In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1 ESV).
Who is Jesus Christ?
The session of my home church asks each new member three questions: Tell us about your walk with the Lord? Why do you want to join this church? And, who is Jesus Christ to you?
The Apostle John wrote his Gospel, in part, to answer this final question. John’s answers include: Jesus is the incarnate word of God (v 1); the pre-existent one (v 2); the creator (v 3); light and life of the world (v 4); the victorious light that drives out darkness (v 5); the one about who the prophet John (the Baptist) spoke (v 7); the unknown one (v 10); the one rejected (v 11); the one who introduces us to the family of God (v 12); the one born of spirit rather than flesh (v 13); the one who shows the glory of God (v 14); the one who ranks above the prophet John (the Baptist); the one who brings grace (v 16); the one who brings both grace and truth (vv 14, 17); the one who is worthy (v 27); the one on who the spirit of God rests (v 32); the one who baptizes not with water but with the Holy Spirit (v 33); the Lamb of God (v 36); the sought after teacher (v 38); God’s Messiah (v 41); The one who says “follow me” (v 43); the good thing that came from Nazareth (v 46); the one who knew Nathaniel before he was born (under the fig tree!; v 48); the Rabbi, Son of God, and King of Israel (v 49); the one of whom Jacob was given a vision (Genesis 28:12; v 51). The Apostle Peter answered directly: You are the Christ (Mark 8:29).
Who is Christ to you?
Chapter one of John’s Gospels divides into three parts. The first part is sometimes thought to have been an early church hymn with four stanzas (vv 1-2, 3-8, 9-13, and 14-18) . The second part focuses on the witness of John the Baptist. The third part describes the calling of the first disciples.
John’s Gospel is thought to have been the last one written, in part, because it is the most spiritual. For this reason, it was known in the early church as: The Eagle.
 Gary M. Burge. 2000. The NIV Application Commentary: John. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Page 53-61.
How was your week? Do you have anything about your week that you would like to share? Do you have any thoughts about last week’s lesson?
What is “in the beginning” alluding to? (Hint Genesis 1:1)
Why is Jesus called the Word? Why not the vision? What is special about the process of hearing? (v 1) (Hint: how many people are involved in hearing versus seeing?)
How many descriptions of Christ can you count in this chapter? Which is most meaningful to you? Why?
What is meant by the references to light and darkness? (vv 4,5 8,9) What is meant in Genesis 1:3-5)?
Who are God’s children? (vv 12-13)
Who is John and why did he come? What was his mission? (vv 6-7, 15-36)
Which of John’s disciples went to follow Jesus?Why do we care? (vv 35-37, 40)
What was special about Andrew and why do we remember him? (vv 40-42)
What is strange about how Nathaniel came to Christ? (vv 46-48)
Dios, en el principio, creó los cielos y la tierra. (Génesis 1:1 NVI).
¿Quién es Jesucristo?La sesión de mi iglesia le pide a cada nuevo miembro a tres preguntas: Háblenos de su caminar con el Señor? ¿Por qué quieres unirte a esta iglesia? Y, ¿quién es Jesucristo para ti?
El apóstol Juan escribió su Evangelio, en parte, para responder a esta última pregunta. Respuestas de Juan son: Jesús es la Palabra encarnada de Dios (v 1), el uno pre-existente (v 2), el creador (v 3), la luz y la vida del mundo (v 4), la luz victoriosa que lleva a cabo oscuridad (v 5) el de que el profeta Juan (el Bautista) radio (v 7), la incógnita (v 10), el rechazo (v 11), el que nos introduce en la familia de Dios (v 12), el nacido del espíritu más que carne (v 13), el que se muestra la gloria de Dios (v 14), el que se ubica por encima del profeta Juan (el Bautista), el que trae la gracia (v 16), el que trae la gracia y la verdad (vv. 14, 17), el que es digno (v 27), uno a quien el Espíritu de Dios reposa (v 32), el que bautiza no con agua, sino con el Espíritu Santo (v 33), el Cordero de Dios (v 36), la prestigiosa maestra (v 38), el Mesías de Dios (v 41), el que dice: “me siguen” (v 43), lo bueno que venía de Nazaret (v 46), el que sabía Nathaniel antes de nacer (debajo de la higuera;! v 48), el rabino, el Hijo de Dios y Rey de Israel (v 49), el uno de los cuales Jacob se le dio una visión (Génesis 28:12; v 51). El apóstol Pedro le contestó directamente: Tú eres el Cristo (Marcos 8:29).
