Monthly Archives: June, 2005

in absentia

Your erstwhile moderator will be gone this weekend trying to save Åsgard from the trolls.

It is a long weekend in Canada and I’ll be in Ottawa up to my eyebrows in Quaker business meetings. Pray for me.

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Put Away Thy Sword Peter (John 18:1-11)

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.”

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

John 17 … crystal

When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.

… Judas, I guess? I wonser what it means exactly to be “lost”?

I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.

…the evil one … Ignatius calls him the enemy or the bad spirit … it seems that most modern christians believe more in a depersonalized evil rather than a personification of it as is mentioned here.

Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

… we are a gift to Jesus 🙂 like children? You loved me before the foundation of the world – the trinity existing, 3 in 1, a timeless relationship to which we can belong.

Greetings

Lorcan Otway joins us. Welcome to our little group.

When Joe joined us I suggested we all post an intro — though I think we all know each other from our respective blogs and social networks.

Here’s mine:

My name is David and I have been blogging since November under the banner of the kwakersaur. This scripture study is a sort of communal spin off from my reflections on the letter of James that started on my blog. I wanted to open it up to the folks who were reading my comments more. The rest : c’est l’histoire.

I’m currently having a crisis of faith identification. I’m still feeling attached to my adopted faith of Quakerism but I’ve returned to my roots and am worshipping at a local United Church.

I’m married with two cats.

Jesus’ Prayer for his Disciples (chapter 17) – Joe G. Comments

1. What is the author’s main point in this passage? (MAIN POINT)

The underlying point of this passage is the divinity of Jesus. Historically, the Church has used such verses to testify to Jesus’ divine nature. As to what it means that Jesus is divine – that he is God incarnate or a divine being lesser status than God, for example, is another issue that I don’t believe it completely clarified here.

But, the point is that in this prayer Jesus explains that he was with God, the Father at creation. Because of this unique position that Jesus has with the Father, he intercedes for his followers and all those who follow in subsequent generations to understand that they are one with God just as Jesus is one with Him (God, the Father).

2. What new light do I find in this particular reading of this passage of the text? (NEW LIGHT)

The interconnectedness of the relationships: Jesus in one with the God, Jesus is one with his followers (including those who follow him after he is gone from the earth), and these followers are therefore one with God. Thus, although the relationship with Jesus and his Father is unique (at least before the time of creation), it now no longer is because of Jesus’ mission on earth. That was the whole point of the “mission”: the intimacy that Jesus claimed between himself and God was now available to all those who follow after.

3. Is this passage true to my experience? (TRUTH)

Hmm. I do experience an intimacy between God and myself. When I think of the Divine as a being in human form, I definitely think of Jesus. It’s almost automatic.

And now that I ponder it more, this intimacy, this direct contact with God is what early Friends espoused the most. I think, too, Christians in other denominations use ritual (I’m thinking of Communion here) to represent and help with this direct interaction or awareness of God in our lives.

Of course, there are many other ways to experience this, too: sometimes people experience this in the middle of the day while reflecting on God or while surrounded by the beauty of nature, etc.

4. What are the implications of this passage for my life? (IMPLICATIONS)

I never thought of Meeting for Worship as a form of Communion. I recently read a statement at Friends United Meeting that Communion for Friends was the waiting on God in silence.

Communion – a few definitions:

1. The act or an instance of sharing, as of thoughts or feelings.
2. Religious or spiritual fellowship.
3. A body of Christians with a common religious faith who practice the same rites; a denomination.
4. Communion Ecclesiastical.
a. The sacrament of the Eucharist received by a congregation.
b. The consecrated elements of the Eucharist.
c. The part of the Mass or a liturgy in which the Eucharist is received.

Now I wonder if that’s why the ritual of Communion is called Communion because of what the word “Communion” means – it’s an act of sharing, as in thoughts and feelings, with God and with each other.

5. What problems do I have with this passage? (PROBLEMS)

I realize that for some Christians, the only way, the exclusive way to God is via Jesus. But, I don’t believe this. And frankly, I don’t think one has to interpret this prayer by Jesus as implying or affirming this exclusivity.

John 17

I had always considered this chapter the high point, the apex of the book, but on this reading I find that there is only one idea that I find meaningful:

17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us”

We are one in the spirit. This idea spreads out to include all mankind, then all creatures, all the earth, the cosmos.

This oneness is what Jesus sought, and it was his last prayer with the disciples before he went to die.

