Friday, April 10, 2009

Eatser Bunny Origins

So here it is,a little history on the weird tradition (I think at least) of easter bunnies.



What do you think, interesting right?

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. I was at lunch with some friends and one inquired aggravated why so many businesses were closed today. I said it was Good Friday and they responded with, “Oh yeah.” I think the importance of this day has been overshadowed by what has turned into a crazy day full of Easter eggs, a freaky tall man in a bunny suit, and all kind of new dress outfits. I’m not sure where the Easter bunny tradition came from anyway, which will be something I write about soon too, but I know Easter would not be possible without Good Friday or Passover. I think the beauty of it all is lost in so many people’s ignorance of what it is all about. I was sitting in my little coffee shop at my table last night and got into several conversations with people about “religion and Christianity” that really just had no clue about anything factual and only based there small base of knowledge on hear say and mass media. It is indeed a Good Friday; it is good that we celebrate this day. I know that I personally don’t want to not at least give my time to remember everything and reflect on it all tonight, so I am watching Passion and hanging out with some friends tonight to discuss it all. So what is it all then?

All of it is this amazing story that starts in the Old Testament and strikingly flows through the history and culminates in an empty tomb on a Sunday morning. God sees the oppression of His people, the Israelites, and sends Moses, uses a broken man to chin up to Pharaoh. Let my people free! Through the hardening of his heart God has to send plagues to show him and Egypt who He really is and that He is to be feared. One of the plagues is the taking of the first born. You can find this in Exodus Ch 11 and 12. Here are excerpts from these chapters that sum it all up.

Now the LORD had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal. Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

So there was this lamb without blemish sacrificed and its blood was placed over the doors of the Israelites so that God would not judge them when He judged Egypt. God chose to save Israel. God struck down ever first born as judgment against Egypt and their gods and wickedness, their standing against Him. So keep this idea of killing the first sons and Passover in mind as we continue.

Fast forward to the temple and sacrificial system. The author of Hebrews says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (9:22). If you read the Gospels you will see this term Son of Man used a lot from Jesus. Jesus was and claimed to be the first son of God. Jesus was God. So there is this idea that is in the Bible that we refer to as the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is this huge idea that we cannot fully understand of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit being eternally three beings in one, but all equal, just performing different roles. Jesus lives this life and has about a three ministry that pretty much comes to an end on the celebration night of Passover. Is this significant, you bet! On that night Jesus took bread and wine and said that we should eat and drink in remembrance of Him, this is what we practice as communion in most traditions. Jesus begins even before this meal to predict His death. The prophets speak of a messiah coming to die too. Jesus is also referred to as the Lamb of God. Jesus is arrested and then crucified. There are several things that are special here that may be easily overlooked. Jesus says, while on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” That eternal community of three beings (Trinity) was broken on the cross. God watched Jesus die and it pleased Him to crush Him (Isaiah Ch 53). If you read Deuteronomy you will come across this promise, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (31:6)." What?????? God will not forsake us, but He watched His son, His only son die? Amazing!

Now God on the day after Passover kills His only son, His first Son. Now we are covered in Jesus’ blood so when God’s judgment comes again, the blood of the Lamb, the First Son will be covering us and He will pass over. We have peace with God through Christ. That is why Jesus had to die and be crucified and that is why we should celebrate this Friday, Good Friday, for it is by Jesus we have any chance of forgiveness from god and truly escape judgment that we well deserve.

The resurrection, which is Easter, is so important because there is this idea of life and death throughout Scripture too. Sin brings death. Adam sinned and brought death into the world, brought death on anyone who is born. Jesus was judged as a sinner even though He was not, that is why God had to forsake Him and separate Himself from Him in order to judge Him on the cross for sin. If Jesus would have just died, death would not have been conquered. Jesus rose from death and broke its curse and can now offer everlasting life to those who have faith. That is a very short explanation of that though.

I pray that you will know Jesus. Know His death, know His resurrection, and know His life. Let us celebrate God’s unending grace this weekend, starting tonight, the beginning of the payment for our sins, Christ’s Crucifixion. This weekend would be a great time to read the ends of the Gospels from the time Jesus was arrested until His death and also Hebrews. Great stuff!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Missing

What if it all were a scam? What if Jesus were not a factor? Please continue reading after you calm down, slow your heart rate, and regain your composure. These questions often frustrate those who claim to follow Christ more than inspire, as I think they should. I was driving to get tattooed yesterday after work and as I looked around at the passing cars, people on their cell phones, I just thought about how much we have and how much we think we need (as a people, holistically). I know that everyone has had at least one, “If I hit the Lotto,” conversation in their life thus far. If I hit the lotto I would… I think the response to that sentence looks different for everyone. This thought randomly weighed on my mind for the remainder of the ride there, What if I just got everything I wanted, would I want Jesus? Do I need Jesus? I know theologically and Biblically I do, but a real hard question to ask yourself is this, do I need Jesus? What if there was no Hell? What if this utopian idea of Heaven were not true? How much do I need Him, how much do I desire Him? Asking ourselves these questions would make how we live our lives out look a bit different wouldn’t they?

