Archive for the ‘Between the lines’ Category

Murphy, an Irish pub owner, is walking through Capernaum and bumps into a guy in front of Starbucks.

Murphy (carrying a load of books): Oops! ‘Scuse me.

Jesus (smiling): Murph! I’m Jesus, you’re Matt’s friend.

Murphy (smiling, too): Sure! I know you!

Jesus: No, you don’t.

Murphy (eyebrows raised): What?

Jesus: You DON’T know me.

Murphy: Matt says you’re God, the Messiah–you have disciples, a magic touch, high connections and stuff.

Jesus: All true, but you don’t know me. You make lists about objects. But people require revelation. For instance, what’s my favorite food?

Murphy: Figs?

Jesus: Nope, Ted Drew’s chocolate concretes in St. Louis.

Murphy: I didn’t understand a thing you just said.

Jesus: That’s because you don’t know me.

Murphy: What’s my favorite food?

Jesus: I don’t know, what?

Murphy: Ha! It’s shepherd’s pie! With a crunchy crust…

Jesus: Ah, you like crunchy crusty things…I’m going to make fried chicken and french fries for you and your family sometime.

Murphy: Mmm. Sounds good. How do you know I have a family?

Jesus: I know everything about you, but you haven’t revealed much to me. Let’s pop into Starbucks and talk.

Murphy: Okay. Please, it’s my treat, though.

Jesus: So, you like to give stuff to others?

Murphy: Yeah, I wish I had more to give away. People around here have so many needs. I feel blessed, but I worry about my neighbors. For instance, the Jacobson’s family–they were evicted last week, so they’re staying in my pub for now. Sad.

Jesus: I’m a giver, too. See that cut on your arm? Watch this.

(Jesus runs his finger along the cut and it disappears)

Murphy (drops his books at a booth): Whoa! Thanks, that was amazing! Wish I could do that!

Jesus (looking intently): Well, we’ll see. It’ll depend on if we’re compatible and can relate.

Murphy: I once knew a barber who could sew up cuts, but nothing like you do. He could also sing–the other three guys in his shop used to sing Egyptian tunes in four-part harmony–beautiful!

Jesus: You like music?

Murphy (excited): Oh, yeah, I sort of play the guitar. Mostly folk songs from Ireland–reminds me of home. You like music?

Jesus: As a matter of fact, I do. And, I like Irish music, too. Do you know Danny Boy?

Murphy: Sure! Can you sing?

Jesus: A little.

Murphy: I’d love to hear you sing. Maybe you could come to the pub some evening and we could try some tunes. Can you play anything?

Jesus: I mess around with a concertina that was Uncle Zebedee’s.

Murphy: James and John’s dad? I know them! John and I went to the same gymnasium. He’s a bit of a hot-head, but deep down he’s a thoughtful guy.

Jesus: Yeah, not many people see that in John, but they will. So, you look beyond the surface when you meet people?

Murphy: I guess so. I’m no saint, so I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I certainly can’t throw any stones…

Jesus: Interesting. I’m enjoying getting to know you Murph. We see a lot of things the same way–a kind of shared values thing.

Murphy: Yeah, I see we do. It’s like we’ve let each other in. I’m beginning to see what makes you tick and why everyone is drawn to you.

Jesus: Right. Me, too. You’ve revealed a lot about yourself just now. See, that’s what people do; they reveal and relate–or not. That’s how I decide who I decide to ask to follow me. Disciples–friends–mates–share values. ‘Seems the more folks are alike, the better they relate.

Murphy: 10-4. I read you. I guess I didn’t know you after all, but I know you better now and hope do this again.

Jesus: We will. Murphy, here’s something very important. Listen closely. I’m looking for friends like you who are looking for friends like me. AND, I am that I am. I’m GOD. I met Simon Aaronson, the scribe at the synagogue…I doubt we’ll ever be friends. Understand, I love him, but we have nothing in common, plus he’s a jerk around women and hates kids.

