abnormal


(Mary Magdalene on The Chosen played by Elizabeth Tabish)

In yesterday’s post, I mused and rambled on about the meaning and notion
of the word “normal”
and that’s because I was playing catch up from having been away from bogland for
nearly a week and I kept reading post after post that each were each exploring
the idea of what is meant by normal.

So after a little investigating, I surmised that normal is a base, a root, a footing
a grounding.
It offers stability as an anchor.
It is a starting point.

It had been my intention to elaborate and to write about the opposite
of normal…that being abnormal.

I intended to relay all of this around the craziness that is currently
taking place across this Nation of ours within our schools.
What with the push, or in some cases the quiet and sinister implementation
of Critical Race Theory into the curriculum of our schools—
along with the push for the teaching of and embracing of transgenderism—
all within our schools and all without the input of our parents.

A dictated sort of agenda, implemented with no regard to parental feelings
or thoughts about what their children should or should not be a part of.

I had intended to address the opposite of normal education with that of abnormal
education…
but then something interceded…something jumped in the way of that train of
thought and is now taking me onto a different and more important thread of thinking.

I watched episode 6 of Season 2 of The Chosen.

These backstories…oh my goodness—

Growing up, reading the Bible—the various individuals that we’ve always
read about, learned about—well, they are people from long ago…
their names are familiar….but are “they” familiar?

Their stories are shared and well known… but them, as actual people, well…
they have always been a bit sterile, obscure…even distant.
As in… they were way back then and we are now—how do we relate?
It seems we can relate on some levels but not so much on other levels.

That’s what I like about The Chosen—granted there is certainly
some artistic interpretations taking place but in the end, it brings
life to these past trailblazers.
They become real life—not bigger than life.
They become like you and me.

Take Mary Magdalene for example.

We know that Mary had lived a hard and tormented life…
that is… until she encountered Jesus.

He healed Mary.

Allowing her to became a new creation in Christ.

End of story right?

Well, most likely not exactly.

This particular episode of The Chosen offers us an example of backsliding.

If you have become a Christian, encountering Jesus on your own personal road
to Damascus, then you must also know backsliding.

It happens to all of us at some point or another.
It can happen on a catastrophic level or it can happen in a small
almost inconspicuous way—but it happens none the less.

We let ourselves down and in turn we feel as if we’ve let the Christ
of our Salvation down.

In the beginning before there was sin—Adam and Eve were “normal”
They were the foundation and starting point in God’s creation.
From them was to grow a people of God.

However, God had afforded them, and in turn us, freewill…and with that freewill,
sin was allowed to enter into that which was normal.
Sin took normal and created the abnormal within creation.

But note the importance here—freewill was freely given.
God knew what He was doing and yes, it would break His heart,
but he did not want to make mindless puppets but rather true children
who had choice.
Real, true, unconditional love allows room for heartache.
Plain and simple.

So no glitch on God’s part, no mistake.
God does not make mistakes.
And in turn there was a freely given choice for man.
Not an easy gift to give…but one freely given and one readily taken.

So back to Mary.

Mary, like all of us, had a past.
Her’s was a dark hard past.
And sometimes we discover that our pasts are hard to walk away from.

Think addiction.
How often has someone gotten clean from alcohol, drugs gambling
or even pornography only to fall back into old hurtful patterns?

For reasons we may never understand…some folks get clean,
and or get saved and can walk a pretty straight path afterwards
for the majority of their lives.

For others the walk is not so easy as they fall backwards, time
and time again.

It is hard and it is frustrating and it is painful.

The Chosen explored the idea of Mary falling back into her
old ways–only to feel that now, she was even more than unworthy of Jesus.
He’d healed her once—how could she go back to him knowing she
had thrown away his gift while she reclaimed her tragic past?

It’s like being in a lake, unable to swim any longer, someone
throws you a lifebuoy—and yet you push it back seemingly to prefer
to try saving yourself.
Finally the person who hopes to help has to jump in the get you.
Suddenly you feel an overwhelming sense of shame in having refused the
lifebuoy as you’ve allowed this individual to put him or herself in
jeopardy at your selfish expense.
Yet they save you none the less.

Jesus knew of Mary’s dilemma and in turn sent Simon Peter and Matthew to fetch her–
bringing her back to the fold.

She came back—ashamed.

But Jesus saw no shame in Mary.

He forgave her backsliding.
He embraced her and her brokenness.

Just as he does the same for each of us.