¿Quién es Cristo para usted?
El capítulo uno de los Evangelios de Juan se divide en tres partes. La primera parte a veces se piensa que fue un himno de la iglesia temprana con cuatro estrofas (vv 1-2, 3-8, 9-13 y 14-18)1. La segunda parte se centra en el testimonio de Juan el Bautista. La tercera parte describe la vocación de los primeros discípulos.
El Evangelio de Juan se cree que ha sido el último escrito, en parte, porque es el más espiritual. Por esta razón, era conocido en la iglesia primitive como: El Águila.
Juan 1: ¿Quién es Jesucristo?
Otras Métodos de Conectar:
Sitio del autor: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Sitio del publicador: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
Bauckham, Richard. 2007. The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Burge, Gary M. 2000. The NIV Application Commentary: John. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Keener, Craig S. 2003. The Gospel of John: A Commentary. Vol. 1 & 2. Peabody: Hendrickson.
Morris, Leon. 1987. The Gospel According to John. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Referencias Relativas al Evangelio de Juan
Otras Métodos de Conectar:
Sitio del autor: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Sitio del publicador: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
Boletín de autor: http://bit.ly/Advent_Mas_2018
In May I graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Commencement was held at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church—a large African American church in Charlotte, NC. The experience seemed a bit otherworldly, in part, because I still have classes to finish this summer and, in part, because this was my first commencement in spite of multiple degrees.
I commenced for the first time because when I graduated high school, the senior class protested graduation–a very 70s kind of thing to do; when I graduated in college, I was sick with mononucleosis; when I received my master’s degree, I was an exchange fellow in Germany; and when I received my doctorate, I was frankly too poor to travel back to Michigan. So commencement gave me a new story to tell.
Seminary has taught me the value of a good story.
From epistemology we know that the existence of God cannot be proven (or disproven). What logic would you use? Logic starts with assumptions—which ones are irrefutable and who says so? Consequently, our experience of God starts with a story. A story is a model of reality. In financial modeling, the adage goes that it takes a model to kill a model. Because all models are imperfect, only a better model provides a suitable critique. Questioning the use of a model is, frankly, not to understand the challenge of risk management in complex modern financial corporations. Likewise, as Christians we need to ask: which story best fits what God has revealed about himself and what we know about our world? Arguing for no story is not to understand the human dilemma. The Christian witness is that: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1 ESV).
An important postmodern challenge to the Biblical witness comes from literary critics who argue that the meaning of words is arbitrary. Words have no inherent meaning and, in effect, pose a kind of Rorschach test exploited by power-seeking individuals and groups who impose their meaning on the texts—especially ancient texts taken out of social context. They employ this critique to discount the historical testimony of the church and the biblical record. The Bible’s use of stories, however, deconstructs this critique itself! Stories provide context. Hebrew doublets restate particular sentences in different words. The meaning of particular words is then obvious from context and the use of doublets. Stories transcend the arbitrary meaning of word-symbols by drawing on experiences common to all human beings. As Mark Twain used to say: It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
In clinical pastoral education, I learned to listen actively and, in particular, to listen for the stories that people tell. The hospital visit, for example, is a transition story—a patient comes with a problem, seeks a cure, and is released. Economist studies to be a pastor is a reinvestment story. Anniversaries can made both tragedies and victories on a particular date each year. The pastor that tells a story about a new acquaintance—is probably being autobiographical. Biblical stories are often rehearsal stories—stories from the past with current meaning. Identifying the story that a person tells helps establish emotional connection—an important vehicle for sharing the gospel.
The Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The apostle Paul invites us to join in Jesus’ story with these words: that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Phil 3:10-11 ESV). Life has meaning because we know where we fit in Christ’s story.
Heavenly Father; God of all seasons and all times; Lord of places familiar and places unfamiliar; God of our emotions and our thinking. In the power of your Holy Spirit silence any voice in our ears but yours. Make your presence known to us today in the words spoken and the words heard. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Story of Reluctant Swimmers
In thinking about this afternoon’s message, I kept coming back to my experience in high school as a swimming instructor at Goshen Scout camps. At one point I was asked to teach a troop of special needs scouts how to swim. Talk about scary moments. The image of a lake full of drowning scouts still comes to mind.
By the end of the week, however, two of these scouts, Elmer and Freddie, had passed their swim test. Both had the swim routine down before I met them, but both also faced certain obstacles to finishing the course.
