Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Towards Sunday, April 3, 2016


Acts 5:27-41 (After their experience of the resurrection of Jesus, the first disciples continue to act out and preach his version of the kingdom of God, and to preach him as the people's messiah.  The authorities in Jerusalem arrest them for this, but the disciples are no longer afraid of them.  One of the Council members is wise enough to suggest that if what the followers of Jesus are doing and saying is really of God, it will persist; if not, it will not.)

Revelations 1:4-8 (Even in -- maybe especially because it is, a time of intense persecution, John the seer celebrates the eternal sovereignty of God and of Jesus as God's Christ through whom the faithful now see -- and all the world shall see, the way of God's salvation of Earth.)

Do you remember the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes"? 

If you need to refresh your memory, you can find it at http://www.online-literature.com/hans_christian_andersen/967/.  Or, there's a child-friendly bed-time video version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgFlbgwWf94.

In brief (so to speak) the emperor -- vain, insecure and foolish, is deluded by con artists into imagining they are clothing him in the finest of robes.  In reality, they are weaving nothing but lies and illusion.  The emperor, taken in by the conceit and clothed in their illusion, goes out in great pomp to dazzle his subjects.  The subjects -- likewise fooled and taken in by the lies of the empire, ooh and aah over what they imagine their emperor is wearing, and convince one another to bow down to the common lie.  It takes a little child -- unschooled in the vanity of the empire, to whisper, "But he has nothing on" to break the spell and allow everyone else to trust and speak out loud what they have actually known in their hearts all along.

Can you see that little child in the crowd -- the one whispering, "But he has nothing on," as at least one image of the risen Jesus?  Rising from death and from the worst the empire and temple could do to silence him, and whispering to the disciples, "But they have nothing on."

How else to explain the followers of Jesus no longer being afraid of the authorities?  And the seer, John, and the early church not buying into the illusion of pax Romana?  

Do emperors and authorities still parade before us, clad in lies and illusion?  Who benefits from it?  What illusions and conceits do we and others participate in, and bow down to today?  And who today is the little child -- the figure and enfleshment of the risen Jesus, whispering from the edge of our culture, "But it's really not true, is it?"

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