Ever get a text from a friend about seeing a famous person or being at a place you share a mutual love for?
My favorite response is "Pics or it Didn't Happen".
I love the compounding aspect of disbelief. By asking for visual proof I'm agreeing that the thing they're seeing or doing is amazing. It feels playful and linked to my friend's experience.
The other side of that coin is that it can be construed as dismissive. That I fundamentally don't believe them and have placed a burden of proof on them to convince me that they're not a liar.
I wonder what the first century equivalent of this would have been? If you had been present to a miracle of Jesus would you have been met with a "Scribal Account or it Didn't Happen" from your friends? Would you have been believed or doubted and would it even matter?
One of the fallacies that influences us is the "happily ever after" nature of our modern storytelling. We can believe that we are one undeniably miraculous event away from being a true believer in God. I understand and validate the appeal of having a personal experience beyond just a learned experience, but what if you play that scenario out over decades?
Would you be compelled by a 70-80 year old's miraculous encounter in their 30's? I think it would make me sad for the 40-50 years of responding to a singular event. I'm more drawn to individuals with vibrant experiences that aren't just in the rearview, but are tied to this present moment. I think there's something that feels true about their engaged life here and now that isn't centered in the past, no matter how incredible it was.
If we can read the stories of Jesus while understanding the the truth of the narrative isn't centered on proving or disproving that these events, I believe it would better inform this present moment.
This Sunday we're going to be talking about the Parable of the Sower, or as I knew it as a youth "AM I GOOD SOIL WILL I DIE TONIGHT OH PLEASE DONT LET ME SUFFER FOR ETERNITY".
Ok,maybe that was a little bit dramatic, but the parable really did fill me with a low level of anxiety.
The story Jesus tells is about someone throwing out seed on soil and only one particular patch of soil actually goes on to flourish while much of it never gets started or quickly dies. I was really interested in discovering how I could be good soil and how I could maintain my place in the "Good Soil Society".
The ultimate Christian aim in the world I grew up in was to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is beautiful in so many ways and is still a reason we take the bread individually when we do communion at Cascade. There's a very personal aspect to our faith journey. One area of faith that can be ignored in that world is the communal nature of faith. How does my understanding of Christianity help me understand my place in this world and relationally to other people?
I'm starting to explore Jesus and Christianity in relationship to the social, corporate and political structures of our current context and of Jesus' context. What if there are structures in this world that serve as a kind of soil that we often don't choose but currently find ourselves in? Can these systems choke out a spiritual life that is all around us? Could God's design of the peaceful thriving of all people be compromised in certain systems in relationship to others?
I think about the spirituality many of us observed in the film "Harriet" this past week about Harriet Tubman. How did being a slaveowner impact your understanding of Christ vs your understanding as a slave? Maybe this rotates the conversation to include personal relationship with Christ as well as illuminating the cultural and societal impacts we're sitting in every day.