Sunday, November 17, 2013

E's stories

E is my cello student in third grade. It all started when he went off on a long story about something that happened in his (very full) life (he's lived in three or four very different countries already), like how he broke his shin or something. Now he can't wait to tell me a story every time we finish our lesson for the day, and he asks if I want to hear a "real" or a "fake" one. These are two of the "fake"stories, recorded from my memory to the best of my ability (I've taken the liberty to title them myself)...

1. Music solves all conflicts
"Once upon a time there was a group of hamsters, and they all played instruments, like cello, and violin, and flute, and saxophone. Two of the hamsters, the one who played violin and the one that played cello, were brother and sister. One day they were all playing music, and suddenly they saw a cat. The hamsters ran away but then they ran into the leader of the cats, and then they were all surrounded by cats. The leader cat had some hamsters in his mouth! The hamster that played the cello used the strings from his cello to attack the cat and let the cat open his mouth and let all the hamsters free. Then the cats decided they wanted to play instruments, too, so they all played music together."

2. Playing music cooler than any other job
"So there were these cats. They had a band, with instruments like...violin, cello, drums, guitar...anyway, one day they were playing, and they saw another cat in a tree nearby. They asked the cat to come join them and he said "no." But the cat that played the cello said, "you have to come and play this cello, I'm leaving." So the cat in the tree came down and played the cello, and he really liked it, so he stayed. They played music together and lived happily ever after."
"What happened to the one who gave up the cello?" I asked.
'Well, he left because he really didn't like it. He got an office job."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Supreme Hero

From Richard Foster's "Celebration of Discipline" (the chapter on confession):
Jesus knew that by His vicarious suffering He could actually absorb all the evil of humanity and so heal it, forgive it, redeem it.
This is why Jesus refused the customary painkiller when it was offered Him. He wanted to be completely alert for this greatest work of redemption. In a deep and mysterious way He was preparing to take on the collective sin of the human race. Since Jesus lives in the eternal now, this work was not just for those around Him, but He took in all the violence, all the fear, all the sin of all the past, all the present, and all the future. This was His highest and most holy work, the work that makes confession and the forgiveness of sins possible.
Some seem to think that when Jesus shouted 'My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken Me?' it was a moment of weakness (Mark 15:34). Not at all. This was His moment of greatest triumph. Jesus, who had walked in constant communion with the Father, now became so totally identified with humankind that He was the actual embodiment of sin. As Paul writes, 'He made Him to be sin who knew no sin' (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus succeeded in taking into Himself all the dark powers of this present evil age and defeated every one of them by the light of His presence. He accomplished such a total identification with the sin of the race that He experienced the abandonment of God. Only in that way could He redeem sin. It was indeed His moment of greatest triumph.
Having accomplished this greatest of all His works, Jesus then took refreshment. 'It is finished,' He announced. That is, this great work of redemption was completed. He could feel the last dregs of the misery of humankind flow through Him and into the care of the Father. The last twinges of evil, hostility, anger, and fear drained out of Him, and He was able to turn again into the light of God's presence. 'It is finished.' The task is complete. Soon after, He was free to give up His spirit to the Father.
 When I read this this morning, all I could say was wow. Wow. Amazing. In light of the latest superhero movie I watched last night, the imagery is especially penetrating. We all love a good Righteousness vs. Evil story, latent with tension and conflict but with Virtue, a little battle-scarred and war-weary, emerging triumphant in the end. And yet superhero movies always fall short: evil is never fully destroyed, and even heroes have their weaknesses. How wonderful it is to find the final resolution here in the pages of Scripture, pointing right through to the last Amen in Revelations that Jesus is the One and Only who has Overcome, who destroyed evil by actually taking it into Himself and conquering all. What a great mystery hidden in the heart of God! Jesus IS the SUPREME HERO because His work is finished, once and for all. Though evil still crawls to skirmish with Righteousness, and though Satan heaves his final shuddering breaths to overthrow what remains of his dominion, the final Victory and the everlasting Yes is already set in motion.

Jesus wins. Love conquers all. Stunning.

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
Rev. 5:12