jesus chooses everyone.

When I go to the store and am perusing the candy aisle, I purposefully walk away with a package of one of my favorite candy bars — Almond Joy! I don’t come away with Snickers or any other B-rate sweet, because there might be a chance that my wife might like it and then I would have to share. Luckily, she doesn’t like Almond Joy. So, I have it all to myself. There is something empowering in knowing we can have what we want to ourselves. That we can choose to share or not to share. What if we have somehow taken our experience of candy bars into our theology?

What if the message of Jesus was actually meant for a wider audience. What if his message about a kingdom and a way life was also meant for the world? Sure, we can agree it was meant to go to the world. But, what if He was already speaking to the world when he shared his message? You see, his audience wouldn’t have just been made up of his inner twelve ragamuffins. His messages would have been heard by what most would have known as the “unacceptables”. People who were on the fringe of society, lepers, the unclean, the demonized, the bleeding woman and others who you wouldn’t want to be seen in public with. When Jesus is sitting on a rock (the posture of a Rabbi) teaching about organic substances like salt and light and then brings in a city to cap it all off, (he would have said this quite a few times; part of his nomadic sermon collection), He would have been empowering all the people eavesdropping. He would have been saying, you are like this salt that is influential and permeates every aspect of your culture.

You see Christ was in the business of building a global kingdom. He was pioneering a cosmological kind of ethos and believed everyone could be a part. If they wanted to.

Let’s take a look at who his inner twelve were. Luke was this Gentile doctor. A practical healer. People would have visited him for medical help. It would be too easy to overlook what a Gentile was and simply label him an outsider. A Gentile was also outside the religious faith, not just a denominational difference…he would have been more like a modern-day buddhist or maybe what we might more closely consider as a Native American healer. He was outside the fold according to the Pharisees. And Jesus entrusted the Kingdom to this guy? Also, Mary Magdelene who also might of been one of the financiers of Jesus ministry was an ex-prostitute who might have actually quite easily slipped back into the practice. So Jesus’ ministry was sustained by a prostitute. She held up the ministry of Jesus. And Jesus supported her by believing she had what it took to build the Kingdom of God on earth.

Then we meetup with a guy named Matthew. A tax-collector. Now, try to imagine a tax-collector who randomly shows up on your doorstep for a routine surprise audit. All those feelings your feeling now would have been what most of the Jewish people would have felt plus a side-order of betrayal. Jewish tax-collectors were known as double-crossers. It would be like your best friend turning you in for something you didn’t do. The ultimate of all betrayers. They worked for enemy. Rome. They not only collected taxes from their own people, but they would also overcharge each person and whatever the difference was they would pocket it. And for the most part, the price was ludicrously outrageous. It actually helped in creating the homeless population. This was Matthew. A betrayer.

Judas was most likely part of a band of people called the Sicarii. The Sicarii were a bunch of extreme nationalists who believed that the only good Roman, was a dead Roman. Not to mention that Judas was also the one in line to betray his friend Jesus for some money. So, Judas would have been a terrorist, a mercenary of sorts who according to our story would have only been looking out for number one. And yep, you guessed it, Jesus chose him too.

A mystic healer. A prostitute. A political thief. A terrorist. And this is just getting started. This is who Jesus chose to build His Kingdom with.

Hmmm…I wonder if we are only aware of half the message of the gospel. Who are we choosing?

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permission to shine.

Hey Guys. There is some stuff here on a possible rendering on what Jesus’ words said in the Aramaic might actually mean. Which is the project my book is centered around. understanding the message of jesus in the aramaic. let me know what your thoughts are:

Douglas-Klotz, Neil: PERMISSION TO SHINE

‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ MATTHEW 5:16, KING JAMES VERSION

When, or if, Jesus spoke these words, he would have said them in Aramaic, a language which – like Hebrew and Arabic – has a ‘root-and-pattern’ system of meaning that allows one to hear themes and connections between words, much as one would hear the themes and variations offered in Indian or jazz music. In this regard, a ‘word-for-word’ translation would not communicate even a fraction of the live ‘music’ present in the text. Nor would it convey the emphasis all Semetic languages have on a deep connection between self and self, self and nature, and self and the divine.

The following translation, drawn from an ancient Aramaic version of the Gospels called the Peshitta, uses words which may bring us closer to viewpoints that Jesus may have shared:

Let the light of your being,
the consciousness of knowing
your real Self,
radiate and illuminate
the human beings
you find before you,
as well as the
community of voices
you find within.

When they see and feel
your atmosphere of ripeness,
your ability to act
at the right time and place,
they will be reconnected in praise
to the song and harmony
of the Parent of All,
the nurturing Force
that re-creates the cosmos
each moment,
unfolding a universe
of sound, vibration, and light.

