Friday, November 30, 2007

This and That and a Review

I can't sleep. So I might as well blog, right? Never mind that in two hours I need to get up for what promises to be at least a ten hour day, probably twelve, given that it's month end. Someone in our group is retiring today after thirty-nine years with the company. We're thrilled for him, of course. But so far it doesn't look like he's being replaced, and we're starting to realize he did way more than we ever realized. Why oh why don't we appreciate people until it's too late?! Prayers for sanity would be appreciated.

If nothing else, this is forcing me to really simplify Christmas this year. Although I've never been one to go overboard (one friend was amazed that I don't even like to put up my tree until a week or two before Christmas), I usually do have most of my shopping done by now. For one simple reason: December is for baking! And I will not let the holidays slide by without making at least two or three batches of nut rolls. Mmm, just the thought of working with that wonderful dough, wrapping them up to give as gifts and then a slice or two with butter on Christmas transports me to a pretty good place!

I've been meaning to review a good book I read a month or so ago: The Jesus Creed, by Scot McKnight. Unfortunately I returned the book to the library before I could review it properly. Nevertheless, several ideas lingered with me that are worth sharing.

The premise of the book is that the command found in Deuteronomy to "love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" was central to the Judaic belief system. More than just some nice sounding words to hang on a plaque inside the family home, these words were drilled into the hearts and mind of Jews from the time they were children. Then along comes Jesus and expands upon that creed by adding the phrase "and your neighbor as yourself." According to McKnight, that was the creed by which Jesus lived and the rest of the book illustrates that point with stories from Jesus' life. A few words come to mind from my reading:

Kingdom: Scot puts forth the best idea I've ever heard about the kingdom of God and/or heaven; that is, kingdom as society. i.e. the kingdom of God consists of all of those who have trusted Christ. It's more than just something to look forward to someday. It's here. It's now. And it should change the way we live.

Table: Scot points out how often people gathered with Jesus to share a meal. Simple concept. But this was revolutionary in Jesus' day, that a teacher such as Jesus would welcome the least desirable members of society into such an intimate setting. How welcoming are we of others?

Women: As I read the stories of women whom Jesus spent time with during his time here on earth, one thought stood out to me. That Jesus thought a lot more highly of women than many of us do about ourselves and our roles. 'Nuff said.

Lastly, forgiveness: Scot points out that, with the exception of the story of Joseph forgiving his brothers, forgiveness in the OT was mostly about the vertical relationship between God and man. Jesus comes along and says that same forgiveness we receive from God needs to be extended to one another. A totally different way of relating to others.

For the past two years, I've enjoyed poking my way through one of the gospels over a period of several months. This year it was Mark; last year it was John. So a book that highlighted the ministry and mission of Jesus was a real treat for me. A few things in this book made me scratch my head and wonder if I agreed, but I'm okay with that. If my reading doesn't stretch me and challenge me to think at times, what's the point? Overall, this was one of those paradigm-shifters - a very worthwhile read.