Archives for posts with tag: Bob Dylan

What does the Apostle Paul, Bob Dylan have in common? They both understand that being human means living with internal conflict. They understand that no one is their best self at all times. Sometimes the less than desirable part of one’s personality expresses itself. It is a struggle as long as you live.

DylanbyBarryFeinstein

Dylan put it this way: “Most of the time, I’m clear focused all around. Most of the time, I can keep both feet on the ground. I can follow the path, I can read the signs. Stay right with it when the road unwinds…Most of the time.”

“Most of the time, my head is on straight. Most of the time, I’m strong enough not to hate. I don’t build up illusion ’till it makes me sick. I ain’t afraid of confusion no matter how thick… Most of the time.”

“Most of the time, I’m halfway content. Most of the time, I know exactly where it all went. I don’t cheat on myself, I don’t run and hide. Hide from the feelings, that are buried inside…Most of the time.”

The Apostle Paul said it like this: “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise” (Romans 7:15 MSG).

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Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. In the 1960s he became a reluctant “voice of a generation” with lyrics that appealed to the anti-establishment culture of that time.

More recently Mr. Dylan became the first musician to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. It was perhaps the most radical choice for such an honor in the Swedish Academy’s 115 year history.

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Paul the Apostle was born about 5 BC into a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus, one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast. He received his education in Jerusalem at the school of Gamaliel, one of the most noted rabbis in history. 

The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus.

Saul of Tarsus, as he was known, dedicated to persecuting the early followers of Jesus. One day as he was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to “arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem” the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light and he was struck blind. After three days his sight was restored and his life’s mission changed. He became a devoted follower of Jesus and is often considered to be the second most important person in the history of Christianity.

Both Bob Dylan and the Apostle Paul understood the difficulty of living as one should. They knew how hard it is to be true to the values that give a person dignity and demonstrates the honorable quality of life.

Paul the Apostle in prison, writing his epistle to the Ephesians.

Paul said: “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?” And he found an answer to his dilemma. “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions” (Romans 7:24-25 The Message).

I am so glad that we are not left to struggle through life alone and that there is a solution to our struggles. The Prayer of Confession and Pardon that many Christians often pray sums it up:

“Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy.

Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the response to the prayer: Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!”

Glory to God. Amen.

Jamie Jenkins

 

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Jimmy Carter

For nearly 50 years Law Day was one of the traditions of the University of Georgia. Randall Balmer, journalist for the Hartford Courant, described it as “an occasion to honor student achievements as well as to invite distinguished guests, ranging from Supreme Court justices and attorneys general to cabinet members and politicians of national stature.”  The last Law Day was on March 31, 2000.

The featured speaker of Law Day in 1974 was Edward M. Kennedy, the senior senator from Massachusetts. A couple of hours after Kennedy’s keynote address, Jimmy Carter, the governor of  Georgia, addressed the group. His lecture on justice upstaged Sen. Kennedy who at that time was considered the front-runner for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination

Carter attributed his sense of justice to two main sources, Reinhold Niebuhr and Bob Dylan. He said it was Dylan’s song, “I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More,” that led him to begin to focus on the needs of ordinary people like the tenant farmers he had known in south Georgia.

Bob Dylan

Carter lamented that “the powerful and the influential in our society shape the laws and have a great influence on the legislature or the Congress.” He criticized their “commitment to the status quo” that preserves the “privileged position in society.” He concluded his remarks by saying that “the course of human events, even the greatest historical events, are not determined by the leaders of a nation or a state, like Presidents or governors or senators. They are controlled by the combined wisdom and courage and commitment and discernment and unselfishness and compassion and love and idealism of the common ordinary people.”

God has always demonstrated a concern for ordinary people. Jesus announced his calling was to “preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners,  recovery of sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed…”

God has often chosen ordinary people to carry on the work of redemption and reconciliation in the world. Just look at the people He chose to be his closest associates. Ordinary people.

Advent 12

Last Sunday was the Second Sunday of Advent. The lectionary scripture was the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). Ave Maria is the musical setting of the Latin text which was originally published in 1853.

Mary was young in a world where age was venerated. She was poor in a world that belonged to the rich. She was a woman in a world where gender equity was not even an afterthought. In every sense she was an ordinary individual. But Gabriel said, “You are highly favored. The Lord is with you.”

We see ordinary people throughout the Advent Season as we prepare to celebrate the birthday of our Savior. John  the Baptist came as a “voice in the wilderness” calling for people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Eugene Peterson’s The Message says, “His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings.”

Shepherd

As we come nearer to Christmas Day we meet an anonymous inn keeper who provided a place away from the chaos of the moment for Mary to give birth to Jesus. Then we encounter the shepherds. As they “watched their flocks by night” God revealed to them that a child born in their nearby town was the Savior of the world, the Messiah. These ordinary people were perhaps the first to see the Christ Child.

Poh Fang Chia, writing in Our Daily Bread said, “Today, God is still calling ordinary people to do His work and assuring us that He will be with us as we do. Because we are ordinary people being used by God, it’s obvious that the power comes from God and not from us.” The devotional for July 8, 2015 ends with a prayer that is appropriate as we make our way through Advent. “Lord, I am just an ordinary person, but You are an all-powerful God. I want to serve You. Please show me how and give me the strength.”

Jamie Jenkins