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Mark Update

I hope everyone is enjoying the Fall season. I am not a fan of the cold weather, but I do like the colorful trees. It is also the season for hot coco, apple cider, and pumpkin spice! See… there is always something to be thankful for!

Anyways, I am happy to report that we are almost halfway through the Gospel according to Mark. We are continuing to see the Jesus that Mark presents. The God who stepped into time and space, lived in a human body and moved in and among real people like you and I. We are encountering a God who stepped into a particular point in time, into a specific culture, and with a radical mission to turn people’s hearts and religious understandings toward the truth that God wants to save broken humanity.

Jesus’ disciples are on a faith journey that they do not fully grasp (which they won’t till after Jesus’ resurrection… and even then, it is foggy for them!). The main take away as we walk through Mark’s material is that God has shown up in Jesus. Jesus is revealed as the One who calms the storms, walks on water (many Old Testament images of God’s control over nature), miraculously feeds 5000 Jewish men with a low inventory of bread (representing Moses and the manna God provided the Israelites in Exodus), Jesus crosses assumed purity lines by not making His disciples wash their hands according to manmade rules/traditions (since the disciples would have been possibly defiled by being in the market place with Gentiles!?!). Jesus further crosses customs by talking to a Gentile woman who boldly makes the case for God’s grace to flow through Jesus to heal her daughter. Things are not as they seem with Jesus, and therefore, things are not always as they seem with God from our limited/sometimes skewed/ human vantage point.

God cares about our internal world. What comes out of the sinful human heart (or what can come out) is selfishness, greed, and violence. This was not the creation intention. God-shown-up-Jesus in a real time and culture shows us that we need a God/Human Savior. The disciples are literally being trained in Christ-likeness, but they do not seem to grasp who their rabbi/teacher is. We must stay on this journey with Mark to unfold the rest of who Mark is presenting to us. We are encountering the revelation of God to humanity in Jesus Christ. We are constantly confronted with a Jesus… with a God that makes us think twice about our long-held beliefs and our long-held unbelief(s). The Gospel begs the reader/hearer to respond to the person and message of Jesus. Will we rejoice or reject the One we encounter along the way? I encourage you to continue to read Mark in your Bibles and try to make it to our Sunday Morning gatherings. May you encounter this God of mercy as we journey together through the Biblical text.

Peace to each of you,

Pastor Josh.

Update On Mark

Wow! It has been a great several weeks of our study through the Gospel of Mark. A couple of highlights/thoughts have been that God has shown up! God is on the loose in creation in the person of Jesus. Jesus is Israel’s long-awaited Messiah that was promised in the Old Testament. The interesting thing is that Jesus is not the kind of Messiah that many (including the religious establishment) had been waiting on. Rather than conquering through an “iron fist” or with armies and war horses, God-shown-up-in-Jesus displays power in a different way.

We see through Jesus’ launch of His ministry that evil forces are subdued, the sick are made well, sins are forgiven, and the natural realm obeys Jesus’ commands. We have met the 12 disciples along the way and seen the religious “police” (scribes and Pharisees) get rebuked by Jesus. Those who are outcasts from “normal” society are being invited and included. Most know that when we talk about the “good news” of our faith we are referring to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Well that is exactly what the Greek word “gospel” means. It is good news (not good advice). It is good news that God has shown up on the scene and that it doesn’t look like any had imagined (or deserved). Mark’s good-news-story reveals who Jesus is by what Jesus does. We see God full of grace, truth, and compassion. We will further see the suffering side of God/Messiah as we move toward the cross event in Mark’s Gospel. We as the readers are called to respond to the Jesus we encounter. We have so much more to see (and hear) as we move through this account of the Jesus we together proclaim Lord! I hope everyone reading this can join us for the journey.

In Christ,

Josh.

The Gospel of Mark

I’m currently attempting to preach through Mark’s Gospel at our church on Sundays. I say “attempting” because that is how I see the preaching/teaching endeavor. I do believe God speaks through this act of communication, but I (at the same time) realize the depth and humility needed to approach this task.

I’m following David Garland’s outline in his user friendly NIV Application Commentary.

I will update the other sources I’m using throughout the study. I hope I can provide through this blog summaries to each week and reflections on the journey. My thoughts will also reflect the time I spent two years ago taking Dr. Andy Johnson’s “Mark” course at Nazarene Theological Seminary.

I encourage readers here to go and read the first 3 chapters of Mark to start.

