roamin' catholic: karin rosner

Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

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Öur Lady of the New Advent”An icon by the House For All Sinners & Saints, an urban liturgical community in Denver, CO

Taste and see that the LORD is good.Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8 New Living Translation)

Today Christians remember and celebrate Mary, Mother of Jesus in many different ways. Some are celebrating her entry into Heaven (many believe that she fell asleep in death and that her body was mysteriously taken up to be with her Lord), others are remembering her in more Protestant ways, focusing on her ultimate “Yes” in reply to the Angel Gabriel’s message to her.

The Feast begins on the eve. I am on vacation in the Pocono Mountains with my friend Andrea. We met and became fast friends on my first Alpha Course Weekend Away. I really needed this break from work and my crazy life, and I came west to the mountains on Andrea’s generous and timely invitation, determined to spend more time reading my Bible (on my Kindle) and pray. This holiday isn’t a retreat as such, but I’m deeply praying (as I look out from a back porch into the woods and relax into the prayerful music of birdsong and cicada chirps) for God’s Spirit and for renewal of my spirit, and my body, and my poor frazzled mind. (I think I am walking around on a fractured toe that I sustained climbing out of the pool, but that’s another story for another time.)

 

I believe that God speaks to us in many different ways, some of them quite ordinary. I really, really need to hear God speaking into my life right now.

 

Last night I was cooking dinner in her dacha’s little kitchenputting together a meat sauce to spoon over pasta. I split open a green bell pepper, and it bore a little baby pepper inside. I braced myself for dicing the onion, and once I peeled away the skin, there was a second onion, Siamese or split, growing inside. I had the strangest feeling that I should pay attention to what the vegetables were trying to tell me. The tomatoes came from a can, and there was nothing unusual about them. The garlic was also normal.

This morning, I grabbed my Kindle-Bible, and my devotional with today’s liturgical readings and set them on the porch. I made Marmite Toast, grabbed an orange from the fridge, set my tea to brew… and began to read. Psalm 34, Isaiah 61, Galatians 4:4-7 and of course The Song of Mary in Luke 1:46-55. When I peeled and sectioned my orange, there was an embryonic orange growing inside that one, too.

Father, you have the greatest sense of humor, ever. Of course, you invented funny. I love you. I believe in your promises and give you thanks and praise, not just to your Chosen People of the Old Testament and New, but to me, frazzled yearning for your Hope, me. Thank you for choosing Miriam of the House of David to be the mother of your Son, Jesus, my Lord, my Savior. Thank you for speaking to me through your Word, and through …er… vegetables and fruit. Thank you for Hope in the waiting, and for filling life with pregnant promise! Amen.

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Red Wine in a Glass

1Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

4Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

7However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.  – 1 Corinthians 8 1-13 (ESV)

When I exited the apartment where we were holding our Bible study, I was feeling very nice. What originally was supposed to be a women’s Bible Study on the Letter to the Hebrews became a co-ed group. The food, Bible-sharing and conversation were great, and the wine was flowing very freely. I drank one glass of Shiraz, and then I downed another. My limit is normally two drinks on those rare occasions that I do drink, and I was feeling very happy.

I was feeling so gosh darn happy that I responded to a text message from a guy friend who was having a spectacularly bad day. I walked and typed into my iPhone at the same time. As I sloshed across town, taking a long walk to my train line and breathing the cold night air in very deeply to sober up, I decided to send him a joke. My friend is a colleague in the ministry side of what I do, and the marketing side, too. He’s a Bible Guy. And he loves Star Wars. And, he needed something funny. I wrote what I thought was some kind of semi-innocent  yet nerdily esoteric remark about the Bible and Star Wars, and pressed “send”. I smiled to myself, pleased that I had done a good deed because I knew he’d get the joke and not be offended.  I shoved the iPhone into my pocket and walked on a little more.

