Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

  
My daughter was assigned to read this book for one of her classes as a freshman in high school. It was definitely much deeper than anything that I was assigned to read as a freshman.

This short story/novel is suppose to set a mark as one of the best in the early twentieth century. It was good and could be dissected on many different levels and each reader interpreting it in their own way.

The reader is introduced to Gregor Samsa right from the beginning as he awakes to find himself transformed into some type of beetle. Here is where the interpretation takes shape. Was he a literal insect, or was their a transformation that takes place that makes him feel as such. This story could relate well to the current state of mental illness in our country and how we handle it. Do we just ignore it as it is not there or do we care for those that have fallen ill, like Gregor’s sister does?

The many levels of the story are genius and are worth a ponder.

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To You is Born This Day

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Luke 2:1-2

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christmas Eve is not just another day! I am sure that each and everyone of us has some memory of Christmas Eve pasts, either good or unfortunately sometimes bad. This evening we are all together in one place for a time of worship and celebration.

Our reasons to be here may be varied. It may simply be out of the expectations of family, because this is what we do every year. It may be because Christmas is our favorite time of the year and Christmas Eve worship is the culmination of all of the waiting during Advent. It may be that we have come here to worship and give our praise and thanks to the newborn Christ, a Savior to the world.

I think we can all agree that the last few months have been tough. The mounting violence in our own country and around the world has shaken us. Our level of fear has most likely been ramped up! We fear that the violence may someday come much closer to us. We fear those that are different from us in many different ways, simply because we do not know them or have had an opportunity to meet them.

Fear is a natural human reaction to things that are out of our control. Fear can push us to do things that we would not normally do. Fear may also drive us into seclusion where we think we are much safer. To curb the fear we will quite often turn to something else that provides us comfort or a perceived security. Quite often as children we have a special blanket or stuff animal that we carried around that reminded us of home and provided a sense of comfort. I had both. A blanket that I carried around until it literally fell apart. A blue rabbit, handmade by my grandmother, that had to be repaired several times that eventually ended up missing an ear. These provided a sense of comfort to me.

As adults we often turn to other things to stem that fear. It could be an addiction that ends up leaving us dependent on something that pulls us away from living a full life. We turn to ways of protecting our family and ensuring their safety that at times can possibly ramp up our fears even more.

Fear is not a new thing. It is a natural human reaction. Fear is alive and present in the Bible and this evening, on Christmas Eve, we have an example of that fear. First, you can’t tell me that Mary and Joseph didn’t have at least a little bit of fear of waiting for the unexpected. Mary, an unwed mother, not knowing what the reactions of everyone they encountered would be. Joseph, possibly fearful of harm being done to Mary because she was pregnant and unwed.

We are told that the shepherds were terrified. They have encountered the unexpected. An angel of the Lord comes to them to bring them good news and they are truly terrified because they do not know what is going on. They are fearful of the unknown. The angel is quick to reassure them though, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” It is in this that all fears are vanished.

One of my favorite Christmas specials is a Charlie Brown Christmas. I was reminded this past week of one part by a gentleman, Jason Sonoski, writing a blog post online that speaks directly to our fear. If you recall, Linus shares what the true meaning of Christmas is by reciting the story from our gospel lesson this evening. It is during his recitation of the scripture that he drops his security blanket, that bright blue blanket we always see him with, on the stage and speaks boldly when the angel instructs the shepherds to not be afraid.

It is in this simple little action and the words of the angel to the shepherds that we come to the realization that the birth of Jesus separates us from our fears. We are given the permission and encouraged to drop all of our false insecurities and fears because the love of God has entered this world in the form of a newborn Son.  Yes, Mary gives birth to a newborn son in a lowly manger. The thing is though, He is not born just to her.

Once again we turn to the angel speaking to the shepherds and hear, “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” This newborn Son, Jesus, is born not just to Mary and Joseph, but to the entire world! And how is this message celebrated? By inviting the least likely of guests!

First, Mary is an unwed teenage mother, and is the mother of the Savior! This in itself is good news. Next, the shepherds are invited to the party to celebrate the newborn King. Shepherds, who are out in the fields day in and day out caring for their flocks. They most likely do not smell the most pleasant and have little to account for. Yet, they are invited! Matthew shares with us in his gospel the visit of the three wise men, who most likely were practicing a different religion altogether.

