Archive for April, 2013

wetsuitJesus: Okay guys, let’s review. What do I preach?

Simon: You preach what John did, ‘Repent! The Kingdom of God is near!’

John: You preach in stories about stuff that doesn’t immediately make sense, like, lost sheep, pearls, sons and buried investments.

James: Your best one was on the mount, about the beatitudes and relating to others in your kingdom.

Nate: You’ve talked about going to prepare a place for us.

Bart: You’ve talked a lot about persecution and bearing our burdens.

Matthew: You’ve said your kingdom is here, BUT you’ve also said it’s not of this world, it’s mysteriously within and sometimes without. Love, grace, mercy and peace are found in the kingdom but they’re only visible through our actions.

Judas: ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’

Murphy (the non-disciple): You preach like your kingdom is right here, but it’s clearly not, but it is. It’s invisible It’s also opposite.

Jesus: Opposite?

Murphy: Yeah, great is small, leading is serving, death is life, meek is strong, humility is confidence, getting is giving, rich is poor, love enemies, forgive, forgive, forgive…it goes on and on like this. In your kingdom you are like a servant. The Kingdom is not like this world, but it all fits within and without.

Thomas (holding up his hand): But your Kingdom isn’t for the Pharisees, or rich, or powerful.

Jesus: It is difficult for the proud and powerful to enter the kingdom — ‘lords’ aren’t very good at serving — they don’t get the paradoxes Murphy mentioned. Truth is, you have to die so I can begin to live through you and reconstruct your life in the kingdom. You become someone new — in the kingdom you become complete.

John: The great thing about the kingdom is that it is always close at hand — it really is NEAR — especially when things go bad. It’s like a doorway to peace in the middle of hell.

Jesus: You guys are on top of it. When I say my the kingdom is near, that’s exactly what I mean. You can live in it any moment you choose, take up your cross and come on in. Thing is, you can step back out — on this planet, living in the kingdom is a choice. Here’s what I see, you guys are in the kingdom, but you sometimes wear it too tightly. It’s like skin, but the kingdom is supposed to be so big it draws others in. Think like a big bubble others can enter, too. Join each other in the kingdom, don’t stand alone.

John: I see what you mean. We’re standing around right now in a bunch of tiny, individual bubbles lookin’ at the kingdom within  when we should be one big bubble — pushing the kingdom outward.

Jesus: Wanna know how to join all the bubbles?

Disciples: Yeah.

Jesus (grabbing a pail of water and a towel; winking at Murhpy): Let me wash your feet.

Tr8: Live in the kingdom. Experience the unseen.

shutoutThe Disciples are standing outside the car wash while the van is going through. Andrew is cutting up, talking about opening a “baptizing car wash.”  Jesus is amused and the rest of the group is laughing (except Judas, who has gone off for a smoke). They walk to the end of the conveyor and wait for the van. As they stand waiting, a drier/detailer with a deformed hand approaches.

Detailer (holding out his arm): Sir, if you want, you can heal me.

Jesus (reaching out and taking the extended arm): I want to. Your sins are forgiven (immediately the man’s arm is straightened and whole).

Disciples: (clapping and whistling)

Detailer gets a high-five from Jesus and goes back to work.

Jesus: You know, you guys can do this more often, right?

Peter: I’ve tried, but it doesn’t always work, but when it does –WOW!

Jesus: You have to get your shutout time.

James: Shutout time?

Jesus: Yeah. Shutout time is critically important in relating to the Father and focusing his will in the lives of others and yourself.

John: Is there a formula for shutout time?

Jesus: Yes and no. It depends upon the relationship you develop with the Father. You notice that I disappear on a lot of nights and sometimes for a day or two?

Andrew: Sure. We know not to mess with you when you get that look and head out. I followed you once and you just sat on the ground in the dark for a couple of hours.

Jesus: Here’s how to do shutout time: Get away from everything —  all the noise, interruptions and distractions. Quit thinking about stuff — past, present or future — and open yourself completely to the Father. Quit talking to yourself. Wait for him to speak. Reflect upon being like me.

Peter: So, when I healed the leper outside the market the other day it was because of the shutout time I had the day before?

Jesus: There’s a connection between the time you spend with God and the degree to which the Holy Spirit can work through you. ALL of you will do things similar to what I do. The key will be for you to do as I do. To love as I love. To discern the path of the Father’s power as I do. I came so you can have a CLOSE, PERSONAL relationship with God. I am the way, the truth and the life — no one can know the Father apart from me. A dynamic relationship comes from intimate communion with God, in me.

Tr8: Find shutout time.

street_personJesus is in Capernaum at Starbucks with the leading disciples, Peter, James, John, Andrew and Murphy, the non-disciple. They are across the street from Matthew’s customhouse and up the street from the synagogue.

