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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Prayers of the Gods

Our[a] Father [b]in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
[c]Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
[dBut deliver us from the evil one.
Luke 11:2-4

The Gospel of Mark, or rather, Mark's version of the Gospel Story, i.e., the latter part of the life of Jesus, although it does contain certain constituent elements ( Mark 11:25 & 26, et al  ) of the prayer known popularly as 'The Lord's Prayer' does not contain any semblance of the 'model' prayer itself!  As can be seen through even a cursory examination of the only other extant example of this prayer ( Matthew 6:9-13 ), it either adds to or subtracts from the version that Luke recounts in his 'Gospel', at least, as far as we can tell in our much-varied translations of the Bible. This is not to say we should disregard these words of Jesus, even insofar as they are recorded by these two 'Gospel' writers, for there are good & universal principals therein, but, as this 'model prayer' is not even recorded by Mark, the oldest 'Gospel' according to most biblical scholars, it is safe to say that it is very likely a later, though relatively good addition. In other words, these may not be Jesus' words at all, but simply some scribes ( which includes Matthew & Luke )!

The subject of 'prayer' is actually one of some controversy! Any good Christian worth his or her salt will glorify 'the power of prayer'. 'Prayer works', they might say; 'just have faith', they'll probably tell you. Does prayer work? Well, depending on what one means by such a bold statement, yes, it 'works'! Does it move the Hand of 'God'? Well, there again, such a question rests in one's understanding of what is meant by 'the Hand of God'! Previously, in the 'pages' of this blog, you may have read something to the effect that 'we ARE the Hand of God'; it is through us, it is through the ministration of the mundane ( most often ) that prayers are fulfilled. For example, we may pray 'give us this day.............' & the food may magickally appear before us, but most often, it is because somebody put it there! We pray 'forgive us our debts.................' but unless the one we have we have 'sinned' against tell us & shows by his or her actions that they have forgiven us, there is absolutely no proof of any forgiveness & we are left high & dry. The proof, you might say, is 'in the pudding', not just words in some book!

As we've also noted previously in this blog, the Psalmist ( Psalm 82:6 ) wrote, 'You [ are ] [e]gods' ( elohim ), a statement which Jesus seems to have no problem employing in John's 'Gospel'!  'Original audience' & 'covenant context' aside, it is safe to say that, biblically speaking, every Christian, at least, is a 'god': whether or not one ascribes a capital 'G' to this statement, there is no denying the fact that the same word used to identify the Hebrew God of Creation ( Genesis 1:1 ) is also used to describe His People, the Judges of Israel! ( I'm pretty sure that the original languages didn't employ a certain symbol denoting whether it was a capital or lower-case 'g' ) The point is, that although we certainly can't discount what many would call 'supernatural operation', it should be fairly evident that prayer is usually most effective when witnessed by other people, whether it be doctors or farmers. Whether it be through audible means ( hearing ) or by 'supernatural operations', it is abundantly clear that the fulfillment of prayer is most often, if not always accomplished through human, though Divine, intervention!

Charles Haddon Shank

 

Sunday, March 03, 2019

The Sharist Continues

Something was different; she could feel it in her soft & pliable bones! Already aware, the one who would later be known as Jocelyn felt cocooned in a pleasantly warm liquid. As she freely moved her appendages within her cocoon, she could faintly hear voices, voices of those she loved & that she knew loved her. Phrases like, 'she's kicking; here, feel that?' were almost rather absorbed, or felt, instead of heard, especially in the way we usually think of hearing. Jocelyn continued to grow within the warm environment that she had woken up in & at the appointed time, emerged from its enveloping comfort & greeted those who were awaiting her arrival with Joy!

Jocelyn's Mother & Father ( we'll call them Bill & Marie ) were fairly young when they began their Journey together. In fact, truth be told, Jocelyn was the main reason they had gotten married. With the way of the world being what it is, the teenagers that would become her Parents had gotten together the night of Junior prom. 'Everybody's doing it!' was a popular phrase going around & since so many others were determined to lose their 'flower' that night, Bill & Marie had an experience that they would never forget!

