the omega and omicron, so that it begins with “h.”) Now there may be a word for the “feet” of poetry in Aristotle’s Poetics.

In the Hebrew, St. Paul is quoting Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” There the Hebrew words reads ragele mevash-sher “beautiful feet.” (In the Hebrew the noun comes first and the adjective thereafter.) Again I would not be able to know what the words for “poetic feet” in Hebrew might be. But in both cases the feet are those that could step in time to the rhythm and cadence of beautiful poetic language. So when we preach, the Holy Spirit lifts the cadence of our words into beautiful language, indeed, into poetry.


[1] Martin Luther, Lectures on Romans, edited by William Pauck, (Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 1961), p. 300.

[2] Online I saw how pentameter can be called Fűnffűssler. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ger341/poetics.htm That means the word for “foot” can also be used in German Poetik.

Written by peterkrey

August 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm

A New Pastor is the Way to Go: Encouragement for a Church in an Interim

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Devotions for Our Redeemers Lutheran Church Council April 11, 2013

A New Pastor is the Way to Go

The text I chose for tonight comes from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 10:1-17. It is quite difficult and I will try to open it up for you. My brother Philip and I are writing a commentary on Romans so I have been working with this text a great deal. I chose it mostly because it shows how necessary a pastor who proclaims the Word of God, the Gospel is and the way you are about to choose your pastor for this congregation:

10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[g]

16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[h] 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.    New International Version (NIV)

Like those who rejected Jesus, we dare not be self-righteous or try to be righteous by thinking that the law is the way of salvation. Christ is the objective, the end for which the law existed, the New Human Being. Now the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount describe those who have received Christ and know that Jesus Christ is the way to salvation and through our faith in him, we also can fulfill the law, but in terms of the Gospel. Thus it is “no longer an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” but if someone sins against you seven times or seventy times seven times, we forgive and overcome evil with good. The extravagant love that Christ taught us fulfills the law and what’s more, like a cup overflowing.

The emphasis on the righteousness of the law is upon us and our effort, while the righteousness of faith places the emphasis on God in Christ, the one who made the promise and can keep it, and whom we believe and trust until it comes true. We have to find a way through the wilderness of this world where there is no way. If we go by our efforts and our human strength and wisdom we will fail. But if we rely on the Maker of Heaven and Earth, God the Father of our Lord and Savior, then the right Hand of God will accomplish what is completely impossible for us.

The Word of God that is near us and in our hearts is: “Christ died and is risen.” In my website, I tried to say it with flowers. Nora received a wonderful bouquet of roses that I photographed with my smart phone again and again until they wilted and we had to throw them in the trash bin. In the reversal of the resurrection, my first photo was of them in the trash bin and then all the way to their first day as lovely roses in full splendor. “The roses a-rose!” You say, “No way!” and really for us there is no way. But when the Right Hand of God acts, then like for the children of Israel facing the Red Sea and Jesus on the cross, God makes a way where there is no way. That goes for this congregation and its growing and experiencing a renewal again, as well as whatever you are facing with impossible issues in your life. “It would take a miracle!” you say. Yes, indeed, it would and God performs them every day.

So we don’t have to go all the way up into heaven, nor descend down into the abyss of Hell. Christ already has and Christ crucified and resurrected is in our hearts and we exist in him and we believe that he is risen from the dead and that we too will rise in him. Our Redeemer’s is the wonderful place where we call upon the name of the Lord so that we are saved.

This church is incredibly precious and a resource above all resources, a divine capital that puts money as capital to shame. The fountain of life is dispensed freely for those who believe and receive the promises of God. The issue here is Jew versus Gentile. For us it is European descent versus Latino, Asian, African Descent Americans, etc. – all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved and through Christ we have become brothers and sisters. No one of us deserve anything, we all receive this gift by grace.

But how can people call on this life-saver, if they have not believed in him and how can they believe if they have not heard the wonderful news? That is where your new pastor comes in, but also yourselves, who have this word in your heart and tell others this wonderful news with your lips. You are choosing one to publicly proclaim the Word, who is Jesus Christ in this place! How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news! I was washing feet on Maundy Thursday and I can tell you many of us do not have beautiful feet. You would hate to see mine! Luther thought words had to have feet or how could they travel from ear to ear and get there all at once and at the same time? From that I thought, poetry is measured by feet so how beautiful the poetry of those who proclaim the resurrection of Christ! Karl Barth leaves out the word “beautiful” and says how timely Christ comes to rescue us. Christ comes right in time! But through all the trials and all the rejection and all the troubles of this world, the beautiful feet of Christ find God’s way to us, right to our hearts, and we will not die, but live and continue as a Church, like a city on a hill, proclaiming that Christ died on the cross, but Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Pastor Peter Krey

A New Pastor is the Way to Go: Romans 10:1-17

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Devotions for ORLC Council April 11, 2013

A New Pastor is the Way to Go

The text I chose for tonight comes from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 10:1-17. It is quite difficult and I will try to open it up for you. My brother Philip and I are writing a commentary on Romans so I have been working with this text a great deal. I chose it mostly because it shows how necessary a pastor who proclaims the Word of God, the Gospel is and the way you are about to choose your pastor for this congregation:

10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[g]

16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[h] 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.    New International Version (NIV)

Like those who rejected Jesus, we dare not be self-righteous or try to be righteous by thinking that the law is the way of salvation. Christ is the objective, the end for which the law existed, the New Human Being. Now, not the Ten Commandments per se,[1] but the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount describe those who have received Christ and know that Jesus Christ is the way to salvation and through our faith in him, we also can fulfill the law, but in terms of the Gospel. Thus it is “no longer an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” but if someone sins against you seven times or seventy times seven times, we forgive and overcome evil with good. The extravagant love that Christ taught us fulfills the law and what’s more, like a cup overflowing.

