Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene

Today is Resurrection Sunday, Easter Sunday. Our St. Ignatius reflections today focused on John 20 and the resurrection event.
My personal focus today was on all of this in relationship to Mary Magdalene. What I write is mainly out of my imagination. I think when one dies it would be good to have at least one person who really loves you, more would be better. I imagine Mary Magdalene loved Jesus the most, perhaps even more than Jesus’ mother, Mary, or even more than the Apostle John. It was a different kind of love for each of these people.

 
Mary Magdalene is said to be a sinner, but we are all sinners and need to know how big of sinners we are, just like Mary Magdalene. Some say she was a prostitute, but there is no evidence of that being true that I know of. There are other ways to sin. Mary was rich. She gave lots of money to support Jesus. She loved Jesus. Jesus was broke. All He had worked for all his life physically was gone. He had some good years too, and had money at times in his life when some wealthy people around Capernaum would hire Him. One time Mary hired to make a chest of drawers for her clothing. She had some nice clothes. Some people said she should have worn more of them sometimes, but she wanted to look good to the men and be compelling to them. She was about 30 years old, a beautiful woman with long red hair. Oh, the chest Jesus built had dovetail drawer joints, hand cut ones too. The drawers opened smoothly on wood runners one would put a little wax on occasionally to make them slide easily. The air would whoosh out just right as one closed the drawers. Jesus always remembered making that chest for Mary. She paid him well and gave him a hug when delivered it to her home. Jesus loved Mary.

 
After Jesus died, Mary cried all night. It was the Sabbath and she knew she should be sleeping and resting, but she just couldn’t do it. All she had ever believed in Jesus and other “religious” stuff and how He said one should overcome the evil and sin she had done, and overcoming evil with good, which to her was the Goodness and presence of Jesus in her life had been taken away.

 
Mary did not know what to do. Mary was a “true believer”. It was cool that Sunday morning and Mary got up very early, having tossed and turned all night, and slid out one of the drawers in the chest Jesus built for her as she gently wept in the subdued light of the blood moon that year. There aren’t many years the moon looks like that, but the Jewish sages had talked about blood moons before and Mary wondered if maybe God had caused something to make the moon look that way, just because Jesus had died. She put on more clothes than normal, heavier ones, but not her best because she would be out in a garden area close to where the tomb was. Most everybody knows the story about Mary and how she went to the tomb and the angels were there and the tomb was empty. Jesus was not there. I read it again and I cried as Mary realized it was Jesus, really, alive again and she loved him so much and hugged him again, a long time, just like when Jesus built the chest of drawers. Jesus had to tell her to let loose, it was getting too emotional for both of them. But all of us who know Jesus want to cling to him too…

 
Most everybody knows about these things; her story has been told and retold for thousands of years. I am just filling in some details of how it could have been, how I imagine it and how Mary ran with long hair flowing, and danced as she skipped along the Judean hills to go to tell Peter. Mary was the very first Evangelist, telling this good and wonderful news. A woman was not supposed to be a witness back then, but she did it anyway because Jesus, whom she loved, told her to do it. “Go and tell” Jesus said.

 
Let us go and tell it too…

 

John Cooper

One Cup

One Cup

In asking for the grace to understand and appreciate the Eucharist’s as Jesus’ self-gift, my meditations today were on Matt. 26: 26-29.  This is where Jesus instituted the symbols that are elements of this observance.

“Take, eat, this is my body”. ..….

“Drink of it, all of you.”…..

Jesus stated “this is the blood of the covenant”.

I thought of ways people are remembered after they die, tombstones, pictures, stories, buildings, etc., but none of these things last like the living symbols and an ordinance or Sacrament Jesus gave us by which to remember Him.  I thought back to Psalm 22, which has been on my mind this week.  The Psalm which starts “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, this Psalm was on Jesus’ mind too as he died on the cross.  Some think, and I have heard Fr. Joseph Tetlow say, that Jesus recited the whole Psalm on the cross.

 

The final verses of this Psalm are (v. 30-31).