Murphy (looking down; somewhere between humble and afraid): Wow…  Lord, that makes perfect sense. Everyone builds relationships by revelation, right?

Jesus: Murphy, you are on the right track. I’ll have a tall Pike Place, black. I think we’re going to be good friends. Can I bring my guys around to the pub tonight?

________

Tr8: Want God to reveal himself to you? Reveal yourself to him and hope what you reveal draws him closer. The more like Jesus we become, the better the revelation.

 

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Murphy, the non-disciple, and his wife, Harpreet, have just settled in for the night–kids are in bed and sleeping. Ten feet away.

Harpreet (whispering): You’ve been talking a lot of Jesus who was executed recently.

Murhpy (whispering): Yeah, he’s back. Amazing. I think he’s God… (pause) I talked with him in Jerusalem last week. ‘Said, his way was THE WAY to live and know God.

Harpreet (louder, Murph puts a finger to her lips): God! (quieter) Sounds like India. We have gods by the bundle at home in Cambay. Which god do you think Jesus is?

Murph: Not a god–the god. How many of your family’s gods have risen from the dead and talked with you lately? Have you seen Buddha at the well this week? Jesus is the real deal.

Harpreet:  Hmm. Don’t all religions have the same end–nirvana, heaven, hope and peace with major helpings of health and prosperity? In India, we have–Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Krishna, Rama, Hanuman, and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga, Kali and Saraswati–and that’s just getting started. We also have Buddha, who teaches noble truths and an eightfold path.

Murph: Yeah, Buddha had some good things to say about self-denial, but apart from a work-around on suffering, he left you with a wheel-of-life or oblivion. While some of his followers say he passed on nirvana to get people off the wheel–he didn’t do a Pentecost with wind and languages, right?  The other gods haven’t much to offer either.

Harpreet: Well, Jesus was different.

Murph: Jesus was, or is, different because he lived/lives as you’d imagine God would live if he were a human. He was awesomely god 24/7. You met him. I’ve been with his disciples for years.

Harpreet: Yes, such a caring man! He was the nicest person you ever brought into this house. The kids loved him.

Murph: See, you get it–you know him. For those who don’t, he not only lived truth and grace perfectly–he rose from the dead! He was too much for a grave to hold. He couldn’t not live–the Jews and the Romans couldn’t put him down. They got rid of him and he came back! Everybody in Jerusalem and Judea know this story. And it’s spreading. How embarrassing for the Temple dudes.

Harpreet: Well, that does put him in a class above all the other gods and religious leaders I’ve ever heard of. So, he can’t not live?

Murph: Yep. He can’t be stopped. Not only that, he told me that if I abided in him, I’d also be unstoppable. I believe him! No grave for me–I’ve hitched my cart to him and trust his word. Ultimately, I’ll be with him, wherever he is.

Harpreet: What about me? I, too, have met him. And after what you’ve said, I believe he’s God, too.

Murph: You repent and–his words, not mine–“Love God with all you have and love your neighbors as yourself.” Most of his group were baptized, some maybe twice, when they repented and put faith in God for forgiveness. John the Baptist baptized me before he was taken to prison and executed.

Harpreet: Well, I certainly repent of my sins and I know God’s forgiven me. Who’ll baptize me?

Murph: We’ll ask the disciples who should do it, but they’ll have trouble with you, not being a Jew and all. Barnabas might help us out. Right now it’s kind of a Jewish thing. Even so, they’ve heard all the different languages when the Holy Spirit descended. That ought to be a clue. They also saw how Jesus loved me even though I’m not a Jew or a disciple. Jesus told me to wait ’cause Peter was going to have a dream and us non-disicples were going to be allowed to join The Way.

Harpreet: I guess there are lots of gods and religions, but they all have different ends. Only Jesus gives me a personal relationship with God, his Father. My faith reveals truth and grace for application in my life. I never got that through faith in Hindu gods, Buddha or the sacred rocks and trees at home.