My iPhone started buzzing in my pocket. It was a text from a girlfriend who also subscribes to my Facebook ministry page. I’ve got a very simple formula: portions of the readings from the day’s scripture passages, a little Biblical art, lots of prayer; I try to avoid controversy and create a prayerful little corner of Facebook that the Lord can use however he’d like to. Yeah. The page was still very new. It had about 350 followers on that evening and was growing at a fast clip.

“What were you drinking?” the little green bubble bounced out at me from the screen.

The mostly innocent joke that I had sent to Bible Guy? Er… I suddenly realized that in my drunken haze, it wasn’t sent through the text message app. It was distributed through Hootsuite  into at least 350 Facebook newsfeeds within a second, and to at least another 700 or so people through my Facebook friends’ list, and to my connections on Twitter and LinkedIn. Most of these readers would probably not get the Star Wars reference, and some of them might possibly be offended even if they did understand the joke. Even worse, readers who know me a little more than the page likers did might put all the little elements together and figure out, like my girlfriend, that I don’t hold my liquor very well. Everything that I had just sent out was inappropriate and liable to offend someone, getting in the way of my page’s purpose!

I stood still in the middle of the freezing sidewalk on West 14th Street, panting panicky hard breath clouds into the dark,  frantically logging into Facebook through the phone’s web browser to make sure that the potentially offending post was deleted from everywhere it had landed.

My idea of funny was appropriate to share with one person in the moment, but I am not sure how well it would be received by 1) other committed Christians who drink socially 2) committed Christians who don’t drink at all 3) my SciFi fan friends who are not committed Christians 4) my SciFi fan friends who I don’t know very well who _are_ committed Christians and who might be very sensitive 5) recovering alcoholics 6) Christians who believe Science Fiction and Fantasy  (and Star Wars in particular) are from the devil… there are stumbling blocks a-plenty here. My freedom, practiced with reckless abandon, may cause others to stumble.

How I live out my Christian faith, how I practice spirituality, and how I put both faith and spirituality into action in the world outside the confines of my own life  are shaped by every  element that’s molded me into me: family, upbringing, passions, interests, education experiences and the influence of the church I belong to now and how we worship; all of these have an impact on how I personally react to God’s message as I read through the scriptures and try to share Jesus Christ and my faith with others. All of this spiritually formative stuff isn’t just internal. It all flows outward and becomes external as all of us meet and share with each other and with others.

BUT… experience and a little reading about history has taught me that Christians don’t always agree, and what’s acceptable for one person might be very confusing for someone else.  What might be totally appropriate in one context (having one more drink with your friends while studying the Bible) might be completely inappropriate in other contexts (sharing the Gospel in cultures that don’t drink anything stronger than tea.)

So, when Mark Brown, a pioneer in using social networking in international Christian ministry, posted a photo to Facebook and his blog of the shiny, bright and new deeply personal tattoo he had inked across his upper back and shoulders, I didn’t think much of it other than wincing in sympathetic pain and thinking about the tattoos I’d like to get for myself but am too scared to. Mark’s tattoo is of two arms linked, Christ’s arm supporting and raising the arm and shoulder of his friend and brother.

“He’ll use it to share his story,” I thought to myself. “Good for him.” Lots of my friends have Christian tattoos. Some are ministers.  It is not a big deal for Christians in my group of friends, especially from my generation and younger, to get inked, or pierced.

Oh, but others are not going to understand. There’s gonna be a firestorm.

Every brave person engaging in ministry using the Internet interacts with a global community where Christian ideas collide. Although there are many elements of essential Biblical Christianity that most of us agree on, there isn’t a single universal set of interpretations for many of the elements of Law contained in both the Old and New Testaments.

Hundreds Facebook and blog comments later after he posted his photo, Mark recorded a video message that explained why he believed as a Christian, that getting a tattoo was a personal choice and not sinful. He broke apart the references to self-mutilation that are contained in Scripture (Leviticus 19:28). (Watch). The comments continued to explode in arguments for and against, and when I went back to read the additional comments left after my supportive post, he had shut down the entry to his blog. On one attempt, I couldn’t even load the page at all!

