Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reflecting Thomas

Just thinking this morning as going through scriptures, and how people reacted to a risen Messiah.
One in particular was the disciple named Thomas. Thomas was the thinker in the bunch chosen by Jesus.
A definite resonating in personalities between myself and Thomas. I am drawn to him more so than the other disciples because of our similarity in viewing the world and G-d.
To draw out a distinction between Thomas and another disciple would be Peter. Peter was the man of many words and outbursts(with and without thinking)and of physical action. Peter was the one on the ship seeing Jesus walking on the water and calling out, that if it was really him to bid him to come. With the welcoming call of the Master, Peter and only Peter left the safety of the ship to walk momentarily on the waves of faith.
Inside the boat were the other disciples, some with fear, unbelief and uncertainty. I can be imagine Thomas however, looking out of the boat, seeing water which will not physiologically uphold human weight. This is the mind of the scientific thinker; this should not be possible, how can water sustain a human being as the surface of ground?
His psychology is drawn out further when Jesus is explaining his departure from this earth. In John 14:1-4 Jesus explains that should trust him as they trust G-d. "Don;t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in G-d; trust also in me. In my Fathers house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you so. I am going there to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be with me where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.".
Thomas then says in v.5 ; ".."Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way." There was no registering of the Messiah coming and going and coming back in the disciples minds, so for Thomas, he was not getting this as a thought of having a faith to believe in some future reality, a place of physicality that Jesus was preparing to go. This is why he could he wanted desperately to understand the way.
Jesus explains in v.6: "I am the way the truth and the life...". Thus Thomas struggled even more and we see this more clearly after the resurrection.
Post resurrection appearances to the women and to other the disciples including Peter, John , confirmed Jesus' reality. Thomas however was not there for this appearing. He got the eye witness accounts from the disciples.
First of all, dead men after three days don't rise up by themselves. Yes, Thomas had witnessed Jesus raise people from the dead, but to raise oneself, that's impossible! Listen to his response to the report; "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.".
Now this is a rational mind. This is my mind and my way of thinking. This is not faith but believing on account of evidence. Thomas struggled with the idea of faith in what he could not see and even what he did see, he wanted to figure it out.
As I think of this and reflecting, I can't escape that this is who I am. I can understand the huge stumbling block of having faith. Thomas did not want to be duped into fallacies and fantasies. This is why we do not see him jumping over the side of the boat unlike Peter. He wanted something real and tangible to hang onto so as to move forward.
This is how good Jesus is, he obliges Thomas' request and meets him inside(through locked doors) the house where the disciples were meeting. "Then he said to Thomas, put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.".
Thomas resounds with a statement of complete reverence and worship;"My Lord and my G-d!".
He finally believed Jesus, not at his former promises and declarations but physical proof.
There must be something to learn in faith in the unseen promises of G-d. So much so that Jesus says that ,"Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.".
Although I am a Thomas at heart, I truly would love to be a Peter, the one to not look at the water, but to jump out and walk on water. To be the one to rush into the tomb and see it empty only to meet the risen one.
Thomas later on according to tradition and some history took his "faith"and walked it to India to preach the word of Living Savior.
G-d is good and gracious, Lord help my unbelief and bid me come. Amen