Murph (giving Harpreet a hug; she reciprocates): Our mutual faith increases our mutual love. Love you, honey. Have a good night’s sleep.

Tr8: Pick Jesus (see the Gospels).  Jesus offers unconditional love, unmerited forgiveness and comprehensive peace.

Homework: What do other religions offer? With whom do you wish to walk at the end of your journey? Moses, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Buddha, Maitreya, Caesar, Jesus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Yoda?

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man named Judas Iscariot came along who was covered with poison ivy. When he saw Jesus, he showed him his blisters and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched Judas. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the poison ivy blisters left him.

Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for poison ivy, as a testimony to them.”

The news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.

Jesus had just healed a women with warts when Judas returned. Judas said, “Master, It’s been a week and I’ve gone to the priest. Moses didn’t say anything about poison ivy.”

Jesus said, “You error, not knowing the Scripture and the power of God. Many’s the time I’ve avoided this, but that the Father may be glorified — Judas, drop what’char’doin and follow me.”

Judas was moved. He mashed out his cigar under the toe of his sandle and said, “Like Andrew and Peter?” A tear came to Jesus’ eye and he said, “Yeah, like Matthew, sorta.” Slowly he moved forward and embraced Judas, saying, “Peace be with you, Judas.” Judas replied, “And also with you.”

Jesus wept.

And thereafter Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Tr8: What does love your enemy look like? Can one wish better for Judas than Jesus?  Here’s an idea: what if we started a $1 million Judas Iscariot Fund and tried to redeem his name by helping others in Jesus’ name? Call me screwed up, but I wish sometimes…

Luke 5 and a bunch of others verses — a regular scavenger hunt of Scripture blips.

followerMurphy, the non-disciple, stood speechlessly steaming as his wife, Harpreet, walked away. He’d just smacked her a good one in the middle of an argument. Harpreet, from a former abusive relationship, also just smacked him.

This was something both thought would never happen. But, in the heat of the moment, under the circumstances, both vented their frustrations physically. This was not the first time either received a smacking, but it was the first time between THEM.

Murphy (to himself): I can’t believe this…

Harpreet: I can’t believe this.

Murph: I’m sorry, I…

Harpreet: Either the pub goes or I do!

Murph: There’s nothing wrong with the pub! It’s how I make a living and take care of you!

Harpreet: No, it’s how you avoid me and leave me on my own!

Murph: You know I love you. How else am I to pay the bills?

Harpreet: Find a way that doesn’t require you to tend bar all hours of the day and night.

Murph: This isn’t fair…

Harpreet walks out.

Murph (as she goes): I’ll work something out. I promise.

Harpreet: Yeah, sure. What’ll you do?

Murphy, moodily locks up his pub and heads up to the nearby highlands to seek wisdom from the Oracle of Galilee, Madam Roberts. She lives in a cave and is locally known for her wisdom.

Madam Roberts (rubbing her brow knowingly): Ah! You have a problem and come for the Wisdom of the Oracle. Sit.

Murph (sitting across from Madam): Wow, how did you know? My marriage is falling apart. I need you to help me.

Madam: The Oracle needs inspiration.

Murph (pulling out a few denari): Here’s an offering. My problem is…

Madam (holding up her hand): Stop. The Oracle knows all. You have fought with your wife.

Murph: Well, duh. She thinks I don’t…

Madam (closes her eyes, sways, rises and lifts her hands: The Oracle speaks: “Love not the circumstances dictate actions.” Go. Next.

A man with a goat enters the cave.

Murph (startled; as he’s leaving): Hey, can I buy a comma?!

Murphy is pushed out of the cave.

Murph (heading down the hill): Well, crap. Love, not the circumstances, dictate actions?Love not, the circumstances dictate actions? Love not the circumstances, dictate actions?

When Murphy returns to his pub he turns around and finds Jesus following him.

Murph: Hey, Jesus. What are you doing?

Jesus: I’ve been following you.