What Paul writes above to the Church in Corinth in verses 11 and 12 sobers me:

And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

Q: What are we trying to share? A: A message about Christ’s love.

 

Q: What gets in the way of the message? A: The medium of the message (a tattoo, an insensitive joke, a brightly colored v-neck sweater on a pretty female church leader, a female church leader, wine at a church event… )

 

Q: Will God overcome our mistakes in sharing his message?



A: I have to believe YES, but that doesn’t give me a license to share recklessly. I know that I won’t be able to be perfect as I share my faith… I am going to offend someone with something I say, whether I mean to or not. I believe in the goodness of God to overcome my silly Star Wars joke… but did anyone read it? Did I offend anyone by my stupid error?

I used “gosh darn” above. I am liable to offend someone reading this.

This morning I shared a flyer on my Facebook wall from my church about our St. Francis Day Blessing of the Animals event that’s coming up this weekend. One online friend became seriously offended and took me to task as to whether it was Biblical. We had a good discussion and I am inspired to look into her arguments. I don’t agree with her at all, but I tried to be sensitive to what she was saying gently  and share my reasons for what my church does and not puff myself up with my supposed knowledge (verse 1 and 2)  She’s my sister in Christ, and I need to love even as I feel the need to persuade her over to my side of the argument… or am I even supposed to? Am I sending a stumbling block onto the bridge between her and God (or between any other reader and God) even by trying to persuade her to understand what I believe?

What do you think? The comments are open…. moderated on my blog, but open.

"Hurricane Irene 2011"

NASA image of Hurricane Irene

25That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. – Matt. 6:25-34 (NLT)

This isn’t the blog post that I thought that I would write over the weekend.   It turns out that I didn’t have much of a weekend after all, and very little time to be reflective, journal or blog. I spent Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday dealing with first Hurricane Irene, then with her much diminished tropical storm self, and then with her aftermath. I worked all weekend in the call center trenches, and stayed in a hotel a couple of blocks away from my office. This is the first hurricane I’ve experienced where I was physically outside of my comfy middle class apartment and psychologically outside of my cozy bourgeois comfort zone.

The fringes of the  neighborhood where I work has its community of hard-edge locals, and you see them every morning  and dusk rush. There are junkies. There are hustlers, runaways, prostitutes, pimps and johns. There are porn addicts – the red light district starts behind Times Square. There are dozens of panhandlers lining my walk to work. Some might be homeless, others might have some kind of home or shelter to go to. These people, the ones with the cups and the signs were posted in their usual spots up until the time I switched from a ten-hour work shift into my cozy skyscraper hotel room before the rain really started in earnest. (I’m not quite sure how safe being on the 19th floor of the New Yorker Hotel actually was, solid as the ol’ girl seems to be.)

I don’t know where these people went to when the weather turned dangerous. Did the Port Authority let these people into the Bus Terminal or Penn Station?

Around midnight, the winds started to pick up and the rain grew steadily heavier. Irene threw things up at my window, it seemed. I thought about getting out of my bed and camping in the safety of the hallway, away from the windows in my suite.  I opened up the Gideon Bible from the nightstand to Jeremiah 33:3, which was comforting and prayerful,  and goes on and talks about the coming Messiah in David’s line further in Chapter 33, but that wasn’t the portion of Scripture I was thinking of that night. I was thinking of Matt. 6, but maybe… yes, there’s a connection. There always is.

“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”
Jer. 33:3 (NLT)

What was God trying to tell me or show me since I couldn’t get faces of the people I mostly quietly ignore every day out of my mind as the winds screamed outside the windows of the hotel? The verse from the Bible left me with more burning questions than a comforting answer. I’ve volunteered in the shelter system before, but I had never thought about these issues.  I prayed for those human beings who were in danger, homeless or homed.

I wondered what would happen to the birds around the City and those living in Central Park. I prayed for the birds, the squirrels and other  urban wildlife.

