Questions for Galatians, chapter 6

Click here to start with chapter 1

Click here for chapter 5

First reading: Read Galatians 6. What word, phrase, or verse stands out to you? Does it bring up a question? Speak to a question you’ve been having? Just resonate somehow? Is it confusing? Disturbing? Comforting? Make a note of it.

 

Keeping in mind the context of chapter 5 and of the book as a whole, what kind of transgressions do you think Paul might have been referring to in verse 1?

 

 

What individual and corporate responsibilities does Paul expect of those “who have received the Spirit?”

 

 

How do you reconcile “bear one another’s burdens” with “all must carry their own load?”

 

 

How can you “test your own work?” Are there any “tests” or “proofs” or “evidences” Paul offers in Galatians that would be helpful in this?

 

 

Can you think of any real life examples of reaping what you’ve sown?

 

 

What seems to be Paul’s overarching desire for the Galatians in the instructions he gives in verses 1-10?

 

 

What dichotomies does Paul establish and repeat in this chapter?

 

 

What roles do pride, boasting, work, and the flesh play in this chapter?

 

 

Have you ever felt someone pressuring you to do something to make him or her look good?

 

 

What do the cross and crucifixion seem to mean to Paul?

 

 

What rule is Paul referring to in verse 16?

 

 

What does he mean by the “Israel of God” and why would he use such a phrase?

 

 

What questions do you have about the chapter or the book as a whole? How would you summarize the main messages of Galatians?

Questions for Galatians, chapter 4

Click here for chapter 3

First reading: Read Galatians 4. What word, phrase, or verse stands out to you? Does it bring up a question? Speak to a question you’ve been having? Just resonate somehow? Is it confusing? Disturbing? Comforting? Make a note of it.

Marc Chagall: Abraham and Sarah, 1956, The Bible, Original Lithograph

Marc Chagall: Abraham and Sarah, 1956

Paul uses three different metaphors for the Law – which one or which combination of images most aides your understanding?

 

What slave-like conditions do young sons live under in verse 1-3? What rights to they enjoy when they grow up in verses 6-7?

 

From your own experiences, what are the differences between the relationship of a parent and a young child and that of a parent and a grown child?

 

How is the observance of the Law the same as pagan religion? How is different? How is life in the Spirit different?

 

What is the effect of the distinction Paul makes in verse 9: knowing God vs. being known by God?

 

What is the difference in tone between Paul’s appeal in verses 12-20 and his appeal in verses 21-31?

 

What does he mean when he says he became like them and what reasons does he give them to become like him?

 

What image does Paul use to contrast the selfishness of the false teachers?

 

How might the Judaizers have used the story of Hagar and Sarah and how does Paul use it?

 

Miss Vera Speaks

 

They ask how she grin through that face with that life.

I say I’s never shielded from nothing

‘Cept dying young.

 

People deep bruised by something

Talk like the world should end.

Won’t catch me dying every day like that.

 

‘Cause I seen them once

Just once – the cracks in the universe –

Thought I’d fall right through.

 

‘Stead I laughed – said some kind of God

Put up with a tattered-old place as here

Gotta have some grace for me.

 

– Jenn Cavanaugh

originally published in America, August 13, 2007

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Questions for Galatians, chapter 3

Click here for chapter 1

Click here for chapter 2

First reading: Read Galatians 3 in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase The Message. What word, phrase, or verse stands out to you? Does it bring up a question? Speak to a question you’ve been having? Just resonate somehow? Is it confusing? Disturbing? Comforting? Make a note of it.

http://expressway.paulrands.com/oldsite/photogallery/signs/general/regulatory/images/wrongway.jpg

Image © Sam Laybutt (ozroads.com.au)

Comprehension & Reflection: Read the chapter again, answering the following:

Of what powerful images and experiences of God does Paul remind the Galatians in the first five verses? What is he trying to accomplish by reminding them?