Murph: Really? I’ve been up to the Oracle. She wasn’t much help. Wouldn’t give me a comma.

Jesus: Well, what did you expect? I’ll give you the comma–it goes after the first word.

Murph: Love, not the circumstances dictate actions.

Jesus: Yep.

Murph: I love Harpreet but that doesn’t change the circumstances.

Jesus: If love can’t change your circumstances, you are stuck.

Murph: Why can’t Harpreet change and work within our circumstances?

Jesus: Whose love do you control? Figure out what part of the problem is yours and begin working with that.

Murph: Harpreet will only be happy if I give up the pub!

Jesus: Love is most evident in sacrifice. Think about those who love you and you’ll be thinking of those who have made sacrifices for your sake. They’ve followed you all your live. Only love can inspire such sacrifices–it’s not natural or rational.

Murph: Hmm. You’re right, but I don’t know if I can make the kind of sacrifices needed in my case.

Jesus: Follow me. You and Harpreet, follow me.

Murph: But what if she won’t?

Jesus: Love follows. It’s the sacrifice. You follow me, she follows you, you follow her, I follow you…love follows. If she loves you, she’ll follow you. If you love her, you’ll follow her. If you love me, you’ll follow me. If you follow me, I will care for you.

Murph: How can I follow you AND follow her?

Jesus: Murphy, we are good friends, right? Do for Harpreet as I would do for you. You found me here for you today. I’ll always have what you need. You be me to her. The key: Start over. Whoever follows, always gets another start–another chance to get it right.

Murph: Okay, I’ll restart. I’ll follow. If all goes well, we’ll both follow, but no matter what, I’ll follow.

Tr8: Love follows.

LLHJesus is sitting at Starbucks drinking a tall French roast – black. Andrew and Peter walk in, order a couple of double-shot espressos.

Peter (looking at Jesus): What if I didn’t pay for my drink?

Jesus (smiling): You’d be in trouble, but I’d forgive you.

Andrew: What if I lied on my income taxes?

Jesus (shaking his head): I’d forgive you, too.

Peter: What if I cheated on my wife?

Jesus (raised eyebrows): I’d forgive you.

Andrew: What if punched Peter in the face?

Jesus (still smiling): I’d forgive you.

Peter (shoving Andrew): What if I threw Andrew off a cliff?

Jesus: I’d be sad, but I’d forgive you. Here’s the deal: Whatever the crime, I’m lettin’ you know I’ll forgive you ahead of time. The Father and I love you unconditionally.

Andrew: Isn’t that dangerous? We could go do whatever we wanted and then come back knowing you’d accept us and forgive us and everything would be fine.

Peter: Yeah, What’s the point of the rules if we know in advance we can get away with anything? You ARE saying we can get away with anything, right?

Jesus: Yep. And see, everything would be fine…but you’d know it could be better. That’s the whole thing. I want you to see what you’re REALLY like. It’s like watching people when they think no one is looking. My forgiveness produces the ‘no one’s looking’ context. It makes you choose between, ‘Can I get away with this?, or ‘Should I want to get away with this?’ If you go ahead and do something you KNOW I don’t like, you HAVE to ask yourself, what kind of love is that?!

Andrew: Of course, you’re right. As usual. When our love is transparent, others’ actions also become transparent.

Jesus: Ahh, Andrew. Yes. Unconditional love requires grace, mercy and sacrifice, but yields pure love. The Father and I bring you love and life, but it’s not in you, it’s in us because we are the ideal — we’re perfect. You do the will of those you really love.

Peter: Actually, your forgiveness is a little dangerous! It exposes bad love.

Jesus: The unforgivable sin is to not love others in this way — to be totally self-serving and self-consumed. People who can’t think beyond themselves act like god. I am the way, truth and life. No one comes to the Father, except my way — the way of love.

Peter: Jesus, I know you love that cinnamon coffee cake. Can I get you a piece?  Rew, you want one?

Tr8: Love one another unconditionally. Live unconditionally.