How does the City care for its strays, especially the human ones? What happens to the lost and forsaken in the storm?

***

On Sunday around noon, I ventured out on a work break after the rain and wind stopped to see if there were any stores open, and to see if I could find something healthier to eat than the sodium-laden stockpiles of empty calories we stashed at work.

The first person who stopped me in my walk was a drug dealer. I was dressed in a bummy Def Leppard tee-shirt and bluejeans, and not looking very professional on a Sunday after a hurricane.

“Coke? You want coke? Hash? I got special for you. You need fix, right?” I stopped short,  gave him an incredulous stare and moved on… then I realized that I probably looked like one of his  sales targets. He saw the tee shirt; he didn’t see the cross I wore around my neck.

The Korean deli on the corner had re-opened, and they had pre-wrapped vegan sandwiches, noodles, and other stuff that I love that never sells out. I bought seitan “chicken” lo mein and a Diet Mountain Dew for extra caffeine, and went to stand in line to pay. One hungry person after another came into the store, asking people standing in line with me to buy them something to eat and drink.

Where were the homeless and hungry during Irene? What did we do as a City to help them? What did we do as the Church to help them? Aren’t we supposed to be the fulfillment of God’s promise of care? And if we pray, then won’t God show us exactly how He wants us to to serve the least of His Kingdom?

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve the same Lord, and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, (CEV)

I’m riding the New York City Subway, typing fast blog notes into my iPhone. The woman standing in front of me is wearing the absolutely most beautiful, neatest skirt. A blue and green print of a French village is scattered across its silky fabric. Want! But, peaking out from under her dusky blue top, is a huge series of Celtic pattern tattoos across her back and shoulders, also in blue. Part of me “wants”; the more realistic part of me that avoids pain does not want.

She’s rocking short, spiky blonde hair, wearing granny glasses on her nose;  maybe she’s in her early 40’s, like me. She looks like she is being completely “herself”.

I’m inspired by seeing  how she presents herself to the world. I definitely want to do and feel the same thing.

You can go shopping in your own closets.  If you have a problem with clutter, like me, you never really truly know what you have until you take the time to sort through your life by physically going through your stuff and re-organizing.

Changes are in the wind. I’m taking the time that I personally need this summer to  refocus and declutter my brain and my physical space, including my closets.  But ooooh, my budget is tight, but I really want that skirt!  For all I know, I’ve already got something like it in my closet that I’ve already bought but have forgotten about in the clutter.  Maybe  a similar item of fashion frenzy is already in there, crumpled on the floor, maybe squished in between other clothes I haven’t worn, with the tags still on it.

I’ll skip getting the tattoo for now.

There are gifts that we’ve been given that need space in order to develop fully and they are all a part of who we are; the world notices us by how we use our innermost gifts to express ourselves.  Some of these gifts are natural talents that are programmed into us,  genetically passed down through our families. Some natural gifts hide, and are developed over time and through use once they’re discovered. There are also true Spiritual Gifts given by God’s Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-14)  that God starts ramping up in our lives when he uses us in our communities. but I’ve discovered  that we still need to declutter both our minds and our spiritual lives to make space for God to work. They are there to be discovered, as well as actively prayed for and received. To start using them, there’s a conscious decision that we need to make to give God the go-ahead to use us, especially when we feel overwhelmed by mental and spiritual clutter, and start to feel like a crumpled outfit with the price tag still on, sitting in the back of the closet.

When we make space for God to clean us out, re-organize us and drag us out of our clutter, God can use us to show the world exactly who He is, and who we are as a part of Him.

Paul Gaugin.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

-Mark 14:37-38 (NIV)

***

It’s Tuesday night. I’m on way home after a traditional Shrove Tuesday  Pancake Supper at my church. My eyes are drooping and I’m propped up against a subway door, typing out this post on my iPhone. I’m fighting fatigue, yet I’m determined to say something about Lent before this part of the year really begins. At 9:30 PM, there are no seats in my crowded uptown train. I’m running on fumes after a busy weekend and two busy workdays, with one more intense day of project deadlines PLUS Ash Wednesday church stuff poured into the next 24 hours. I’m pooped. We’re only half-way through the week… and I’m plum tuckered out.