Elmer swam the American crawl perfectly, but only in shallow water where his fingers touched the bottom. He loved to show off his great form, but in his heart of hearts he thought swimming was a scam. He became visibly upset when I prodded him to venture into deeper water.
Freddie swam just fine, but thought it was more fun to be rescued by the lifeguard. He would begin his swim test and swim a lap or two. Then, a great big smile would come across Freddie’s face and he would pretend to drown. I can still see the horror on the faces of those watching me as I got mad at this drowning scout—that is, until they saw Freddie stop drowning and finish his swim test.
Isn’t that so like us when hear God’s call? (2X)
Stop focusing on myself and finish the race? Who me, Lord?
Swim into deeper waters and trust you to support me? Who me, Lord?
The moment we get over our pretensions and really appreciate how much Christ has done for us, we want to tell the whole world. When we do, we become spiritual lifeguards.
Our scripture lesson is taken from the book of Mark who recorded what is believed to be the witness of the Apostle Peter. The story of the healing of a man with an unclean spirit appears in the three synoptic Gospels and in each case follows the account of the storm on the Galilee . Mark’s version is the longest and offers details of obvious interest to a modern reader. The length of Mark’s account is particularly striking because Mark wrote the shortest Gospel. Why does Mark spend twice as much time on this particular story as does Matthew or Luke?  (2X)
Uniqueness of Mark’s Account
Only in Mark, for example, do we learn that the crossing of the Galilee involved multiple boats and took place in the evening (Mark 4:35-36). The storm on the Galilee inspired fear, in part, because it happened after dark. Nightfall might also explain why Jesus was sleeping .
The Man with the Unclean Spirit
Two details suggest that Mark expressed great sympathy for the man with the unclean spirit .
The first detail is his use of the term, unclean spirit (ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτω (Mark 5:2 BNT)). By contrast, Matthew starts by saying the man is demonized (δαιμονιζόμενοι (Matt 8:28 BNT)) while Luke reports that he has a demon (ἀνήρ…ἔχων δαιμόνια (Luke 8:27 BNT)) . The term, unclean spirit, is less judgmental and evokes the image of ritual impurity rather than demonic manipulation.
The second detail is also unique to Mark. Only Mark tells us that this man cuts himself with stones (κατακόπτων ἑαυτὸν λίθοις (Mark 5:5 BNT)). In other words, he was a cutter.
What is a Cutter?
In case you have never known a cutter, a cutter is someone, usually a young person, whose emotional pain is so deep that self-induced physical pain comes as a relief. Cutters feel abandoned by their friends and family. Cutters are not normally suicidal although they may accidentally kill themselves. Mark gives us a picture of a young person in unbelievable anguish which is in sharp contrast with Matthew’s image of a raging, fearsome maniac (Matt 8:28) .
Can you feel the pain being communicated here? (2X) If you could heal this kid, would you take the risk to step into his messy life and do it?
Other details in this passage evoke less pathos but focus more on moral ambiguity. The synoptic Gospels, for example, differ on the location of this pericope but all place the location in Gentile territory known as the Decapolis, region of ten cities. Mark and Luke locate this story in the Gerasene while Matthew cites the area of Gadara . Scholars place the location at Gergesa, a relatively unknown location on the Sea of Galilee with a steep slope. The Gerasene and Gadara locations, while better known, are not on the Sea of Galilee .
In summary, the location, the man’s lack of clothing, his presence in a graveyard, the presence of demons, and the local raising of pigs (Lightfoot 1979, 254) all reinforce the image of the man as ritually unclean and probably a gentile. The idea that this man was a gentile makes sense because Apostle Peter led the church in accepting gentile ministry (Acts 10). Peter’s leadership in accepting gentiles into the church may also explain Mark’s special interest in this story.
Jesus’ pathos for the pain of this young man is obvious. There is a sense here that the man with the unclean spirit is the personification of unrepentant sinner undergoing a difficult conversion (Garland 1996, 212). As the Apostle Paul put it: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Cor 5:17 ESV). Through the story of this young man, Mark has painted a picture for us of both the old self and the new self in Christ (Eph 4:20-24).
What does God’s salvation look like to you? (2X)
The Apostle Paul described salvation in these words: if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (Romans 10:9-10 ESV).
Exodus as Salvation
For me, salvation evokes memory of the Exodus story when God rescued the people of Israel and brought them out from the land of Egypt. Remembering the Exodus, the Prophet Isaiah writes: But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you (Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV).
Downing as a Metaphor
Have you ever felt in over your head? Do the waters of life leave you grasping for life-preservers that are nowhere to be found? Do you feel like Jonah trying to run away from God and end up being thrown overboard? Here in Mark we find the disciples in a raging storm in the middle of the night on the Galilee.
