Be Opened

9 Sep

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 15 After Pentecost 9 September 2012

Be Opened

Mark 7:34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

7:35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

7:36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. [Reverse psychology?  We ARE children!]

Church, Be Opened!

In Mark 7:29, Jesus casts out a demon from the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter.  The woman was a Gentile, but she “got” Jesus.  (Most of the Churches today are also Gentile (Gentile meaning not Jewish) and they “get” Jesus.  And we do live in “The Time of the Gentiles.” (Lk 21:24))  Jesus spoke code to the woman and she still “got” Him.

Mk 7: 27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

I am fully aware of the traditional meanings that “the children” refer to the Jews and “the dogs” refer to the Gentiles.  I bless that understanding.  Two thousand years later and faithful people are still offering their lives for the sake of the gospel so that the Good News has spread to both the Jews and the Gentiles everywhere!  Go Team! 

Mk 7:28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

The “dogs under the table” became the “souls under the altar” of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. (Rev 6:9)  The Seven Churches didn’t maintain the testimony because they’re an Institution, and institutions by their nature must preserve their status quo to enjoy their equilibrium.  If the gospel didn’t hurt the dragon’s pride, then the PR would be as easy as boasting about the Olympic Games.  That doesn’t mean the gospel isn’t easy to share from a state of authenticity once the obstacles are removed. 

There is a connection between the Syrophoenician woman begging Jesus to cast out a demon from her daughter [ie the Church-as-Bride] and then Jesus moving on to declaring “Be opened!” to the Decapolis Man (reference bridge to Mk 7:31), who is like the Seven Churches being the Church-as-Institution.  The heart-mind is a funny thing.  It starts off not knowing.  God reveals, such as when He sent the angel Gabriel to Daniel and said, “Know and understand this.  From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be…” (Dan 9:25)  Then later God asks, “What do you see?” (Zech 4:2)  As the divine discussion progresses, He asks, “Do you not know what these are?” (Zech 4:13)  He may then ask, “Who are they and where did they come from?” (Rev 7:13)  After merciful lessons in humility, we can respond with, “Sir, you know.” (Rev 7:14)

In the first century the Church’s eyes were opened and Decapolis Man spread the Good News from the hub, and the word zealously spread out from there.  Man couldn’t keep his mouth shut even though Jesus told them to tell no one.  Two thousand years later and the Gospel has reached to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)  At this point the tides have now reversed.  The Church-as-Institution is currently obeying Jesus’ words literally “to tell no one.”  Ah, but in this divine romance, God has the last Word when we choke on love because it’s too personal, too awesome, too intimate, too overwhelming, and too real.  He sends help to the earth.

Rev 12:16But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

The earth is an incarnational thing, the Word made flesh and real.  The Earth has swallowed up the Good News (and me, too!) because the Churches didn’t/couldn’t see/hear that the news was good.  And the “dragon” clearly had something to do with that!  Does humanity require yet another martyr for her religious appetites to be satiated, be it with Jesus and the Pharisees or in the Inquisitions a thousand years later? (cf Rev 20:4) 

Medieval (aka Episcopal) Inquisition = 1184-1230’s

Papal Inquisition = 1230’s

Protestant Inquisition (aka The Reformation) = 1450-1650

Spanish Inquisition = 1478-1834

Portuguese Inquisition = 1536-1821

Roman Inquisition = 1542-1860

(Inquisitions’ dates vary depending on sources).[1]

The Institution is a mighty mountain no matter what century.  Back when the Jews came out of Exile from Babylon, Zerubbabel was governor in charge of laying the Temple foundation when it was rebuilt.  And he did a good job.  It’s just human nature to turn a good thing into an institution.

Zech 4:7 ‘Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’

When John saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, he did not “see” a Temple. (Rev 21:22)  Institutions don’t always do hostile takeovers.  Sometimes they are velvet glove.  My NIV Study Bible notes say:

“Unlike the more famous structures razed in 586 BC and AD 70, the temple begun by Zerubbabel suffered no hostile destruction, but was gradually repaired and reconstructed over a long period.  Eventually it was replaced entirely by Herod’s magnificent edifice.” (p 670)

In today’s world was it not further replaced by the Dome of the Rock mosque on the Temple Mount?  One’s Mecca is another’s Temple is another’s “tent” for the Ark of the Covenant.

