Saturday, April 11, 2009


This blog is a personal statement. I have also read and commented on many blogs. Most of them are more scholarly than mine, where the souls are much better trained in this field. I count myself fortunate that since the early days of e-lists, I have been able to learn much from them. Such scholars tend to be mature and will graciously accept even dumb questions (for a while). On the personal level, perhaps some can learn from me as I learn. Certainly, any of you who read my translations should know that they are all a learning experience and must be subjected to alternative readings. But you may take heart that learning is possible even for the aged.

There are blogs where people seem so certain of their positions that they throw adjectives around at anyone who disagrees. I hate adjectives and generally do not throw them - though occasionally one will slip out. People who are sure they are right don't need help but they may need to repent.

Our Holy Week services have been continuous and filled with the Gospel. I have just returned from Easter vigil, a service in which the church starts in darkness and the new fire is brought in from outside. It symbolizes the intrusion of God into this world, in Creation, in the Law and the Prophets, and ultimately in the person of Jesus whose overcoming of the powers of darkness in the world and in us is both critical and effective. Critical for forgiveness, and effective for love. In this mercy seat, through his death, and in the recognized forgiveness sealed by his resurrection and gradually appropriated by us, his servants - in this place, this temple not made with hands, this earthen vessel, we have new life.

It continually distresses me that some can take good news and turn it into bad news. Such is a power trip on the very power that led to Jesus' crucifixion. It is unavoidable, of course, because each of us has to start in sin and learn somehow. The learning may be painful for others - but they needed to learn too.

But - learn - let us indeed learn and not be like a horse or mule. We should read and understand Paul in Romans 15:3 quoting Psalm 69:9 and know that being right and self-sufficient puts us in the very place we do not want anyone to be. We are not saved because we are right. We are saved because God is love and has proved it. So: we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; let each of us please our neighbor for their good, to edify them. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me."

And who thinks he is strong, eh? It is easier to be ugly.


Beyond Words said...

Hi,Bob.(I've been in blog silence for a while.) Thank you for this post. It's like a fresh drink of cool water.

I walked out in the middle of church in tears today because I couldn't bear what I was hearing from the pulpit. In a nutshell. it went something like this: Easter is the ticket out of hell for those who believe the right things. Believing those things gives 100 percent certainty that God will let you into his heaven. Just believe and sit back and enjoy your relationship with Jesus,not because of his teachings,but because you believe he died for your sins. He even died for your sins of omission, so now you don't even have to worry about the good things you fail to do. By all means don't forget forget that you're not saved by doing good works like helping the poor.

And that was it. There was nothing about the subversive, world changing, kingdom-inaugurating love Jesus came and lived and died and rose to bring us and equip us to live out.

So I walked out of church.

Your post rescued my Easter.

Bob MacDonald said...

Kathy - good to hear from you. I am glad there is a little blessing here for you. I have more to say on this matter and there is a germ of the idea in a draft - but I am not sure where it will go yet.

I hope you get some enjoyment out of the Job effort - bearing in mind that I am not an expert, just someone having fun learning.

Beyond Words said...

I'm not sure enjoyment is a term I would ever associate with Job. But wrestling and learning and imbibing the poetry and wisdom I can do!