The Round Table

18 Jun

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 4 After Epiphany 29 Jan 2012

The Round Table

Consider what St Paul said,

1 Cor 8:13 Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

Ultra-literalists would take that verse to endorse the cause and rationale for vegetarianism.  I propose a broader view.  In light of Paul’s intention of his point that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Cor 8:1), I would like to point out that Christ addresses a similar issue of foods sacrificed to idols when the Seven Churches were puffed full of knowledge.  He specifically addressed this to the Church in Pergamum (Rev 2:14) and to Thyatira (Rev 2:20), and He calls each of the Seven Churches to love.  Each Church has specific gifts to enable them to practice that love in community.  Ephesus has the gifts of discernment and organization.  Smyrna has the gift of faith.  Pergamum has the gift of understanding grace.  Thyatira has the gifts of good works and authority (Rev 2:27).  Sardis has the gift of remembering (Rev 3:3).  Philadelphia has the gift of honesty.  Laodicea has the gift of true witness.  Separately these archetypal Churches in today’s world stew in their own juices.  Silence has become the “food” and a cause of their falling.  They are afraid to “eat the meat” of reconciliation, fearing that one may not cause any of them to fall.  And yet if each of the twelve shepherds of the Seven Churches were to lay aside their crowns to be dead to self and alive in Christ (2 Cor 5:15), then they could come together like King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table with Christ as King.

How can they? They could if they would listen.  Part of my own process is that I listen to pastors preach to individual hearts of their congregations, and I naturally and automatically overlay the individual view on top of the ‘Seven Churches.’  I cannot NOT seem to do that!  I have “seen” how cares and temptations have gotten the better of the Churches and how they have been choking themselves on the hard-packed, rocky, and thorny soils of faith which they have been treading upon. (ref Luke 8)  And there have been other Churches who have “heard” the Word and it landed on good soil, but the sin of silence from those with power to do something wouldn’t allow the good Word to go out, come back, and unite in the process.  In addition, there has been the danger of the Churches judging who they deem as “really saved” and who is not.  Christ did say,

Rev 2:23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 

I so very much understand what God means when He says “I will strike her children dead.”  Are we not already zombies walking around in the Land of the Living Dead?  And has God not already raised a Prophet who really does “hear” the hearts and minds of the Churches?  (But I’m NOT a mind reader!!!—Grrr!)  God did say He would raise up a prophet from among our own people:

Dt 18:15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.

And again:

Dt 18:18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.

And then in Malachi:

Mal 3:1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before Me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight–indeed, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

And in Revelation:

Rev 22:16 I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

I am not the Christ.  I am His prophet ambassador.

2 Cor 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

There are different kinds of prophets: some “hear” and some “see.”  And yet the ‘Seven Churches’ and their ministries whom I have attempted to engage have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear.  I am a prophet that mostly looks backwards, not forwards.  That is why I keep saying, “Rejoice!  Christ has already done it!!”  The Churches didn’t want to hear it.  They have been so far removed that they have been untouchable.  But Christ has the last word:

“Then all the churches will know that I am He and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” (Rev 2:23) 

The Church as a whole did NOTHING, so really how bad can this repayment be?  Receiving nothing for nothing is a fair exchange.  Each Church has power.  There is power in one.  One can make a difference.  One works in concert with others.  The Churches must remember this.  Those that know and do nothing don’t get remembered.  This is why Christ said to Sardis to “REMEMBER.” (Rev 3:3)  Without the Round Table of the pastors getting together, how will history remember?  How will the future know what it is supposed to remember if the present Churches don’t get together in the round so that they can talk and note that there is something memorable going on?  Without the Round Table of the pastors getting together, how will they discuss the issues?  So far the “Rescue by Rapture” mentality has delivered them from taking responsibility as they “wait upon the Lord.”  Honesty will prevail in the end, even though honesty does not always hold anchored Truth but it does hold bits of truth.  The pastor of the archetypal Church of Philadelphia has said directly to me, “I do not believe you are a Prophet!” The discussion was nebulous from there: “Ephesus” has said I am not an Apostle (and thus fulfilled Rev 2:2).  “Laodicea” has said I’m not an Anchoress, because “we all anchor in our relationships with Christ.”  I don’t know what “Thyatira,” “Pergamum,” or “Sardis” would say, because different answers come back without processing the changes in viewpoints over time.  In the end, I cannot defend myself:

Rev 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

   “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” 

All the Churches have been laboring so very hard in their efforts to do and say “nothing” that they have put themselves through the very “hour of trial” (Rev 3:10) that they were trying so desperately to avoid!  To this Christ says,

Rev 3:12Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

The pillars of the temple are made out of God’s character.  Laodicea has the gift of mercy.  Christ says to Laodicea, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev 3:21)  God’s throne is one of mercy.  It is the Mercy Seat.  If the twelve shepherds of the Seven Churches don’t gather around the Round Table to talk, how will they discover each others’ gifts and embrace the mercy God is extending?  Rev 21:21 talks about the twelve gates being twelve pearls.