Explanation
The word for light in Aramaic (nuhra) means the illumination of what is unknown. Light and dark are not warring opposites as they are in Greek philosophy. For an ancient Aramaic or Hebrew speaker, the Creator brought forth both light (what is known) and darkness (what is unknown). The creation stories in the Hebrew bible describe an interplay between these two, essential parts of the ongoing, sacred, creative process of the universe. A Western way of thinking also presumes an inside-outside split not present in Hebrew or Aramaic, so we can also see light and dark as two aspects of our own consciousness. What we know in our being is the fullest sense of our self, the unifying element of the psyche that allows us to say ‘I am’. What we don’t yet know are the divine resources within us that we have yet to discover. All of the words usually translated ‘shine’ and ‘see’ are also directly related to nuhra.

The word translated ‘men’ by the King James version is the Aramaic nasha, which means ‘human beings’ (male and female) or a particular aspect of being human – the instability of our enfleshed life and its susceptibility to change. The fragility of life was probably one of the first conscious awarenesses of human beings, as they began to recognize themselves as separate from their natural surroundings. It was the source of ‘I-ness’ as opposed to ‘we-ness’. The word for ‘good’ in Aramaic is tub, which means ripe – indicating action at the right time and place. The words for ‘father’ (abba) and ‘heaven’ (shemaya) indicate, from an Aramaic viewpoint, a process as much as a being. This process of cosmic, divine creation started ‘in the Beginning’ and continues through the present moment. The word for ‘glorify’ (from the root word shabah) reveals a sense of praise together with song. Praising knits our voices back into the universal harmony. The word shabah is related to the ancient Hebrew word that became the source of the word ‘Sabbath’, a day for remembering our connection to the whole of creation.

Hearing this blessing of permission with Aramaic ears, we find Yeshua showing what happens when the light of our being – a tangible sense of our personal ‘I am’ connects to the sacred ‘I Am’ and allows itself to shine. First, we bless those around us by reminding them subconsciously that there is a greater reality to which we are all connected. Second, we bless our own inner self, the inner community of voices called the naphsha in Aramaic (similar to nephesh in Hebrew and nafs in Arabic). Often this part of our being feels the weakness and fragility of human life. When we allow the nuhra of our connection to the divine to pour through us, we also allow these voices ‘in the shadow’ to be illuminated and feel a more expanded, connected sense of divine Self. The individual ‘I am’ comes into contact with the divine ‘I Am’.

A Body Prayer: Invocation of the Light
With one hand lightly over the chest, slowly intone the Aramaic word for light, NUH-RA. Place one hand gently over your heart and allow the sound to begin there. As you intone the word, feel your connection to the sacred in this moment. Then, after a few breaths, embrace the fullest awareness that you feel of the inner community of voices in your psyche. Imagine a safe place within where more aspects of yourself are welcome to gather. Let nuhra shine there with respect, welcome and confidence.

During the day, try breathing with the sound and feeling of nuhra in your interactions with others. At the end of the day, intone the word a few more times with thankfulness, feeling your voice as part of the cosmic harmony of sound. ‘Allow the sacred light of your being to illuminate all of your communities, inside and out.’

From Blessings of the Cosmos, © 2006 by Neil Douglas-Klotz, published in the USA by Sounds True.

vampire christians

so. if you died and came back to life and everyone one else was focusing on your death all the time, wouldn’t that bum you out or frustrate you? wouldn’t you almost feel like there is only one ‘good’ thing you have offered to the world, when there was more to your life than just dying a gruesome death to heal the world? what if there is more? what if like taking an eye test, we should be focusing on all the different things jesus offered in his life? creating peace. loving the unlovable. forgiving the unforgivable. healing. being subversive. and more. jesus’ life wasn’t just abous his death. also, imagine how gaudy it would be to go around wearing an electric chair because your leader died for a great cause in our day today? i don’t want to cheapen the message of the cross. but i also wonder if we are focusing way too much on the cross. almost as if we all have become what Dallas Willard calls ‘vampire christians’..where we want jesus for nothing more than his blood. almost as if he is one-dimensional. and wasn’t the point that he came to back to life as well, and the challenge for us is to follow suit, by resurrecting hope into hopeless situations? maybe we should be walking around with open tombs on our neck instead?

do we need to be 'christian'.