Peace, Grace, and Truth

-josh

Sabbath (My Poem/Reflection on Mark 2:23-3:6 and Genesis 1.)

Sabbath isn’t about rule keeping…

Sabbath is about keeping

the One who Rules

Ruling…

A Ruler of Absurd Mercy?

Yes!

Sabbath wasn’t for just some Sabbath thing…

Although it was rough for the Pharisee

Jesus kept perspective on life flourishing

Sabbath wasn’t for just some Sabbath thing…

Sabbath is the King’s gift to Humanity

A Day To Remember the Creator’s Creating.

God’s Inauguration

Humanity’s Source for Satiation

Rest for Creation

Humanity’s Image Reflection

Shalom the Intention

Even After Sin’s Manipulation Destruction

Torah’s Instruction

Prophet’s Correction

Then

God’s Participation, Cross Presentation

Resurrection Celebration…

Led to Our Redemption Salvation!

And His Maranatha Anticipation!

My AMEN Realization

-Josh Kilsch

“Jesus and Marginalized Women” by Stuart Love -Book Review by Josh Kilsch

This was a book I read for my Gospel of Matthew Course. Interesting for the Interested.

Key take away: MERCY

Love’s book provides perspective to the context of the material in Matthew’s Gospel concerning those that are marginalized, particularly women. He argues with detail, as he explores this topic through social theories/models. Love explains “marginalized” through the social scientific definition by Gino Germani. In this definition, the “lack of participation” in a social sphere is key. The idea of marginalized individuals has many facets (7). His exegesis is an addition to gender studies in Matthew due to his multiple model exploration (22-23).

He contrasts the ancient social norms with our assumed social norms. Love argues that there are major differences in our current social dynamics that do not simply translate to the past (and vice versa)[i]. It is not simple enough to argue that Matthew’s gospel only promotes egalitarianism (50, 57, 65, 239). It is most surprising and educational to realize that Matthew’s text (and the rest of the NT) does not necessarily defend current liberal or conservative perspectives of justice and mercy. The answers from the NT to our current social questions are multi-layered and not simplistic. Love explores four women who are deemed marginalized in some way in Matthew.

Matthew writes through an advanced agrarian worldview (30). The agrarian societies of the past provided challenging structures to those dependent on bodily strength. The industrialized societies of recent times have created opportunities for the marginalized (35-41). Matthew is at home in this world (why wouldn’t he be? [62]) and Jesus illustrates truth through the household model (41-49). Love highlights the deviation from the expected structures through Jesus elevation of children, servanthood, and women (49-51, 61). The focus on women is where Love takes his study. Women are brought out as “symbolically significant” to challenge and reflect God’s intentions and transformative mission in the world (61-63, 66, 96)[ii].

Chapter three lays the further groundwork for Love’s study of the four women in Matthew. It is apparent that women had many excluded functions (especially in public) in the agrarian society both in Roman and Jewish contexts. (64-76). The religious leaders are very at home in the agrarian world of male dominated structures (92). Love argues that Matthew’s reference to “disciples” refers to males (responsible to teach) but does not degrade women or exclude them from being defined as responding followers of Jesus (77-82).

Another social group in Matthew’s Gospel which included women are the mentioning of crowds (87, 93). It was noted that Matthew alone is the one to mention that the tax collectors and prostitutes also known as sinners would be included in the Kingdom of God (82-83, 154). The evidence that Jesus gives dignity to women is provided in His defense of them and the constructive criticism he has of some excepted male behavior (87).

Chapter five explores the bleeding woman and the resurrection of the leader’s daughter. Love explains that both of these stories dealing with healing in public and private settings speak to Matthew’s community (115, 128). In both stories we find Jesus restoration of bodily function, removal of shame, and full life to a girl on the opposite social spectrum of the hemorrhaging woman (127-129, 132-136). These stories speak to those experiencing Jesus’ miracles and also Matthew’s community faced with how to think about heaven come on earth.

Chapter five dives into the healing of the Canaanite’s daughter. Love again rethinks the historicity of the event and concludes that it was constructed for early missionary purposes… which I am not sure that I agree (138, 158). The woman is one that is deemed culturally marginalized, and Love concludes that there is still a mission to non-Israelites (Matt. 28:18-20 [146-148]). Jesus’ “mission has been complicated” by this event/woman… and “he has extended the core value of mercy and crossed over his own defined limit to “go nowhere among the Gentiles” (10:5) [157].