The emphasis on the righteousness of the law is upon us and our effort, while the righteousness of faith places the emphasis on God in Christ, the one who made the promise and can keep it, and whom we believe and trust until it comes true. We have to find a way through the wilderness of this world where there is no way. If we go by our efforts and our human strength and wisdom we will fail. But if we rely on the Maker of Heaven and Earth, God the Father of our Lord and Savior, then the right Hand of God will accomplish what is completely impossible for us.

The Word of God that is near us and in our hearts is: “Jesus Christ is Lord” and “He died and is risen.” In my website, I tried to say it with flowers. Nora received a wonderful bouquet of roses that I photographed with my smart phone again and again until they wilted and we had to throw them in the trash bin.[2] In the reversal of the resurrection, my first photo in my website was of them in the trash bin and then all the way to their first day as lovely roses in full splendor once again. “The roses a-rose!” You say, “No way!” and really for us there is no way. But when the Right Hand of God acts, then like for the children of Israel facing the Red Sea and Jesus on the cross, God makes a way where there is no way. That goes for this congregation and its growing and experiencing a renewal again, as well as whatever you are facing with impossible issues in your life. “It would take a miracle!” you say. Yes, indeed, it would and God performs them every day.

So we don’t have to go all the way up into heaven, nor descend down into the abyss of Hell. Christ already has and Christ crucified and resurrected is in our hearts and we exist in him and we believe that he is risen from the dead and that we too will rise in him. Our Redeemer’s is the wonderful place where we call upon the name of the Lord so that we are saved.

This church is incredibly precious and a resource above all resources, a divine capital that puts money as capital to shame. The fountain of life is dispensed freely for those who believe and receive the promises of God. The issue here is Jew versus Gentile. For us it is European descent versus Latino, Asian, African Descent Americans, etc. – all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved and through Christ we have become brothers and sisters. None of us deserve anything, we all receive this gift by grace.

But how can people call on this life-saver, if they have not believed in him and how can they believe if they have not heard the wonderful news? That is where your new pastor comes in, but also yourselves, who have this word in your heart and tell others this wonderful news with your lips. You are choosing one to publicly proclaim the Word, who is Jesus Christ in this place! How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news! I was washing feet on Maundy Thursday and I can tell you many of us do not have beautiful feet. You would hate to see mine! Luther thought words had to have feet or how could they travel from ear to ear and get there all at once and at the same time?[3] From that I thought, poetry is measured by feet so how beautiful the poetry of those who proclaim the resurrection of Christ! How beautiful is the language! How beautiful is the cadence of their poetry! Karl Barth leaves out the word “beautiful” and says how timely Christ comes to rescue us.[4] Christ comes right in time! But through all the trials and all the rejection and all the troubles of this world, the beautiful feet of Christ find God’s way to us, right to our hearts, and we will not die, but live and continue as a Church, like a city on a hill, proclaiming that Christ died on the cross, but Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Pastor Peter D.S. Krey, Ph.D.


[1] If “You shall not kill” were expressed in the positive: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mat 22:37 and 39) then the law would come closer to adequacy. But it would still be a commandment without the wherewithal to carry it out. The grace and strength to do so comes from the Gospel, the promises of God. Interestingly enough, Jesus substituted the word “mind” for “might” or “strength,” found in the Septuaginta and the Hebrew Bible.

[2] See https://peterkrey.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/resurrection-roses/

[3] Wilhelm Pauck, ed., Luther: Lectures on Romans, (Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 1961), page 300: “Even though one can interpret “feet” literally.., they signify more correctly their very words or the sound and the syllables or pronunciation of their words and preachings.” So Luther is referring to the cadence too. I wonder if the origin of dividing the lines of poems into different units of rhythm called feet, i.e., iambic pentameter, trochee, anapest, dactyl, spondee,  pyrrhic, derive from this interpretation? Luther’s lectures were discovered in the Vatican, I believe, and were first published in 1908, making it difficult to argue his influence on the term from them. But Robert Graves and other Englishmen attended Wittenberg and may have heard of Luther’s interpretation. In the Rhyming Dictionary of the English Language, (London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., undated but after 1851 and  before 1914) page ix: J. Longmuir relates the term to beating time with the feet or staying in step.

[4] D. Karl Barth, Der Römerbrief, (the fourth printing of the new revision), (Munich: Chr. Kaiser, Verlag, 1926), page 366.

Written by peterkrey

April 12, 2013 at 11:49 am