“Posterity shall serve Him;
men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation,

and proclaim His deliverance to a people yet unborn,

that He has wrought it.”

I do not think these symbols, the Eucharist; this Sacrament should be closed to anyone.  It should be shared with all who want and need Spirituality, and want to hear of this living story.  The Eucharist is exactly how Christians have told Jesus’ story as a living memorial for thousands of years to the coming generations.  Also I think there should be one cup, and we all drink out of it.  I am about tired of those little plastic Protestant types of cups 🙂 🙂      Oh, and for me, make that “real wine” 🙂 🙂

 

In addition to the above, which was a part of my St. Ignatius, 19th Annotation, Exercises today, I think these thoughts fit into the theme of Peace…  I understand that Islam is a religion of Peace, that it is really bad if a Muslim does not show hospitality to a stranger or a friend.  One of my Muslim friends, a Sunni, (one of those Pharisee types,) in fact, came with me to eat at a Hooligan’s , a Mediterranean restaurant here in Tuscaloosa, and brought his own tea, and cups, in a little kit with a thermos to keep it hot, and we drank together, and ate together.  He even attempted to evangelize me to the Muslim way.  I appreciated that he cared for me…    If it were up to me, which mostly it isn’t, but it used to be, and I were serving the Eucharist, I would offer the bread and the wine to him, but warn him first, if you take out of this One Cup, unworthily, you might die…  I think he would respect my beliefs, as I respected his, and we would continue to be friends, not enemies…

 

Love & Peace,

 

John Cooper

Just Jesus

Just Jesus

I just received the inspiration for what I am about to write from a post on the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s (of which I am a member) website http://forusa.org/blogs/tom-morrison/reflections-walter-winks-last-book/12927 written by Tom Morrison, entitled “Reflections on Walter Wink’s latest book, “Just Jesus.”

The term, Just Jesus recalls American Evangelicalism’s creed that Salvation is by Jesus and Jesus alone, and that there is no other way than just Jesus. I quote from John 14 below, versus 1 and 6:

Vs. 1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Vs 6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

At first reading, this seems clear, however some time parameters are not mentioned at the first reading…

What about all those who lived and died before Jesus made this statement? Do they have no eternal future, excepting the holy men of old and the prophets, who envisioned Jesus to come in the future? What about little babies, and aborted fetuses, and those who die before they are baptized, and know any language at all, and have never heard of Jesus and never accepted Jesus as their Savior? We make up all these exceptions because we feel it is just, but is it really just?

I write this in the Passover/Easter season of 2014, having just last night attended the Roman Catholic Holy Thursday service with a Catholic friend, Fran Viselli, and his wife Kathie, and another friend from Grace Church, where I attend worship services, Phil Bishop and his wife, Brenda. It was a wonderful service and I got to sing in Latin for the first time since 1967. However, this is not about the Catholic Church, who appears to be a little more pluralistic than some Evangelicals, or any church, for that matter… I am writing just about Jesus.

What does one mean “just?”

Does one mean just as in only, or just as in fair and equitable, or does one mean both?

I just don’t think it is fair that little babies who die before accepting Jesus are never saved because they have not confessed belief in Jesus. Most religions and Christian belief systems make exceptions for little babies… Why should they? Who made them the judge of it anyway?

What about those I mentioned who lived and died before Jesus? Who were clearly not Christians, and never believed in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior? What about those you have never heard the Gospel of Grace and Peace? What about those who know all about the Grace part of the Gospel and little or nothing about the Peace part? Are they too lost and damned for eternal separation from God? And those damned Atheists… :):)  What about those folks?

It just is not fair.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus is “just” and that it is just Jesus… Yes, both Jesus is the only way, but also that Jesus is just and has made a just and merciful and gracious provision for all who ever lived and died. I believe Jesus suffered and died to show his love for all mankind. I don’t intend to get religious and quote a whole bunch of Scriptures from the Old and new Testaments, from Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, but I would like to mention a few things that those who know will recognize and those who don’t know Jesus may want to look into sometime.