We were normal.
We sinned and became abnormal.
Jesus heals us, mending us to normal…
but everlasting normal comes only when we are truly reunited to and with Him
in Heaven

He takes our abnormal while offering us back normal

adjective
adjective: abnormal
deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way
that is undesirable or worrying.

For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

The Baptizer

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“I am a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

John 1:23


(Jonathan Roumie and David Amito (back to camera) as Jesus and John the Baptist in Episode 5 of season two. Image: “The Chosen”/Instagram)

Have you watched it yet?
Episode 5, Season 2 of The Chosen…?

In this latest episode we meet the cousin of Jesus, John the Baptizer.
Plus our beloved Mary the Magdalene is seen to suffer a bit of
a set back when she encounters a demonic possessed man.

Now you know I’m loving the Chosen.
It’s like Dawn Marie noted in a comment the other day regarding my most recent
post about this wonderful crowd funded series—-each character we meet during
each episode offers a glimpse into each of us…
The quirks, the negatives, the setbacks, the brokenness speaks to each of us.

That’s in part why I enjoy the series so much…the back stories…
And yes, the creative license into the back stories of each of our favorite
Biblical characters is perhaps a bit far reaching,
however it allows us to feel a deep sense of connectivity.
They become real…real like you and me…and who’s to say that that real
is not really real??

Plausible, fictitious, real or false….we simply don’t know.

They had lives..they had personalities…the had faults…that had
something that drew Jesus to each one of them…

We have each suffered, we are all broken…
and yet He can and will still call on us.

But…in this particular episode, we meet the cousin of Jesus…
John the Baptist.

That seemingly wild man who lived in the desert, eating locust and honey while
wearing a camel hair and a leather belt.

He preached to the animals as well as to all who had ears to hear.

He spoke of One who was to come after him…

Yet the Chosen offered us a bit of a different take on John.

And to be honest, I don’t know if I liked this particular depiction.

As wild as John is depicted in the Bible, I always thought him to be
focused…focused on a higher spiritual plane…
not necessarily political, despite his focus on Herod Antipas.

The Chosen, however, seemed to portray him as more zealot…
and whereas a zealot is one who is fanatical…which John was…
I felt that this portrayal of John was more of an egoistical political
rabble rouser…and not one who was immersed in the Spiritual.
That of one on a different plane than the average human.

He joked a bit more than I felt the true John would have with his
cousin, the Son of God. He pushed his cousin…he pushed him to
get on with his “mission”, all of which I don’t see the real
John having done.

An impatient John?
No…I have always seen John as a polestar.
Not impatient but rather one who was content with pointing the way.

Meanwhile, we are now worried…. we are worried about what Mary is
up to.
What did meeting another demon possessed soul do to her healing…
her transformation?

As Believers, we all know that backsliding is real.
It can be a constant battle.
Satan knows our weakness.
He knows our achilles heel..and he plays on it masterfully…
yet in the end Jesus and our healing will prevail

So…what say you??
What do you think?

I baptize you with water for repentance,
but after me will come One more powerful than I,
whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you
with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Matthew 3:11

Stir up the waters

Matthew: I have a question though.
Jesus: Yes Matthew…
Matthew: Waiting 30 more minutes would not have mattered to that man,
why did you do that [heal him] on Shabbat?

Jesus: Sometimes you have to stir up the waters.”

The Chosen Season 2 Episode 4


(Jesus speaking to the man at the pool of Bethesda—“Do you want to be healed?”)

Have you seen it yet?
It’s finally out!!!
Season 2 of The Chosen is slowly beginning to air.
There are 4 episodes already waiting to be viewed.

I know that time is not always on my side when I want to
sit down to watch an episode—
yet when I can, I do so on my phone as I watch it on the app.
I imagine a larger screen might allow for a more powerful impact
but no matter, large or small, the emotional impact is pretty palpable.

Sometimes I’ll start an episode then have to stop part way through,
resuming at a later date as time allows.

It can be a bit choppy and disconnecting to the emotions
but this series seems to be able to coerce every ounce of emotion
out of one’s psyche no matter the viewing format or time allowed.
A small taste only whets a hearty appetite.

With each episode, I am miraculously transported to a different
time and space.
It is as though I am there, one of the players perched on the
periphery of something greater than that which is held down
by gravity…

In episode 4 of season 2 Jesus asks a man whose legs have been paralyzed
for nearly 38 years, nearly his entire life,
if he wants to be healed.