 

In this version of verse 5, Eugene Peterson essentially defines miracles as the “Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves.” How would you define a miracle?

 

What experience have you had of miracles in your own life and the lives of those around you? Did they seem to correspond to any particular human action?

 

Paul argues his point first from the Galatians’ experiences, and then from the scriptures. Look up some of the references he makes and list his main points from scripture. [Genesis 15:6, 22:18, 26:4; Deuteronomy 27:26; Habakkuk 2:4; Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 21:23]

 

What are the results of living by faith that cannot be gained from living by the law?

 

How would convincing the Galatians to think of themselves as descendants and inheritors of Abraham’s covenant protect them from the Judaizers’ demands? How was the Galatians’ initial faith like Abraham’s?

 

Restate in your own words the logic of Paul’s analogy of the ratified will in verses 15-20.

 

What does Paul say is the purpose of the law? What sort of roles does he assign to it?

 

In verse 28, what sort of general divisions does Paul say shouldn’t exist in Christ’s family? Do they still, in your experience? What error would Paul say these divisions indicate?

Questions for Galatians, chapter 2

Click here for chapter 1

First reading: Read Galatians 2. What word, phrase, or verse stands out to you? Does it bring up a question? Speak to a question you’ve been having? Just resonate somehow? Is it confusing? Disturbing? Comforting? Make a note of it.

Comprehension & Reflection: Read the chapter again, answering the following:

What do we know about Paul’s traveling companions, Barnabas and Titus, and what light do they shed on Paul’s ministry?

Why did Paul go to Jerusalem and what were the results of his visit? Describe Paul’s attitude toward the other apostles.

When Paul states his concern of “running in vain” in verse 2, what do you think he was worried about?

What is the larger significance of Titus not being compelled to be circumcised? What does Paul call those would have compelled him?

In verse 7, are there different gospels for the circumcised and the uncircumcised? Why might there be different apostles for the Jews and the Gentiles?

Why does Paul accuse Peter of hypocrisy? What led to it?

Try making some kind of visual outline of the distinctions Paul draws in verses 15-21 of justification through the law and through Christ (draw a picture or sketch a diagram or divide into columns). What do you notice?

What parts do grace and faith play in this chapter? In verse 16 the phrase “faith in Christ” could also be translated “the faith (or faithfulness) of Christ.” Read verses 15-21 again replacing “faith in” with “the faithfulness of.” Does it add anything to your reading?

Most of us cannot relate to the strong emotional, social, racial, and political divisions between Jew and Gentile at this time. Along what lines do we see the church dividing itself today?

Galatians details some rather unattractive struggles within the leadership of the early church. Why do you think these are included in our scriptures?

In this chapter, what are the signs of the true gospel and of the false?

Prayerful Reading (lectio divina): Ask 4 people in the group to be ready to read from the last few verses of the chapter.

Before the first reading take a moment as a group to quiet yourselves and prepare to listen deeply to the words being read and for the voice of God. Pray for God’s word to enter and work more deeply in your minds, hearts, and spirits. Read verses 19-21. Let the words soak in. Give them time.

For the second reading try to move from the intellectual exercise of study and enter into the truth of the words. Stop wrestling with them. Trust them and let them act on you. Read verses 19b(“I am crucified with Christ…)-20.

Let the third reading mark a time of silent prayer. Let your heart speak to God. Read verses 19b-20.

On the final reading rest in God’s presence. Let the Holy Spirit speak and transform your heart. Read verses 19b-20.

