We live in an either or world when all nature tells us that it is a both and world. What if it is not either both and or either or but both either or an both and. Are you confused yet.
Here is a simple way to think of the dualities of nature that balance and counter balance each other.
Jesus is portrayed as the “Lion of Judah” and the “Lamb of God”. The “Lion of Judah” presents the courageous victor in battles. It also reminds us that it takes courage both to create a world of freedom and preserve that creation. The image of the lion of judah is inclusive of Judah one of the twelve sons of Jacob. It was Jacob who in the emotional moments of the brothers 11 setting up the murder then selling into slavery of their brother, Joseph. Instead of killing him Judah intervenes and suggest they fake his death and alternatively sell him to the Egyptian convoy passing by condemning him to a life of slavery while keeping them from actually killing him while representing that he died in a lions jaw. Judah is the one who spoke up to intervene and Jesus as the Lamb of God speaks up fro God’s intervention in the world so that death passes over all those who embrace the Lamb of God who came “to be slaughtered for the sins pf the world. God in Jesus is the prototype of both the courageous Lion and the more courageous Lamb of God.
The imagery of the Lion and the Lamb represent the soft and caring side of God and the Strong and powerful side of God. In the end they are one and the same. The either or is the both and!
It is hard to believe that the twin towers , the field in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon were all systematically and intentionally targeted for demolition. 15 years later we are no safer nor even wiser. A bomb went off two days ago in NYC increasing the fear and uncertainty n the Northeast.
Our pastor preached a good sermon on the Sunday that held the space in the calendar of September 11. The focus of the message was that of choices and holding up the crystal clear message of God through Moses in Deuteronomy 17:12.
What was strange is to hear the choices as presented by Moses and God to the people. It was to chose life and prosperity and or death and obscurity. What was strange is the incongruity of that foci with the focus of the day. The first death on 9?11 was of a Brooklyn Priest who without fear for his own life but with confidence and trust in the need of others and his clear role as a minister to “put the needs of others ahead of their own”. 374 firemen died that day giving their lives in service of others. Their is nothing more intrinsically Christian than to “give your life so others might live” which is exactly what Jesus had done (modeling) and taught the disciples to do so (molding). They chose death without fear of or for themselves. They choose death and prospered in all of our minds and hearts as the ultimate sacrifice. Two fighter pilots one the first woman to have that role took off for the not so friendly skies. Their was no time to put missiles or other artillery into her plane. She knew her job as to fly her jet into the other plan still lurking for a clear path to the White House. Because of the courage of the crew the plain was down before she got to it. May no mistake her though she new her job. To give her life a sacrifice for many. this is the heart of the Christian life.
That choice of death far out weighed the choice of life and prosperity. In another sense the story of risking my life in service of others is itself to choose life in the tradition of Jesus choice of life and death both resulting in a different kind of prosperity. Even in Deuteronomy 30 – 32, Moses chooses to go up Mt Nebo to his death rather than trying to convince God of his right to enter the promised land. Maybe choosing life means choosing what God has for me rather than me trying to tell God what I want. So sometimes choosing life as opposed to the darkness of self-centered preoccupation is choosing prosperity. Other times choosing death, in service of a good life of service for and to others, is prosperity in a different sense.
The modeling of Christian principles molds others in the way of those principles. Religious molding is not the same as spiritual modeling.
My wife and I were talking recently about the need for supportive people to be present at the side of leaders. Which by the way I totally agree with. She asked me who my Aaron is? I said and “Hur”. She continued talking about the role of the supportive Aaron who when Moses as the leader got tired Aaron held up his arms, so the Israelites who continue to be victorious in battle.
I said what about “her”? She had totally focused on Aaron who as a brother to Moses had a lot of inbred, perhaps even nepotistic focus and awareness. I said isn’t it interesting that your whole focus was on the one side of Moses while the other side needed encouragement and support as well. She laughed and said I was totally right (an experience that trust me does not happen in that direction too often). It is usually she who is right as my her!
We laughed and talked about how intrinsic, infectious and internal is the prejudice against woman in a supportive way in life and ministry when the reality is that we need both men and woman in leadership and we need both men and woman in supportive roles of leadership.
Hur was for those who are not aware was the second person next to Moses holing his arms up when he tired of the position and needed to sit. Perhaps the use of the name “Hur” is subtly, suggestively, and maybe even purposefully suggestive of the ignoring and limiting of the role of woman in ministerial roles that has been part of the organized and male driven leadership of the church.
Make room for both your Aaron and your “Hur” or should that be “her” in your life and witness to the glory of God and the roles of both men and woman in life and service, in leadership and supportive roles in your life,
“And Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses, and victory was secured”
25 years ago I was the senior pastor of a growing church and invited the Youth pastor to debate me and he could choose the side he was most confident in representing>
The topic was is Judas Iscariot in Heaven or Hell.
He understandably chose the latter. After all the conventional and not so compassionate response of the church at that time was that Suicide is an act of defiance to God’s ordered life at best and at worse “punching a one way ticket to hell as the unforgivable sin”. The debate need not be commented on here as it is not the point that I am raising this for a different more focused reason. During the audience participation, the proverbial Q&A, one elder of the church was irate and yet polite as he raise d the objection that hearing his pastor argue that Judas committed suicide because he had no sounding board no forum to share what he had done without his own internal shame and external judgment (shaming) having a place to be voiced without judgment and with full compassion. This triggered his fearful parts that it would result in young people feeling that they could contemplate, share, and entertain such feelings.
We can break the sound barrier and think it is great but we hesitate to break the silence barrier on this incestuous enemy that once spoken for would have no power. As the Who sang, “The power of silence is a deadly friend, when no one sets the rules the instruments of death are in the hands of fools”. It is foolish to think that silence will force any problem out of being a problem. The opposite is more arguably true that silence perpetuates and prolongs the problem. Breaking the silence gives opportunity for the “depressed and suicidal” part to find collegiality in the community of humanity and thus its power lessened.
To the Elder, who was speaking our of concern for young people, I would say. Youth are feeling these feelings and having these thoughts. In compassion and clarity we need to invite these feelings and thoughts to be spoken to disempower them. To keep them imprisoned in the halls of silence with iron bars of fear is to imprisoned by our fears. to invite conversation is to invite the strength of community and compassion to bond together to change the slavery of fear and embrace the pathways to faith hope and love.
It is not about heaven and hell it is abut the hell of silence and the hope and love of heaven.
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