Showing posts with label Jesus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesus. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Since my blog has been very much neglected, the few who still read probably don't know that I stopped attending church about two years ago. The physical struggle was just too much. Since I'd been a church-goer all my life, what surprised me was that I didn't miss church at all except for the hymns. I very much enjoyed congregational singing.

I pray at home and meet God in my house and in my heart, and that seems enough for now. I try (and often fail) to live out the heart of the Gospel, which is love, as Jesus preached in the Two Great Commandments:
Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)
and the Golden Rule:
‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.' (Matthew 7:12)
Jesus was only ever a Jew. He was born a Jew, and he died a Jew. His teachings are rooted in the Hebrew Bible, and he never intended to found a religion. One of my touchstone verses in the Hebrew Bible is Micah 6:8:
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Love, kindness, and humility are what Christianity is about, or it is nothing to me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Tom's diagnosis of colon cancer rocked us both.  The weeks while we waited for the processes leading up to surgery to be completed were difficult, but we tried to keep busy and distracted, and we mostly succeeded.   The news after the surgery was surely as good as could be expected: the tumor was small, and the nearby lymph nodes were cancer free, and there was joy in Butlerland when Tom came home. 

Then, within a few days, came Tom's loss of appetite and vomiting.  I knew something was very wrong when I saw the greenish-black bile, but x-rays in the doctor's office were inconclusive as to whether there was an obstruction.  The vomiting continued, and Tom was readmitted to the hospital, and it was determined that there was an obstruction, a complication that never happens, but leave it to Tom... 

Tom is recovering nicely now, probably doing a bit too much too soon, but, so far, he appears to have done no harm to himself.  I told him if he has to go back in the hospital, I will not visit, but that's not true.

All of the above took a toll on both of us, and, though Tom seems the same, I'm sure the experience changed him, but in a way I can't yet see.  What I do know is that I have not yet regained my emotional equilibrium, such as it was, since the surgery.  I've thought about why I'm not yet my old self, and, indeed, somewhat accepted the fact that I may never be my old self, because life is change.

My one conclusion thus far is that when I was diagnosed with breast cancer 29 years ago, I looked my own death in the face, and I was changed.  The word "cancer" has a way of concentrating the mind wonderfully on the reality that humans, including me, are mortal.  I've been blessed with 29 years of life after the dread diagnosis, and I'm most grateful for the years, every one of which seems a gift.

But (and it's a huge "but") I had not faced Tom's mortality in any real way until now.  The good news is that I've come to realize in a way that I didn't before how much he means to me, but the not-so-good news is that the reality is scary, and my emotions, which are almost always near the surface, are out of kilter and somewhat flattened and kept at bay.  What to do? 

When two people live together for 53-plus years, the rather minor annoying habits of the other can come to loom rather large in daily life, so I've determined not to call Tom's attention to every little annoyance and to make a general attempt to be kinder and less of a scold.  In other words, don't sweat the small stuff.  And be kind.

In time, I hope to recover emotional equilibrium, and I believe I will, but, in the meantime, I'm thankful for each day Tom and I have together, and I will try to be kind, and not just to Tom.  I will often fail, but I hope I don't give up trying.

When certain Christians ask, "Are you saved?" I answer, "Yes, every day."  And that's true, and some few days I need to be saved from just lying in bed all day.  A strength that seemed to come from beyond me carried me through the stressful period, and I trust that same source, God in Jesus, will carry me the rest of the way.  You see, I believe salvation is about here and now, for today, and not so much for the sweet bye-and-bye, because I have no idea what happens in the sweet bye-and-bye.  But I have today, for which I'm grateful, and I believe God is with me, with us, to give us healing, strength, and courage.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


"Divinity belongs to the post-Easter Jesus, not the pre-Easter Jesus. To think of Jesus as divine actually diminishes him. If he was divine and had the power of God, then what he did wan’t all that remarkable. He could’ve done so much more.  But the classic Christian affirmation about the pre-
Easter Jesus is not that he was God, but that he was the decisive revelation of God.  This is the cumulative meaning of the exalted language that Christians use for Jesus: in him, we see what can be seen of God in human life.”— Speaking Christian by Marcus Borg

If the classic affirmation about Jesus is that he was not God before the Resurrection, why have I not heard this before now?  What do you think?

