Greatest Mystery Faith: The Messiah Did Die

What we expect and hope for...
What we expect and hope for…

During my research and writing of my Master’s Thesis today, I read about Psalm 110.  Psalm 110 is considered a Messianic Psalm, which is a psalm that looks forward to a future figure from King Davids line that would redeem Israel and be her king.  Note this King would come by Yahweh’s power and intervention, and not a purely human deed.  It is quoted numerous times in the New Testament, beginning with Jesus’ debates with the religious readers in the synoptic Gospels in Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36, and Luke 20:42; Acts 2:34; and Hebrews 1:13.  It is also alluded to in the New Testament in many other verses, such as Colossians 3:1, and Hebrews 8:1.

Here is the Psalm from the NRSV version:

The Lord says to my lord,
    “Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The Lord sends out from Zion
    your mighty scepter.
    Rule in the midst of your foes.
Your people will offer themselves willingly
    on the day you lead your forces
    on the holy mountains.[a]
From the womb of the morning,
    like dew, your youth[b] will come to you.
The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
    “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”[c]

The Lord is at your right hand;
    he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
    filling them with corpses;
he will shatter heads
    over the wide earth.
He will drink from the stream by the path;
    therefore he will lift up his head.

passion3
What is reality

As you can see, it is a very victorious song. There is no doubt that Yahweh (referred to as the LORD in the Psalm) won through giving the Messiah victory. The Messiah got to sit at God’s right hand, his followers are tripping over themselves to get ready to fight for their king, and he shattered his enemies as a result.

This psalm in the New Testament reflects Jesus’ saving and exalted work as God’s Messiah. I do not doubt this interpretation of the psalm. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I believe he is Israel’s promised Messiah. Yet, here is a question I had to sit and wrestle with: Why is it I follow a “Messiah” who came to earth and the exact opposite happened in history?

What happened up until sundown on Good Friday? What were the results of all the miracles, teachings, and debating with the Pharisees and other Jews living in Palestine at the time? First, Jesus followers are not ready to fight for him when he gets arrested. One betrays him, the rest desert him, and to add insult to injury one of his closest followers, Peter, denies he knows him 3 times. Not exactly followers breaking down the doors to fight for their Messiah.

Second, his enemies do not overcome him in the way this Psalm reads. They beat him up, made  false claims about him, got him falsely convicted, and his body is brutalized and shattered by being flogged. Did God save him at the last minute? Nope; he dies by being crucified by the Romans, the occupying forces ruling the Promised Land! No kicking them out, no military uprising, and no being saved from death by his Father.

Third, he does not seem to be exalted to God’s right hand at the end. He asks God during his dying moments why he was forsaken after being convicted of blasphemy. Hardly getting the right hand spot, never mind the spot of dying peacefully in bed. Where is the victory in Psalm 110?

On the one hand, I am thinking: Perhaps this purely has to do with his second coming? In Paul’s letters, the second coming is the time when Jesus comes as the warrior king and victory belongs to him. Revelation gives a picture of God and God’s Messiah being the victors.  But then I realized if this is true, why bring it up during his earthly ministry at all? If Psalm 110 purely is referring to the Messiah’s second coming, as is what one would think interpreting it from a New Testament Christian perspective, then isn’t it irrelevant to his earthly ministry?

Jesus and his enemies could probably  recite the entire Psalm in their sleep in Aramaic, Greek, and some in Hebrew. They knew what the Psalm talked about, and it wasn’t David’s descendant being executed by the ruling power. Yet Jesus talks about it just before he is about to go to his death  he knows is merely days away.

I know what you all might be thinking: The resurrection changes everything, God’s plans are above and beyond human comprehension, and in death was victory. I understand all that as someone living~2000 years after the fact. But that does not take away from the oxymoron here.

From a purely human perspective, when I really think about it, Jesus was a sad martyr at the end of the day.  His pre-resurrection existence was filled with good times, bad times,  hopeful times, hopeless times,  clarifying times, and frustrating times. And it ended with his death.

I do not believe we do his story justice by just saying, “Oh well, he was resurrected and exalted eventually. So, Good Friday is not that big of a deal.” To me that is almost hiding the issue under the bed or in the closet.  Did Jesus hide this oxymoron under the bed? I do not think so.

