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Posts Tagged ‘Earth’

ancient tomb    The whole point of buying the field and the cave from Ephron was to avoid burying Sarah on or in foreign soil. Once purchased, the land became an oasis of Abrahamic land, a place and purchase that took him and his household out of “stranger” status (vs. 4). And although he might continue to lead a somewhat nomadic life, this place would root him to that area by the very same laws of the Canaanites. It was a serious transaction.

Genesis 23:12-13Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the landand he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”

Austrian Cemetery

Austrian Cemetery

I am sure other people in Abraham’s household had died in the thirty-plus years that had lived, worked, and traveled the Negev desert. But, when his own Sarah died, she was almost royalty to those who lived in that time period. Abraham was considered a “prince” because of his great wealth and tribe and herds. To stop and lay down his wife in that place was huge to his household as well as the Canaanites. What Abraham created here was the family burial ground. This would be sacred ground from that time forward and their direct descendants would be expected to be buried there.

german-cemetary

German Cemetary

In modern times, we have lost some of this respect for the burial ground. In Ancient Israel, burning of the body was forbidden (this form of burial was considered to be a punishment for idols and enemies. I am not saying we should not do this in our world, but I do think it’s interesting, this difference in cultural norms.

But in the United States, even those who are buried are not respected. While in many German and Eastern European cemeteries, it is the family joy and obligation to care for the family burial plot, to beautify it, to make it a place one would desire to go and spend time. They are like a series of mini-parks, each plotted area touched by the uniqueness of the family. The burial ground is part of the cycle of life and death. But not here.

New York cemetery

New York Cemetery

In our world, we have relegated the dead to sweeping greens where  paid workers run lawn mowers and weed whackers. In some cases, we we might see  long-lasting plastic flowers jammed into the ground or perhaps an artificial wreath. What is the point? Who is blessed by these? Neither the dead or the living.

Polish cemetery

Polish Cemetary

In my life, I have no burial grounds anywhere. My mother cremated my father and requested the same for herself. They now share an urn which I have in my possession and although it has a small shelf with pictures, I do not think about them much anymore. There are stories that erupt every now and again, but there is no sense of place for them. My husband has asked to be donated to science and then, as far as he is concerned, the body can be cremated and disposed of, like a family pet whose ashes were not saved. For him, it is the soul that continues and has no need for the corporeal flesh. He is probably right.

But I keep thinking about this idea of a selected place, different from today’s norEarthm, but more like ancient times, a place for family to extend itself in memory. Sometimes I think the Japanese and other orientals have it right, their nurture of the ancestors.

And yet, I know, Jesus left the tomb. He was not buried with his family. There was not talk of transferring the body after the Sabbath. Joseph of Arimathea embraced Jesus as family by giving him space in that tomb. Jesus left it and in essence, his departure also said that no single place could embody him. He was of the entire Earth.

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I don’t know. There are days I think I should be making an effort to engage angels; they are, after all, part of the other “realm,” the timeless place, the God environment. And I wonder, do they have a hierarchy in such a place? Can a timeless, spiritual entity be spatial?

Hebrews 1:4; 6b
So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. . . . “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

The angels and the saints worship God. And when the Messiah completed the task laid out reuniting human with God, Christ was recognized as worthy of worship, and sat, as they say, at the right hand of God. (Surely this is figurative . . . or is it?)

Based on scriptures, angels act in a great many roles throughout the telling of the Messiah story and his people (in both Testaments). Angels are created beings who worship, yes, but they also carry verbal messages to humans (and nations), they intervene and do battle against evil, and they serve God in a variety of ways from carrying out judgments to manifesting answers to prayer. Are they still doing these tasks?

But my real question is whether there is, anywhere in scripture (or perhaps in experience), an indication that I can have a relationship with an angel?

There is even (academic and not so academic) disagreement as to whether or not there exist Guardian Angels, that is angels which are “assigned” to protect or guard individual souls, particularly children. I know there are personal stories of people sensing or seeing such an angel in times of trouble or sorrow. There are also a few mystics who described interactions with their personal angels and wrote about it.

Can I be like George in It’s a Wonderful Life and chat up my angel? Ask questions, argue, complain, thank? I don’t think so.

But, before anyone gets indignant with me; I’m not saying angels don’t exist. On the contrary, I actually believe they are still among us, still doing the work of God in a variety of ways, still protecting, and still singing love songs to God. But I don’t believe they have relationships with humans. They are too different, too outside our human realm of understanding and perception. It would be like trying to have a relationship with the wind, even though we can see its effects and even predict its behavior, we cannot “know” it.

It is for this very reason that God manifested Jesus in human form, so that we could “get it,” or at least observe and hopefully follow. It’s specifically because Jesus offers a relationship that our experience with God is transformed. He is not the wind but a baby in a manger, a boy in the temple, a teacher on a hill, and a martyr on a cross. And after all this 3-D work, Christ passes along to us the Holy Spirit who dwells within, to guide us some more, to teach us some more and to ultimately heal us.

The realm of God is undoubtedly more diverse and expansive than anything here on earth. And yet, just as humans were made in God’s image, I wonder, is Earth (natural Earth) created after an image as well? And who knows, maybe angels are the creative spark. Something to think about.

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Never say never but don’t hesitate to say “always” and “continually?” Doesn’t seem quite fair but there it is. In this section of Thessalonians, Paul gives a long list of instructions, straightforward and direct but how do I follow them? Can’t. So what is my appropriate response?

I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I guess it’s important to know the ideal and the perfect, but it also makes the difference between me and that goal so expansive, so blatantly unreachable that I’m a deer in the headlights.

This is where the Christ stands in the gap.

And yet, just because there is One willing to pray when I stop or rejoice when I give up does not mean I don’t have a responsibility to pursue the “always.” In fact, it’s the opposite. I have to want it. I have to want the manifestation of perfect through the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit. How else do I become mindful, or conscious, or intentional about transforming?

Is anything perfect? Is nature perfect? Is the sunset or the waning moon or the waves that crash on a beach day in and day out perfect?

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” [Romans 8:20b-21]

We’re in this together. You, me, earth and all the rest.

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John 3:17 (Amplified edition)
For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

How many of us have forgotten that the Son didn’t come just “to save” us as individuals but for the sake of the world. Just like the world in the time of Noah, we have been on a crash course for ruin. And everything has suffered: the animals, the landscape, the oceans, the weather, the children … everything. So God sent his “only Son” to make a supreme sacrifice so that the law of sowing and reaping could be nullified for anyone who believed in Him. This process is not just so you and I can go to “heaven” when we give our bodies back to the Earth. This “deal” was made for the whole world. This was a supernatural transaction.

Those of us who have believed are in the recovery business…. recovering that which has been lost.
We are in the lighting business… shining in the dark places.
We are in the food business… bringing savor (salt) to the tasteless.
We are in the hydro business… bringing streams of water to the dry places.
We are in the messenger business… bringing the good news that the Kingdom of God is near.

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