He has spent the majority of his life laying by a pool
that purportedly had healing powers.
A pool that was considered to be pagan.
Meaning, not a place an observant Jew would seek out.
Yet what we know as humans, desperate times require desperate needs.

Now I imagine that most all folks who suffer from a traumatic bodily injury or
impediment want to be healed.
They want to be made whole.
To walk, talk, see, hear, feel, breathe, live…
Just like those who suffer from internal impediments.

Think addiction, think obsession, think anger, think jealousy,
think envy, think ego, think pride, think weight, think resentment,
think anything that stands between you and the Savior of Peace.

There are visible traumas and there are internal traumas.
And yet it seems that those internal illnesses are the more
sinister.

The hidden tends to eat at us more so than the obvious.

And so Jesus asks us…He asks you and He asks me,
do we want to be healed?

Well the obvious answer would be yes.
However we human beings tend to be more complicated than that.

We tend to cling to our hinderances.
We tend to embrace the impediments as they become
a calling card and a label—they become our identity…we allow them to define us.
It, whatever the ailment is, is woven into who we are.

We say that we want to be healed.
We claim that we want to be free of the chains
of our paralyzing traumas— yet we are actually reluctant
to let them go.
We make excuses.
We stammer.
We are more or less codependent upon our own ills.

And we should note that this is not always some sort of conscious dependency– it’s just that the letting go is often much harder than we could ever imagine.

So the question remains, do you want to be healed???

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool,
in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.
In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there
a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
The sick man answered him,
“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water
is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath.
So the Jews
said to the man who had been healed,
“It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”
But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me,
‘Take up your bed, and walk.’”  They asked him,
“Who is the man who said to you,
‘Take up your bed and walk’?”
Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him,
“See, you are well!
Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus
who had healed him.
And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because
he was doing these things on the Sabbath.
But Jesus answered them,
“My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

He sees…

Do not look upon Him as a high and mighty lord who desires
to speak only to great ones–and then, only of great things.
Our God delights in stooping down to converse with us,
and He rejoices when we make known to Him our most trivial
everyday affairs.
Such is His love and care for you that He seems to have no one
else but you of whom to think.

St. Alphonsus Liguori


(image of Nathaniel from the Chosen)

Have you seen it??
Season 2 of The Chosen is out.
Well, episode 1,2 and 3 thus far…

Episode 2 was great.

We meet Nathaniel.
A soul after my own heart.
One who cried out to God and heard nothing back in response…
not until he met Jesus face to face…

I want that face to face — I want to see, to be told and to know, He knows…
but that’s a topic for another day.

In Episode 2 we watched as the current disciples, aka followers,
bickered and jockeyed
for position and did not hold back on their doubts and even dislikes
of the fellow followers.

Oh how real it is…
Future saints acting like the rest of us…
There is hope for us after all!

Do check it out…
I so want that one on one encounter.

One day, it shall come…

A French Catholic writer of a century ago,
Léon Bloy, frequently wrote this sentence.
It is one of the most profound sentences I have ever read:
‘There is only one tragedy, in the end: not to have been a saint.’
That is the meaning of life. The meaning of life is to be a saint. Nothing less.

Peter Kreeft
from his book How to Destroy Western Civilization

trying my soul

Leaves without flowers:
these are they which have words without works.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


(a soon to be blooming vine / Julie Cook / 2021)

Is it a coincidence that this week of all weeks, Holy Week, a week of the trying souls,
that WP is once again trying to make the new block editor the the only option for posting??
That the classic editor is becoming more and more elusive?
Perhaps my beloved classic editor is to be eliminated all together?
Is it not just a small microcosm, a random example of our current times?

The canceling, the exclusion, the elimination of the what was…
all for that ‘something’ that the powers that be deem to be so much other than
as well as better than…
something deemed to be more inclusive, and in turn, better?

But is all of that truly better?

Elusive and difficult, at best, is not better.

Does it matter that a portion of the population prefers what was???
Preferring that ‘what was’ is something that works best and better for others??
Or is it that ‘they’ and ‘it’ are both simply obsolete?

My husband and I ran to Home Depot today…a trip we make almost three times a week,
while we head to Lowes the other days of the week—
either way, we are in search of things needed for this new old home we’ve “inherited”
via purchase.
But let’s not go there today.

So I opted to sit in the car while my husband ran into the store.

While I sat in the car I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a notice that
The Chosen was offering their new trailer for the soon to be released Season 2.