If Jesus suddenly went missing would you notice or would life go on? We say we believe in a lot of things, but have you ever questioned yourself? Look in the mirror and be 100% authentic with the reflection staring back at you. Behind those eyes is something you must deal with, behind that person is heavy reality that beckons a response. So how do you respond, how do you react, what do you believe?

Do I use Jesus as a means to an end or is He my end? Do I just pray and read my Bible because I think it will help me get what I want? Why do I say I’m a Christian? Answering these questions are important, take a moment or few today to ponder these things. I pray that your response will be worship and thanksgiving to a Holy, Loving, Righteous Father, a Perfect, Glorious, Peaceful, Loving Jesus.

Christian Nation Mythology

I’m just looking around Facebook this morning, as I have a love to read people’s status updates. I come across a particular status update that is interesting. Someone is apparently offended by President Obama saying that we are not a Christian Nation and calls us to repentance. There is a ton wrapped up in this statement and reaction towards it that needs to be explored. As much as it pained me to post this ugly picture, one that makes my skin crawl more than proud to be an American, I posted it anyways to stir about emotions that I will attempt to explore in this short passage. Country music is full of it, songs that talk about America as if it were Jesus’ hope for the world as a nation. That sentence is almost blasphemous I’d say. Then you get into pictures like the one above, Jesus being transposed in front of what we would like Him to be, an American or pro-American. Call me unpatriotic or whatever other names you’d like, but I don’t think America is exactly the idea Jesus had in mind f a great Christian nation. If you take a brief look through the New Testament you will see a theme of the little guys slipping the system of oppression, the Roman Empire on its head with the Gospel. The Roman Empire is looked at as evil and corrupt. I would venture to say that the country of America is bigger and more advanced that Rome ever dreamed of being. We call ourselves a country instead of a world empire, but I think it is safe to say that we are indeed a huge empire! Jesus doesn’t want our allegiance with any empire other than His kingdom. Many will shake their heads in agreement with this, while still believing in this American dream or that America is the light of hope for the world as a nation. (There is great book called Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell & Don Golden you should read if this interests you enough to read more on)

So President Obama says America is not a Christian nation….big deal! It’s not, it never was intended to be. Let’s do a little history and ask ourselves some pretty elementary questions first… Why did the Pilgrims begin these colonies of New England? The early documents were filled with words like God, Amen, Glory of God, etc. These early pioneers were Christian. Did they come to this far away country in order to start a nation that would be only a Christian nation though? The answer is no, whether that hurts your feelings or not, the truth is America was started as an escape from an oppressive English government and the Catholic Church. These travelers came far across the sea in order to find a place where they could be free to worship their God however they wanted. Some how along the road the choice and freedom of religion was forgotten and we started using the term Christian nation. So many churches and well meaning Christians run around praying for the country to repent and return to their Christian beginnings, but I think these prayers come out of a misunderstanding. Are we praying from the stance that we want everyone to become like us, we want a government to operate from the position of Christianity, we spend hours in prayer to change the nation, all the while being in the middle of neighborhoods ridiculed with poverty and pain. We want the big picture to be so ideal that we miss and overlook the little things, right under our noses.

Should we be a Christian nation because our President says so? Should we even be worried about our entire nation being Christian? Honestly, part of the tragedy of America is that everyone claims to be Christian. There is this understanding that if you are American you are Christian. Christian and American are not synonymous! We live in the most powerful and influential empire of our known world, to push our religion or practices upon others in an attempt to conform a nation to one view absolutely contradicts the reason for America. It is the freedom that is so beautiful about America, freedom to be Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Atheist, or anything else you’d like to be. This is not to say people need not hear about Jesus. Our lives should be so changed by Him and His Spirit that we naturally speak about Him in our everyday lives. That begins to change the way things look right? Instead of praying for a Christian nation we begin praying for our coworkers, people that hang out in the same coffee shops that we do, our family, our fellow students, etc. We start caring about what we can touch instead of this big idealistic euphoria of a Christian nation. When I think of an entire nation being deemed on religion I think of oppression, I think of what Constantine did, killing those who opposed Christianity, I think of the oppression of the early Christians by Rome. So the question you have to answer for yourself today is, “Do I want a Christian nation?” What are your motives behind this desire? If you want an entire nation to be Christian I can only imagine you are extremely involved in your local community. I say the American flag that we tattooed on Jesus needs to be ripped off in order that His true radiance can be seen, the freedom of His mercy can be felt, and His Spirit can move. When Jesus told us to go and make disciples, He meant as we go, like on our normal everyday lives, as we live, I don’t think He ever intended to see a nation become Christian, that will only happen in eternity, one eternal kingdom with Christ!

Again, just wanted to reiterate how much I dislike this picture! It was only to make a point...