In chapter six Love reflects on the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet and who “crashes” the meal while providing prophetic symbolism of Jesus’ passion (182, 185, 197). The three references to the women who stand by Jesus in his passion, burial, and after the resurrection attest to the gap they fill in the absence of the male disciples (195-196, 199).

Technology (and modern machinery) in the modern periods has drastically changed the “playing field” that once was considered impenetrable by women (230-232). The NT does not pretend to understand and speak to all future societies that could exist. It does, however, argue the norms of the Spirit of the Kingdom of God… Inclusion, Mercy, Restoration.

The take away from Love’s book is that the Kingdom of God that Jesus’ proclaimed and built his community of followers into is tethered into obedience, justice, mercy, and love that is not self-serving. Matthew’s God is a God of mercy (16,239-240). “Mercy” could possibly be the defining word for Matthew and Love’s study. He writes with depth and balanced ideas to approach a hot topic. I recommend this to all those who are students of the Gospels and want more conversation with an important conversation.

I like what Love says when he writes:

No longer is gender, family status, ethnic background, religious patronage, or socio/economic circumstance the basis for religious standing before Israel’s God. The Evangelist’s community is not an egalitarian group, but neither is it to correspond to the “agrarian mould”-and therein is the rub, the give-and-take between these two social actualities” (96).

Matthew’s community and audience must reflect on what this means for each period in which humanity attempts to do life with a bent toward dominance and selfish striving (165). Jesus’ disciples can change the world as they actually follow Jesus.

[i] i.e. Honor and Shame societies, healing in non-Western societies, purity issues covered in chapter four (102-112; and 169).

[ii] Love, quoting Anderson, writes, “Women of the Gospel fulfill extraordinary roles… while remaining in subordinate and auxiliary positions to men”. One further sees the both/and approach of God’s communication and action in the world through the settings in which Jesus came and Matthew wrote (23).

WORK CITED:

Love, Stuart L. Jesus and Marginal Women: The Gospel of Matthew in Social-Scientific Perspective: Eugene, OR. 2009. Print

Jehovah’s Witness Funeral Part 2.

Francis Schaeffer  (20th Century Philosopher and Xian Apologist) talked about “going where Truth leads”. That is my motto. There are some things that I will choose not to read, but these are for personal reasons and convictions that I have arrived at over time. I do, however, try to understand the framework of other people’s beliefs and honestly listen to their questions and objections to my beliefs with open ears and heart. The irony to me… is that my openness to the faith of others is due to my studies of the Christian scriptures. My journey has made me more open to seeking truth (TRUTH) than shying away from the difficult task. I don’t have answers to everything about my Christian faith, but I am not closed off to the questions or materials that would challenge me to do a double take and reflect a little longer beyond what the Church, pastors, fear of hell, or parents have told me to believe.

So… with that… My good friend John had a friend who’s relative had died. This is how I made it to the JW funeral. I was humbled to be there. Many good people mourning the loss of their friend. I was the outsider in their midst… (I did not feel dressed for the occasion, but I did have my sleeve of tattoos covered!). I walked in late (never have been in a Kingdom Hall before). It was a small but warm worship space. The room was packed, and I arrived just in time for it to start.

I looked through the memorial bulletin as some decent music was played. Soon a gentleman (pastor, elder, minister I assume) began to talk about the deceased life. The funeral was nothing out of the ordinary from my Christian/Protestant experiences except when it came to the scripture usage. The minister used the often-quoted funeral passages from Ecclesiastes, Gospel of John (John 11, not John 1 or John 14!), Psalms, and Revelation. The main theological point that was drove home was the certainty concerning the deceased destination which was the grave (Ecclesiastes was used to make this part of the case closed). The deceased was asleep awaiting the resurrection to the earthly paradise.

I think… It was kind of hard to follow. Of course, I had my own presuppositions about the JW theology concerning death, annihilation, and the revered (or coveted) 144,000 (those who actually make it to heaven). I heard the name Jehovah used at any opportunity and Jesus was only mentioned when he was caring about “Lazareth” (should be Lazarus, not sure if that was an honest mistake of combining Lazarus with Nazareth or if there is a legitimate usage of Lazareth to describe the man from Bethany (John 11). Anyways… what my main take away from this was…

The minister did a good job of honoring the deceased’s life. Those from the congregation that showed were dressed finer than any funeral I had been to before. The elderly woman sitting next to me was incredibly faithful to try and thumb through her NWT Bible to attempt to follow along.