See also Ephesians 4:25.

The oneness was what existed in the beginning before it was broken by our first ancestors. It is what we are going to, the kingdom of God (Heaven).

david’s responses

Truly a lot going on here.

1. What is the author’s main point in this passage? (MAIN POINT)

I see a metaphysic being set up here — we stand in relation to Christ as Christ stands to God. We stand before God by standing in Christ. There’s a kind of domino effect here. God > Christ > disciples > disciples of the disciples

Can we make the next move? disciples of the disciples > world?

Not on this passage alone — but elsewhere in scripture I think we can. In the end — Jesus is leaving this world for the glory he had before the world began we now are in the world in the way he was and draw upon God’s grace in the way that Christ did. We are Christ in this world.

2. What new light do I find in this particular reading of this passage of the text? (NEW LIGHT)

This is one of those passages that is so part of our faith heritage that it is hard for me to read it as if for the first time. On this reading at least I have no new light.

3. Is this passage true to my experience? (TRUTH)

I’m not even sure what it would mean for this passage to be true to my experience. It is talking about invisible things — about stuff hiding behind our experience as it were. This is about interpreting the meaning of our experience.

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.

The either/or of this passage is not true to my experience. When the world has hated me I’m not so sure it has been because I have been faithful. And I’m not altogether sure I do not belong to this world. I think both God and the world each have their hooks in me.

4. What are the implications of this passage for my life? (IMPLICATIONS)

I do not have to be afraid of what the world can do to me if I am only faithful to the what Christ has revealed to me and in me. Easier to say than to put into practice.

5. What problems do I have with this passage? (PROBLEMS)

This is my major problem with this passage:

I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.

Jesus’ Prayer for his Disciples (chapter 17)

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 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, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Direct Relationship

Main Point: Jesus tells the disciples that they will have a new relationship between themselves and God – a direct relationship: “I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.”

New Light: Jesus is now saying in a forthright manner (admitting that previously his speech was indirect, and figurative) that each seeker has an opportunity to consciously access the same relationship with God that he has experienced. This message, simple and pure, is to me the essence Jesus’ teachings.

Truth: This matches my experience, and is one of the reasons I have been drawn to the Quaker tradition – from experience I know that a direct relationship with God is possible, and indeed, is the only authentic relationship that I can imagine.

Implications: As Jesus says in the final lines of this scripture, no matter where you are, scattered across the world, just as he is not alone because he is with God, likewise we are. Jesus acknowledges, that, yes there will be troubles, but seated within your heart is God, and this is a promise, or rather a certain potential, of great peace. This is not an intellectual matter – though historically God seemed to have been masked behind the facade of an intellectual endeavor. (Perhaps this is still true to some degree…)

Problems: I find the similar problems with these passages as others have mentioned. The way this scripture reads, it is as though a change is occurring – that up until now a direct relationship was not possible, but after the resurrection, if one trusts in Jesus and believes he was sent by God, that person could be promised this direct relationship. As David noted, it is as though a “a genuine transfer of spiritual authority appears to be taking place here.” I would argue that this direct connection with God for everyone has always been possible, indeed is happening, and has always been happening, and has little if anything to do with Jesus. I say this because of Jesus’ teachings – that God is within us, and loves us unconditionally (even the condition of loving Jesus). However, that being said, when one feels in a very real way that mystical love emanating one’s very existence, from this ‘isness’ we call God, our love will not stop – and will encompass Jesus as wholly as everyother lover of God.

John 16:25-33 L

“the Father himself loves you for loving me, and believing that I came from God.” I may say to Ellie “I love you because you make these fabulous meals”, but she knows full well that that isn’t the only or even the primary reason I love her. If Jesus should have said such a thing, it was meant in the same partial way that I meant the above.

Elsewhere and often Jesus made it very clear that God loves us unconditionally, and not because of any particular belief that we may have.

This passage reminds me of the hardshell preacher who says “Unless you confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is your personal saviour, you are going to hell.” John, or the translator of John, is speaking hardshell here and not being true to the spirit of Christ as I know it.

God loves all mankind– unconditionally. He wants us to be happy and to love one another. That was the primary message that Jesus brought to us from the Father.
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“Jesus answered them: Do you believe at last?” His use of ‘believe’ here indicates rather plainly in the context that he is not talking about subscribing to an intellectual proposition but about trust, commitment, integrity, all of which he understood that they would soon betray.