I Am A Christmas Decorations Pharisee

Wedgewood Church, along with First Christian Church, recently hosted Picturing the Parables of Jesus, a national traveling art exhibit of Christians In The Visual Arts (CIVA).  The most repugnant piece for me in the exhibit was Andy Rash’s The Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

Rash_A_The Pharisee and theTax Collector

The reason the piece was so repugnant to me is I find the Pharisee to be so off-putting, so like many modern Christians.  In the parable the Pharisee says, “Thank God I’m not like other people — robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.”

I try to be humble and not have feelings of superiority, but there is one area in which I tend to be a self-righteous Pharisee.  And that area is Christmas decorating.

Now that Thanksgiving is over Christmas decorations are going up and – and God forgive me, the word “tacky” is not sufficient enough to describe some of the Christmas displays I’ve seen.  Ugly.  Hideous.  Horrid.  Unseemly.  Actually, none of those words quite capture what I see.  Wish I could think of a word that works but even Pharisee Me can’t think of one.

Prayer:  God, help Pharisee Me to keep in mind that You don’t care about my personal preferences, and that there are more important things in the world to worry about than any of my PP’s.  Remind me that some of my gay friends who have the decorating gene have criticized my decorating decisions.  Amen.

Predicting My Wife’s Bleak Future


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The author of Ecclesiastes was not the most optimistic chap on the block.   The author of Ecclesiastes wrote:

The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 

2 Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
   vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 
3 What do people gain from all the toil
   at which they toil under the sun? (1:1-3)

I’m not willing to say all is vanity but I have (in a fun way) informed my wife that she has a bleak future.  After I die, one day she will end up in a nursing home and, not having me to assist her, will not be able to find the remote. She will be yelling, “Where’s the remote?  Where’s the remote?  Somebody get in here and help me find a remote!”

Have you ever been in an assisted living center and heard a senior (out of their mind) yelling for help?  If so, that’s the scenario I have in my mind.   My wife is of sound mind now but when the remote can’t be located she – she is not happy.  I can only imagine her at 95.

Let us remember that life is hard and life is stressful.  At a minimum, let us try not to make life more difficult or stressful for people.  Hopefully, like Jesus we can participate in the healing of people and the easing of their burdens.  And, by all means, we can help the love of our life find the remote until we breathe our last.

Jesus Didn’t Leave Behind One Written Word

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John 8:6

They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

Don’t you find it remarkable Jesus didn’t leave behind one written word!  John 8:6 is the only indication of Jesus writing anything and we can assume whatever he wrote in the sand soon disappeared.

If you were God’s son, wouldn’t you leave behind a signed document outlining your wishes for your followers?

Not a single word.  No signature.  What do you make of that, especially in light of the church’s fixation with written words, with its many versions of Bibles from its manuscripts, with its grand talk about the Word of God, with its frequent dishonesty about its scripture?

Some scholars, like John Dominic Crossan, indicate Jesus most likely was illiterate, despite stores which depict Jesus as reading scripture.  More recent scholarship questions the level of ancient illiteracy others assume.  Regardless, surely God could have equipped his son with the ability to write.  If not, what does that indicate for the church and its words and its approach to its book, the Bible?

He left no written words behind.  Mainly he left behind oral stories about healing, friendships with the marginalized, disputes with religious leaders, a cross, and Easter resurrection joy.

Holy Week Devotional: Granny talks to everyone she see about dying


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(Adaptation of Thomas King’s “Magpies” in One Good Story, That One)

Everybody knows this story.

Mary Jane knows this story.  Joe Ray knows this story.  Little Johnny knows this story.  Ladale knows this story.  Uncle Jack knows the story.  My friend, Kathy, knows it too.  Victoria hears this story in Bakersville.  Rufus knows the story, front to back.  Heard it twelve, maybe fourteen, maybe eighteen times before he had his eleventh birthday party.  Here comes that story again, he said.

There’s some dying in this story, to which Granny connects.  Granny talks a lot about dying.  She looks at her leg and thinks about dying.  So she talks about falling over dead.  She says, I’m gonna die one day.  When that Granny starts talking about being dead, people in the room say, no, no, no.  That is just a bruise.  Yellow bruise.  Those ones are okay.

Granny talks to everyone she see about dying.  I’m going to die, she says to me and I say yes, that’s right.  Old people know these things.  It happens.

Granny knows Jesus died.  Jesus die like everybody else.  Granny knows this story.  She says Jesus talked about dying a lot before his death.  Nobody believed him either.  Granny likes to make points.

I’m counting on you, says Granny.

You can count on me.

Granny says Peter said that too.

I say, you can count on me Granny.

That leg get better.  Granny’s leg.  But Granny dies anyway.  Later.  Not right now.  Two, maybe four years.  She falls over dead then.  Like that.  It is finished.

Everybody knows the story.  Jesus says, It is finished.  Jesus and Granny, finished.

Danny is not there when Jesus dies.  Someone says he is in meeting in Los Angeles.  Someone says, no, he is in New York.  Someone says he should have been there.  Wilma, who was there, sniff her nose this way and another sniff her nose another way.  A lot of sniffing.

That’s the end of the story.

No, I was just fooling.

There’s more.

Stick around.