Sunday, February 24, 2013



Clever and very funny cartoon from nakedpastor, who says:
He was just a kid. Finding his way. Trying to grow up.

Like us.
At the same time, the cartoon is poignant and deeply least to me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


God surely anticipated that a person like Jesus would be killed by an order established on violence, but God did not kill Jesus, or require his death, or manipulate others into sacrificing him.  God may have found a way to triumph over this crime, but God did not cause it.  Jesus was killed by the definite plan and aforethought of the Powers, as the New Testament writers clearly state.
Walter Wink - Engaging the Powers, p 110

Picture from Wikipedia.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


GIOTTO di Bondone
No. 37 Scenes from the Life of Christ: 21. Resurrection (Noli me tangere)
Fresco, Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

John 20:11-17

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
Why did Jesus tell Mary not to touch him? In my search for an answer, I found this article in The Smithsonian Magazine, titled "Who Was Mary Magdalene?" by James Carroll, who writes a regular column in The Boston Globe.
The multiplicity of the Marys by itself was enough to mix things up—as were the various accounts of anointing, which in one place is the act of a loose-haired prostitute, in another of a modest stranger preparing Jesus for the tomb, and in yet another of a beloved friend named Mary. Women who weep, albeit in a range of circumstances, emerged as a motif. As with every narrative, erotic details loomed large, especially because Jesus’ attitude toward women with sexual histories was one of the things that set him apart from other teachers of the time. Not only was Jesus remembered as treating women with respect, as equals in his circle; not only did he refuse to reduce them to their sexuality; Jesus was expressly portrayed as a man who loved women, and whom women loved.

The climax of that theme takes place in the garden of the tomb, with that one word of address, “Mary!” It was enough to make her recognize him, and her response is clear from what he says then: “Do not cling to me.” Whatever it was before, bodily expression between Jesus and Mary of Magdala must be different now.
After his Resurrection, Jesus has a body. He is the same Jesus, but, at the same time, he is different, and his physical relationship with his disciples had to be different.

Carroll's entire piece is worth reading as a counter-story to the nonsense floating around about Mary Magdalene.

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.
Alleluia, Christ is risen!

Image from the Web Gallery of Art.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Catacombes of Rome

Over 1500 years old art

Mark 5:24-34
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
The Gospel passage above is one of my favorites from amongst my rather large collection of favorites of stories from the Gospels.  In the account, Jesus knew that healing power had gone out from him, but he did not know who was healed.  What a delightful paradox which, to me, shows that Jesus was fully human, just like us, and he did not posses all knowledge.  At the same time, the passage also demonstrates how how closely Jesus was tuned in to the movement of the Holy Spirit, as we perhaps could also be if we were more attentive.

The woman was unclean, an outcast, for 12 years, and when she touched Jesus, he became unclean, too, unfit for company and unfit to enter the synagogue.  Yet, Jesus calls her daughter; he welcomes her as a member of his family.  We see Jesus, in the spirit of love and compassion, once again break through the barriers of the law. 
Image from Wikipedia.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


From MYFox8:
KINSTON, N.C.—Some residents in Kinston are seeing more than just a vine in a growth of kudzu on a local utility pole.

Reporter Justin Hill of The Kinston Free Press reports people began noticing a utility pole last week with kudzu that they say resembles Jesus on the cross.

Kent Hardison runs Ma's Hot Dog stand and a half mile from the vine and says he was getting ready to spray it with herbicide until he noticed the resemblance.

Hardison and his customers think the vine can be seen as a symbolic reminder that God is watching over people.
Of course, the vine "can be seen" in whichever way we choose.

But wait! says the vine is not kudzu but a trumpet vine. Kudzu is such a pest of a vine that I'd prefer a trumpet vine which "can be seen as a symbolic reminder that God is watching over people." tells us: Kent Hardison's "first reaction, common here when it comes to kudzu, was to blast it with Roundup herbicide. But then he had second thoughts, according to The Free Press of Kinston.

"'I glanced at it, and it looks like Jesus,' Hardison said. 'I thought, `You can't spray Jesus with Roundup.'"

Years ago, kudzu was imported from Japan to prevent soil erosion. Ha, ha. Perhaps the vine prevented soil erosion, but it created a whole host of other problems. The lesson is don't mess with Mother Nature.