Friday, July 16, 2010

Phosphoric Imagery

What is Light? This is the question I am working on here.
Even though, according to my family, I am rather wordy when it comes to descriptions, I would have thoroughly enjoyed a simple one sentence description of what light is. Seeing , however there are so many different uses of the word, definition becomes rather broad and wide.
This question for me originally came up in a bible study group I attend, and it was on the beatitudes of Jesus. In the gospel of Matthew chapter 5:14-16 Jesus extends the unbelievable idea to his disciples; "you are the light of the world". An astounding statement that I'm sure they would have struggled with.
What exactly did Jesus mean with this statement of poetic imagery he conveyed? What did it mean to the disciples and to me(us)? This is what I want to discover.
I want to begin this study not with a definition, but with a beginning statement that brought time into being. Genesis 1 says this; "In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was empty and formless, darkness was over the surface of he deep and the breath(spirit) of G-d was hovering over the waters. And G-d said let there be light. G-d saw the light was good and separated the light from the darkness. G-d called the light day and the darkness he called night; and there was evening and morning,the first day."
That is GREAT!, SUPER!! What great imagery of G-ds creativity and masterpiece if ingenuity in starting the time clock. And He does it with light. But what light is this passage talking about? If this is the first day of creation and there is no sun or moon, no stars in the sky, for they do not enter existence until the fourth day. What is this light?
Maybe G-d really did create the sun and stars on the first day and didn't flick the switch until the fourth day. After all, plants and vegetation were created on the third day and plants need sunlight and water to produce photosynthesis.
To investigate further on this idea of the first creative act of light so as not to come up with kind of grasping at straws answers.
1. G-d as light of revelation
I'm finding this idea of a theology of light a little deeper than I anticipated. If however there is anything worth investigating time into, this, at least for me is necessary and valuable.
The scriptures repeatedly use metaphors for G-d in images that we can somewhat understand. It is not a full representation of the One True G-d, but rather the language is earthly more so than spiritual terminology. It helps to describe the undefinable essence of G-d.
Light is used in varied terms for G-d, so we must uncover some passages that might reveal this luminous G-d. The first idea of light or illumination I would like to draw from is from the account of Moses arriving at the mountain of G-d in Exodus 3:1-3. After many years in the backside of the desert, Moses, who had fled from Egypt and royalty became somewhat of obsolete from society. He became a husband, father and a shepherd, and yet there remained a light from the past to shine forth towards the future.
The account in Exodus says that" an angel of the L-rd appeared to him in a blaze of fire amid the bush. He saw and behold, the bush was burning in the fire, but the bush was not consumed.".
This is a theological reality that I struggled with as I read this, and that is the idea of omnipresence. This is a word that theologians use to describe G-d in terms of being in all places at all times and that there is no place where G-d is not. With this idea given however, how does the invisible G-d illumine in one place and not elsewhere? If there is a theophany(appearance of G-d), is He no longer present elsewhere? How can this be?
Moses encountered G-d in many occasions, probably more so than others in scriptures. In this first stark meeting is in and by an angel in a blaze of fire. So many question arise in my mind with this statement, such as why a fire?; was the angel the fire?; and why a bush?
So as not to get off track, I want stay with this idea of G-d, the omniscient and omnipresent One, containing himself in the light of fire.
As a kid I remember being rather interested in fires, as young boys are. I remember taking a magnifying glass into the side yard of my house. I would get some paper or some dried grass in a pile and would try setting it on fire by the little ray of light that would be captured through the glass. I could usually only get the paper to start to smolder.
I am trying to understand this revelatory idea of an omnipresent G-d through the mind of my childhood so bear with me. Maybe G-d when He chooses, concentrates his light and radiance like a magnifying glass. He is still ever present and everywhere, but has for special purposes concentrated His light and pinpoints himself for special revelation.
This angel that is spoken of in v.2 of Ex. chapter3 could very well be the light of G-d pinpointed in the blaze. His light is in the lowly thorn bush which very well could be a picture of Israel in bondage. With the presence of G-d, the light of the fire, and thus Israel even though in bondage and exile is not consumed.Moses coming upon this wondrous occasion "saw". Moses saw and beheld this phenomenon . Because of time, distance and maybe comfort had forgotten the anguish of his brothers and sisters in suffering.Through the light of fire, he now saw and it was only because of light that anything came to his mind.
As in the beginning, the first thing to ever come into existence and invade the earth was G-d and is the light , the light of revelation. Light is the illumination of G-ds essence and expression and of his righteousness and goodness.
I believe this is what that first light was; It was the ethereal light of G-d Himself.
And G-d said let there be light.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Find yourself a Teacher

This is a famous saying from the Talmud;"Find yourself a teacher." I believe this to be a very wise saying, because although an individual may learn vast amounts of knowledge and experience, it just might be the missing link to ones life if he/she chooses to become a student again.
I wonder,if one is teaching and instructing a disciple, does the teacher abandon the role of student?
I think probably not. It is with in the sharing of the treasury of knowledge accumulated, whether intellectual or experiential that benefits the learner, but enriches the teacher as well so that he(the teacher) can see just how much he doesn't know. It is kind of like an old phrase I heard a while back; You never know how much you don't know until a child starts to ask questions.
It is the humble calling of each of us to be unprepossessing learners and even more meek and unassuming teachers.
Good night and Bruch HaShem!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Deep River

Just thought I would jot some thoughts that rumble through my mind as I sometimes get lost in the whirlpool of so many relentless brooding and ponderings of my existence.
This is a poem of my own lostness that haunts me even in my being found.

The Deepest River
Blackness surrounds me,
but your love is abounding,
Immersed in the darkness
over swept in its current.
Jesus I know you're
there, help me endure it.
So lost in my thoughts and
have cast my own nightmare.
I'm desperate and anxious,
and a place to turn I have
found no where.
I reach for your hand and I
cannot find it.
My G-d, My G-d, I'm fading and feel
I've had it.
Then the still small voice
comes and says;"Be still and cease
all your warring. For I am G-d the
wonderful and glorious. You are not alone
I'm walking beside you, still and
know, that I am G-d.".
I'm seeking you, but it feels
I've lost you.
Thought for sure you had abandoned.
Feels as though I can barely breath
or stand.
I fall back on the fact that my soul
you have fashioned.
Your ways oh G-d take me through waters deep.
Believe I am drowning, but my hands
you hold and my soul you keep.
I find this amidst the doubt and torrents,
that your promises beg me to sing even
though my spirit feels abhorrence.
In the deepest part of this river,
I find no refreshing within my soul.
Treading in ideas and speculations
so many times loosing sight of my goal.
My insides cry out from my very existence
and begs and questions who am I?
I finally relinquish with the
felt presence of deaths dark night.
I give it up to G-d, and He pulls
me up out of the rivers rush
with His love and might.
Once more the whisper blows against
my dampened brain;
"Be still and know....."

I will keep on trusting and walking faithfully to my G-d and Savior.

Have a good night and G-d bless.


Friday, July 9, 2010

First Blog for the adventure!

This is my first day on my creation on my very own blog. Not really sure what the word blog means, but I have one.
I hope for a couple of things out of this venture and that is to kind of catalog my thoughts, put forth some commentary on theology and listen for feedback(nothing to harsh please).
Don't want to get into anything too deep just yet seeing my youngest is requesting for me to help her with hunting in the fridge.
Well thanks for checking out my sight(or is it blog?).
Thanks, will be posting tomorrow with some thoughts.