I know how we talk about Jesus freely going to his death, and how he gladly endured the cross. I am sure He was happy knowing he died completing his Father’s mission. However, I also know that he was terrified and unhappy about it that entire day. After all in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked the Father to take the cup of death away. Jesus did not say that night, “Oh well, Father, my resurrection that I predicted about to my apostles is only 3 days away. Let’s hurry up and get past all this so we get to the good part!” I will post the three versions of his agony in the Synoptic Gospels:

Created with Compare Ninja

Jesus did not want to face his death. In fact, he wanted to skip it altogether if the Father permitted it. He was distressed about it and agitated. In Luke’s Gospel he sweat drops of blood! This is a condition called hermatridosis. It is caused when the person is under intense stress, and has severe anxiety. Jesus was notshrugging it off because the resurrection was coming.  Jesus is a human who was terrified and stressed about his impending doom, and asking his Father to put him on another path.

How can we hide it under the bed, and try and jump forward to the resurrection as if the cross was a minor thing? Or try and make it too good of an event in Jesus’ life to really reflect what happened on Good Friday (i.e. he did it for MY salvation, so Good Friday is awesome!)?  If Jesus confronted the reality of His death, we should too.

I am pulling it back out from under the bed and facing my Lord and Saviour’s death.   It will not even be close to what He faced before the fact in Gethsemane, as I will never fully understand what he went through on his way to death, but I will not attempt to skip it or promote it as this great event when it was really a tragic and shocking event.

What happened on Good Friday? God tasted death. The Father lost his only Son. The Son cried out for help that did not come. The Holy Spirit his constant best friend. The Messiah was defeated.  Israel rejected the man who was supposed to be their hope and rejected their God by doing so. The Romans executed God incarnate. Good Friday was a brutal and bloody and tragic example of where human sin goes on its worst days: Humanity killed God’s Son, the incarnate Creator of the universe. Before we get to Easter Sunday, we have to realize that Good Friday was not a good day in and of itself, and what happened to Jesus was not good, and it was not victory. It was evil and it was defeat.

That does not mean victory did not come! I am not saying the resurrection did not happen. But purely from the first century with no crystal ball telling it the future, it was a tragedy. To me, to not acknowledge it as such and not really admit the paradox and oxymoron of Good Friday in a way cheapens a very dark and solemn event. Jesus did not lessen it down, but faced it for what it was; I should too. You should too.

His first followers certainly did, as the only Scriptures they had from an Old Testament perspective, this is brand new. Technically only one passage, the servant song of Isaiah, points to martyrdom of one of God’s anointed and technically that anointed is not the Messiah. Only the Holy Spirit could intepret that passage for us as a prophechy of God’s Messiah. Beyond that we do not really see in the Psalms or the rest of the prophets something that could even hint that the Messiah was going to die. Suffer extremely? Psalm 22 is for that. Yet, that writer does not say he died. If anything, it looks more like God saved him in the nick of time.

Where was that last minute salvation for Jesus? Where was the army of Jesus’ followers running to his aid, swords drawn? Where are the women singing the songs of how Jesus defeated his 10s of 1000s, or 10s of millions that day? Did He die before “his Father” could get to that part? Or was God not really his Father to begin with?

All these questions are questions I’m sure his followers wrestled with on Saturday. No wonder Jesus’ followers needed Scripture lessons for next  40 days after His resurrection, and an extra 10 more before Pentecost. His death was not on their agenda, never mind what they hoped for.  I honestly think it was a bigger shock for them than the resurrection as Old Testament and New Testament prior to Jesus’ death had cases of God bringing people back from the dead. People dying is one thing. The Messiah dying to the foreign, oppressive powers? That just did not happen. The Messiah-King doesn’t die at the hands of the foreign empire, the foreign empire dies to him!

We may have the luxury of almost 2000 years of church history to lay upon for comfort, they had nothing. They just had the hard, cold, disappointing reality on Saturday.  I think if we do not let this become part of our reality, which is never all resurrections and victories, then I do not think we are really wrestling with the reality of what it means to have faith in Jesus. I also think we cheat our witness to our Jewish brothers and sisters if we do not really wrestle with this. Their argument is valid: How can Jesus be the Messiah? He died to the occupying forces! The Messiah does not do that; therefore, Jesus was not him.

I know what my answer is to all those questions. But I will not give it, as this is something God’s followers in Christ should all wrestle with. I may write it out in an aside later in the week, maybe not. But that is not what is important as the Christian life is not about having all the answers. If anything, it is about asking questions and then asking questions again.  Here is one you probably weren’t asked on Sunday:  How can we say Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, when the only thing confirmed as 100% historical fact is that he died to the forces occupying Israel’s Promised Land? Israel is still not delivered, and the world isn’t changed to reflect God’s complete rule. For these reasons, why is the joke not on you 2000 years later? After all, we are still waiting for the “expected image” at the top to happen.