“Galatians 2:20. The Relinquished Life” by Mark Lawrence http://www.marklawrencegallery.com/products/the-relinquished-life

Click here for chapter 3

 

 

Questions for Galatians, chapter 1

This blog began as an attempt to make available to others some resources that I’d been involved in making, especially those that had a relatively high holy-sweat to beneficiary ratio the first time around. I’m currently leading a very small group in which exactly one participant really, really likes some concrete guidance as she prepares throughout the week for our Bible study. Now, I’ve been to seminary and you would think I would have some great stuff like that readymade and at my disposal. And I’m sure I do somewhere. In my library in storage on another continent. In a database I think I could still access if I could remember the password. Or my username. On some software on a bricked laptop. You get the picture. So these are for Marion, and – by the power of WordPress – for you, if they’re useful to you. They’re not so original that you should hesitate to bounce off them free-style and make them your own, but they’re original enough that if you are going print them off and hand them around to your own small group you should put my name and a link to this post at the bottom of the page. In teeny tiny print at least. Because you don’t want to go into this study with anything on your conscience – Paul’s in a mood. Enjoy. by Rich Wyld at theologygrams.wordpress.com

First reading: Read Galatians 1. What word, phrase, or verse stands out to you? Does it bring up a question? Speak to a question you’ve been having? Just resonate somehow? Is it confusing? Disturbing? Comforting? Make a note of it. Hold onto it prayerfully and see if it makes more sense to you at the end of this study.

Comprehension & Reflection: Read the chapter again, answering the following:

Who is writing and to whom?

What is an apostle?

How does Paul describe Christ’s work in verse 4?

What does he seem to consider his own work to be?

What has happened to occasion this letter?

What does “gospel” mean?

Paul doesn’t articulate this “different gospel” in this chapter. What can you guess about it based on what he does say?

According to this chapter, what are valid sources of the “gospel” and what are not?

What “traditions” do you think Paul is referring to in verse 14?

What credentials and details of his own life story does Paul present and why does he do so?

What misinformation does he seem to be trying to correct?

What dichotomies does Paul establish in this chapter?

What is the overall tone of this chapter?

Is the issue of “different gospels” still relevant for us today?

FOR ADDITIONAL STUDY/ CONTEXT:

  1. Where else in the Bible can we read about the churches or region of Galatia? Do these passages offer any further insight into Paul’s audience?
  2. Compare the salutation at the beginning of this epistle to some others. What similarities and differences do you notice?
  3. Compare Paul’s account of his travels with those in Acts.
  4. What additional information can you find about the historical background and setting of this letter?
  5. What other passages can you find dealing with teachings contrary to the gospel? How are they defined, described, etc.? What consequences, warnings, and instructions are issued relating to them?

Click here for chapter 2

A Missional Ministerial Gifts Assessment

based on Creating a Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World

by JR Woodward

(Completely Unauthorized

and Hopelessly Slanted by Yours Truly So Just Figure Anything You Don’t Like is My Bad )

1———————2———————3————————-4———————5

Never             Rarely              Sometimes                Usually                Always

Using the scale above, write your answers to these questions on the lines provided at the end.