Christ is born for the world! This evening we celebrate his birth and the in-breaking of God’s kingdom here on Earth. Jesus is born for you this day! And for you! And for you! Do you get the idea? Jesus is born for all of humanity. Jesus is born for each and everyone of us. We do not have to be anything special. We don’t have to do anything special. For it is in this gift of God in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, that we receive grace upon grace.

Now the question is, what are you going to do with that most precious of gifts? As we all come together this evening for various reasons, it is my hope that we all leave this evening glorifying and praising God for all that we have heard and celebrated. It is in Jesus’ birth that God tells us that we are loved: deeply, truly, and forever. “To you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Christmas Eve Devotion

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Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

We have been waiting for this day for a month. And it still has snuck up on us for some reason. Could it possibly be that we are missing the snow and it does not quite feel like Christmas with all of the rain and 50 degree weather?

We come together this evening, regardless of what the weather may be telling us, to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We come to worship and praise God for the gift of Christ being born over 2000 years ago in the most unlikely of places. Today that place may be in the most desolate places in the world. Christ was born to bring hope and a promise of saving grace. This year that hope could be shared in many places throughout the world. In the midst of the violence that is still taking pace in our country and world, God breaks through with the promise of a life that sheds all of the unnecessary things and leaves us simply being in God. May this Christmas Season bring you joy and a passion to go out and share this wonderful news.

Let us pray.

God Incarnate, we give thanks for the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ. May we celebrate this Christmas season by caring for our neighbors and being filled with your love that overflows. AMEN.

 

Advent Devotions December 23

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2 Peter 1:16-18

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

Just a couple of days until Christmas and we have a reminder of the glory of Christ from a testament attributed to Peter. A reference to the Transfiguration highlights the connection between Christ and God. This connection brings an understanding of everything that has transpired from the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

We like to be able to make connections within our own lives to events that transpire around us and to the people that we know. These connections put everything in their proper places and helps us learn from each other. These words in 2 Peter bring about an authority that it comes from someone with a close connection to the early church and someone that personally knew Jesus. This carries merit during the early days of the Christian church just as it helps to know certain people to get certain jobs or positions today.

The one true connection that matters though is the relationship that one builds with Christ. A relationship that can help lean and guide in everything.

Let us pray.

God, we give thanks for those that walked with Christ and we ask that he walk with us today. May you guide us Jesus in all that we say and do. AMEN.

Advent Devotions December 22

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Ephesians 2:13-18

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Today is the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year. It is the day that we see the least amount of daylight and thus also the point from which the light starts to breakthrough the darkness and our days once again start getting longer.

Many churches on this day, or around this time of the season, will have what they call a Blue Christmas service. For many folks that suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), the short days and the absence of sun heading into the winter can be downright depressing. Blue Christmas can be for these folks. It can also be for  those that simply do not equate Christmas to a joyous time, either there have been some deaths of loved ones that have happened around this time or simply they have bad memories of Christmas past. We must remember that while we rejoice in Jesus’ birth, others are dreading what the memories of the Christmas season may bring.

Let us pray.

Comforting God, be with us on this shortest day of the year, bringing the promise of light to banish the darkness. Be with those whom Christmas does not bring joy and instead an uneasiness. Bless them and provide them peace. AMEN.

Advent Devotions December 21

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Colossians 1:15-20

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

The imago dei, or image of the invisible God. We too are told that we are created in the image of God, yet we struggle with what God’s being is actually like. God is all in all! There are no defined parameters for God in the world. It is only our human tendency to want to place those parameters and physical limitations on the God that we worship and praise.

Christ being born incarnate of Mary, lets us place a face to God in our world and time. It is in Christ that God is able to relate to so many people throughout the world, over 2.1 billion Christians. We are called to continue the proclamation of Christ and baptize in his name. There may be many different ways that we hear this calling, as is apparent in the many different denominations within the Christian church. We all return to the same God though, in whose image we were created.

Creating God, be with us this week as we approach Christmas as may we be filled with your Spirit. Fill us with love for our neighbors and reach out to those in need. AMEN.