As the Psalmist writes: Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven (Psalm 107:28-30 ESV).
Do you see the lifeguard at work? (2X)
Jesus simply says: “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39 ESV). What’s the big excitement? Where is your faith? Jesus asks.
But what if the storm in our lives is more personal? (2X)
What if we find ourselves in a strange land, surrounded by strange people, confronting death or, worse, confronting people living hollow, haunted lives?
Jesus, why are you still here? Jesus, why do you torment me?
But our lifeguard is still on duty. Jesus asks: what is your name?
Name? We have many names! What name would you like? Anger? Depression? Fear? Guilt? Grief? Humiliation? Shame?
Our lifeguard simply says—you have my permission to give them up.
But what happens when the storm is over? Jesus says: Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you (Mark 5:19 ESV). We are called to be witnesses of our own healing and lifeguards for those around us.
Let me close with another story.
A woman by the name of Debra used to live outside my office when I worked downtown in Washington. Debra lived on the sidewalk there outside my building for seven years—longer than I had worked there. When I was feeling all full of myself and generous, I would visit with Debra and give her lunch money. When I was mad at the world and feeling sorry for myself, I sneak out the building so as to avoid her. I felt the judgment of God in her presence because I was rich, warm, and well-fed while she was poor, cold, and hungry. For this reason, I prayed that God would cure her of her mental illness and cure me of my moral cowardice .
Confronted with someone in pain in a morally ambiguous situation, what do you do? (2X)
Confronted with a young man in great emotional pain, Jesus set aside his own agenda and healed him.
Almighty God. Father of all compassion. Beloved son. Holy Spirit. Thank you for your presence in our lives. Calm the storms that plague us. Heal us of the names that haunt us. Make us whole people created in your image. Help us to model your love to the people around us. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.
Mark 4:35-5:20, Matthew 8:18, 23-34, and Luke 8:22-39. Note also the allusion in Revelations Rev 21:2. In each account the man with the unclean spirit declares Jesus to be the Son of God (Matt 8:29; Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28).
The word count in Greek is approximately: Mark (472), Luke (407), and Matthew (236). This is shocking because the Book of Mark (12, 015) is the shortest compared with Luke (20,683) and Matthew (19,474) (BNT, BibleWorks). This implies that almost 4 percent of the Mark text is devoted to this story while less than 2 percent is devoted in either Luke or Matthew.
An episode of near drowning in a boat on the Galilee evokes a dramatic image of the exodus from Egypt—a communal baptism. Because baptism is frequently thought of as a symbolic death and resurrection (Rom 6:4) which is similar to the allusion evoked in mental illness (Foucault 1988, 16), the storm on the Galilee is thematically related to story of the demoniacs that follows. Both are also miracle stories and display Jesus’ authority (France 2007, 333). By contrast, Saint Jerome (1977, 163) saw an allusion to the prophet Jonah (Garland 1996, 193). Taken together, the literary argument is implicitly from the greater to the smaller, if Jesus can command the wind and waves, he can surely cast out demons in a possessed gentile.
The OT provides at least two examples of demonic possession (Judges 9:23 and 1 Sam 16:14-16), but no exorcisms. Casting out demons is a NT innovation. ἐκβάλλω (exorcise) is frequently used in this sense in the NT, but the LXX uses this word primarily in a military sense of driving one’s enemies out. The allusion most likely in mind for a first-century Jewish audience is: then the LORD will drive out [ἐκβαλεῖ] all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you (Deut 11:23 NIV). ἐκβάλλω (BDAG 2328) . The only hint of a spiritual use of the word in the LXX arises in 2 Samuel 7:23 (driving out nations and their gods), Isa 2:20 (cast away his idols), and Jeremiah 23:31 (against the prophets).
Even authors that question Jesus’ divinity acknowledge that he performed exorcisms (Sanders 1993, 149-154). Porterfield (2005, 36-37) cites John Meier writing: What made Jesus unusual, if no unique, was not simply his role as an exorcist but rather his integration of the roles of exorcist, moral teacher, gatherer of disciples, and eschatological prophet all into one person. She also notes that in Mark, the first even in Jesus’ public life was the healing of a possessed man (Mark 1:23-27). The early church routinely performed exorcisms as part of the baptism ritual and exorcist was a church office, much like elder or deacon. For example, see (Hippolytus AD 215, 21:10; Cyprian AD 250).
