Monday, April 27, 2015

The Bible, Sanitized

Sunday in Children’s Church we each colored and cut out seven fat cows and seven skinny cows after reading about Joseph’s stint in prison and his release to interpret Pharaoh’s famine dreams. The previous Sunday we each gave Joseph a psychedelic tie-dyed coat, because I found a square of felt colored like that at Wal-Mart. The Beginner’s Bible, marketed for children six years old and younger, has three chapters about Joseph. I wonder what I’ll find to do next week when Joseph saves his family from famine.

Our church bought multiple copies of the book several months ago, and we’ve been pleased with how well the kids like it. Some of our kids are at the book’s exact reading level and they take turns reading out loud. They are much more attentive than they were when I was telling them a story. I’ve noticed over the months that it’s not just the reading level that’s age appropriate, but also the content, which is just what you’d want with preschool and K kids. 

But I do notice what’s missing from Genesis. I used to tell my Old Testament Tour teenage students, “If Genesis were a movie, your parents wouldn’t let you see it.” (I hoped that would inspire them to do their reading homework.)

There’s a lot of Genesis missing from the Beginner’s Bible, happily rated G.

Abraham and Sarah’s story skips right to Isaac’s birth without the Hagar and Ishmael incident. When twin brother rivals Jacob and Esau reconcile, five of Jacob’s sons are pictured (and a cute little lamb) but the four polygamist moms involved must be camera shy. Joseph goes right to prison when brought to Egypt without serving Potiphar. Because who wants to explain to a four-year-old about MRS. Potiphar? 

Genesis 38—Judah and Tamar?—forget about it!

So on Sunday mornings I protect little children from too much biblical knowledge, while on weekday mornings I attempt to protect much older kids from biblical ignorance. 

I hope I never get mixed up.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Where does Jesus shop?

I never knew I wanted a Keurig coffeemaker. I’d played with one in the orthodontist’s office over the years, always treating myself to a free cup to compensate for the thousands of dollars invested beautifying the teeth of my four sons. But I was never willing to get a second mortgage to own a Keruig.
A quick Google search has prices ranging from $129.99 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to $61.99 at…Tonerworld? I’m not sure I want to drink coffee associated with toner.
Then one day a few years ago my son Kevin procured a malfunctioning $5.00 Keurig from a thrift store and fixed it. I quickly became an addict of the high-priced, wasteful little K-cups, which I buy much cheaper, but just as wasteful, at the Surplus Outlet, which is blessedly close to my new job.
Anyone want to diagram that last sentence? No, me neither.
A few weeks ago, we thought Old K had brewed its last, but Young K whipped out his smart phone and ordered a replacement part, which arrived from Rhode Island by way of San Diego while we waited most impatiently.
This blog post is not really about coffeemakers, but when my pastor used a two-dollah-and-fitty-cent theological word at our Maundy Thursday service, I thought of my Keurig.
If you don’t like theology, skip these paragraphs.
The word is R-E-D-E-M-P-T-I-O-N, a noun, and the verb is “to redeem.” offers these definitions for redeem:  1. to buy or pay off; clear by payment: to redeem a mortgage. 2. to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure. 3. to recover (something pledged or mortgaged) by payment or other satisfaction: to redeem a pawned watch.
Redemption happens to us humans; we are the pawned watches that need to be recovered. God is the one who buys us and the price he pays is the blood of Jesus.
To my surprise, the website included a long paragraph from Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary: 
There are many passages in the New Testament which represent Christ's sufferings under the idea of a ransom or price, and the result thereby secured is a purchase or redemption…The idea running through all these texts, however various their reference, is that of payment made for our redemption. The debt against us is not viewed as simply cancelled, but is fully paid.
(redemption. Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary. (accessed: April 05, 2015).
Okay, come back now.
Hoping to make my point less muddy than three day old coffee, I want to answer my own question, “Where does Jesus shop?” Where does he shop for followers, for converts, for disciples, for younger siblings to join his family?
He shops at thrift stores, secondhand stores, yard sales, and flea markets. He even picks through the garbage dump. He doesn’t go to Macy’s to look for perfectly functioning people in their original boxes, because there aren’t any anyway. He picks up rusty, crusty, broken people, pays for them with his own life and takes them home and fixes them up.
Jesus shops at the Salvation Army. Bask in the irony.
You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19b – 20, NIV