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Then the woman left her water jar, went back to the town, and said to the people there, “Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done.”

-John 4:28-29

When he was passing through Samaria, Jesus met a woman by a well. Now this was at noon, a time when no decent woman would have been at a well. She was regarded as a whore. This woman also was a Samaritan, of a group considered outcasts by the Jewish people. So in Jesus’s context, she was outcast twice over, because she was a Samaritan and because she was a whore.

But Jesus did not treat her as an outcast. He spoke with her, face to face. He treated her questions with respect. And when she returned to the Samaritan village, the woman spoke in amazement of how this man who claimed to be the Messiah had come to her in friendship.

Jesus knew the Samaritan woman. He knew Zacchaeus, the tax collector, and invited himself to dinner. He knew the apostle Nathanael, telling him “I saw you under the fig tree.” He knew the children, and spoke with them in openess. Jesus met no one as a stranger. Each person he encountered, he knew.

The ideas expressed in the work “Reality Rises Like the Mist” are in no way connected with Christian doctrine. They stand on their own and can be accepted or rejected by anyone, regardless of religious belief. But I say to you that the Christian religion has always been a powerful witness to me that every human being matters. The idea that each person is important and that God knows each person are not, for me, related in any logical sense. I do not think people are important because God knows them; I do not think God knows people because they are important. But for me the two ideas walk beside each other, they hold each other up, they encourage each other.

Because God does know each of us. From our mother’s womb, God knows us. God knows us, right down to the jugular vein, right down to our enteric nervous system. Every thing we’ve done, every thought we’ve had, our deep secrets we cannot tell another human, all these things are plain to God. We cannot surprise God. We cannot offend God, we cannot disgust God, because those things are human emotions and depend on surprise. God sees us coming, everything we do. And God loves us anyway.

God knows the homeless. God knows the sex offender. God knows the terrified. God knows all, even unto the Eleanor Rigbys of the world, those individuals ignored by all their fellow humans. Every one is valuable to God. The hairs of our heads are all numbered, and each number is known to God.

So even as God knows and loves each of us, let us seek to know and love each other, as God loves us. None of us are truly strangers, for we all share a mutual acquaintance.

As Marvin Gaye once sang:

God is my friend
Jesus is my friend
And when we call in Him for mercy,
He’ll be merciful, my friend
All he asks of us, I know
Is we give each other love

Amen

According to what WordPress tells me, someone recently found this blog by Googling “Are cyanobacteria from God?”

Google directed them here because of this post and because of many posts mentioning God. But I have no actual post relevant to those search terms. I felt bad because whoever they were, they did not receive an answer for their question.

So, as far as I can, I will answer it now.

Are cyanobacteria from God?

There’s two ways to begin this inquiry. First is the possibility that cyanobacteria specifically are from God. That is: is most of creation theologically neutral or even negative, but cyanobacteria are a specific agent of God’s will, a means, like Jesus, by which the Holy One wrought a definite work upon reality?

Now cyanobacteria were, by general scientific consensus, the source of earth’s oxygen atmosphere. Several billions years ago, cynaobacteria metabolized the carbon dioxide then blanketing the world on such a scale, and for so long, that it produced an oxygen-heavy environment. So we could say that the relative barrenness of the world prior to the creation of that oxygen was an aspect of the world’s fallenness. In that scenario, oxygen was necessary so that organisms capable of redemption might evolve. This makes the creation of the oxygen atmosphere the first step in salvation history, and therefore cyanobacteria are most definitely from God.

I must admit I am not inclined toward that idea.

I would consider the holiness or lack thereof of cyanobacteria in the larger context of the holiness or lack thereof of nature in general. I wrote a post on another blog about that once. Put simply, I’ve always had a strong sense that nature was from God, but the picture of nature developed via science over the past five hundred years or so shows it to be amoral—that is, in effect, evil.

In that scheme, cyanobacteria are no more or less good or evil or amoral than any other organism. They simply are, just like any other organism. Though they had a special and interesting role in natural history, there is nothing to distinguish them from their fellow organisms.

Therefore, if there is God, cyanobacteria are as much from God as anything else. Like all other organisms, they are fallen—they are not entirely as God intended. God’s will is that the lion will lie down with the lamb. What that means in terms of cyanobacteria is unclear. Perhaps it means that, after Judgment Day, when the universe is restored, they will cease to emit toxins fatal to many other animals. We can’t know.

So to give you a firm answer, unknown searcher: Yes, cyanobacteria are from God. All the plankton and protists are from God. All creatures and all things are from God. Not to remain as they are. Not to remain fallen. But all to be redeemed, to be remade as they were made, to go back to God. And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Text: Genesis 32:22-32

Brothers and sisters, I’m going to begin this morning on an interactive note. I ask all of you: describe God. What is an attribute of our god?