Because Mark is thought to be recording the experiences of the Apostle Peter, is this sympathetic view of this man a reflection of the heart of the Apostle Peter for the mentally ill?
France (2007, 340) reconciles this discrepancy citing Josephus (Life, 42) who places Gerasene within the jurisdiction of Gadara—a Roman stronghold . This is more subtle way to make a political inference than naming the demons: Legion (the name of a Roman military unit). Later manuscript variants explicitly substitute the Gerasene for Gadara in the Matthew account suggesting that the inference may have been too subtle for a gentile audience to pick up.
Schnabel (2004, 255-256) writes: Gergesa is identified with ancient Chorsia and located near ruins of modern Tel el-Kurst (Kersa) situated on Wadi Sermakh on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, an area that belonged to the Decapolis. Near Tel el-Kursi there is a steep slope toward to the lake….A localization in Gergesa, a small and insignificant settlement, could well have been changed by a copyist in West to the well-known city “Gerasa,” which copyists in the East would have “corrected” to “Gadara.”
 Foucault (1988, 26) sees mental illness as a metaphor for death (p. 16) and as a mirror on society.
Bauer, Walter (BDAG). A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Ed. Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. <BibleWorks. v.8.>.
This past summer at General Assembly (GA) in Pittsburgh, I served as a Theological Student Advisory Delegate (TSAD) representing Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) in Charlotte, NC. One of the highlights of GA for me was getting to meet both outgoing moderator, Cindy Bolbach, and incoming moderator, Neal D. Presa. Neal later contacted me about serving on GA committee looking at the Belhar Confession (Belhar)which I was unfortunately unable to follow up on because of my commitment to finish seminary.
Belhar arose as the South African Churches began to reflect on their role during the apartheid years (1948 to 1994). The confession remarkably anticipated the abolishment of apartheid rather than simply ratified it. The Dutch Reformed Mission Church formally adopted Belhar in 1986. By contrast, the secular response to Jim Crow legislation (the U.S. template for apartheid) was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which the PCUSA ratified in the Confession of 1967.
Reflecting on Belhar, the question arose. What are the core principles of the PCUSA and how would Belhar enhance them? Core principles normally reflect one’s deepest, jointly-held convictions. The Confession of 1967 guides our reflections on questions similar to Belhar. Does putting forward Belhar again suggest that we should amend the Confession of 1967?
The real story in South Africa is not that white churches adopted a confession; the real story is that they threw their doors open to all of God’s children. What led these churches into revival?
Part of the South African revival story is a mission story. A recent book by Rollin Grams, Stewards of Grace: A Reflective, Mission Biography of Eugene and Phyllis Grams in South Africa, 1951-1962 documents part of this story. Rollin is an NT scholar at GCTS and the son of Pentecostal missionaries, Eugene and Phyllis Grams, who labored most of their careers in South Africa among the black townships before it was politically safe to do so. Rollin writes their story in their own words. The book is, however, more than an oral history or a travel diary. Salted throughout the book are asides (he calls them capsules) to explain to a non-Pentecostal audience what is going on. Far from dry, Rollin poses a sense of humor that makes the stories come alive.
An absence of priorities, not confession refinement, remains the PCUSA’s biggest challenge. Our membership is growing older and our young people are not joining the church. Furthermore, our members are mostly Caucasian and wealthy while the young people in our communities are increasingly multi-ethnic and poor. In this sense, the journey of the white churches in South Africa is also our journey—even my own personal journey during seminary. How do we move from ratification to reformation? What will lead our churches into revival?
This month Centreville Presbyterian Church welcomed its new associate pastor, the Reverend Dr. Jesse Mabanglo. Like Neal Presa, Pastor Jesse hails from the Philippines.
Henry Cloud. 2008. The One-Life Solution: Reclaiming Your Personal Life While Achieving Greater Professional Success. New York: HarperCollins.
Reviewed By Stephen W. Hiemstra
I cannot ignore any book by Henry Cloud. Back in 2003, my pastor preached a sermon based on Cloud’s earlier book called: Boundaries. The sermon interested me enough that I bought and read the book. Applying prescriptions from the book to my life led me to perceive my call into pastoral ministry.
The One-Life Solution is a book focused on constructing and developing better boundaries at work (19). Cloud observes that most people get caught up trying to control the things outside their control. Things like other people, circumstances, or outcomes. Meanwhile, they lose control of themselves (22). In this context, Cloud defines a boundary as a property which defines where you end and someone (or something) else begins (25).
