Simeon Receives Jesus in the Temple / Simon Vouet, 1640-41
Have you ever had a vivid encounter with God? What happened a day or two later? A week? Years?
Quite often Christians have reported an overwhelming spiritual high followed by a deep spiritual low.
God’s presence can be so vivid that it seems like what he says is bound to happen in the next 15 minutes, but it never does.
A cherished promise never seems as far off and distant as it does after vividness of the divine presence fades.
Does that mean perhaps that we had no genuine spiritual experience?… Read the rest
Between the dramatic stories of how the angel Gabriel appeared first to Zechariah and then to Mary, Luke mentions that Mary paid a three month long visit to Elizabeth, one of her blood relatives and Zechariah’s wife. Although artists have painted or otherwise portrayed The Visitation for centuries, it is all too easy to read right past it. So let’s give Elizabeth her due.
Luke says she and her husband were blameless, but they may not have looked blameless to the rest of the people in their community. After all, the old priest Zechariah had never been chosen to light the incense in the temple.… Read the rest
In recent centuries, philosophers have doubted miracle stories. Some of them have asserted that only uneducated people who don’t know much about science could believe them, so the stories must have some time after Jesus’ live passed into the realm of legend.
Others have claimed that the biblical authors deliberately made up stories that couldn’t be true in order to gain a mass following among the unsophisticated and credulous.
One question, then: if someone made up a bunch of tall tales to make Jesus seem like more than just another teacher, why would they make up a story about a miracle that seemed not to work?… Read the rest