When Bill first learned that Marie was pregnant, he wanted her to get rid of the evidence! 'We're too young to have a baby!' was his response. Marie had similar thoughts herself, but the more she meditated on the thought of this new biology they had created, purposefully or not, the more she yearned to see it develop. Bill took a bit longer to become convinced, but when he finally began to realize the wonder of it all, he accepted their responsibility with all his mind, soul & strength. Though they were younger then many, Jocelyn would begin her Journey with two of the most loving caretakers that one could ask for!

By no means perfect, these two young lovers, though they tried to do everything 'right', had not grown up with the best examples either, so when their bundle of Joy finally emerged from her cocoon in all her Glory, immediately, they got a dreadful feeling that all was not 'right' with her world! She was beautiful, don't get me wrong & as far as the untrained eye could tell, very nearly 'perfect'. Her concerned parents, however, couldn't squelch the sense of foreboding that hovered at the edge of their consciousness. She seemed to be responsive in every way that was considered 'normal', however, so they did their best to shrug it off, especially since the attending doctors & nurses hadn't seemed to notice anything amiss.

Fast-forwarding several years, after Jocelyn had found her 'legs', so to speak, her loving parents began to notice that, though she seemed to be developing fairly 'normally', their growing bundle of Joy seemed to be taking a bit longer than most of the other children! Jocelyn seemed to be having trouble keeping up with the other children, especially when it came to physical activities. In fact, she seemed content to stick to herself quite a bit, in her formative years, though later in her relatively short life, she would prove to be quite a blessing to those who knew & loved her!

To know Jocelyn was to love her! One would be hard-pressed to find a more loving, caring & sharing young lady. Having finally arrived at what is often called 'the age of accountability', Jocelyn, having become 'aware' at an earlier age than most, had blossomed into quite the lovely young lady, though smaller, on average, than most twelve year-olds. She treated everyone with kindness, even those very few who were unkind to her. On top of her body's slower-than-usual development, Jocelyn seemed to be having a bit of a hard time with ambulation. Although she could get where she was going ( most of the time, anyway ) without too much difficulty, her body's deficiency became more noticeable with the passing years!

While in the womb, in her formative months, Jocelyn's body had been exposed to several foreign substances, substances which Bill & Marie, young & immature themselves, had ignorantly immersed themselves in. Not having had the necessary upbringing, they were ignorant of the fact that such substances are wisely avoided, especially when pregnant. As a result, though Jocelyn turned out, for all intents & purposes, 'perfect', her 'shell' had not developed to a 'normal' extent. She had an increasing difficulty getting around & after a time, it seemed she would almost rather keep to herself rather than be around others who had no problems with their movements. Some, at first, took this hesitation to be shyness, or even that Jocelyn didn't like people, but once they got to know her, Jocelyn quickly became one of their favorites ( to most of them, anyway ). No more was Jocelyn on the outside looking in, as it were; though she was not always the center of attention, she was now included in many of the activities that she had missed out on before. Having come to know & love her, her growing circle of friends were more than willing to slow down their own activities so that they could partake in the Joy that was her!

The body that Jocelyn had incarnated those relatively short few years ago was starting to rapidly wear down! The deficiencies that had begun to manifest in her early childhood were now becoming much cause for alarm! After being 'poked & prodded' by numerous doctors & nurses for what seemed like years, Jocelyn was finally sent home with the prognosis that she might not be around much longer. Both Bill & Marie were devastated, even though they dimly understood what their little bundle of Joy had taught them about the true blessings of life, over the years. They understood, though & this was where much of the pain set in, that the deformities in their daughter's young & failing body were due to their own ignorance & immaturity. They would do better next time, having been blessed, for a little while, to such an extent!

Jocelyn, though relatively young, had matured much faster than her biology! As her body rapidly deteriorated, she seemed to grow even faster in maturity. She accepted the fact, even though she was aware how hard it was on everyone else, especially her parents, that she would not inhabit this body for much longer. She knew that her time was near, but she also knew, in her spirit, that she had one more Gift to impart to her 'world'............................

Charles Haddon Shank