The Hermeneutics of Jesus

Answering the Questions

permission given - painting by Natalie Wargin

Lydia: I was reading these verses through the lens of the current climate crisis. Our earth needs all the things Jesus is offering here — good news, release, recovery, and liberation for all who are oppressed. Most of all we need the one who is anointed, Jesus.

Cal: I thought about when Jesus says the oppressed will be set free. I thought of the ways in which all of us are oppressed in a sense by expectations from ourselves or from others, which don’t allow us to be who we were really meant to be. It would be great if the Kingdom came and released us to be who we were meant to be; if some of those hard edges or traps we fall into would fall away and we would be free.

Paul: And even be freed from the shame of falling into those traps in the first place. Freed from defilement, from shame. The only way you can really get out of that is when you genuinely embrace forgiveness. Forgiveness is a hard thing to embrace. Once it is embraced, there’s a freedom that will well up in you. But unless you have forgiveness, you’ll always be thinking about how horrible you are, or how horrible things are in the world.

Lydia: And forgiveness is a gift, not something I can do.

Paul: Yes of course not, but forgiveness is there. Scripture says we are forgiven in Christ. We often don’t think we need to be forgiven.

Mel: I need to be released from FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s an ugly thing that just keeps coming up for me. Last night I had some insomnia. I was sad that I’d missed out on something with my nephews because I had to work. My 4 am thoughts kept getting darker, like they don’t even care if I’m there or not. Then when I woke up in the morning, I thought, what a loser I am even thinking those dumb things at 4 am! I thought, well this isn’t making anything any better! I don’t think we’re ever really going to be free from those things that make up who we are, or our triggers, but if we can free ourselves from the shame somehow. Embrace the freedom.

Linda: A variation on that shame is to no longer feel like you have to apologize for what you love or value.  

Bev: I was struck by the phrase “They fixed their eyes on him.” It’s the same as you Mel. I can get stuck on this loop or hamster wheel of thinking where I don’t want to think about myself, but I do. Then I feel really bad about myself. I don’t know if there’s a fairy tale preacher who becomes almost inverted on him/herself and can’t see anything outside. It is a blindness actually. I would like to be healed of my blindness where I can’t see outside. It’s a combination of shame, neurosis. And trying to clamor for words to describe it can get you caught up too. I would like to have my gaze on something other than myself. Not in a self-denigration way either but where I’m invited into that picture. 

Mel: I was listening to the app “Headspace” (on Netflix) on sleeping, which offers meditations. They said, “And if you find yourself thinking then note — ‘thinking’. And if you find yourself feeling, then note - ‘I’m feeling’ and move on. It’s about getting that shift. Note it, it’s there.

Paul: It’s like centering prayer, where you just notice the boats floating by but you don’t climb onto them.

Bev: And these are small things like you were saying Cal. When we hear the word Kingdom, it’s almost like the world of systems, where we think big systems have to change. God I wish they would, but it’s those little moments where, if we could all have a break from those cycles of neurosis, then maybe it will loosen the tightness of the universe somehow. 

Paul: And to have hope that this is possible. That’s the hard part is to have hope. As opposed to despair that it’s not going to happen, or cynicism that it can’t happen. When you’re in the forgiveness mode, you end up with thanksgiving and gratitude. 

Bev: Yeah, you’re not going to want to throw Jesus off the cliff [Luke 4:29]. And you’re grateful that even if things look exactly the opposite in the world, that is the exact picture God in Jesus has for our world. He still says that’s exactly where we can have re-creation. And if you can have hope that it’s true, then it’s something that can liberate you. I don’t usually experience this, but it would be wonderful to see as a future possibility, and surety in fact. 

Cal: And it can be as small as a seed. The image from Jesus is always like a little seed which becomes a big plant. 

Lyle: It reminds me of a story I read about a landowner in Ireland who had a dream to re-wild his entire property, I think it was 300 hectares. He took the cows and the domesticated animals off the land and let everything go to wild grass and bush. He experienced a lot of backlash from the community because they wanted him to be some kind of middle-class grass-cutter. But he went with his vision, to let the land “be itself” without our contamination.

Eldon: I’m reminded of a documentary I saw called “The Biggest Little Farm”, about a couple who bought a farm in California. They wanted to bring the land back to health using organic methods. It was interesting to see them balancing how to make money while also making peace with the land. What do you do with the coyotes that eat your livestock or the snails that eat your apples? It was interesting how they struggled with these issues.  

Bev: As I was listening to everyone, I thought of Jesus’ words in Luke, “May it be fulfilled in Your sight.” (Luke 4:21) And I’ve asked Verda to read her prayer as a closing.

Verda: I found myself thinking of the many struggles I/we have gone through over the years, and the not-so-small miracle that we’ve been held together. Plus, the synchronicity of coming together after all these months (exile) during Covid to hearing the Luke text with Jesus’ extending God’s continued invitation ‘today’.  Here is an attempt to offer my thoughts in a prayer:  

God, surely you have blessed us! Over all these many years, you have been with us, formed and shaped us, giving guidance through Paul’s leadership and the spirit blowing in community. We’ve made many blunders - sometimes in ignorance or developmental weakness and at other times through willfulness. Our sins have often fed mistrust and suspicion of one another or sent us wayward, looking elsewhere for what only you can provide. Yet even through all this, you have not left us bereft. You invite us to your table. Have mercy, forgive us, and gather us once again, we pray, to be your body here in the garden of your Creation. Amen

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"God is always for us. Even when He must be against us, He is for us." - George MacDonald