Six Key Areas
In a work environment, Cloud sees boundaries bringing order to six key areas: 1. Ownership, 2. Control, 3. Freedom, 4. Responsibility, accountability, and consequences, 5. Limits, and 6. Protection (25-30). Interestingly, these six areas do not lend structure to the discussion that follows. Rather, the book mostly focuses on applying boundaries to establish structure and reduce anxiety.
A Henry Cloud Audit
Cloud suggests that a good place to start is with an audit. The purpose of this audit is to measure where you spend your time, disconnects between time spent and personal values, and what personal issues contribute to the problem (69). This method of analysis is reminiscent of what Miller and Rollnick (2002, 38) referred to as gap analysis–highlighting the discrepancy between present behavior and …broader goals and values.
An important point in assessing books with the character of movie sequels is: does the sequel add value to the initial book? Here the answer is yes. Henry Cloud’s The One-Life Solution contributed real value to my understanding of boundaries. For Cloud the key was seeing examples of how to manage difficult office situation with tact and grace. My favorite example recalls an obnoxious CEO who laid into him everyday at his desk at 4 p.m., which ruined his evening as well as his day. Cloud (152) simply made a rule not to talk to him after 4 p.m. I had a supervisor very much like that.
Cloud, Henry and John Townsend. 1992. Boundaries: When to Say YES; When to Say NO; To Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Miller, William R. and Stephen Rollnick. 2002. Motivational Interviews: Preparing People for Change. New York: Guilford Press.
Henri J. M. Nouwen. 2006. Can You Drink the Cup? Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press.
Reviewed by Stephen W. Hiemstra
When a friend of mine in Christ recommended this book, I was surprised and happy to take the recommendation. I thought that I had read all of Henri Nouwen’s books. The book’s dedication to the l’Arche Daybreak Community here in Northern Virginia added special meaning for me because a friend of mine worked and lived there.
In this book, Nouwen talks at length about his personal history, particularly his ordination. From the age of six, Nouwen wanted to be a priest and he was ordained as Roman Catholic priest on July 21, 1957 in the Netherlands (16). As a gift for his ordination, his uncle gave him a chalice (20). “Can You Drink the Cup?” is a book structured around the metaphor of drinking wine.
The book starts with citing Matthew 20:20-23. In this passage, the mother of Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, comes to Jesus to request that her sons be given seats at the left and right of Jesus when he comes into his kingdom. Jesus denies the request posing a question: “Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” (Matt 20:22 ESV).
Nouwen sees the cup as a symbol of our life. He asks: “Can we hold the cup of life in our hands? Can be lift it up for others to see, and can we drink it to the full?” (24) Nouwen structures his book around these three themes: “holding, lifting, and drinking” (25).
Holding. Nouwen comments: “drinking wine is more than just drinking. You have to know what you are drinking and be able to talk about it” (29). (Now I know why I prefer beer!) In talking about this holding of the cup, Nouwen talks about the joys and sorrows of living and working with special needs people. Nouwen writes: “Joys are hidden in sorrows!” (56) In my own work with Alzheimer’s patients, I have come to know both the joy of walking with them and the deep sorrow, deep abandonment they feel.
Lifting. Nouwen writes: “Lifting up the cup is an invitation to affirm and celebrate life together” (61). The symbolism here is not only the toast and the word that are spoken, but the celebration, especially the celebration of communion. A toast is a blessing (68). In Spanish, a blessing is a good word (bendición) and a curse is a bad word (maldición). In the biblical world where worlds are created and destroyed by God’s word, one learns to choose one’s words carefully.
Drinking. Nouwen reminds us that offering a drink to a visitor is a basic act of hospitality (86). Being willing to share is another way of saying that one accepts one’s status in life. At what point do we reach that point? A resident of L’Arche, Gordie, asked Nouwen: “Why are people leaving all the time?” (93). This question cuts to the core of pastoral ministry. As an intern, I was happy to work with Alzheimer’s patients but Gordie’s question cut to core–could I, as Nouwen did, give up the fast track and just simply work in a home with Alzheimer’s patients? What level of sacrifice are we willing to offer? What about our families?
As a seminarian, I found “Can You Drink the Cup?” very convicting. Perhaps, you will too.
Señor Dios, Rey celestial, Padre amoroso – Descanso con nosotros esta mañana. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, inspirando las palabras que se hablan y se encenderán las palabras escuchadas. En el nombre de Jesús, Amén.
Lunes, 12 de Febrero 2007 fue un día largo para mí.