Someone got off at Grand Central Station and I finally grabbed a seat , wedging myself into the corner of the subway car. Greg H. asked me to write a little about what Lent was all about, especially for the curious non-Lent people who might want to explore Lent for themselves. I’ve been thinking about what to write for a few days. What can I share with you, especially if you’re one of the people who think Lent is only a Catholic thing?  More and more church communities are re-discovering Lent and adapting very old traditions into what works for their churches.

There’s tons of good info on Lent across the web. This is how I am “keeping a Holy Lent” this year. Next year I might do everything differently.  What can I share with you here before I need to change trains?

What I think that Lent is  that it’s about the whole Church – you and me –  waiting and praying for the Resurrection. We know, believe and remember the story. We take a collective breather and look to the Holy Spirit’s real help to guide us into a deeper place inside ourselves,  where we are with Christ in the Garden at Gethsemane, and accompanying him to the hill called Golgotha.  We pay attention to the harsh bloody, deathly reality of the price that Jesus, God Himself among us, paid for us on the Cross to save us from ourselves, to save us from our sin.  By trying to be quieter and more attentive, by praying to stay awake and watch with Christ in his Passion as He prayed to His Father on the night before His death, we get ready to really appreciate His Resurrection. What we’re groaning for, inspired by the Holy Spirit praying too deeply for words within us, is Christ’s return in Glory, when He will make all things new.

***

I’ve changed trains, grabbed another seat. My iPhone’s battery is running down. What I’ve written up above is a little poetic theology. How about the practical side of things? What do you need to do?

The answer is not in “prescriptions” for doing it right. There is no right way or wrong way to do Lent. Some denominations proscribe traditions like fasting, abstaining from eating meat, giving “something up”; for other church communities it’s up to the individual to decide which of any dozen or so traditions developed over 20 centuries are helpful.

So, for me, Lent observances are all about intentionally being quiet, watchful and waiting.  I remember that I am a sinner. I am saved, but I am still a sinner. I try to make my life more simple and less hectic so that I can make more time in my prayer life for… something to happen… maybe. That’s up to God, and not me. Nothing I do or not do, eat or not eat, pray or not pray will make me a holier person. The most I can do is find ways to help me pray for more surrender to God so that He can do whatever He wants to do in my life.  I’ve embraced and adapted the traditions that my Roman Catholic upbringing made me hate and dread. So, starting on Ash Wednesday and for the following Fridays   I’ll eat very light vegetarian meals. On Ash Wednesday, I’ll receive teh cold, ashes of burned palm fronds smeared on my forehead in the form of a cross by one of the ministers from my church, hearing either “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The imposition of ashes recalls the ancient anointing of Kings, and the anointing of the body at death. I remember that I am going to die, and face judgement… but I remember that I am saved, forgiven and I am free.

I’m not giving “up” anything for Lent. I’ll still be on Facebook, which lots of my friends will give up, along with Twitter! Jesus Christ is Risen was something I was planning to launch right before Lent (and I’ve been thinking about  this page since Halloween, by the way).

Instead of  “giving up” anything, I’m trying to make more quiet time for prayer and reading my Bible before I leave for work instead of praying during my commute. I may pray hard during my train ride, but it’s hard to listen to God when you’re distracted by the noise and events happening around you. Being more “intentional” in my praying for others, really keeping a  journal for intercessory prayer is something I’m going to make a habit that will last long past Easter.

I’ll finally take down my Christmas tree. That seems appropriate in getting ready for Easter.  I’m having one of those incredibly intense lives right now with not a lot of time to take care of those minor details.