The Chosen–that marvelous crowd funded show about the life of Jesus…via the
backstories of those who came in contact with the son of a carpenter…

I clicked on the trailer.

Isn’t it funny how God often desires to “speak” to us, His children, in places and in ways
we’d never imagine?
It matters not when nor where God opts to speak out loud to us–He will speak no matter
what or when!

He spoke to me today in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Athens, Ga.

I heard a resounding word—“your world is small, MY world is all encompassing.”

I looked at all the cars, all the folks pushing carts all around me…
Everyone was busy.
Life was on the move…and yet…
I had a resounding sense that all that I was seeing and experiencing was oh so small
and insignificant.

There was a true sense of peace in all of that.

All the news, all the mayhem, all the politics, all the legalities, all the pandemic..
all the madness taking place..none of it mattered…I felt a sudden sense of being
small and insignificant.

And in that insignificance, in that smallness…there was a release.
A peace found in the small…
No news
No storms
No politics
No laws
No division
No defunding police
No lawmakers
No masks
No vaccines
No trials
No hate
No death…

All bits and pieces of insignificance.

Our God…your God, my God..
Greater than anything of this world…
Greater than our own thoughts and imagination…
Thank goodness!!!

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son.
Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will,
because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—
that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—
you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why
I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

Always be busy in spiritual actions…no other action is nearly as important

“Persevere in labors that lead to salvation.
Always be busy in spiritual actions.
In this way, no matter how often the enemy of our souls approaches,
no matter how many times he may try to come near us,
he’ll find our hearts closed and armed against him.”

St. Cyprian of Carthage


(red indian pheasant / Parrot Mt. /Pigeon Forge, TN/ Julie Cook /2020)

“Christ Himself is our mouth through which we speak to the Father,
our eye through which we see the Father, our right hand through which we
offer to the Father.
Without His intercession neither we nor all the saints have anything with God.”

St. Ambrose

All sorts of things are running through our thoughts today.
Some of us are pleased yet hesitant.
Some of us are sad and resentful.

But what we need to remember is that there is One who is so much greater than
all of this mess.

If you’ve been a regular guest here,
then you already know that I am a big fan of the series The Chosen

https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen

It is solely a crowdfunded production.
Since I was afforded the opportunity to watch season 1 due to the giving of someone
who came before me…
I have opted to do the same, I have paid it forward, twice.

Here are just two of the “thank yous” I received…

So on election day…I have found that these types of words transcend the silliness of man…
words of anger, divisiveness, and bickering…all of which cast a pall over the
ways of this world.

So today, the day after, no matter how things turned out for you or me…be it good or bad …
remember, there is One who is so much greater than any of this mess…

Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 NIV

to be saved, we must first lose

But there must be a real giv­ing up of the self.
You must throw it away ​“blind­ly” so to speak.
Christ will indeed give you a real per­son­al­i­ty:
but you must not go to Him for the sake of that.
As long as your own per­son­al­i­ty is what you are both­er­ing about you are not going to Him at all.

C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity


(scene from The Chosen when Jesus heals Mary)

To be saved, we must first lose.

The concept of losing doesn’t make much sense to the mind of a 21st-century individual.
Especially to a 21st century American…losing is not something Americans are accustomed to.
Nor is it a concept on the minds of many Americans who are busy with protesting
rioting and looting…losing is not on their radar.

Burdened by so much that is taking place around this pain-racked Nation of ours,
I turned to a new devotional written by the writers of The Chosen.

The following was the entry for Day 3:

To save our lives, we must lose them.

That’s a mind-bender, for sure, but clearly vital to understand.
Jesus said it to the disciples after they’d already dropped everything to
follow Him from town to town.
They sacrificed their careers, homes, and relationships for the man
they believed was the Messiah.
Life as they knew it had turned upside down,
but more would be required of them, and Jesus was doubling down.
He knew what lay ahead. He knew He was leaving.
And He knew they would become pillars of the early church,
in charge of spreading the truth about salvation to the world,
disciplining the masses, and claiming Christ in the face of imprisonment, torture, and death.
They would lose their lives on earth—figuratively and literally–
for the sake of all they would gain in heaven.

And they did it well because their testimonies,
their personal stories of what Jesus had said and done,
were potent demonstrations of His transformative love and power in their lives.
They shared the gospel with an unstoppable, contagious, relentless passion that—
to be honest–seems kind of rare these days.