Rev 21:21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.

The “pure gold, like transparent glass” is honesty.  We, as an entire spiritual and human body cannot reconcile until the “angels” of the Seven Churches get together at the Round Table, so that the whole Church can overcome and sit down with the Father on His throne and talk about it. (Rev 3:21)  Each of the “Twelve Gates” (ie the twelve shepherds of the Seven Churches) has honesty on their side.  It is true: none of us can live up to Christ, the single Pearl of Whom all are made.  We are all ambassadors for Christ.  We all just bear witness to the journey, just as Christ told Laodicea. (Rev 3:14)  We all “share the journey” (as per my Call directives from God, also.)  We are fools for Christ. (1 Cor 4:10)  Is this not the Ultimate Judgment?  Is the Last Judgment not actually about God’s mercy?  Is the Last Judgment not truly about us human beings realizing that we are all foolish children, where we sometimes “get” it and other times we really don’t?  Is the Last Judgment not actually about us realizing that there’s nothing to judge and that what we project on to others we receive in kind?  Is the Last Judgment not truly about us being asked to companion each other along the way and honestly sharing the journey and not judging the journey?  As long as the “twelve shepherds” [aka angels, gates, pastors, gems] remain separated and isolated from each other they will not experience the mercy God has waiting to share with them.  It is His courtesy that awaits.  All they have to do is get together at the Round Table like King Arthur’s knights.  It is within their power and authority to do this.  And Christ did promise:

Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

Part of “robe washing” is getting together to air their dirty laundry.  Confession is healing and cleansing to the soul, not just for individuals, but for Churches.  “Ephesus” has a seat of honor in this dynamic.  She has the gift of organization and can set up this Round Table.  Ephesus was the first on the list of the Seven Churches in Revelation 2 and 3 for a reason.  “Laodicea” has a seat of mercy in this Round Table dynamic.  She is listed last in the sequence.  “Ephesus” was reminded by Christ: “Remember the height from which you have fallen!” (Rev 2:5)  The Church has some housecleaning to do before Christ comes back and the Churches can only do it by getting together to talk about it.  May God provide a miracle so that His grace and mercy would cut through this shameful silence that has been holding the Churches hostage.  Not only has it been hard on me, but it has been hard on them, too.  God has been holding them accountable just as He said He would do in

Deut 18:19 Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.

Revelation never does say if the Churches actually reconcile before Christ returns.  It is held out there in Potential.  It is their choice.  May they be as courteous as Christ has been with them.  In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ first miracle was to rebuke an unclean spirit in the synagogue. (Mk 1:23-25)  With the same authority in the Spirit, I rebuke the unclean spirits of shame, religiosity, self-righteousness, unworthiness, and pride holding the Churches hostage.  Excuses, be silent!  Spirits have entered through loudness, amplification systems, electronics, busyness for the Lord, rushing, forcefulness, willfulness, avoidance, guardedness, dismissiveness, ingratitude, disrespect, and discontent.  There have been a “Legion” (Mk 5:9) of reasons, attitudes, and excuses.  Unholy spirits, come out of them! 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, please soothe the holes and scratches to the soul left behind by Legion’s exit.  Please nurture with the balm of Your healing oil and comfort, of Your grace and peace, of Your harmony, rest, mercy, righteousness, and wholeness.  May we all welcome You with open heart-minds to receive Your blessing, O Lord. Amen.

 

4 After Epiphany                              29 Jan 2012                          Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
18:15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.

18:16 This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the LORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.”

18:17 Then the LORD replied to me: “They are right in what they have said.

18:18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.

18:19 Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.

18:20 But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak–that prophet shall die.”

Psalm 111
111:1 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

111:2 Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.

111:3 Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.

111:4 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the LORD is gracious and merciful.

111:5 He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.

111:6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.

111:7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.

111:8 They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

111:9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.

111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13
8:1 Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

8:2 Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge;

8:3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.

8:4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.”

8:5 Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as in fact there are many gods and many lords–

8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

8:7 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

8:8 “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.

8:9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

8:10 For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols?

8:11 So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.

8:12 But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

8:13 Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

Mark 1:21-28
1:21 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.

1:22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

1:23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit,

1:24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

1:25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”

1:26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

1:27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching–with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

1:28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

 

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