1. I am a big-picture person

2. I am sensitive to the Holy Spirit

3. My heart breaks for those who don’t know Jesus

4. I think we need to focus more on the spiritual healing and formation of the congregation

5. When I read the Bible I expect to gain fresh insight

6. I can get wrapped up in projects and achievement at the expense of my relationships with God and others

7. My heart breaks for the poor and oppressed

8. I think the church should be more outwardly focused

9. I am a peacemaker

10. I prioritize my own learning

11. The church is the best place for people to actively discern and from which to pursue their purposes in life

12. I may come across as inconsiderate or inflexible

13. I consider my job a vocation and an opportunity to be a good witness

14. I look for ways to move our church toward being a family

15. The more knowledgeable we are of Scripture and how to apply it, the more faithful we will be

16. When I invite people to try something new they at least consider it

17. I tend to include the outsiders

18. I err on the side of going along with my cultural context rather than critiquing it

19. My heart breaks for those who have deep emotional wounds and I want to help them move forward

20. I am good at explaining things clearly

21. I bring people together to turn ideas into reality

22. I believe in the power of the Spirit and spiritual practices and I want others to as well

23. I’m a good storyteller

24. When someone I care about is hurting I cannot view the situation objectively

25. I get frustrated when people don’t use the sense God gave them

26. I have a profound sense of being part of God’s mission in the world

27. People are better off facing reality head-on, without illusions

28. I try to preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words

29. I create opportunities for people to play together

30. I can content myself with having the right answer on an issue or question without acting on it

31. I am realistic in starting new ventures, but I don’t particularly fear failure

32. I get involved in justice issues and invite others to do so as well

33. I see opportunities for the church to live into and express the kingdom in ways specific to our context

34. I instinctively grieve with those who grieve and rejoice with those who rejoice

35. The church’s highest priorities should be the study of the Word and fruitful theological discussion

1———————2———————3————————-4———————5

Never             Rarely              Sometimes                Usually                Always

1.  ______           2.  ______           3.  ______           4.  ______           5.  ______

6.  ______           7.  ______           8.  ______           9.  ______           10.  _____

11. _____            12. _____            13. _____            14. _____            15. _____

16. _____            17. _____            18. _____            19. _____            20. _____

21. _____            22. _____            23. _____            24. _____            25. _____

26. _____            27. _____            28. _____            29. _____            30. _____

31. _____            32. _____            33. _____            34. _____            35. _____

Add up the columns here (higher numbers indicate greater relative strength):

__________         __________         __________         __________         __________

Apostle                   Prophet             Evangelist               Pastor                   Teacher

Hooray, I’m gifted, now what?

Employ your unique combination of gifts to increase the unity, maturity and ministry of the church (Ephesians 4). This sounds simple until you try it. God is asking us to use the ways in which we fundamentally diverge in our mental, emotional, and stylistic approaches to ministry to minister together. Each gift comes with its own biblical slants on humanity, the church, the faith and the world. The key here is to recognize and value the gifts and accompanying assumptions of others even though you will find them occasionally incomprehensible. The degree to which they mystify you is the degree to which you need someone else there representing them. They help make whole the mission of God. Maturity comes when these closely held and thoroughly biblical definitions and assumptions rub off on each other to expand our understanding of God and Christ-likeness. Unity comes of remembering throughout the process that we all claim Christ as Lord and are accepted by Him.

It also helps not to let these roles we’re called on to play define your identity overmuch – you are first and foremost a child of God. They are words to help us articulate our God-given strengths in blessing others. It does not constitute an excuse for self-importance or an exemption to caring for others in ways that don’t come as naturally to us. You’ll notice this list of gifts indicates less what exactly you should do in the church than how you’ll likely go about it. Nothing here dictates that you be or not be a preacher, an elder, a deacon, a Sunday school superintendent, a member of the outreach team or a worship leader.  An apostolically gifted arts pastor will have a different m.o. than one gifted in teaching, and so on.

Um, am I supposed to know what an apostle does?

Read back through the relevant questions to get a rough, composite sketch of each kind of “equipper,” as Woodward calls them. Even better, read his book. Or leave a comment and we can talk. I’d welcome any feedback or results. Was anyone else surprised by being more “evangelistic” (or “prophetic” or “apostolic,” etc.) than you thought of yourself as? If so, does that seem to be a symptom of my utter lack of training in assessment preparation, an indicator of some different assumptions about how these gifts operate in a missional church, or a sign that another leader is rubbing off on you?

Don’t take this the wrong way, but you might be [gasp!] an evangelist

I’ve been taking copious notes lately from JR Woodward’s Creating a Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World, about half of which focuses on how the five kinds of leaders listed in Ephesians 4 (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors & teachers) can work uniquely and in unity in a church wanting to be the church for others. I’ve read about these ministerial gifts before and taken probably half-a-dozen of the dozens of self-assessments available to tell you where your gifts lie. If you’ve grown up in the Protestant church, I’m guessing you have, too. (If you haven’t then cast your mind back to your teen magazine years and those quizzes that helped you determine what bubblegum flavor you were. These assessments are a lot like those except these tell you how the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is raising you up “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” Very similar, yes? ) I ended up writing my own self-assessment quiz based on Woodward’s book, which I’ll post in a few days. I don’t generally accord gifts and personality assessments too much weight, especially not ones I’ve written myself, but they are good team-building conversation starters for church leaders. Particularly if you’ve already analyzed your respective bubblegum flavors to death. It was also a useful exercise in examining the slight to significant differences between how I heard these gifts described growing up and how Woodward saw these gifts operating in the context of a church committed to being church for the world. He doesn’t spend time calling out all the abuses that can happen when these gifts are assumed as mantles and titles, but he offers quiet correctives to them all the same.

