Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Leaving Saturday

We're leaving Saturday for our--what would it be--maybe 25th visit to Oak Island, North Carolina.

We're going with Tim, Mimi, Eleanor and our friends from New Haven, John, Jack and Sherry.

Bern's watching the weather channel most of the day to see if Irma or Inez, which ever it is, is going to keep going vaguely west or turn up and go north east toward North Carolina.

In all our years of going we had to leave one day early once because of a Hurricane. I'd tell you what year and the name of the storm except I of course don't remember. Lost in linear time am I and names are hard to hang onto.

I only have a desk top so I was thinking I couldn't write on Under the Castor Oil Tree for a week. But then, looking up at the top of the page here, I see the code to log on from somewhere else and there will be lots of laptops at the beach.

Also, on Friday, I'm teaching the first session of a course at UConn in Waterbury for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (we call it 'OLLI') on a subject I've taught before. I changed the name this time though from "Reading the Gospels side-by-side" to "Walking with Four Jesus'".

It fascinates me how remarkably different the Jesus of each gospel is from the other three--but the way the church teaches Christianity you'd never figure that out. I found a post from over 5 years ago where I published the ending of the course.

Thought I'd share it here again.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Knowing four Jesus'

OK, I just completed a class at UConn called "Reading the Gospels side-by-side" and wrote something to read at the end of the last session. Someone suggested I publish it on my blog.

So here it is.


Most of us are looking for Jesus.
One place we could expect to find Jesus is in the Four Gospels. So we turn to them. If we read them critically and carefully, what we discover is not Jesus but Four distinct Jesus'.
When confronted with that reality, there are two obvious reactions. Either I (I'll speak only for myself here and invite you to ponder your reaction)...either I despair and give up my search OR I walk the road with each of the Gospel writer's Jesus' and glean what I can from the four of them.

When I am doubtful, it is Mark's Jesus I want to walk beside because he too struggled with doubt. He spends time with the wild beasts. He can't seem to understand what is being asked of him by God. He agonizes in the Garden. He feels abandoned on the cross. Mark's Jesus is a good companion in times of doubt.

When I am confused, it is Matthew's Jesus I turn to. Matthew's Jesus is jerked away from his home to a foreign land. His earthly father relies on dreams and visions of angels in his confusion. The Magi visit him and give him great gifts. Matthew's Jesus knows that traditions and boundaries and scripture can help in times of confusion. Matthew's Jesus knows right from wrong, truth from Falsehood, the sheep from the goats. Matthew's Jesus stands on the mountain top and speaks wisdom to those who are in darkness and confusion. The Jesus of Matthew has correctives to my confusion.

John's Jesus is my traveling companion when things are going well and I am feeling confident. John's Jesus is certain and resolute and convinced of his purpose and his way. John's Jesus has an ego to match my own. Nothing much bothers him. His eyes are on the prize. His feet are firmly on the ground even as his soul soars to heavenly places. In 'good times' John's Jesus is the ideal companion. He can validate my confidence, inspire me to even greater things, teach me that I am loved and meant to love others. He breathes on me and wishes me “Shalom”, which means fullness and health and hopefulness. There is nothing like the Jesus of John when God's in his heaven and all is right with the world. Walking the road with him just reaffirms my optimism and hopefulness and sense of well-being.

But when I suffer, when I am in pain, only Luke's Jesus will do. He will walk with me to Emmaus and calm my fears and set my heart of fire. The breathless, timeless songs and poetry of Luke soothe me, heal me. Luke's Jesus is the healer, the non-anxious presence, the font of all Compassion. Luke's Jesus walks with those in distress, in pain, in need. Luke's Jesus is constantly standing with the marginalized and outcasts. Luke's Jesus teaches us on the same level where we stand. He is always on my level, near me, suffering with me, forgiving me, holding me near. Luke's Jesus walks the road of our world's suffering. He knows me through and through. He bears my burden. He lightens my load. He touches me and makes me whole.

Seeking Jesus and finding four is 'good news'. Four companions on the Way to the Lover of souls, four brothers with various gifts for various needs, four faces of God, four revelations of the Almighty.

A hymn from my childhood says, “What a friend we have in Jesus....” It is wondrous and precious to have a friend. But to have four, all of whom love me and care for me and walk my road with me. What could be better than that???

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.