Conducir por la ruta 66 a mitad de camino a Washington a unos 6:40 am, recibí una llamada telefónica de mi madre. Ella me dijo que mi hermana, Diane, había sufrido un ataque al corazón y un derrame cerebral. Ella está pidiendo a sus hermanos. Después de la llamada de mamá, me di la vuelta y se dirigió de nuevo a Centreville. Unos minutos más tarde, recogí mi hermano y nos fuimos a un hospital desconocido de Filadelfia. Al llegar al hospital al final de la mañana me encontré a mis padres. Mi hermana estaba en una cama con soporte vital. Por desgracia, era ya demasiado tarde. Diane se había ido.
Leemos juntos el Salmo 23, nos despedimos a Diane, y orabamos.
Salmo 23 es familiar y potente. ¿Por qué encontramos consuelo descansando con Dios?
En verdes pastos me hace descansar. Junto a tranquilas aguas me conduce (Salmo 23:2 NVI);
Cualquiera que esté familiarizado con el Medio Oriente sabe que los pastos verdes son difíciles de encontrar y las guerras se peleaban por los escasos recursos hídricos. Los postres son más conocidos por las malezas desagradables y la sequía. Entonces, cuando nuestro verso habla de pastos verdes y aguas tranquilas, el salmista hace una alusión al Jardín del Edén, una de las visiones bíblicas del cielo. Escucha a las palabras en Génesis:
Dios el SEÑOR plantó un jardín al oriente del Edén, y allí puso al hombre que había formado. Dios el SEÑOR hizo que creciera toda clase de árboles hermosos, los cuales daban frutos buenos y apetecibles. En medio del jardín hizo crecer el árbol de la vida y también el árbol del conocimiento del bien y del mal. Del Edén nacía un río que regaba el jardín, y que desde allí se dividía en cuatro ríos menores (Génesis 2:8-10 NVI).
Edén da una imagen de la restauración. Aqui la corrupción del mundo no es presente. Tampoco no hay pecado. Estamos en plena comunión con Dios. No hay muerte; no hay miedo. Aqui encontramos la paz en el sentido bíblico de Shalom, que implica no sólo la ausencia de conflictos, sino también una plenitud de espíritu provocada por la comunión con Dios mismo.
En consecuencia, descansando con Dios da consuelo más profundo que la mera hierba verde y agua clara, porque todos los conflictos y la lucha se ha eliminado.
En verdes pastos me hace descansar. Junto a tranquilas aguas me conduce(Salmo 23:2 NVI).
El tema de descanso aparece también en el Nuevo Testamento. Jesús dijo: Vengan a mí todos ustedes que están cansados y agobiados, y yo les daré descanso (ἀναπαύσω (BNT), Mateo 11:28 NVI). El autor de Hebreos se expande en esta idea y utiliza la palabra, el reposo, cuatro veces con cuatro significados diferentes. Escucha por las cuatro usos de reposo in Hebreos 4:
Cuidémonos, por tanto, no sea que, aunque la promesa de entrar en su reposo sigue vigente, alguno de ustedes parezca quedarse atrás. Porque a nosotros, lo mismo que a ellos, se nos ha anunciado la buena noticia; pero el mensaje que escucharon no les sirvió de nada, porque no se unieron en la fe a los que habían prestado atención a ese mensaje. En tal reposo entramos los que somos creyentes, conforme Dios ha dicho: «Así que, en mi enojo, hice este juramento: “Jamás entrarán en mi reposo.”» Es cierto que su trabajo quedó terminado con la creación del mundo, pues en algún lugar se ha dicho así del séptimo día: «Y en el séptimo día reposó Dios de todas sus obras (Hebreos 4:1-4 NVI).
Estos cuatro versos son densos. Podríamos tener una clase de escuela dominical sobre nada mas que estos cuatro versos. Por el termino, vemos la palabra, el reposo, interpretó cuatro maneras distintas: descanso físico, descanso sabático, descanso en la Tierra Prometida, y descanso celestial. Por favor quedan conmigo cuando yo explico porque. Hang in there!
La historia comienza en el texto griego de la palabra para el reposo: κατάπαυσις. Aquí es el único lugar en el Nuevo Testamento donde se usa. Sin embargo, el texto remite a dos pasajes del Antiguo Testamento: Génesis 2 y Salmo 95. Permítame unos minutos para mirar a estos pasajes.