The definition that seemed most altered when viewed through a missional lens was that of the evangelist. It would have had to have been a big difference for me to notice, because I would tend to gloss over that section. Based on my scores on other gifts assessments I have come to self-identify very strongly as not-an-evangelist. At times that has bothered or mystified me – I’m sociable. I care about people. I’m not ashamed of following Jesus. I believe in putting words to our faith. I want the world to know that God loves the world. While I think of my primary calling as helping the church be the church, I consider demonstrating and articulating this faith to our larger communities in credible ways to be one of the signs of the church being the church. So why wouldn’t this register on the tests?

Reading Woodward’s description of an evangelist I realized how many other descriptions I’d read that were based on narrow and rather stilted models of sharing the good news. Of course the accompanying lines of questioning used to identify the evangelists among us reflected those models as well, e.g. Would you rather hand out tracts on a street corner or prepare a Bible study? On a scale of 1-10 how willing are you to tell your friends they’re going to hell? Does at least one of your everyday accessories double as a device for sharing the gospel in five minutes or less? Do you cold-call people for a living and hate going home at the end of the day? Yes, I’m dangling a couple of toes over the deep end here, but our images of evangelism have been indelibly colored by evangelical notions of “witnessing” that differ both from simply being a witness and from what an evangelist, in the Ephesians 4 context of church leadership, would be concerned with – the witness of the church as a whole and serving as a messenger/ ambassador between the church and the rest of the world.

Assumptions that verbal assent constitutes faith and that commitment to following Christ bears no relation to our human relationships also taint our assumptions of what evangelism and evangelists look like. These assumptions actually screen out those with the gifts necessary to tell the story of God convincingly to a skeptical public and to draw people toward the community of faith. Our shift toward thinking that evangelism involves demanding an answer from the unprepared discourages those the Spirit keeps preternaturally prepared to give an answer for the hope within them from thinking of themselves as evangelists.

The true evangelists among us would be the folks who have the best handle on the gospel as good news rather than those who consider it a tough sell. According to many assessments, if you can move product and close deals you may be an evangelist, but they shunt away others who can best give the gospel away. If you think of salvation in terms larger than individual souls, you’re an apostle. If your commitment to truth leads you beyond warning sinners about judgment to calling the systems of the world and the church to justice, you’re a prophet. If you’re equipped to care for other people relationally, you’re a pastor. If you want others to recognize the heights and depths, and not just the breadth of God’s love, you’re a teacher. This tends to leave those whose faith is unusually exuberant and simple and – not always, but often – still immature, uninformed, or unexamined to communicate the gospel to the world. Yeah, how’s that workin’ out for us?

By equating one’s willingness to offer a shallow salvation through artificial methods with the spiritual gift of evangelism, we unwittingly anoint as evangelists the garrulous, who prefer being right to having right relationships and for whom the propositional truths of Christianity assure them a winning argument every time; the gregarious who can turn anything into small talk, including the staggering news that God died for you; the spiritually anxious who bear their responsibilities for the fates of others’ souls with potentially crippling fear and trembling; and the socially anxious for whom conversations with strangers never get easier, so they might as well turn them toward something important like accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior in the hopes that some greater good will come of them. The church, thank God, has very few evangelists by this measure. But we do have the real deal. We’ve been promised them. We’re not able to do the work of the church without them. Who knows, but you might be one of them – even and especially if the thought of knocking on a stranger’s door to show them your corny beaded bracelet makes you physically ill.