Jesus: I believe I told you guys that I would take care of all the cursing that needed to be done. You’re not supposed to swear. Peter, I saw you when you snagged your thumb in the net and blessed out the nets, the surrounding boats and all the fish in the lake.

Peter (uncomfortably): Well, yes, I understand our arrangement with swearing.

Jesus: So, what’s the deal?

Peter: It was the kind of situation that needed immediate attention and you weren’t there to do the work, so I took it upon myself.

Jesus (smiling): I suppose it’ll be all right. You do have a flair for swearing.

Andrew: I’ll say. He does in cussing what a sculptor does in stone.

Jesus: Let me ask you guys something. When you’re in the market do you hear swearing?

James: Sure. Wherever there are people you hear cursing.

Jesus: What about in the synagogue.

James: Nope. Course not. No swearers in the synagogue.

Jesus: What about beggars and thieves?

John: Definitely in the market. And just about everywhere else.

Jesus: At the synagogue?

John: No. Not in the synagogue.

Jesus: What about gays. Do you ever see gays?

Andrew: The tailor next door, Steve, is gay. He does excellent work.But yeah, they’re around — not a majority — but almost everywhere I go.

Jesus: At the synagogue?

Andrew: No.

Jesus: What about fast women, butchers, boxers, Roman soldiers, tax collectors, sick people, debtors, poor and lost people?

Peter: They’re everywhere.

Jesus: In the synagogue?

Peter: No.

Jesus: What’s wrong with this picture?

Tr8: The church of Jesus’ day was all about truth, but neglected grace. Jesus’ mission was to seek and save the people who rarely darkened the door of a synagogue. Go and do likewise. Maintain truth in a spirit of grace. Open your church and heart to those in need.

nothingLevi is snuffing out the candles and it’s about to be pitch black. The disciples and others are feeling a little weird because Jesus has asked them to spend the night IN THE HOUSE OF A TAX COLLECTOR! People of all sorts are scattered throughout Levi’s villa in Capernaum.

Today was his last day as a tax collector.

Levi: Anybody need a cover or something? Bathroom’s out back, to the left. There’s water in the icebox.

Peter: Jesus, you know we (motioning toward the other disciples) can stay at my house, nearer the water… (mumbles to himself) ‘Levi’s’ villa — ‘Taker’s’ villa — got that right.

Jesus: We’re fine Peter. Besides this place is bigger and cleaner than your place. Smell the lavender?

Nathaniel: Is it good for us to be in this place all night? What will the neighbors think? There are women here…and the Pharisees — they’ll talk about this forever.

Pharisee: I heard that! I’m taking names!

Jesus (with authority): Everybody! Listen up! This is a good place and a good time. Follow my instructions. Be absolutely quiet. (They hear the sound of nightingales, trickling water, a breeze through the hall and crickets.)

Now, here’s complete silence… (and the room goes completely silent — no sounds at all — eerily quiet).

Peter (uncomfortably): Master, please quote us some Isaiah…or, what’re tomorrow’s plans? Fishin’?

Jesus: Shhh. Turn off all the noise and listen. Open your eyes and see the nothing around you.

They all lie in absolute silence in the darkness. A deep, holy peace settles on the group.

Jesus (quietly): Before the universe was created, there was this. Nothing. And it was all God — the Father, Spirit and me. And it was all NOW. We made everything, placed it in time, and it still didn’t fill us up. There’s still more nothing than something out there — you cannot comprehend. Plus, all past, present and future are only perceived now. NOW. Everything is the lessor part of me!

Peter: I’m lost.

Jesus: Exactly. My gift to you is now. Enjoy it. When you cancel out all the noise, ideas, distractions — everything. What’s left is you and me. In my emptiness I bestow the deepest peace and love for which you might hope. When you are lost, I am found. When you are empty, I am there. When you are full, I am there. I am. My presence is a consuming fire! You lose and find yourself in me.

Levi (thoughtfully): So, no matter where we find ourselves and no matter the circumstances, we have the gift of ‘now’ from you if we shut out all the noise and pay attention? Hmm. I’ll ‘take’ that, or my name’s not Levi!

Jesus (quietly smiling): Beginning now, I shall call you, ‘Matthew’ — ‘gift of God’ — your story will be a gift to many. In life or death — something or nothing. I am. And I am with you. The past no longer exists and the future has yet to come. Right NOW, I am with you. Do not neglect the salvation to be found in this moment. Follow me, Matthew.

Matthew: I do.

Jesus: Seek nothing more.

Tr8: Right now, experience Christ. Live him in this moment.