How come?
Well for starters, they weren’t in love with themselves or their own stories.
They weren’t branding their Christian narratives for maximum personal benefit,
approval, or sump[athy…or for clicks or likes.
They weren’t assigning themselves the hero role or belaboring their “before Christ”
dysfunction with all its juicy, sensationalistic tidbits.
When you look at biblical examples it’s amazing how few words are given to their broken pasts–
the almost exclusive focus is on Jesus.

Take Mary Magdalene.
The fact that she was delivered from seven demons is a crucial aspect of her
testimony because it showcases Jesus’authority and why she responded to Him
the way sed did.
And then that’s it.
That’s all the detail we need to know.
In other words, her autobiography wouldn’t have been titled
The Dark Years with three hundred pages dedicated to describing the monsters within.
Fascinating?
Sure.
But powerful and effective and glorifying to the one who rescued her?
Not so much.
There’s a reason we meet Mary subsequent to her healing—because that’s where the real story is.

There are a few other things we know about her:
(1) she followed Jesus and financially supported His ministry until His crucifixion,
which means she gave everything she had to follow Him;
(2)she endured the crucifixion and stayed close to Jesus while He suffered and died;
and
(3) as mentioned in “Delivered”, she was the first person He appeared to after
He rose from the dead, and she was the one He sent to tell the disciples
the universe-altering news.
All because the old was gone and dead.
Jesus had given her new life.

Which means that even if you’ve been a believer for all of ten minutes,
those minutes are entirely more relevant than the twenty, forty,
or eighty years of darkness prior to your conversion.
Reason being, we’re called to represent Jesus and to die to the lives
He saved us from. When we do that, and when He stays the hero of the story,
our words and lives become real-time, potent demonstrations of
His transformative love and power.

The Chosen
40 Days With Jesus

visiting the well alone is the only way

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin


(the original well used by Jacob, the famous Samaritan Well, currently located in the West Bank)

Every now and then, when it is most needed, God reminds us, well let’s make that He reminds me,
He is indeed still there and still in charge.

I don’t know about you but I have just felt so beat down as of late.

Wear a mask…
Don’t tell me to wear a mask…
Things are bad…
Things aren’t so bad…
Have school…
Don’t have school…
We hate Trump…
We love Trump.
Black lives matter…
No lives can matter…
Riots, looting, kneeling, anthems, flags…

Abortions, yes.
Abortions, no.

Hashtag (#) LGBTQ, transgender, asexual, bisexual, anything sexual…

Kill the Christians…
Hate the Jews…
Love everyone…but just don’t love those or those…

Watch the news.
Don’t watch the news.

Leave the house…
don’t leave the house…

It is simply overwhelming.

It is depressing, maddening, frustrating, and confusing.

I’ve told you before how great the series The Chosen is.
That crowd-funded production about the life of Christ.

It has brought the Gospels to life…to such a personal level…a real level.

The first season of episodes is out and now they are waiting to have
season two funded.

I cannot wait.

It is not a movie or a television show—it comes from an App or on the computer.

The final episode of season 1 is the tale of the Samaritan woman at the well.

First of all, I did not realize the significance of the well itself.
The well in the Book of John is the purported well of Jacob.
A seemingly dry site that Jacob knew would bear water…
God had led him to the sight.
God lead him here 730 years before the birth of Christ.
And it’s been bearing water ever since…
despite now being enshrined within an Orthodox Chruch.

I’ve read the Bible.
I’ve heard the stories.
I’ve seen various Biblical films and film productions about the life of Jesus—
none of which has moved me on such a deep and visceral level as this
story has as in The Chosen.

This Jesus…he is the one who I yearn to meet.
He is so real, so approachable…so unlike all previous depictions.

It also makes the various Biblical stories seem more relatable, more emotional,
more real.

Here is the Biblical story according to the NIV version from the Book of John:

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more
disciples than John— although in fact, it was not Jesus who baptized,
but his disciples.
So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria.
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob
had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey,
sat down by the well.
It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,
“Will you give me a drink?”
(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?”
(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink,
you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.
Where can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us the well and drank from it himself,
as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.
What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain,
but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father
in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming.
When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman.
But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.
Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

John 4:1-30

If I could figure out how to share this particular episode from The Chosen here
on this blog, I would— but instead, I found on Youtube the added bonus feature from the episode
with the director and a Rabbi recounting the importance of this encounter between
a Jew and a Samaritan.
A man and a woman.
A Messiah and a broken soul.

The Chosen offers backstories to its characters.
They are an educated guess into what might have been…
based on what is known.
This is what makes these individuals so relatable…so much more so than the
stories from the Gospels.

