“A” and “the.” They are little words. Filler between more impressive words. Multisyllabic words. Words with long and distinguished etymologies. What are the little words “a” and “the”? Yet they can be important words. Is Jesus “a” teacher? One among many. Taking his place alongside others of different times and cultures? Or is Jesus “the” teacher with a singularly authoritative word for all times and all cultures? Is Jesus “the” source with no other commensurate spiritual teachers in the past or to come?
For me, Jesus is “the” teacher. For me, he is in a different category than other spiritual teachers of the Christian tradition and of other religious paths. For me, Jesus has more power and authority. His teachings are “the” teachings for me. Others have important, illuminating insights to share and are worthy of respect, but Jesus bears more weight for me.
Looking at the world as a whole, with its vast history and amazing diversity, the world which Jesus loved, and for which he lived and died, I can see how Jesus is “a” teacher. “A” voice. “A” path. Maybe others hear the message of Jesus, his voice, through different teachers and traditions. God can use everyone and anyone. I believe God speaks through Jesus, and because of that, I believe God can speak through others. I do not want to limit God.
But I hear God most clearly and directly through Jesus. For me, Jesus is “the” one. For God and for the world, he may be “a” voice.
There are many ways to hear God. Many ways to get the message. Whatever the source, may the essence come through, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Lectionary readings for today:
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
In the document, The Acts of John, from the second century, we are told that on the night before his death, Jesus had his disciples hold hands and dance in a circle while he sang and they responded, “Amen.” This is a translation of the hymn:
Glory to You, Father, Amen.
Glory to You, Mother, Amen.
Glory to You, Word, Amen.
Glory to You, Wisdom, Amen.
Glory to You, Spirit, Amen.
Glory to You, Holy One, Amen.
Glory to Your Glory, Amen.
Praise to You, Father, Amen.
Praise to You, Mother, Amen.
Praise to You, Eternal Spirit, Amen.
I will be saved, and I will save, Amen.
I will be loosed, and I will loose, Amen.
I will be wounded, and I will wound, Amen.
I will be born, and I will bear, Amen.
I will eat, and I will be eaten, Amen.
I will hear, and I will be heard, Amen.
I will be understood, and I am understanding, Amen.
I will be washed, and I will wash, Amen.
I will pipe, dance, all of you, Amen.
I will mourn, beat all your breasts, Amen.
The Holy Eight sing in choir with us, Amen.
The twelfth Number dances on high, Amen.
The entire universe belongs to the Dancer, Amen.
If you do not dance, you don’t know what is happening, Amen.
I will flee, and I will remain, Amen.
I will adorn, and I will be adorned, Amen.
I will be united, and I will unite, Amen.
I have no house, and I have houses, Amen.
I have no place, and I have places, Amen.
I have no temple, and I have temples, Amen.
I am a lamp to you who see me, Amen.
I am a mirror to you who know me, Amen.
I am a door to you who knock on me, Amen.
I am a Way to you who travel with me, Amen.
[Acts of John 94, Seer version, in Son of Man by Andrew Harvey, pp. 260-261]