I love the traditions of my church during Lent: music, purple vestments and decorations, quietness and solemnity, praying the Stations of the Cross,  and not using the word “Alleluia (or “Hallelujah”) for the long 40 days until Easter. I will go to a Tenebrae service this year (check it out with a Google Search.)  Lenten observances culminate in celebrating Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm (or “Passion”) Sunday, celebrating the Lord’s Supper on Thursday of Holy Week, recalling the Crucifixtion on Good Friday, and waiting. On Saturday night, lighting he Church begins to gather to wait for the Ressurection! Finally, with the lighting of a small fire in a church or a church parking lot, Easter candles, the ringing of bells and proclamations of “The Lord is risen! Alleiluia!” the quiet ends and we celebrate the promise God has shown us in Christ’s rising from the dead.

***

I’m at my train station, and I’m ready to pray through the Stations of the Cross along with thousands of living Christians throughout the world during the next few weeks.

How do you plan on staying awake during Lent, maybe for the first time?

You can visit this on Facebook to see what I and some of my friends are doing to mark Lent on Facebook:

Jesus Christ is Risen Page

Posted on: March 7, 2011

Jesus Christ is Risen is finally live on Facebook at this link and I’ve also created a private group for the page. The group exists specifically to as invitation for people to make new friends and pray for each other during the period between now and Easter. It’s a “small group”  experience for Lent as this page grows, and you can be a part of it. You can find the group at this link.

One of the reasons I’ve started JCIR is that I’ve been praying for breakthrough: I see the need for “resurrection” so clearly in my own life, in the lives of my friends, and in so many people’s lives whom I’ve met on Facebook. We feel personally, professionally, physically and even spiritually stuck. We’re longing for God to do something, to make something happen that unsticks us, knocks us loose.  We want Jesus the healer to touch us and our circumstances, to clean out the wounds and hurts and heal us,  clear up the messes we find ourselves in, and to bring everything that we desire and dream about to new life.

Back up a second. This is not the point of Easter, most of my friends would point out.

No, I agree that this is not. Easter is not really about changing our particular broken lives and our material messes. The Resurrection points to praise, honor and glorification of God, the God who loved us so much that He became one of us and brought us into a new, restored relationship with Himself.  The miracle of The Resurrection proclaims Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Messiah, Immanuel,  God-With-Us. Jesus was tortured and died on the day before the Passover, and became sin for us as the Gospels and Epistles tell us, accepting all of the punishment and wrath we deserved. In His Resurrection, Jesus  triumphs over human death and human sin, restoring our relationship with God the Father, broken at the beginning of time.

There’s lots of complicated theology to unpack here; lots of short-hand statements of faith, many passages from the Bible to re-explore.

One of things that we believe as Christians is that out of this story,  we are all called into Christ’s baptism, His death and resurrection. We’re called to bring others into this life of dying again and being raised up.

We still experience pain, illness, suffering, and death. We are saved, and always being saved. In our daily lives, we still carry the after affects of the brokenness even though we believe in the promise that we are saved and are redeemed and justified. We see the side effects of the sickness of sin. From muddled relationships to struggling with dryness of faith… and even doubt,  our lives after  Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost are still… stuck.

We’re called to bring everyone into the living, loving family of Christ. We believe that our prayers matter and make a difference, and that every prayer we offer is God’s way of letting us share in his love and goodness, powered by the Holy Spirit living within us.  We pray for our brothers and sisters  in all circumstances, waiting for Christ to come again and really make all things new.

Prayer happens anywhere and everywhere, including pn Facebook. We pray for God to unstick us, to roll away the stone from our whitewashed, cold tombs to reveal a miracle, the HS defeating our mortal stickiness, making us unstuck and truly free.

So, from now until Easter, JCIR will be posting scriptures from the readings many churches use for Lent, looking towards Christ’s passion and death, spending time where the scriptures lead us.  I would love to see reactions posted and discussions happen in the comments.  When I gain more team members, I would love to open up the discussion boards to allow even deeper conversations to take place.