The woman was scorned by her community for her lifestyle.
She was not welcome to visit the well in the cool morning hours with the other women of the
village…she had to go alone in the heat of the day.

She was a Samaritan…Jews considered this particular Jewish sect, a subgroup that was
less than…traitors of sorts.

Within her own community, she was an outcast living a depressing, empty
and sinful existence.

The deck was stacked against her when running into this Jewish man at the well.

Had she been with the other women, there would have never been the encounter.
She had to be alone.

Thus I realize that Jesus must come to us not when we are in the company of our friends
or surrounded by a crowd…he must come to us when we are alone, vulnerable,
and not distracted.
He needs our full attention.

It is to be a one on one encounter.

If you haven’t seen the episodes of The Chosen—I implore you to find them.
If you don’t know Jesus…if you find him sterile and benign, if you
mock him or simply disbelieve…watch just one episode…
I know you will view this Jesus of Nazareth much differently than ever before.

I am Peter…

Then Jesus said to Simon,
“Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for men.”

Jesus speaking to Simon Peter
Luke 5:10


(the actor Shahar Issac who plays Simon Peter in the series The Chosen)

I could be Legion—a devil hoard
I could be the Magdalene—an abused self loather
I could be Judas—a misguided traitor
I could be Matthew—selfish and financially driven
I could be Peter—willful, defiant, sarcastic, and hopelessly lost…

I could be, or better yet… I am each and every one of these.
We all are, are we not?

These thoughts came to me this afternoon as I propped my phone on the kitchen counter
to watch Episode 4 of The Chosen while I was readying supper and waiting on
the arrival of some friends.

The app has been sitting on the screen of my phone now for months–
ever since I first saw the story about this unusual movie series and actually
shared its story here, with you.

And yet it’s simply sat, untouched.

Time you know.

Carving out roughly an uninterrupted 40 minute moment has not, up until most recently,
been possible.
And it is for me to remember that it is indeed sitting there on my phone.

To remember that all I must do is to look down and see the tiny face of Nicodemas
staring at me each time I look at my phone, swiping through the various screens.
He stares up at me, with a sideways yet knowing look as if to say, Julie,
click and watch another episode won’t you?

And then my attention finds its original quest, or a new chore calls even louder.

These past months, now weeks which are turning into endless days, have been
more than overwhelming for all of us.

A virus, death, pandemonium, lockdowns, the shuttering of life…
and now the madness of a devolving civilization is heaped on top
of an already surreal moment in time.
Embers piled upon older embers.
Reigniting the flames.

And yet this afternoon, in my kitchen, chopping squash, I am reminded…
I am Peter.
Or was that Matthew?
What of Mary…
or worse, might I be Judas?

But thankfully, I have not yet traded my soul for gain.
Or have I done so inadvertently?

And thus I am reminded…
He calls…

He calls not simply Simon bar Jonah the poor fisherman, or Matthew the
greedy taxman or Mary the broken and abused or even Judas the traitor…
He’s calling me.
He’s calling us all.
Now.
Today.

Will I listen to Him or will I allow the misery of our times to consume me?

My angry, depressed, and most bewildered heart…?

Pierce my heart for your sake oh Lord…

https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen

crowdfunded faith

God enters by a private door into every individual.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


(wired.com)

I caught an interesting story yesterday morning featured on The Federalist.
There seems to be a new sort of Christian feature film concerning the birth and life of Christ riding out
under the radar.

Now I’m familiar with the notion of crowdfudging…
the seemingly innocent pressing of a few little white lies in an attempt to
push the truth…

But crowdfunding was a totally new concept.

Yet when I read the recent story on The Federalist regarding a new app and a Christian film, a film
that was entirely funded by crowdfunding, I was hooked.
The film is entitled The Chosen.

https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen

Now according to Wikipedia…
“Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts
of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. Crowdfunding is a
form of crowdsourcing and alternative finance. In 2015, over US$34 billion was raised
worldwide by crowdfunding.”

So I was now really intrigued reading the following article—so much so that I went to the App store
and uploaded the App to the movie.

I’ve only had a chance to watch just a few brief minutes of the first episode–
but I look forward to watching all the seasons to the fullest.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/02/17/how-a-crowdfunded-christian-tv-series-could-change-the-entertainment-industry/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=21fad5c975-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-21fad5c975-84149832

It seems that Christian film interests now come under the wing of a crow…
And so it must be it…

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Psalm 32:3-5