Saturday, December 01, 2012

Adult Forum Class, 11/25/12

Adult Forum class is hosted by Terry and Danese Grandfield at 9:15am Sunday mornings in The Langor Lounge. All are welcome!
Paradoxical King

Our class began with a very thought provoking question:
What is truth?
The gospel lesson comes from John 18:33-37, a conversation between Pilate and Jesus that begins with Pilate asking the Lord a direct question, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus responds with a question, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?"
We spoke about how often it appears the Lord does this...... responds to a question with a question. Only every question he asks is meant to provoke personal insight, not for Jesus but for the person he asks, in this case Pilate, a judge, someone who literally holds Jesus' life in his hands.

Pilate immediately avoids responsibility by asking another question, "I am not a Jew, am I?" He is cleverly trying to avoid seeing the truth standing in front of him in the person of Christ. He is not a jew, recognizes he is not part of this group. But his questions will soon lead him to hearing the truth, a powerful truth meant to liberate anyone willing to listen and believe, regardless of nationality.

Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

Pilate's idea of a king, as well as ours, is different than God's revelation of his son as King. Jesus is truly a paradoxical king, who came to serve, not to be served. He did not choose to use his power to rule with an iron fist, but chose instead to open both his hands to be nailed to a cross, lifting them up to redeem all people.

Truth is actually the reality of God whom Jesus is bearing witness to in his life, death, and resurrection. It is not a clear definition we would like to promote through our interpretation of the bible.

I mentioned in class that we could have a group of people in a conference room from different denominations but who all believe the bible to be the "inerrant" word of God, yet there would still be disagreements between those people as to what the "truth" is based on their view of the scriptures. We each have our own ideas of truth, and often they don't line up, even within ourselves, if we examine them closely.

Truth is something bigger than our own logic. It has to be found in a person who is both fully human and fully divine.The truth is Christ himself, the example he gave us in how he lived his earthly life, how he treated people.

So often it is the fundamental interpretation of the bible that leads to injustice and exclusion. But is this God's truth? What is Christ teaching us?

He is teaching us to serve and to love, to share hope with everyone we meet, as he chose to do with Pilate in his final conversation before his crucifixion.

"You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

Both the Old Testament reading (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14) and the Epistle reading (Revelation 1:4b-8) share visions of heaven, of God, particularly of Christ as King. In the passage from Daniel the prophet describes the throne room of the Almighty, emphasizing fire. When we discussed this in class we all agreed it made us think of judgement, especially considering the verse which states "The court sat in judgement, and the books were opened." Hell..... fire...... judgement.....images most of us grow up believing go together, striking fear in our hearts.

Ironically that fearful fire is emanating from God's throne itself, but Daniel's vision doesn't end with the focus on the judgement aspect of his vision.....thank God!

"As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven." Jesus. Our mediator, our priest, " the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth."

The paradoxical king "who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever."

Jesus Christ our King who translated fiery judgement into mercy and grace, enabling us now to be his representatives, his priests, witnesses of his truth and his kingdom to the world.

The Reflection, from Living the Good News:

Jesus, who has such keen insight and clear consciousness
of this world, always sees that reality in light of
a larger vision. That viewpoint penetrated the way he
saw the crowd who heard the Beatitudes. He looked at
people who were sickly, ignorant, grieving, probably
smelly and diseased, and told them they would inherit
the earth, leap for joy, come into the kingdom. That
vision does not fail him when he stands before Pilate,
on trial for his life.

He is never triumphalist; indeed, it is Pilate—not
himself— who calls him king. Instead, he humbly takes
on the death of all mortal humans.

None of us are likely to face inquisition by a Roman
ruler. What, then, can we learn from this stark scene?
Jesus is the person we want to become. He shows
us here how to embrace our humanity with all its
limitations. If we forget his humanity, then we risk
forgetting our own. But he also shares his vision of
ultimate blessing. As the narrator Lily says in The Secret
Life of Bees: “there is nothing but mystery in the world;
how it hides behind the fabric of our poor browbeat
days, shining brightly and we don’t even know it.”

Join us December 2nd, the first Sunday in Advent, for our study titled:

The Need for Patience and Faithfulness
Advent requires patience and faithfulness as we prepare
for God’s coming.
Bible verses for our study: Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Psalm 25: 1-10; 1Thessalonians 3: 9-13; Luke 21: 25-36

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