If you’d like to find out, I’ll post the assessment I drafted up based on Woodward’s descriptions in a couple of days – let’s say Saturday. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for you getting all prophetic on your co-workers at the end of a long week.

A Few Good Books, Part One

I enjoy my gig as a book reviewer. It keeps me reading and writing and making some small contribution to the family’s finances. I like having concrete assignments, deadlines, and front row access to the world of Christian publishing. I enjoy dishearteningly few of the assigned books, however. As a mother of girls I receive a disproportionate number of teen girl devotionals, women’s Bible studies, and Christian parenting titles. This inevitably skews my sense of the job as a rollicking good time, in part because my personal reading tastes don’t tend toward “nice,” but primarily because I maintain an apparently minority position that books for women and young people merit as much theological rigor, ground-breaking novelty, and professional editing as books for markets deemed more discerning. Of course, I try to review each book on its own terms – if it accomplishes what it sets out to do – rather than according to personal tastes, but my reading within and outside of these sub-genres indicates that we can do better here and just don’t bother. Here are links to my reviews of a few good books. They’re not necessarily great literature, but they’re ones that somehow raise the bar on their respective fronts.

Fearless Daughters of the Bible: What You Can Learn from 22 Women Who Challenged Tradition, Fought Injustice and Dared to Lead by J. Lee Grady.
The Kindle version is only $1.99 today.

“Many books urging women to claim our positions as God’s daughters tell only half the story. They tell us we are God’s beloved little girls, privileged princesses. They expound on our roles or rights as children of God, but not our responsibilities. J. Lee Grady wrote Fearless Daughters of the Bible to encourage women to reclaim the power of God’s promises and step up and act accordingly….A father of four daughters, Grady writes in paternal tones without stooping to paternalism; ideal readers would be high school and college age.” My full review here.

Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt by Leslie Leyland Fields

“Leslie Leyland Fields debunks nine myths of Christian parenting, making the case that children are not put on this earth to fulfill us; neither are we asked to be God to them…. The depth to which some of these myths are ingrained becomes evident in the author’s own occasional inconsistency. Overall, her major points, scriptural examples and discussion questions offer an effective, affirming and hopeful counter to destructive myths our culture — and sometimes even our churches — subtly enforce.” My full review here.

One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter by Greg Garrett

“Addressing evangelical concerns regarding sorcery and witchcraft head on, he argues that the supernatural functions not as an alternate belief system, but as a backdrop for a story full of Christian values — a story so Christian that its creator hesitated to discuss her own Christian faith before the last installment came out for fear of giving away the ending.” My full review here.

The Mockingbird Parables: Transforming Lives through the Power of Story by Matt Litton

“High school English teacher Matt Litton offers an outstanding spiritual reading—currently unavailable in most high school English classrooms—of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird as a parable of compassion, courage and community. In the microcosm of small town Maycomb, Litton discerns lessons about parenting, responsible living, caring for neighbors and envisioning God as a mysterious neighbor who, similar to the enigmatic Boo Radley, must be engaged on his own terms rather than defined or domesticated.” My full review here.

Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James

“The Chinese say, “Women hold up half the sky.” Carolyn Custis James figures if the majority of women worldwide suffer oppressive poverty and violence and a privileged minority still struggle to prove or believe in their own value, no wonder it feels as if the sky is falling…. Dismantling the myth of the subordinate helpmeet, she recovers the Old Testament figure of the woman of valor, the strong and capable ezer who helps as God helps.” My full review here.