A Letter to Americans About the SCOTUS Trial Ruling

Dear Americans,

Congratulations. You have finally climbed to the top of the marriage equality mountain. I hope you enjoy your time up here; many countries ranging from Denmark to Canada have been up here enjoying the view for decades.  And to be frank, we like it up here!
Now I’m sure many people are confused, and a bit frightened, as to where this will take your country. Some may be fearing the end is nigh and the US will experience hell on earth. You may be fearing how this will affect the children, and perhaps even the elderly. Well, as someone living in a country who has been down this path before allow me to relieve some worries.

I am sure others are very excited. They can finally marry the person that makes getting up everyday worth it for them. They can not fear the law criticizing who they want to be with forever. It is a great time for you all.

This letter is for all ends of the spectrum!

First, Dennmark was the first country to legalize same sex marriage in 1989. Canada legalized it over a decade ago. Our countries are doing just fine.  Canada has yet to go up in smoke, and our children have yet to be overtly sexualized. Polygamy isn’t legalized yet to my knowledge. The sky has stayed where it belongs, in the sky! Canada has yet to burn up in an hell-like inferno.  So all the people fearing the end can take a deep breath. The end is not yet. Speaking of the end…

I have good news for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ! Same sex marriage is not all that is needed for God to send the calamities promised for the end times. In the synoptic Gospels Jesus said in his eschatological discourse: “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,  but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). In the context of that verse, there are no others that give the footnote that same sex marriage is the exception. The end will come, our Christ will return someday but that is on the timing of the Father. We humans cannot do anything to alter God’s timetable. Therefore, just live life being God’s people. Here are some more verses to give you the head start:

 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day[i] your Lord is coming... Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves[j] their allowance of food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives” (Matthew 24:43, 45-46).

So becareful as “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

And what does our Master expect us to be doing? What is the will of our Father in heaven? Well here is a summary in Matthew 24:36-40,

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Nothing like taking comfort from the Christian Scriptures, no? Here is a song for further encouragement:

Second, congratulations to those in the LGBT community in the USA! And welcome to the top of mountain along with so many others within your community. This is a huge step and a huge mountain to climb. I must warn, you probably have many others to go. It is one thing to change a law, it is another to change the hearts and minds of people. Have faith that people’s minds and hearts will catch up slowly but surely. Here is an image to encourage from one of my favourite RP moments:

The man on the left is Sylin Kath, the man on the right is Crimsen Hevilas. They are now married as Sylin and Crimsen Kath-Hevilas. I hope you have many wedding pictures similar to their own!

In the meantime, you have been given a huge right with many privileges! You can all enter into the covenant of marriage, one of society’s basic foundations. You and your lover can be legally recognized before the law, and before God should you be religious, as committed to one another for life.  That is a huge right to be given, and it has many privileges. It is a privilege and honour for someone to entrust their life to you until death, and to do the same in return- and it should not be entered into lightly.

For these reasons, I want to urge you all to be wise. Be wise in who you spend time with, be wise with who you fall in love with, and be wise in whom you choose to marry.  Remember that love is more often a choice than an action, so choose to love. Choose to marry someone you will choose to remain married to when times get tough and when times get easy. But above all, Testify to love and be wise. Here is a song for encouragement:

YES, I sent both groups the same song. Why?? Because marriage is about testifying to love at the end of the day. The time for testifying and encouraging hate in any shape or form is coming to an end. And it is about time it did in the United States of America, otherwise you could be turning into the Divided States of America.

To that end, tt is time to start to climb the mountain that requires hate to be left behind. It’s time to shake off the heavy burdens of prejudice, animosity, anger, and hatred and climb up the mountain of acceptance, equality, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love. This is the hardest and tallest mountain to climb. It will cause you to look back and deal with ghosts, tell people to stay behind in a certain part of the mountain until they are ready to move on, and it may require you as an individual to choose to let go of things you do not want to right now.  It will not be an easy climb by an stretch of the imagination, but coming from a woman who has had to do that with regards to her asperger’s and living in a country that legalized same sex marriage 10 years ago, I can tell you it will be worth it!

The last thing you want is for this ruling just to be a fancy piece of paper, right? You don’t want these marriages to be purely political statements, nor business transactions, right? And my fellow Christians, we do not want them to know any other God but the Father who loves them gave his Son for them, right? We don’t want them to know any other God than the Triune God that so loved the world, right? Then testify to love!

