Heard at Café: 2/13/2018

For Fat/Phat Tuesday, we celebrated both Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras through Café decorations, drinks, and desserts. We also had a guest speaker - our very own Lauren Lillquist!

She began by talking about family, and how we are largely influenced by the people we grew up around and who raised us. After seeing a clip from the movie Coco and after the retreat this past weekend, there was a recurring theme of family and its importance in our lives.

We then read from John 7, and discussed how family played an important role to the Israelites of the 1st century, too.
John 7:37-44 (NIV)
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
The scripture starts by mentioning a festival - the Feast of the Tabernacles - which was an 8-day celebration that the Israelites observed in order to remember the great exodus. This festival was meant for remembering their ancestors who were part of the great exodus, as well as remembering how God led them out of Egypt and eventually into the promised land.

For the Israelites, family & lineage meant everything. They saw it as a way that they could look to the past and see how God had provided for their ancestors, how God was currently present, and how He would continue to works through their families and their offspring. So when they heard Jesus speak, they understood that he was special.... but there was some confusion - they probably knew who he was (or at least recognized him), and they knew he came from Galilee and from Mary & Joseph. They expected their Messiah to come from a great family line, maybe of royalty or at least of good social standing. But here was Jesus - a carpenter from Nazareth.

The second discussion was a time to analyze this painting:

This painting, done by Tom Root, is called "Flight to Egypt" and is meant to be a modern-day interpretation of how Jesus would've been raised, and how his family would've been perceived, culturally, as a part of East Tennessee-Appalachia... coming from a little podunk town that people don't expect much out of.

"The people were divided", but Jesus was trying to tell them "Anyone who is thirsty... whoever believes in me....come to me and drink." Everyone is welcome, and maybe if you're trying to scrutinize all the details you're missing the point. The ironic part of this story is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and came from a great line (Luke 3:23-38), but people were unaware. Everyone at the festival was looking at the words of Jesus through a different perspective, and were missing the importance of who he was and what he was saying.

Heard at Café: 1/23/2018

Jeremy gave the talk again this week at Café, and started by talking about the idea of seeking. What are we seeking, who are we seeking, how are we seeking, how does seeking help us get to where we want to go? We decided that seeking is part of any learning process, and is usually a worthwhile endeavor because of how it challenges us to grow by giving us new ideas and new things to think about.

This semester at Café we're reading through the book of John, and this week we looked at Chapter 3 - an example of someone seeking truth and answers to some of life's toughest questions.
John 3:1-13
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
Jesus says a lot of things here that seem pretty confusing, but were probably especially confusing to people who didn't fully understand who he was or the gravity of his existence. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, clearly wanted to meet up with Jesus to ask him some follow-up questions, but was probably very secretive about it because his peers weren't the biggest fans of Jesus.

So here he is, in the middle of the night, asking Jesus questions and being berated for not understanding Jesus' cryptic responses. Jesus is trying to explain his purpose and significance to Nicodemus, but their communication is a bit jumbled until Jesus challenges him to think bigger than just earthly-things because Jesus is not of this earth. 

Sometimes it's really hard to understand what Jesus is trying to tell us, but often it's because we're looking at it through our own perspective. We each bring a different lens when it comes to understanding faith because of our own background/history/lifetime, but Jesus challenges us to think bigger... to come up to an entirely different playing field and look at the words of Jesus through a lens of heavenly things.