What will happen with the prayer group (if you’d like to join), is that we can go even deeper. Because this space is shielded from outside eyes, we can pray a little more personally for each other. You can share music and images in the group,  and share what’s on your hearts. I hope real friendships begin here and I pray that God uses this place on the Internet to unstick us, and then bond us to Himself even more closely. When Lent is over and Easter is here, we can go right on praying with a new group name!

Thanks for being a part of this experience with me and God bless you. – Karin

My name was supposed to be Jennifer (from the Welsh, “pure and yielding”), just like thousands of other baby girls born in the US during 1970.  My grandmother hated the name. Apparently the British nurse in charge of the post-war refugee camp was named Jenny. Nana had legendary hatred for Jenny, and with a stamp of my grandmother’s Austrian foot, I became called “Karin”. To make my life difficult, my name was not Americanized. I was Kah-rin. Achtung, Baby!

I gave up on anyone pronouncing or spelling my name correctly when I was about four years old and started Pre-K. I just went along with whatever anyone wrote or pronounced. Sometimes, teachers would make an effort to spell my name right.  My own aunts and uncles would misspell my name on birthday cards, Christmas cards… only my birth certificate proclaimed the truth about my name.  As a grown-up, I switch between the American and the German style pronunciations depending on how many other people share my name (or anything sounding like it from Keren to Kyryn) wherever I work. I’m thinking about making some kind of formal announcement and asking everyone to pronounce my name “Kah-rin” permanently.

Karin comes from the Greek root name that also includes “Katharine” and “Karen” – it means pure. Regardless of which name I received, Karin or Jennifer… I was “pure”.

Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with incidents of naming.

There is no mention in Genesis 3 of God naming the first man, exactly. Adam (which comes from the Hebrew word Adom denoting clay or earth). God tries to find a suitable partner for Adam and the first man then names all the creatures of the earth. Not only until after the creation of the first woman and the expulsion from Eden does Adam give a name to his wife,  Eve (in Hebrew, Adomah)  meaning meaning “mother of all the living”. (Gen 3:20)

Name switches run throughout the Old Testament. Abram and Sarai (in Gen 17: 5- 15), and Jacob (Gen 32: 27- 28; 35:9-15;  46:2-4) all receive significant changes in their names to signify what God is doing in their lives and in the history of their offspring. God reveals his own name to Moses before sending him on his mission, I am who I am. (Exodus 3: 14). There are dozens of incidents of naming and  re-naming running throughout the Old Testament. Most importantly for Christians, we believe that the Son of God, the Living Word was named even before he became incarnate. Christians believe that when Isaiah prophesied in &:14, he proclaimed that the Messiah will be called Immanuel, “God With Us”.

Before Christ was born, Luke’s Gospel (1:18) tells us that the Angel Gabriel told John the Baptist’s father Zechariah exactly what his child’s name was to be. Zechariah  was literally dumbstruck and doubting, and was made mute until he wrote out the new baby’s name for all to see. “His name is John”. (1:63) In Hebrew, John is Yochanan, meaning “God is gracious”.

Mary (in Hebrew, Miriam, which alternately has been cited to mean “beloved”. “bitter”, “rebellious” or “strong” depending on the source)   mother of Jesus, was a shocked, but had no doubts when Gabriel told her what to name her son, Yeshua (or Joshua) “God saves”:

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31-33 TNIV)
Early in John’s Gospel, Jesus changes a signifcant person’s name. Simon BarJona is brought into the group, and he becomes Cephas or “Rocky”! We know him as Peter;  in Latin, Petrus.

“And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter ).”  (John 1: 41 TNIV)

Later on, The Book of Acts relates the story of Saul (in Hebrew “asked for”), a man who vehemently attacked and persecuted new followers of Jesus. After his dramatic experience and change of heart, experiencing the Risen Christ, he changes his own name to Paul (in Greek, “small”) and begins his mission to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:9)

God had some kind of hand in every name change. The questions that I’ve been pondering this week are, “What does God call… you? Does your name mean anything to you? Do you think that your name is coincidental? What does your name mean to the God who created you?”

What do you think?


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