Make of the vine what you will.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Andrea del Verrocchio's Christ and St. Thomas (1464-1483) at the Orsanmichele of Florence, Italy
John 20:19-29

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
I love the stories of the apostles like Thomas and Peter, who are so very like the rest of us in their humanity and imperfection, even as it's plain that they love Jesus dearly. Although the images of Thomas and Jesus usually show him reaching to touch Jesus' side, the Gospel story omits mention of the touch.
God's Woman

Peter, Thomas, are you my kin?
I call you, "Brother". Are we alike?
You imperfect ones, a doubter, a denier,
Am I your sister?

"I tell you I do not know him!"
Three times your Lord denied.
Oh, Peter, when you heard the cock crow,
Your salty tears were bitter.

You, Thomas, to touch, to see was all.
"Me believe? When I see the nail marks,
When I put my finger in his side."
"My Lord and my God!"

You, my brothers, deeply, fully human,
You flaw-filled men of God,
You give me strength; you give me courage.
Perhaps I'll be God's woman, after all.

June Butler 4/18/07
Image from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Noli Me Tangere (Cell 1) - 1440-42 - Fresco
Convento di San Marco, Florence

John 20:11-18
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Above is another beautiful fresco from San Marco by the holy Fra Angelico. The painting is lovely, but the blond Jesus is a bit of a distraction. I looked at other paintings of Jesus by the good brother, and in some his hair is reddish, in others blond, and in several crucifixion paintings Jesus has dark hair - all by the same artist.

I meant the post to be in a meditative vein, but I'm afraid it's not turning out as I intended. My musings on Jesus' blondness may be inspired by a link Ann V sent to me several days ago to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald in which the writer speaks of the tendency to portray Jesus as good-looking and mostly just like us in appearance. Justine Toh says:
Any representation of Jesus reveals the values of the times and places in which it was produced. When I think of Jesus, he's conventionally attractive. He has longish brown curly hair; he's tall, lily-skinned and dewy-eyed. For a carpenter, he's curiously light on muscle. He bears a striking resemblance to the late singer Jeff Buckley.
All right, then. Toh goes on:
Christ is almost never portrayed in less than appealing terms due to the age-old assumption that looks equal worth. In this context, Jesus's beauty is more symbolic than physical, or his outward beauty is a sign of his inward goodness.
The appearance of the Jesus of my imagination is somewhat vague, indistinct. He's definitely good-looking, with longish, dark brown, wavy hair. Over the years Jesus' complexion has darkened to appear more realistically like the person of the Middle-East that he is. Jeff Buckley wouldn't be far off the mark, but with browner skin.

Fra Angelico was born in Fiesole in Tuscany, but he traveled further south to Rome and other areas of Italy in his painting career. What did the people around him look like? Why the blond and red-haired portrayals of Jesus?

Below is "Christ the Saviour" (Pantokrator), a 6th-century encaustic icon from Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai from the Wikipedia article titled "Race of Jesus". Images of Jesus from as early as the 3rd century in the catacombs in Rome are shown in the article.

I've roamed and rambled away from the subject of the painting, Mary Magdalene as the first to see Jesus after the Resurrection, when Jesus tells her, "Don't cling to me, but go tell my brothers." Mary is often shown with red hair in paintings. A woman, not one of the male apostles, saw the risen Christ first. I expect there are those who would prefer that this story was left out of the Gospel, but there it is. Mary, who followed Jesus and ministered to him throughout his public life, Mary and the other women, including Mary the mother, who stayed with Jesus even after his male followers fled upon his arrest, who stayed with Jesus to his crucifixion and death. It is a right and good thing that Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus.
Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know you in the power of his endless life; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Image from the Web Gallery of Art.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Doug Blanchard - "Jesus Appears at Emmaus"

Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over. "So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?"

Luke 24:25-32

Preface for Wednesday in Easter Week:

O God, whose blessed Son did manifest himself to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open, we pray thee, the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 223

Last year during Lent and Easter, Doug gave me permission to use a number of his paintings here at Wounded Bird. The painting above is one in a series of paintings titled "The Passion of Christ". Doug blogs as Counterlight at Counterlight's Peculiars. I hope that my permission to use his painting extends through this year. The more I look at Doug's paintings, the more I like them.