Let’s consider the end of the book, the book of Revelation, where the crucified and risen Christ is said to come back to claim his church, all of it, who believe in him, or will believe in him. He comes back in robes soaked in his own blood, before the battle, just as they were during the battle of the cross where he overcame evil with good. Jesus will do it again, overcome evil with good. He just seems to never change his purposes and intents. We see a tree of life again, just like in the first garden, for the healing of the nations. We see a new city, whose gates will never be shut. We see a light emanating from inside the city, and there is no need for the sun anymore because of this everlasting light. And we hear a proclamation of the Gospel, for all those who have not yet believed, and are outside the gates, in hell, saying, “Come, Come.” For all those who are resurrected, as is mentioned in this last book, for all who ever lived and died to come to a judgment, (not by us, not by the rules of religious systems, but by Jesus,) I expect a just judgment. I also expect some and I hope all that are outside of the gates of the city to eventually come to the just, just Jesus.

Just thinking…

John Cooper

Jersulem

Jerusalem

When we are stripped of power…

Will we still go up to pray?

When the answer is no..

Will we still go up to pray?

When the sword won’t work…

When we ask the God of the possible…

If it is possible?

Is there any other way?

We go up to pray…

Alone…

Naked…

Stripped of Pride…

Without conceit…

With God it is possible…

Will it be?

To still go up to pray….

To Jerusalem we go…

Is there Peace in Jerusalem?

If the answer is no…

There is no other way…

Will we still go up to pray?

John Cooper

http://www.jcooperFORpeace.org

Ukraine

Ukraine

I was grazing on the Internet today, spending a little downtime after a day of trying to play some golf, and taking a nap, and working some too… In the process I was thinking about just one of the current hot spots in the world that has the possibility to develop into a melting point, similar to the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown that was also in the Ukraine.

 

In the process, I looked into this web site, http://kubik.org/ukraine/03-02-14.html which is the web site of Victor Kubik, the President of the United Church of God, which is a split off of the Worldwide Church of God, now called Grace Communion International. I knew some of the founders of United Church of God personally, especially Ray Wooten, who recently died, as a personal friend. Victor Kubik is from the Ukraine, as you will see in checking the link out. I especially like the map he presented, and actually had forgotten Ukraine also adjoins Romania.

 

Ukraine is a historic Christian nation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Christianity_in_Ukraine, as is Russia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Russia. Valdimir Putin proclaims to be a Christian, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3d_yxJhmjk, and President Obama also claims to be a Christian, http://crossmap.christianpost.com/news/president-obama-affirms-jesus-as-his-savior-and-lord-stands-for-religious-freedom-at-the-62nd-national-prayer-breakfast-8829. I know all these links would take a long time to research, but I wanted to document this premise that the leaders of both nations are self proclaimed Christians. It is crucial to me that Christians recognize one another, and refuse to go to war with one another. It seems that every time there is a political disagreement since 325 AD that Christians as a whole line right up behind the Politics of this fallen world, and not the Politics of the Kingdom of God ruled by the Crucified and Risen Jesus.

 

Perhaps Putin and Obama are not Christians as some view themselves as Christians, and perhaps Russian Orthodoxy is not viewed as highly in America as Roman Catholicism in the West or various split offs of the two most ancient Christian religions mentioned, but I am reminded in consideration of our two predominately “Christian” nations again facing off for war of the dreams of Jesus. I believe that Jesus had dreams of his followers to actually love one another, and that the whole world would be a better place because of the shining light, the salt and light of his followers exuding their love for one another. To me, this love means we absolutely refuse to kill one another, or any other human, for that matter. (However, I am just a Pacifist.) I believe that Jesus dreamed of his followers even loving their enemies, even of other faith based traditions. I believe it is apparent that men are incapable of ruling one another based upon any other government principle than this love relationship, of ruling “under” and serving, not ruling “over” and abusing one another. I believe hatred and selfishness is why the world suffers so much and is in so much pain while awaiting a better Kingdom to come.