(Answers. Folks said “Awesome” “All-knowing” “Loving” etc.)

OK, show of hands here: was anyone going to say: “Our God mugs people. Our God waits for folks in a deserted place, and when he finds them, he jumps out and starts whaling on them?”

Nobody?

Well, the scripture disagrees with you.

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The old revelations are dead. If there is a God, if It wishes to be known, It must give us a new revelation. There must be APOKALYPSIS, Unveiling of the Mystery.

Which is exactly what is happening.

Have you ever read Genesis and wonder what methods of evil those of Noah’s time must have practiced, to draw such wrath? Have you ever read Revelation and wondered what new ways of sin must be discovered, to draw a contrast with all the horrors of human history?

Well, guess what–you’re living it! The past century has been that laboratory of evil. The Holocaust, the Gulag, the Cultural Revolution, the world wars and the ravaging of nature, the grasp on the hilt of the nuclear sword–this is it. These are the abominations that herald a new message from God, come in wrath.

The Unprecedented Era is the Apocalypse, the Unveiling. The powers of God and Devil have been placed in the hands of humanity, and we tremble at the opportunity. God has hidden His Face on purpose, to test us. From this trial will burst forth fearsome equations, the final Knowledge. We live in the End Times. We are the End, each of us. We live the End. We plunge forth towards our Ordeal, our Harrowing.

(And the wonderful thing is that this works in both religious and secular sense. In the religious, if there is a cosmic truth, it will be revealed. In the secular, if there is no cosmic truth, it will be found anyway. Some system will be proclaimed as truth.)

I guess part of the reason I’m a theist is that I think the people I know are so wonderful they deserve to have a God to witness them. And if they are so wonderful, it can be reasonably extrapolated that all people are so wonderful. And if all people are so wonderful, then how much greater is the God who made them in His image?

(This is not intended to be a statement of Quineite-severe logic, just so we’re clear.)

 

So this morning I preached my first sermon. To be able to preach was a great blessing to me, and I hope my words, by God’s grace, were a blessing to others.

Texts:
Romans 16:1-16
Acts 20:36-38 and 21:1

Brothers and sisters, today, for the first time, I step into a Methodist pulpit to preach, as did my father and grandfather before me. I am the product of two generations of Methodist ministers. Which means I have seen a lot of moving.

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God loves us, more than any human we can ever know.
God does not give the tiniest shit about us.

But make no mistake.

God is the Ancient of Days, gray-haired and venerable. God is not the Ancient of Days.
God is the Law, the Logos, the dharma. God is not the Law, the Logos, the dharma.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.” So shall we tour all these mansions, guided by our brother and friend Yeshua. Without his guidance we would be eaten by the worms outside. We cannot imagine what shall come at the end of the tour. Mansion after mansion, further up and further in.

.

Then the stars resolved themselves in petals, titanic petals, and I realized that the world was contained within a flower. But what kind of flower I could not tell.

“A tulip,” the angel told me. “For the tulip is a chalice and the world is properly contained within that chalice.”

And I saw then that the angel’s head was itself a tulip, of red petals tipped with orange. Whereupon the angel seized me and carried me aloft, higher than I could think.

Looking down, I could see great fields of tulips, graduating in color, blue to violet to black to red to orange and back again, stretching into infinity, the fields gridded and bounded by canals.

“These are the fields of God, and all of this is by and for God’s glory,” said the angel, holding me aloft over the uncountable worlds. As we flew ever higher, the angel’s grip began to slacken, as we grew closer to the Gardener of that place, down to the very tips of angelic fingers, until ultimately I began to fall, towards the infinity of tulips, feeling my own limbs become a stalk and my head petals. Whereupon I continued to fall.

Theologically speaking, Christmas is a celebration of the Doctrine of the Incarnation. See that “carn-” in there? It’s the same root as in “carnivore.” Meat. Today is about meat.

Jesus had a placenta, a big, red, dripping hunk of placenta. He had meconium, the dark, extremely sticky (though thankfully odorless) feces that results from ingested amniotic fluid in the womb. He grew. He ate. He got sick. He walked. When Christians say “the body of our Lord Jesus Christ” in Communion, we’re talking about mucous, blood, spit, semen, piss and shit.

God, in the person of Jesus Christ, has joined us here in the dirt. He has come to eat his own dog food and walk among us. God is meat. This is the core of the Christian revelation. Glory be to God.

Have a meaty, bloody Christmas. May it ooze and spew. And, as the hippies used to say, may the Baby Jesus shut your mouth and open your mind.