How often when we have the promise of a good time, do we only anticipate our definition of a “good time” – that hormone racing anticipation of a “good time”? Everything else pales into insignificance … a lovely setting, the endearing conversation, special food and drink, the lightest of touches … all of “that” a prelude … a warm-up act for the “good time” a-coming!
And then the “good time” arrives.
And sometimes it is “very good” and sometime just “a time” and sometimes “was that it”? Now imagine commemorating that “good time” every year for ever more. That one “good time” when it was really good – so they tell me. Would it not nurture a sense of the “good old days” – the days that are no more. That days when we “really lived” – unlike now.
And then there are the religious “good times” …
It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:22-30
The feast of Dedication, the festival of Lights. Jesus walking in the very Temple the festival celebrated. Its sanctity, its godliness, its purity, its “us-ness”! The good old days. Still celebrated. Still remembered. Still shared. Still missing the point. Still focusing on the light that burned for eight days. Still waiting for the coming of the Messiah! The one who would complete the job. Who would impose The Earthly Kingdom as promised! And here is Jesus walking in the very Temple during the very Festival that anticipated this coming good time. And the response of the gatekeepers?
“Is that it?”
So what about today? 2000+ years later. Are we still the gatekeepers? Do we hold to the “BIG” promises and dispense with the “little” promises? The big promises of eternal life, of sins forgiven through grace, of make disciples of every nation, of preach the word and have them obey. All these “good times a-coming!” And then the little promises: I am with you always, when you speak in my name I will give you the words, suffer the little children to come unto me, if you have faith you can move mountains, just believe and it will happen, be still and know, I know the very hairs on your head, my sheep know my voice, I told you and you do not believe, you do not believe.
You do not believe.
So what about today? 2000+ years later. Do we “believe”? Do we believe the little promises – or are we waiting for the Big One? Do we rely on ourselves each day, every day, all day … do we fill our diaries with works and more works … is gathering together and lifting Him up top of the list or not … is taking church out of the building a priority or an outreach ministry … is “winging it” when speaking about God really trusting that He will put words in my mouth?
So often I hear the need for understanding. So often the need for evidence. Still that need: “Tell Us Plainly!” Make us believe because we cannot believe in You. Not really. We can celebrate, we can commemorate, we can remember, we can worship, we can praise – oh how we praise! But “believe” … ?
The BIG Things yes – but the little things … like every day, all day, little things …. ? Well that’s not really worship. That’s not really necessary. That’s a bit wishy-washy. A bit too much. That is not my kind of God at all. I mean, where is there any space left for me to “be me”? That’s okay for these fundamentalists. But look around – what have those fundamentalists ever done for peace and harmony and love and God? Leave the little things to us and the BIG things to God. That is a much better way. And when God comes back – then we will be taken to live with Him for ever more in Heaven!
You do not believe?
2000+ years on the “Living Word” is alive and living! Ground Hog day kind of alive and living! The same old same old kind of living. We love the BIG promises to come. But when we look at the little promises of each second … ? Well they just get in the way, don’t they.
I wonder this. If we (have to) believe the little promises as much as the BIG promises – what does that really mean?
That each one is sacred.
That each one hears God as plainly as “we hear God”.
That each one is as important as each.
That each one is as wise as each.
That being “one of us” is irrelevant.
That “I believe” is as divisive as inclusive.
That worship can be hollow.
That praise can be false.
That looking back can make us blind to this moment, this now, this opportunity to Love.
That looking forwards can make us blind to this moment, this now, this opportunity to Love.
That He can only be us in the present.
Which is where the little promises live as well. The ones that so often get in the way.
I love how bringing the Living Word into the “now” always connects me “in the now”. I love how that makes the little promises even more rewarding. Ever more intimate. Ever more relevant. How all of that beings me closer to my God Soft Hands Jesus this very second, and the next, and the next … Like as in “relationship”. Like as in “real”. Like as in “alive”.
I don’t ever want to be a gatekeeper.
Gatekeepers miss the party that is happening right now. Gatekeepers stay outside the party checking “invites”. Gatekeepers seem to miss the point – they are invited to the party as well! The party that is happening right now – this second – this moment – this “now”.
I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
Now ain’t that a great promise?