I Don’t Get It

Jude 1: 9-10

9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  10Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct— as irrational animals do— will destroy them.


In seminary my husband had a teacher who told them while they were preaching not to refer to obscure references as illustrations because they would lose the congregation’s understanding. This scripture is a perfect illustration. No one knows what Jude is referring to. No where in the Old Testament is Michael recorded arguing with the devil over the fate if Moses’ body. There are some traditions advanced scholars have flushed out such as God hid Moses’ body to keep it from becoming an idol, but even those ideas are scarce.

We understand Jude Is making a contrast. Even Michael when doing something as important as protecting the great Moses’ body did not stoop to slander. But we feel left out because we do know about the incident to which he refers.

Now we know how many people feel when we speak “Christian -eeze.”  We understand what we mean. Perhaps people of our own denomination and church understand what we mean, but the further we get away from the church the less people know the illustrations.

To me this passage is a challenge to study and understand what the terms and illustrations (examples or references) we use originally meant so I can reword them before I use them outside the church.

Our traditions are rich. We don’t have to abandon them. But as society around us grows more secular, we will have find new ways to express our faith so we remain Christ’s representatives today, not merely yesterday’s symbols. And we need to teach people the traditions, what they mean. We need to keep teaching what the symbols mean. We need to teach the Old Testament to understand how we can expect God to relate to us today by seeing how he related to them. We cannot assume even our own children understand. These days life changes radically from one generation to the next. We all must teach by what we say and what we are.

God does not change. The way he relates to us, his love for us, his understanding of us will not ever change. I relax in he presence as I become convinced of that, but the way that relationship looks changes from society to society and generation to generation. We need not be frightened of that.


An Ungratefully Received Gift

When life changes quickly and unexpectedly the foundations are shaken.
And while I accepted and see God’s hand and wisdom in this last upheaval,
I’m very uncertain of the direction the rest of my life is heading – what it will look like.

So with that in mind, I have had a series of really strange dreams.
As each season comes, I dream about the things I will not be doing this year.
Many have brought feelings of release from the pressure of responsibility.

Spring brought a dream of about Bible School that ended in vulnerable tears on my part.
I dreamed about being presented to a group to make a speech and presenting a concert.
And I dream of being disciplined for errors at some unfamiliar workplace.

I know, there is nothing deep, dark, or a mental illness represented here,
But, again, with that in mind, I began to dream about presenting a Christmas Play.
This is the time of year I begin if I’m writing a new play for any given year.

And I rebelled. I woke up in the middle of it, and said,
“A Christmas play! I will not dream about this.” I went back to sleep. The dream continued.
In rebellion, I woke up again. “I will not dream about that stress. It was fun.”

The third time I woke up enough to think about the play
And realized I didn’t recognize the play –
And I laughed and muttered to myself, “God is giving me a new play!”

And now, I have a new Christmas play to write.
It’s the comedy-drama thing I enjoy writing.
God was trying to give me a gift – and I was about to refuse it.

God was helping me understand how ungrateful I’d become in my worry about the future.
God took care of my family in such a dramatic way and brought me to a quiet place
Just when I didn’t know how much longer I could continue doing what I was doing.

As my husband wondered if his current form of ministry
Was drawing to completion,
God provided the next step.

And I have allowed myself to unnecessarily revisit the natural worry
That comes with big, fast changes in life – good or bad.
I have allowed worry to become fretting.

Now, I don’t expect all the worry will dissipate in an instant,
But I will resurrect a practice from the past when I let go of things I couldn’t control.
As soon as the fretful dream comes, or worry pops up, I know what to do.

I’ll immediately turn to God, give the worry to him, and wait for instructions.
Meanwhile, I’ll allow myself to be bathed in grateful thankfulness for the new way of life God has given me;
And learn to recognize God’s new gifts and the new ways He is sending them.

“Fret Not Yourself,” is one translation of “Don’t worry about ….” Apostle Paul told his readers.