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don’t trust your clergy

So, I’m sitting in surgery waiting just after 6 AM wearing nothing but one of those lovely hospital robes, having a line started, my blood pressure & temperature taken, waiting. Waiting for today’s procedure.

No, this isn’t how I normally find myself doing my morning reading in the Gospels, but, it will just have to do. And what do my eyes fall upon?

Jesus said, “Don’t trust your clergy. They like to parade in their expensive robes and have everyone make a fuss of them when they appear in public. They hog the best seats in the places of worship and sit at the top table when there is a banquet! They take advantage of widows and coax money out of them, and say long prayers in order to impress everybody. They’ll pay for it one day!”

“Don’t trust your clergy.”

I suddenly saw a new bumper sticker – and I just may have to special order this one and slap it on my PT.

bumper sticker_clergy

This time through the gospels, I’m reading them in John Henson’s Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Good As NewScriptures. I’ve decided in my monthly reading through the four Gospels to alternate reading them in the original Greek one month with a different English version the following month.

Glad I picked up this off-beat version.

It just hit me between the eyes.

I’ve decided what I like about reading the Gospels in the original Greek and more literal, traditional English translations is the historical distance the text is put from me by default.  “Beware of the scribes!” “Watch out for that wily grammateus!” I’m sure that punched someone in the face two thousand years ago, but it’s hitting air with me. I have to search Wikipedia to see who these people were, what a  grammateus was, who the scribes were. But “don’t trust your clergy”? Bam.

Henson uses “clergy” consistently throughout his translation.
Goodbye historical application to ancient Jewish scribes; hello application to contemporary American clergymen and women.

It’s one thing to make such a switch in application mentally or even verbally. It was another thing this morning to see it right there in proverbial black and white.

No. Don’t trust your clergy. By default we block out the sun on a regular basis. Many of us may not be sporting the expensive robes, but you better believe we know and long after their subtle and not so subtle cultural equivalents. Oh yes we do. No, don’t trust your clergy – especially those that say you can.

Absolutely not those who insist you must.

Thank you, Mr. Henson, for the laugh at myself this morning, sitting in that backless robe, my seat being a gurney, my arm being pricked with a needle, as I submitted myself to another’s care, to be rolled where he would have me.

Perhaps if more clergy were more frequently so unclothed, so attired, and so seated, we would be more trusted, without ever even asking or expecting to be.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in haverings, Pastoring

 

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green pastures

I meant to write this six months ago.

Last year our Tuesday night group journeyed together through volume 12 of Ray Vander Laan’s That The World May Know video series. Love them all, but this was one of the better entries in the series: Walking With God in the Desert. Vander Laan takes us through the desert of the Negev in Israel exploring seven faith lessons of navigating the hard times, the desert experiences of life.

It’s worth watching, wherever you are coming from.

Anyway.

Green pastures.

That was the surprising epiphany for us all from week six of the journey.

the first image that came up when I binged "green pastures"

the first image that came up when I binged “green pastures”

What do you think of when you picture “green pastures” as in “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me to lie down in green pastures…”? If you’re like me, you immediately envision a boundless field of belly-deep alfalfa. So much green you could get lost in it. Kauai green. Yes, Kauai! Lush. Boundless. Ahhhh.

As Vander Laan observes, does that sound like your experience with God? with life?

Shepherds in Israel rarely lead their sheep to lie down in rich farmland.

They take them, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did, into the desert landscape of the Negev. In the Negev, green pasture is that tuft of grass, right over there. You see, on certain rocky, rugged hillsides, what moisture there is accumulates around rocks, seeps underneath and results in the occasional green sprout. From a distance, green pasture looks like a barren,

"green pastures" in the Negev

“green pastures” in the Negev

dead hillside. Think the Boise foothills at the height of summer’s heat. I’ll never forget the feeling when flying back from Kauai a few years ago, looking out that airplane window and seeing…brown. Everywhere. “Dear Lord,” I gasped audibly. “Everything is dead.”

Yeah. Green pastures are like that.

The first time Vander Laan saw sheep grazing on one of those Negev hillsides, he thought, “What are they doing? Are they rock-eating goats or what?”

But as the shepherd leads, she leads (in the video it’s two shepherdesses we observe) with her voice, walking in front, along a hillside with little tufts scattered all along the way. Each tuft a mouthful. And a mouthful is all that’s needed. In ten minutes there’ll be another

"green pasture." and that's a mouthful...

“green pasture.” and that’s a mouthful…

mouthful. Ten minutes after that, another. And if there isn’t, the shepherd is still there. She’ll lead the way to another tuft or two on another hillside.

One of Vander Laan’s desert companions once observed, “You westerners have it all wrong (now there’s an epiphany). You deal with tomorrow’s problems on today’s pasture. Can you handle what life will throw at you in the next ten minutes? You don’t know. But you have a mouthful right now. And you’re with the shepherd.”

And that’s enough.

green pastures_4

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Faith, musings, Psalms, Videos

 

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