we give things designations and titles. a tree is called a tree. a car is deemed a car because it has 2-4 wheels (typically). a lamb is a lamb and so on. it tells us what the item or object is. so, are christians, items and objects? do we really need to walk around and proclaim that we are christians? the origin of that word would respond to that question with a resounding ‘no’. in the time of the early church, they were running from persecution. not that they were afraid of it, but they were also being wise. jesus never claimed to be christian. never came out and had a one hour speech on how he was proud of being a jew either. he simply lived life in this deep mystical compassion that permeated all he did. what if that’s what we’re supposed to do? that Christianity was never meant to be some guiltfest of emotions into whether or not we are using the name of Christ or Christian in a sense. What if he meant more? not that we never should. but do we REALLY need to use the title? some might say yes, because of a misreading of how jesus says he will be ashamed of us, if you look deeper into that verse, he is saying something else that what we have made it to mean now. check it out. the stigma of the title as christian is almost become what it initially was, a public slam for those craz people who follow a rabbi. yet, i would add that a sect of people who think they are right and everyone else is wrong. unfortunately, this is the gist of christianity now. people project that we think we are arrogant and the ‘enlightened ones’ and once someone jumps through the right hoops then they are part of the club. what if its time to put the label up on the shelf and actually start living out life as a person dedicated to the movement of jesus christ rather than a man-made movement called christianity? just a thought.

do we need to be ‘christian’.

we give things designations and titles. a tree is called a tree. a car is deemed a car because it has 2-4 wheels (typically). a lamb is a lamb and so on. it tells us what the item or object is. so, are christians, items and objects? do we really need to walk around and proclaim that we are christians? the origin of that word would respond to that question with a resounding ‘no’. in the time of the early church, they were running from persecution. not that they were afraid of it, but they were also being wise. jesus never claimed to be christian. never came out and had a one hour speech on how he was proud of being a jew either. he simply lived life in this deep mystical compassion that permeated all he did. what if that’s what we’re supposed to do? that Christianity was never meant to be some guiltfest of emotions into whether or not we are using the name of Christ or Christian in a sense. What if he meant more? not that we never should. but do we REALLY need to use the title? some might say yes, because of a misreading of how jesus says he will be ashamed of us, if you look deeper into that verse, he is saying something else that what we have made it to mean now. check it out. the stigma of the title as christian is almost become what it initially was, a public slam for those craz people who follow a rabbi. yet, i would add that a sect of people who think they are right and everyone else is wrong. unfortunately, this is the gist of christianity now. people project that we think we are arrogant and the ‘enlightened ones’ and once someone jumps through the right hoops then they are part of the club. what if its time to put the label up on the shelf and actually start living out life as a person dedicated to the movement of jesus christ rather than a man-made movement called christianity? just a thought.

scream.

so. i am just having one of those days. where i feel like the wind. there is this swell of emotions that just makes me wish i could fly, fly far far away. i wish could do that right now. this moment. take flight. leave it all behind. this scream has been building up in me for a long time. it has been a few weeks since my soul has wanted just to leap out of my flesh and proclaim its freedom. not that i think my flesh is a prison. i am not stoic enough! but i just feel like everything would fall in place. that order would be restored to my chaos. but then again, i don’t know where i would be without my chaos. and so a scream seems appropriate. more than appropriate. i wish i could find a mountaintop to scream from. loud and long.

a scream is where the story of hebrew people starts. they ‘cry’ out to God. and he what? he listens. he responds. in that case, i need to scream a lot more! scream with me.

muslims and christians together.

The more and more I see different religions working together, the more I am reminded of the verse that we should “love one another” and what that looks like. It encourages me to hear stories like the ones below… what do you think?

Christian Aid and Muslim Hands working together in Burma

Muslim Hands and Christian Aid have teamed up with one of the local Buddhist Monasteries in a ground breaking inter-faith initiative in Burma.

Together, they built 128 new houses for families who had lost theirs in Cyclone Nargis.

When the cyclone hit Burma on the night of 2 May 2008 it caused massive devastation and destruction in Rangoon and across the Irrawaddy delta.

The area of Kungyangone was particularly badly hit, causing almost total destruction to the villages there. Yet by late 2008, very few of the survivors in this area had received any assistance from humanitarian agencies with most of them living in makeshift, temporary shelters.

Even worse, after the disaster very few people in Kunyangone were left with any way of earning a living. Most were reduced to day to day survival, with no chance of ever being able to save enough money to rebuild their homes.

But thanks to Muslim Hands and Christian Aid, not only have 128 new houses been built but so have new tube wells and latrines.

As one beneficiary said: ‘Such kind of a house would never be able to be built within ten reincarnations.’

Syed Lakhte Hassanain, chairman of Muslim Hands, said ‘this recent partnership between two organsiations has opened a new venture for faith based charities to work together for alleviating poverty throughout the globe.

The houses that have been built are of a practical design and have used local materials and local workmen so that they can be easily copied and reproduced.

They are also designed with disasters in mind, with an internal platform for people to shelter on if the floods return.

Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid, added ‘working together with Muslim Hands means that we have been able to help more people more quickly. Not only is it good news for the people for Burma, but it shows all people of faith in the UK what we can do when we work together. I hope this is the start of more collaborations to come.’