Génesis 2. Este pasaje es familiar porque Dios descansa el séptimo día. Aquí resto significa dejar de trabajar. Si se piensa en ello, sin embargo, esta idea parece extraña. Pregúntate a ti mismo: estaba Dios cansada físicamente cuando el descansó el séptimo día? OBVIAMENTE NO: el agotamiento es un problema para nosotros, no Dios. Dios nunca estaba cansado físicamente de crear (2X). Tal vez Dios dejó de crear para pasar tiempo con nosotros (Murray 1996, 159-60).
Salmos 95. Este Salmos es menos familiar. Leemos en versos 10-11: Cuarenta años estuve enojado con aquella generación, y dije: Son un pueblo mal encaminado que no reconoce mis senderos. Así que, en mi enojo, hice este juramento: Jamás entrarán en mi reposo. (Salmo 95:10-11 NVI).
El resto habla aquí es una metáfora de la Tierra Prometida. La generación de Moisés no se le permitió entrar en la Tierra Prometida, podrían no entrar en el reposo de Dios, porque no creía que Dios cumpliría su palabra (2X) (Murray 1996, 156).
En Hebreos 4 incluye un misterio. ¿Por qué dice el autor que la promesa del resto sigue en pie? Cuando este libro era escrito, el pueblo de Israel había vivido en Palestina desde hace mucho tiempo. ¿Cómo podría el autor decir que la promesa de la Tierra Prometida sigue en pie? La imagen aquí es de Jesús como nuestro nuevo Josué quien nos conduce de esta tierra al cielo (Murray 1996, 160-61). Encontramos descanso celestial.
Por tanto, vemos la palabra, el reposo, interpretó cuatro maneras distintas en los Hebreos 4: descanso físico, descanso sabático, descanso en la Tierra Prometida, y descanso celestial–un regreso al Edén. Cada una de estas inferencias se aplica también al Salmo 23.
Psicólogo cristiano, Henry Cloud, hace la pregunta: ¿cuál valores no son opcionales en su vida? (2X) Nuestro valores más profundo no son los más urgentes, pero ellos determinan la calidad de su vida y son fácilmente pasados por alto (Cloud 2008, 133-142).
¿Cómo podemos descansar como Dios manda? Tres aparecen obvio: practica el descanso físico, observe descanso Sabático, y médiate sobre el cielo.
Primero: Practica Descanso Físico. El lugar obvio para comenzar es descansar lo físico. Si usted quiere sentirse más santo, tomar una siesta (2X). Personas apresuradas tienen una disminución de la capacidad de amar a Dios o al prójimo. Date prisa no es sólo un programa desordenado, sino que es un corazón desordenado (Ortberg 2002, 72, 79, 81). Práctica descanso físico.
Segunda: Observe Descanso Sabático. Pase tiempo de calidad con su familia delante de Dios. Como el salmista escribe: Quédense quietos, reconozcan que yo soy Dios. ¡Yo seré exaltado entre las naciones! ¡Yo seré enaltecido en la tierra! (Salmo 46:10 NVI). Abraham Heschel (2005, 15) describe el sábado como: un palacio en el tiempo que construimos (2X). Observe descanso Sabático.
Tercera: Médiate Sobre El Cielo. El cielo es dos cosas importante: un lugar donde Dios reside y nuestro destino eterno. Porque sabemos que el futuro está en Cristo, podemos darnos el lujo de asumir mayores riesgos en esta vida para traer el cielo a la tierra. C.S. Lewis (2001, 134) escribe: Si usted lee la historia, usted encontrará que los Cristianos que más hizo por el mundo actual eran los que pensaban que la mayor parte de la siguiente. Médiate sobre el cielo.
En resumen, practica tres clases del resto: practica descanso físico, observe descanso Sabático, y médiate sobre el cielo.
Padre Todopoderoso. Gracias por el don espiritual de descanso. Ayúdanos
a descansar contigo ahora y siempre. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, guía
nuestros pensamientos y nos mantienen cerca de ti. En el nombre de Jesús,
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Cloud, Henry. 2008. The One-Life Solution: Reclaim Your Personal Life While Achieving Greater Professional Success. New York: Harper Business.
Heschel, Abraham Joshua. 2005. The Sabbath (Orig. Pub. 1951). New York: Farrar, Straus, and Ciroux.
Lane, William. 1985. Hebrews: A Call to Commitment. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing.
Lewis, C.S. 2001. Mere Christianity (Orig. Pub.1952). New York: HarperCollins.
Murray, Andrew. 1996. The Holiest of All (Orig. Pub. 1894). New Kensington: Whitaker House.
Ortberg, John. 2002. The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. Grand Rapids: Zondervan