As I sat there in the short 30 minutes of the service, I had a lot of feelings. I reflected on the theology I was being handed. I was feeling the loss of those in the room. I also had a couple of other observations… Most Protestant funerals I have been to you don’t see many people bring their Bibles to. The usage of scripture was extensive (even if I thought the usage was misleading and furthered group think). I was forced to also reflect on the importance of what outsiders to Protestant Christian funerals feel/think when they attend. I was invigorated at rereading the theology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

This post is already super long… Sorry (kind of). A few of take away questions that could (and is meant to) spur further thought and contrast. These are obviously from what I believe… which I believe to be derived from Orthodox Christian beliefs:

  1. What does a JW do with the unavoidable failed predictions of the return of Christ of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s?
  2. Should an individual be only allowed to ask questions that a faith organization is comfortable answering? Should a faith organization practice strict information control? (as mentioned, I recognize that my tribe has been guilty of this too).
  3. According the Christian scriptures… Is God’s name Jehovah? Or is this an issue of letters from Adonai being placed in the YHWH and then a German pronunciation of the “Y” as a “J”? According to the Bible and History is God’s revealed name Yahweh/Trinity? (This is a fascinating question to me, and it is meant as thought provoking… not a slam toward JW’s)
  4. Who was Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Rutherford, and Nathan Knorr and how does one qualify as being the only authority on interpreting/translating Scripture?

I have a bias against JW theology (not against people who have these beliefs) for the nature of their origins and their beliefs not corresponding to exegetical and historical scrutiny (my opinion). This, however, does not mean that I think that the people are bad or should be silenced etc. I simply disagree and know that many would disagree with me. An observational difference (too often) is that I would listen to their points of argument and in my experience, they would not do the same. When we have closed communication concerning our faith or an indecency regarding how we communicate our beliefs we all lose.

My Updated “About” Page

Just wanted to take a moment to highlight my blogs “About” section. Thanks for taking your time to read!

In my undergrad degree I took a course on Worship (Christian). We were required to read a book by Robert Weber entitled “Worship Old and New”. A thought from that book has stayed with me. “The early Church gathered to retell the saving events of God… predominately the Exodus deliverance and Cross/Resurrection Events…” Weber continued to explain the different mediums that were involved regarding how God’s saving stories were retold. They would meet in homes, fields, over meals, with singing, with musical instruments, with drama, with Psalm sharing, scripture reading, prayer, and most of all through action in their world through radical relationships filled with Mercy and Grace. Jesus was their TORAH. Resurrected Jesus was their proclamation. Dynamic selfless Love was their ethic. My experience growing up was that Worship was mainly synonymous with music forms. This sadly truncates the more full reality of worship or worth-ship.

This site is a place to read my musings and opportunity to participate in creating thought and conversation starters regarding faith.

Everyone will attribute worth to something with their life. One picture of the word/concept worship in the ancient world regarded their posture in which they approached the king. They did not come in with their head held high or with their own agenda. I have the mental picture of opportunity, awe, or fear with someone crawling into a earthly king’s presence. Whether the king was good or bad was probably always on the minds and hearts of the people (esp. the person coming into the king’s presence).

The people had the same relationships with their gods. This is where the God of the Christian scriptures stands in stark contrast to the kings and gods that were not of good character. Not different… non-existent… The biblical concept of Israel’s God is that this God was/is Holy (meaning different or set apart). This God was worthy of attributing life worth to because this God was/is good (in the truest sense of the word). N.T. Wright says that we become like what we worship. I believe that is true. The biggest warning of dehumanizing an individual in the Bible is the worship and keeping of idols. Idols are items that captivate us to the point of addiction and are not life giving. As opposed to icons, idols fixate on themselves and become a hopeless god. Not a living or life providing God.

Jesus is the full expression in human form of Israel’s God.

Since the Church is not really a building or institution… but the community of those that profess that Jesus is God and has risen from the dead, those who want to be His disciples on earth, those who want to take action for the betterment of the world… consider this a form/extension/type of church space… Maybe it will evolve into more…

We all have a story. We all find worth in something or someone. I would like to provide a space to think and reflect on the one who I think is worth attributing your entire story to. Jesus.

The DNA of a church/groups that meet in Kansas where I live has already been in the works. More of this to come.

Pastor Josh Kilsch

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