Repeat: And He shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”

The grace goes to the Capstone, not the temple.

My pastor did an excellent job of explaining Peter’s understanding of Christ when Pete said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  (Mt 16:16)  He said that Peter got the right answer but not the prize.  Peter got the right answer but missed the mark because he had limited understanding of the Word and limited personal experience in relationship with the living God.  It is possible to spend years (even a lifetime) with someone and not really know them.  And the Church?  The Church has grown up (but has she matured?) since Peter said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”?  (Mt 16:16)  Since the “religious” of these Churches God has sent me to all have a thorough understanding of God’s Word and they have each experienced a personal relationship with the living God, and there is still stone silence with “nothing personal,” then what is the meaning of that which is written,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone”? (Luke 20:17)

Obviously Jesus is The Capstone!  All the other stones point to Him.  It’s the mantra of the Church-as-Institution of “nothing personal” that defies the personal message from God.  And pardon me if I’m taking all this a tad personally.  If the incarnational message is not personal then how does the Good News get out?  I’m the first one on the top of the list to sign up to be a fly on the wall!!  But God said with my calling I had to share the journey [doggone it!]  I share it via these Reflections.  I did so first via email (personal inbox,) then on a blog (a step removed from personal,) and then e-published Reflections Book One, the first year of Reflections (e-publishing is the farthest step removed from personal even though they are on the personal inward spiritual journey connecting to our journeys together.)  Thankfully, according to my contract with Kindle Direct Publishing, they are handling the marketing, so thank goodness there’s nothing personal there.  Then I tried to make it personal again and did my own public relations blurb on Facebook to promote Reflections Book One.[2] [Please see footnote for link if you are interested in reading or sharing this electronic book.]  And still nothing.  The word is not going out.  It sits in the quay with other books with no movement like airplanes waiting on a tarmac for the flight tower to give them the “all clear” for take-off.  Ok.  So I won’t take it personally.  God’s gotta fight this dragon. 

I did receive encouragement this week when Rick Joyner likened this portion of our collective journey to Isaiah 40.  He said:

“I know this will sound like foolishness to many, but I have been convinced that this is the Lord’s plan for us, who wants to do good for us. If you have an eschatology that the antichrist is going to take over the world, I’m sure this will seem even more foolish. I have an eschatology that Christ is going to take over the world, that His kingdom is going to come and His will is going to be done right here on earth as it is in heaven. My eschatology also compels me to believe that we are here now to prepare the way for the Lord. We do this by building a highway for our God as we see in Isaiah 40.

          This highway in Isaiah 40 is God’s “higher-way.” Jesus came to show us this highway, and now we must walk it. He showed us by His life that we are only limited by our faith and our obedience. There are no speed limits on God’s highway. You can go as fast as you want or as slow as you want. However, the traffic on it must be moving because it is not a parking lot but a highway. How far have you gone on it? How fast can you go?”

God is doing incarnational things to set the captives free from ourselves once again.  Having an eschatology is a belief system, a worldview of end times.  I am absolutely convinced that God is finishing (ie, making right that which was turned upside down); He is finishing what He started, and what He started was good, very good.

Zech 4: Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:

“The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple;
His hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know
That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things? [incarnational]
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,
Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

Since Christ is the Capstone and there are Seven Churches and the seven eyes of the Lord have ranged the earth and settled here with His bride (ref Rev 22:17), and the bride is treated like her Husband, is it not possible and good that we did not know, like Zechariah (Zech 4:5, 13) and later we deferred the knowing like John did in Rev 7:14?  And the angel did say to John, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Rev 21:9)  Are not Husband and wife treated the same way?  Does humanity really need another thousand years just for Satan to get released yet one more time (Rev 20:7) to prove that God was right?

