John 10: 22-24, 27-30 (Scholars Version/adapted)
It was the Festival of Lights in Jerusalem and it was wintertime.
Jesus was walking around in the temple area,
in Solomon’s Porch.
The Temple Authorities surrounded him, asking
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Anointed, just say so.”
“The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I provide them with real life.
They will never be lost and no one will ever snatch them from my hand.
Abba God, who gave them to me,
is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Holy One.
For Abba and I are one.”
My cousin Chuck passed away on Friday and I’m headed to his memorial service tomorrow so the blog post comes early this week. I’ve been remembering Chuck in little passing moments since I heard the news. Chuck enjoyed his life and his enjoyment rubbed off on other people. A big man, he would don a silly hat with a pig snout on it, a family tradition, and preside over the auction/fundraiser at our annual reunion with a grin and booming voice. He proudly held up and sold off handmade quilts, quarts of pear preserves, and other goodies contributed mostly by the old-timers and bought by the younger generations to pay for the weekend.
He didn’t have much of a taste for organized religion, but he loved to fly and I wonder if he encountered The Mystery out in the open sky. He got connected to a humanitarian organization that did relief missions and volunteered his plane and his services as a pilot dozens of times to deliver food and medicine to hurting corners of Latin America. He was a loving father and son as well as a doting grandson, always teasing my Granny and making her smile.
Also, Chuck liked to cook meat. Most years he would anchor the potluck at the family reunion with a huge slow-cooked brisket, carrying it in with a smile and a flourish. I like to remember him through this lens– as one who, like Jesus, enjoyed feeding others and wanted to share the juicy, tasty bits of life with the ones he loved.
This week we continue our Eastertide book study with chapters 6-10 of take this bread by Sara Miles. In these chapters Sara reminds her readers that the Bible invites everyone ‘to taste and see’ and asks us to consider the relationship between the Eucharist and ‘real’ food, between faith and ‘real’ life.
I like the translation of this week’s scripture passage from John where we hear Jesus saying, “My sheep recognize my voice. I know them and they follow me and I provide them with real life…” Now some translations say ‘eternal’ life, but this translation, from the Jesus Seminar, uses ‘real’ life.
How does it change things to consider Jesus holding out his hands, ever the good shepherd, and offering us the fullest possible life, starting now?
Eastertide is a good time to ask these questions. During this season we celebrate that Jesus ultimately rests in the hands of God, not in the hands of the emperor or the hands of death. So too we can celebrate the claim that we are in Jesus’ hands and we are safe. What could it mean to trust that space? To feel claimed and held by God rather than adrift in existance? How then are we equipped to become the hands of Christ in the world?
Join us tomm evening and Sunday as we consider these questions and share some good food. (Wed Night Community Gathering, Casa Semrad. 108 S. Rosemont. 6:30pm) 214. 233. 4605 for more info.
Peace to you,
PS Alan is hosting a drop in book club again this Sunday at 10 am. He is making the coffee; everyone is invited to bring questions and together look for answers.
LOVING THE WORLD BACK TO LIFE
One of the joys of pastoring a church such as Church in the Cliff is how engaged this community is in social investment of various forms. We give money, we organize, we volunteer, we enter into relationship with the poor, locally and globally, and we help and love each other.
Richie shared this story with me from the newsletter of the North Texas Food Bank. It is a speech from a leader in the food banking world who basically says that at the beginning of the anti-hunger movement in this country they thought it was the churches who were going to make it possible to feed people. Now they realize that actually churches don’t really abide by the ‘feed my sheep’ directive in scripture and they have to work ‘to reform the churches in order to serve the poor.’
Provocative stuff… Watch it and post comments on site or let’s talk about it!
This spring we continue with a paradigm for worship and study launched in the fall at Church in the Cliff called Feast on the Word: Savoring Scripture in a Twitter World.
As part of this practice we draw our scriptural lesson from the revised common lectionary (which provides four lessons for each week). The worship team commits to engaging the scripture and seeing what speaks to the life of our church and all are invited to join in the conversation through our worship planning meeting, the Community meal, worship, and by posting comments online at our Church in the Cliff website.
Worship Team meets Mondays 6pm at Beckley Brewhouse, 1111 N. Beckley, Dallas 75203. All are welcome. We are a community which strives to blend the arts and justice-seeking action into our worshiping core. We would love your ideas and creativity. Join us!
Church in the Cliff Board
Ross Prater, Moderator
Kristin Schutz, Clerk
James Fairchild, Trustee
Cara Stoneham, Trustee