Dead Can Dance: A Meditation and Playlist for Holy Saturday

The Dance of Death (1493) by Michael Wolgemut, from the Liber chronicarum by Hartmann Schedel

“[Jesus] was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner…. [Jesus] was as dead as a door-nail…. There is no doubt that [Jesus] was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.” adapted from Dickens’ _A Christmas Carol_

Christians are sorely tempted to gloss over or spiritualize the death of Christ. After all, how dead can we imagine the Source of all life? At what point do our imaginations fail to allow for his return to life? If we find Jesus’ resurrection easy to believe, might it be at the expense of our belief in Jesus’ death? Our scriptures and our creeds stress that Jesus did not just die, he was buried. He was counted and fully identified with the dead. He took kenosis, humanity, and mortality to their furthest limits and poured himself out even to death. Christ’s earliest followers wanted to impress upon all who would listen that he did not faint, lose consciousness, or swoon. He was not “mostly dead.” He was as dead as dead gets, deader than we’ll ever be, as ultimate in death as in life, not only the firstborn of all creation, but also the jigging and grinning leader and Lord of the danse macabre that ultimately unites us all regardless of who we were and what we believed. Wherever we go when we die, he went there, and conquered it in his own name. Harrowing of Hell - from a 15th century French Book of Hours at the Huntington Library

Death couldn’t hold him any more than heaven or earth could. Holy Saturday makes room in our theology for the death of God, and a God beyond Being, and all the contributions of William Blake and John of the Cross, Hegel and Nietchze, Caputo and Zizek. We are given a time to mourn him and celebrate his life, time for a proper wake, granted an interval to contemplate the horror of life without him, an opportunity to come together and make sense of and respond to what he was on about in life.

It’s a time to allow our perspectives to shift, like Robert DeLong sings about in “Global Concepts.”

After I die, I’ll re-awake,
redefine what was at stake
from the hindsight of a god.

Whether or not you believe Jesus completely grasped the entirety of who he was and what he came to do before he died, it’s quite obvious that his disciples did not. Only in losing him and in his return did they begin to understand the magnitude of what was at stake. Even those who believed he was the Messiah had a limited notion of what that meant before Christ’s death and resurrection. To John’s disciples who wondered if he was the One, he replied “that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Luke 7:22), and to the crowds he wondered aloud, if John’s preaching and my healing can’t do it, what’s it going to take to get you people mourning and dancing? What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed in the wind? A man in soft clothes? A prophet? What will you make of me coming to eat and drink with you?

Did I make money? Was I proud?
Did I play my songs too loud?
Did I leave my life to chance
or did I make you f***ing dance?

Holy Saturday redefines death, life, and power. The dance of the dead is not a sign of futility or defeat, but of completion, hope in more than this life, and victory.

Should I close my eyes and prophesize
Hoping maybe someday come?
Should I wet the ground with my own tears
Crying over what’s been done?

Should I lift the dirt and plant the seed
Even though I’ve never grown?
Should I wet the ground with the sweat from my brow
And believe in my good work?

Hey there, I’m flying up above
Looking down on the tired earth
I can see, I can see potential
Speaking through you, speaking to you
From all of heaven’s possibility

Power, hey, do know how it work?
Hey, do you know that the meek
They shall inherit the earth?
You should work, you should work
Yeah, for the self and the family

Should I hit the water or stay on dry land
Even though I’ve never swam?
Take machete, take them into the brush
Though at first there is no path

Taste the war paint on my tongue
As it’s dripping with my sweat
Place my gaze in the future’s path
Seeing things that ain’t come yet

Hope to watch the victory dance
After the day’s work is done
Hope to watch the victory dance
In the evening’s setting sun

Need more for your playlist? Try Elbow’s “The Night Will Always Win” (imagine Peter and Judas singing that for their various reasons), Dave Matthews’ “The Space Between” and The Waterboys’ “Song for the Life” along with, of course the Dead Can Dance’s eponymous album from way back when for atmosphere. Interestingly enough they put out an album called Anastasis (=resurrection) last year that I’ll be listening to tomorrow.

I’ll close with a poem that leads a great post on the subject of Holy Saturday by Christine Valters Paintner

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you as few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
Absolutely clear
.

~ Hafiz