In Zechariah 4:6 we are told that Z saw a golden lampstand with a bowl at the top.  I believe the bowl was full of mercy in humility.  Seven lights were on it with seven channels to the lights.  In Rev 1:20 there were seven angels to the seven churches (ie lampstands.)  The Seven Churches can show the light of mercy in humility.  Mercy in humility flows by the Spirit, not by might or power, but by God’s Spirit, just as He said. (Zech 4:6)  There are seven channels to the lights. (v 2)  There are seven virtues, which hold up against the seven deadly sins.  Those “lights” channel into mercy in humility in the bowl.  Christ is all about mercy in humility.  There are two olive trees on either side of the bowl.  John Belt said they represent unity and action.  I believe they also represent Peter and Paul, as Peter was sent to preach to the Jews, and Paul was sent to preach to the Gentiles.  We are now living in “The Time of the Gentiles.”  In our day both the Jews and the Christians have heard the Good News and tried to institutionalize God’s law of love.  That’s human nature.  How will the Churches and the Jews gather in unity in Christ to take action to share the Good News that God is merciful despite our human failures and to make the ground level (v 7), when the Church has not said, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord” (Lk 19:48)?  That hasn’t happened yet.  Nothin’ personal.

Both the Jews and the Christians are now on level ground, an even playing field.

It is meaningful that Zechariah asks again, a second time, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?” [anointing] (v 12)

Zech 4:14 So he said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”

It is no coincidence that Z asks twice who the two olive branches are.  Learning lessons in merciful humility within God’s own people (both Jews and Christians) have come with a heavy and costly price.  Only God pouring out His own bowl of Oil on us can provide the insight and understanding in grace for our eyes and ears to be opened, and our feet to rejoice in taking unity in action.

Prayer: O Divine Madman!  You sent me on an impossible mission.  You christened me like the Titanic when You asked me to “marry You.”  At the time it seemed so simple.  You commissioned me with Your directives to “worship You” and “share the journey” with the Churches-as-Institution, but the Institution is a stone entity, even though it is made up of real (incarnate) people.  The Institution is not “real” any more than the “dragon” is technically not “real.”  They both are, but they are not.  They feel real, act real, and breathe in rhythms that are real.  But they are ethereal.  The Church-as-Bride has been praying for unity and action by Your Holy Spirit.  Lord, only You can cut through the smoke and mirrors that separate the schizophrenic Church-as-Institution from the authentic Church-as-Bride.  Only You can teach us how to share.  So far the Church is the Great Benefactor.  She is the one with the power.  The spiritually starving are the recipients, the “dogs under the table.”  With this Great Benefactor, sharing is outbound and one-way only.  She lives by the golden rule: She who has the gold, rules.  The starving with the “crumbs” of the Good News have nothing but gratitude to offer back to the Institution, the benefactor with the power.  But Lord, I know there is another type of sharing.  Papa, You told us to become like little children.  Kids know how to share.  When kids share there is a balance of power in the risk-taking and the sharing.  There’s a trust that flows out of the innocence and wonder.  God, help us to become like little children even though we have lost our innocence as a society and as a Church.  Help us to submit to Your kingship.  Please help us all, Christians, Jews, and Gentiles, to humbly open our eyes and say with our mouths that You, Lord, were right.  It’s hard for us Father, to admit when Daddy was right all along.  We’ve had our “time out.”  Now we say we are truly sorry.  Please forgive us.  Open us to Your mercy and grace.  Open us to receive Your holy bowl of oil as You anoint us with the peace and wisdom of Your Holy Spirit as You draw us to Yourself, making our relationship right with You again.  Amen.

 

15 After Pentecost                              9 Sept 12                                 Gospel: Mark 7:24-37

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

22:2 The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD is the maker of them all.

22:8 Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of anger will fail.

22:9 Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.

22:22 Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate;

22:23 for the LORD pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them.

Psalm 125
125:1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

125:2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore.

125:3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, so that the righteous might not stretch out their hands to do wrong.

125:4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts.

125:5 But those who turn aside to their own crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers. Peace be upon Israel!

Isaiah 35:4-7a
35:4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”

35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

35:6 then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;

35:7a the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.

Psalm 146
146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

146:2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

146:4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

146:5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,

146:6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;

146:7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;

146:8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

146:9 The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

146:10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17
2:1 My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?

2:2 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in,

2:3 and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,”

2:4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

2:5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?

2:6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?

2:7 Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

2:8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

2:9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

2:11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

2:12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

2:13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?

2:15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food,

2:16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?

2:17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Mark 7:24-37
7:24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice,

7:25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.

7:26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.

7:27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

7:28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

7:29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go–the demon has left your daughter.”

7:30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

7:31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.

7:32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him.

7:33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue.

7:34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

7:35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

7:36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

7:37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

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