And I will say it again: For as long as all of you live, Testify to love!

Love,

Noxturna, a Fellow Human Being

1Corinthians 13, NRSV:

 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

 

Time for Respectful Quiet and Time For Protests!

One of my favourite verses in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible is “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Eccl 3:1, NRSV). The writer goes on to write about how there is a time to live, be at peace, get up, be happy, and make money; and there is a time for war, sadness, being poor, going to sleep, and death. One could expand this to the 21st century: Time for socializing, being passionate, being busy, and using technology; and there is time for solitude, quiet, and turning technology off. Given I wrote this before my plane took off today, and after it landed at my destination, airports and flying are prime examples. I often think that we probably got the common saying, “This is not a good time” from that verse.

This is a verse I thought of when I read about an incident at the White House from yesterday. During a reception during Pride Month  for representatives of LGBTQA groups, the President gave a speech. During that speech, Jennicet Gutiérrez, a transwoman of colour, shouted at Obama, “President Obama, release all LGBTQ immigrants from detention and stop all deportations” among other things. Here is a video of the entire incident:

Jennicet was almost immediately shushed by those around her, and eventually shushed by the President. Though she was not deterred: She shouted louder to more shushing, pro-Obama cheers, and on her way out. Needless to say, it caused a disturbance and a controversy.

Some people, such as the CBC, paint the President as the good guy. She is being the rude interrupter during a speech and he is praised for his responses to her, including,

You know what? It’s not respectful when you get invited to somebody. You’re not going to get a good response from me by interrupting me like this. I’m sorry.  I’m sorry … Shame on you, you shouldn’t be doing this.

Other people criticize the crowd, and the President. For example Matthew Vines, author of the bestseller God and the Gay Christian, wrote on his Facebook page
wrote:
For Obama to shut her down the way that he did perpetuates her erasure, and I think he should apologize for it and meet with her one-on-one to discuss her concerns. But I’m even more concerned with the fact that most LGBT people in the room booed and silenced this woman rather than standing up for her. It’s completely unacceptable for this largely privileged crowd of LGBT people to shut down a trans woman of color, regardless of whether they think she was being “respectful,” “appropriate,” or “effective” or not.

Many similar comments have been made back and forth. I must congratulate the transwoman for it: For better or for worse, she got people talking and that is step one to change.  From thinking on the incident, I was moved to compose this blog article an express my views. Because this incident communicates so much about the layers of society with regards to LGBT issues, I will divide my blog up into layers. Continue reading Time for Respectful Quiet and Time For Protests!

Definitions and Deceptions of Identity

The Oxford English dictionary defines identity in many ways. A couple of definitions that apply to people include: “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another,” “condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is.” Identity is an essential, yet changing part of human nature.

Who we are as individuals identify as relates to how we conceive ourselves, how we are seen as a citizen of a country, and even our world-view. It answers questions such as “Who am I?”,  “How do I fit into mys skin, my family, my community, my country, and the rest of the world?”, and “How did my experiences shape me?” Movies such as Hercules and the Lion King look at the quest of identity being confused, lost, regained, deceived into, and achieved.

People have many identities: Cultural identity, national/patriotic identity, career identity, relationship status, sexual orientation, romantic orientation, gender orientation, and species identification. For me, I identify as a Canadian citizen, am a part of Canadian culture, and currently a Masters student in theology; asexual orientation, aromantic orientation, and I am a cisfemale; I am part African and part French on my father’s side, part German and part Irish on my mother’s side; and I am  a human being living on the north-western quadrant of earth. To say that identity, and various identities, means everything would not be too far fetched. Within those identities you can assume how I live my life, how I see the world, where I live, and even what the chances are that I am single or in a romantic relationship (hint: aromantic asexual means I am very single and very much not interested in sex or romance. Sorry, the one, but you’re the one for somebody else).

June is pride month. One could say it’s also identities month! Two cases of identity have come up so far: Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman; and Rachel Dolezal a woman who identifies as black, when she was in fact born white.

First Corner: Bruce Jenner transitioned fully into Caitlyn Jenner. As a transgender woman, Caitlyn has come to show her true identity on the outside. For the most part, responses to her transition have been positive. Many hope she will be a good voice for transgender people worldwide. The only criticism she has received is that she is painting an unrealistic picture of transitioning for transgender people, not so much that she transitioned.