 

We all have dreams that do not work out so well in this life. Nations have dreams, people of all faiths have dreams of peace, and a better world for their children. I have had dreams too, which appear to have failed… One of the dreams I have, which has historically failed for thousands of years, is to dream of peace, as Jesus did, as Tolstoy and Rasputin of Russia, as Martin Luther King and Einstein and many others have dreamed. This Peace will never happen, in my view until those who call themselves “Christians” first give up hate and embrace the love for each other Jesus dreamed of.

 

The Christian season of Lent just began a few days ago in this year of 2014. This is the season some Christians give up things to help in their worship of Jesus and preparation of the celebration of Easter.

 

Why don’t Christians give up hate for Lent, at least? Why don’t Christians give up violence as a solution to their disagreements? And war, and threats of war, let’s give them up for Lent, at least. I need to do it too. Recently I have had bad thoughts about someone whom I think has taken advantage of me. I need to let go of these bitter thoughts and feelings. When we fail to love each other, it is hate. When nations of the world, whether Christian or not, but especially when they are Christian, line up their warships and nuclear warheads, it cannot be fulfilling the dreams of Jesus for a better Kingdom to come… Unless, we blast ourselves to kingdom come, that is…

 

You have just read my analysis of the situation in Ukraine, which would apply to other hotspots in the world too… Peace and love is the way, there is no other way…

 

John Cooper
http://www.jcooperforpeace.org

The Kingdom of God and Barabbas

The Kingdom of God and Barabbas

I was thinking about the Kingdom of God recently in view of Pope Francis’ desire to serve the poor, and choose St. Francis of Assisi, known to many for his care for the poor, for the environment, and his love of Peace, as his namesake. When I heard of this name choice, I thought of the following Scripture from Luke 4, (NIV):

 

 

“16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” “

 

 

As Jesus began to proclaim the Kingdom of God, choosing this Hebrew Scripture from Isaiah 61, which goes into even more explanation of God’s concern for Social Justice, he seems to be introducing a Gospel of a new type of Kingdom on earth. The earthly Kingdoms and the Powers over those kingdoms seem to be more interested in ruling over humans, not setting them free, and certainly not ruling “under” as servants to humans under their jurisdiction.

 

 

I am writing today not to explain my thinking specifically regarding the Kingdom of God, but to tell you about a connection to Barabbas regarding the proclamation of Jesus quoted above. I am sure many have already thought of this connection before, but it had never really registered with me until today during Grace Church’s Palm Sunday worship service the connection between Luke 4 and Barabbas. We were watching a video where a man was imitating Peter, and said he was so sorry for betraying Jesus, that concerning the cross, it should have been me, (Peter.) Then I thought of Luke 4, and how the release of Barabbas was a also a fulfilling of this Scripture because it was the sinner, Barabbas, who was a captive set free… Then I thought. It should have been me, (John Cooper.) Then I thought, it should have been all of us, the whole world, and how the cross and Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection set all of us, captive to sin, free… Not just us though, According to other Scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 5, Jesus was reconciling the whole world.

 

 

Speaking of setting people free, let us look at this Scripture from Colossians 1 (NIV):

 

 

“20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

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So, here we go… Jesus setting Captives free, including Barabbas, you, and me, and reconciling all things to himself, on earth and in heaven, and making Peace too! Could it be finished? Could all we human captives to sin, including our enemies, all things, everyone, be set free? Would that not be good news, if it were true? I believe it is true! Some people, including some Christians, may not believe God is big enough to do things just like that, but I do, and it is my name written on the purple robes on the cross at Grace Church today with the words about setting captives free written on the robe, with many other names too at Grace Church today…. Let’s just imagine your name is there to, and that the whole world will be as one, living life in Peace… I may be a dreamer, but I am not the only one… :):)

 

 

So, thank you Pope Francis, for choosing that name and getting me to thinking about the Kingdom of God, that looks like Jesus, that looks like you, someone who came to serve under, not over others… Assuming that is what you mean to do and mean to continue to do… May we all do the same… Oh, and thank you Barabbas, if you are in heaven already reconciled. It should have been you… It should have been me…. It should have been us..

 

 

John Cooper
Grace & Peace,
https://jcooperforpeace.org/