Oratio, Episode 6

Are We Living to Survive or Thrive? 

Lectionary Reading:

Psalm 111

Ephesians 5:15-20

John 6:51-59

My personal suggested reading additions for the lectionary:

Proverbs 9:1-6 (Alongside the John 6 reading)

John 1:1-18 (John’s Gospel prologue-the Word as flesh)

  1. Jesus as the Divine Word, or, Logos (Greek translation of “Word”)

 

A little note: I appreciate your patience with my poor tech skills and apologize for the speaker scrambling moments. In addition, I am working hard to undo the language that has been imbedded in me from the church, to constantly refer to God as “he” or “him.” To be clear, Yahweh, in the Hebrew Bible is a non-gendered entity.

Reflection: 

There are moments in my life when I am straight up in survival mode in the most literal sense to the emotional sense. And being in a state of survival causes anxiety for me personally and even depression which can make the situation even worse. I’m not going to pretend or act like I have all the answers for the best ways to never be in these situations or how to avoid all of them, because I know that my life is a work in progress, but I do know what the text says and I do know what God has shown me and demonstrated to me in my life.

I shared a couple of weeks ago about Psalm 23 and how sheep can literally make the choice to survive and even do things that are unhealthy for them unless guided and directed by a diligent shepherd. Some shepherds are NOT good and do the bare minimum to have their flock simply survive for their own personal benefit and do no more. A good shepherd takes this to a whole other level of care. Is this the kind of care you want to be under? I know I do. How do we access this?

Psalm 111: God seeks a response from us. God is trying to provoke a response in us and Psalm 111 gives us a kind of blue print of not only who God is and the kinds of incredible things God does, but how we, as humans made in the likeness of God, should perceive these things. Throw away everything you’ve been taught in the church about fear, wisdom, and reverence because God wants to do and is actively doing all of the things spoken about in this Psalm. For me, I could never see it because I was only able to see things or understand them the way the church was telling me to. This can be a hindrance as we are limited by our presuppositions directly from the church.

A word study:

“Fear,” being the catalyst of wisdom is not what we think. Fear in the Hebrew language literally means “to flow from the gut.” Have you ever watched a movie where a scene or a moment made you feel something inside of you? Have you seen or witnessed something so incredible that you get goosebumps? This is the kind of reaction that God means when the word “fear” is used. It’s a sense of being awestruck. This feeling is essentially our internal recognition and knowledge that God has done something or is doing something inside of us. It’s recognition of a moment where you know that only God or some other thing bigger than you has done something in your life.

“Chokmah”: The recognition mentioned above leads to wisdom, or, chokmah (hok-mah). If you ever have a chance to read Proverbs, Wisdom is an incredibly important feature that we are supposed to heed and pay attention to. Chokmah helps us to thrive even in moments of survival. For examples of crazy awesome chokmah, read Ruth and Esther. This is applied wisdom in the midst of very grim situations at its finest! Take note of Ruth’s and Esther’s situations before and after they use applied wisdom.

  1. Chokmah deconstructed: Check out the link provided for a deeper analysis of chokmah: Wisdom (02451)(chokmah [word study] from the verb chakam - to be wise) is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is the ability to see something from God’s viewpoint. Wisdom is “God’s character in the many practical affairs of life.”

Ephesians 5:15-20: This section of the text is an extension of what Psalm 111 is telling us. It is a repetition of the fact that seeking after maturity and chokmah is a way for us to live better and to love better. It is a way for us to get into the inner workings of God and what God is doing in the world so that we can adjust our lives to that work. Living only to survive means that we are trying to make God adjust to what we are doing or to how we understand things.

John 6:51-59: This is the statement that changes everything in John. Jesus is in a public space and in a synagogue. What he says is arguably one of the most controversial parts of the entire Christian Bible; and Jesus says this in front of everyone. This is a pivotal moment where his followers start leaving him and the plot to kill him only becomes perpetuated. In addition, what Jesus says here, if taken in the literal sense, is a direct violation of Torah Law. Here’s the thing, Jesus is not speaking literally when he refers to eating his flesh and drinking his blood. This is, in my opinion, both a symbolic reference to Wisdom in Proverbs 9:1-6 as well as a direct reference to what would eventually be Communion: a recurring event of worship and remembrance of Christ’s act of love on the cross with bread and wine as elements representing his body and his blood.

Critical takeaways:

  • Jesus is chokmah personified and we can see this throughout each of the gospel narratives, including John. He is the Divine Logos, speaking creation into existence.

  • Both Communion as well as our progression in chokmah are continual acts that we participate in.

  • We do not participate in these acts alone! Chokmah and breaking bread to celebrate the last supper is a collective gathering of all Christ’s body (WE are the body of Christ, now, in this moment as we await the return of Jesus).

  • The Body of Christ is a collective of Black bodies, Brown bodies, POC bodies, Queer bodies, Disabled bodies, Transgender bodies, the suffering, the unloved, the orphan, the rejected; all exchanging life experiences, stories, edification, and knowledge to one another and all bearing one another’s burdens in love in the name of Jesus our Savior--THIS is communion.

  • In John 6, Jesus does not make the suggestion for us to participate in this act with him, he commands it. Anyone who rejects you from being able to participate is breaking this command by preventing you to partake.

  • By doing this we THRIVE even in the midst of troubling times, suffering, and oppression.

Children, take your seats with us at God’s table prepared for you. You are a child of God.

Have a blessed week,

Erin Green