Of course there are the not-so-nice comments. Many on social media sites said that Bruce was born a man, has the genitalia of a man; therefore, he will always be a man. Caitlyn is a farce, a pretending, a masquerade.  Some people are so set in their opinion, that they will flatly refuse to call Caitlyn Caitlyn, or use feminine pronouns when referring to her. Personally, I bet this reflects how they feel about all transgender people, not just Caitlyn, and is a good reflection of one of  the very real hardships transgender people face on a daily basis.

Other Corner: Rachel is the former head of one of the branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). For the last 7 year she has been portraying a false identity: She claimed and seemed to act as an African American woman when she is in fact Caucasian. She was ousted by her parents to the media on Sunday.  Prior to her ousting, she was a spokesperson for the rights and troubles of coloured people. She taught African American studies at a university, and was even emphasized with as she was a “victim of hate crimes.” Well, all of the above does not exist for her anymore. She resigned her post, and most people who looked up at her with pride look down on her with scorn and hurt.

On the Today Show today she she identifies black, and many are calling her transracial. This is their way of being sympathetic and trying to show that she should not be receiving such lashings. However, the loudest voice are those claiming she’s a fraud and living a lie: She is a white woman, not a black woman. Just like Caitlyn will always be Bruce as far as many people are concerned, Rachel will always be white. The outside appearance will never change that.

And now I step into this and examine the evidence to answer a simple question: Who is living the lie?

The truth of the matter is by definition of the terms, Caitlyn is living the truth, Rachel for the last 7 years has not. According to the Oxford dictionary a transgender person is noting or relating to a person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s biological sex assigned at birth: the transgender movement.

Here is another definition, according to glaad.org:

Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate. Gender identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or someone outside of that gender binary).For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and heir own internal gender identity do not match.

Therefore, for someone like Caitlyn to come out as a transwoman, there is no deception in that identification. In calling herself a transgender woman, she is admitting that she was biologically born male, but has the mind of a woman. That is not deceptive, that is her being honest and coming to terms with who she is. If anything, Bruce Jenner was the disguise.

This is different from someone claiming to be African American. That claim implies that the person was born with a dark pigment and descended more directly from an African family line. Rachel, as we can see from the pictures from her parents, is European decent and naturally fair skinned. Her claiming to be an African-American woman required her to claiming a fake parentage, saying her adopted African brother is her son, and changing her appearance to PERHAPS be black. In truth, only her hair passes as being an African style, not her skin nor face.

Now if she came clean from the get-go and said “I am white, but I wish to identify and be a part of African culture and be an ally against racism,” then it would be a completely different story.  People adopting a culture different from their own happens all the time, and I bet it is happening as you read this.  Furthermore, this has happened travelling between countries was possible.

Many people all over the world, as seen in the mass immigration to Canada and the US, humans can be a part of many cultures. Many of them go between cultures on a daily basis, and even combine the cultures they are a part of into a unified whole. Note that is being multicultural, not being transracial or even transcultural. In fact, the term transracial DOES NOT mean that you identify with a race other than the one you were born with. It means children who were adopted by a family that is of a different race/culture/people group than the one they were born with.

Caitlyn is using the correct words to define and identify herself. She is a transwoman, and she is being truthful with her transition and preferred pronouns. Rachel is being deceptive in terms of her skin colour, hair style, ancestral heritage, and in how a certain word is defined. Therefore, Rachel is the woman living a lie, not Caitlyn. In doing so, she is cheapening the meaning of the word transgender, as well as stealing a place meant for coloured women to have a voice and claiming it as her own.

Clearly, Rachel’s choices have resulted in no favours being done for anyone but herself. Thankfully, any favours she got are being completely revoked. Let’s hope it stays that way.

For More on this:

CBC Radio The Current Review on the Subject: Rachel Dolezal: The politics of race not-so-black-and-white

Finally, A black trans woman explains changing gender vs. changing r

My Pledge to Reject Ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism: Belief that one’s culture is superior to all other cultures to the point where one beliefs all cultures should become like home.

After reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report about the Residential Schools… I honestly feel a tad bit guilty being Canadian. They were a blight on our society, and a shameful part of Canada’s history.

Residential Schools were implemented in the 1880s by Canada’s first Prime Minister. Their goal was the assimilation of indigenous peoples by taking children from their homes and making them Western. In those schools the culture in them was destroyed, they faced horrendous abuses and emerged a broken people, if they emerged at all. The result of these schools is still felt today, in spite of them being closed for 1/2 a century. Much healing is required, and long before it starts on the outside it must begin on the inside. Continue reading My Pledge to Reject Ethnocentrism