March 30, 2012

The Feast Approaches...

People around the world are preparing to celebrate. Some call it "Easter", more secular folks might call it it a Spring festival. Meats, vegetable dishes, desserts of all kinds are being bought and prepared. Colorful eggs and baskets filled with chocolate, jellybeans and stuffed bunnies will start flying off of storm shelves. Why shouldn't we celebrate? We're about to commemorate the time that we received the greatest gift of all: Salvation from God, and our adoption into His Holy Family.

We know that the best gifts come from the heart of those who love us. They're even more valuable and humbling when the giver made a sacrifice to give us these demonstrations of love.

March 29, 2012

More Of The Same...

"Both of us want to win this fight
Both of us think the other is mistaken, so mistaken
Meanwhile, everyone wants to take up sides
So everyone helps us to fall apart
Just another fact of life, it's hard to play fair
And it's so easy to pretend to care
But if nobody wants to share the blame
Then everyone gets more of the same."
Todd Rundgren - Change Myself

A Fast-Food worker in my town makes an uncaring and callous comment to a soldier about to deploy back to Afghanistan. His mother blogs about it, and the story is picked up on the local news. The company officials handled the incident well, but in the meantime, the employee has been threatened with violence from some who have heard about the incident.

In Florida, a youth is shot and killed by a man. The investigation is ongoing, but the national furor is growing, and battle lines are being drawn. A Hollywood celebrity, wanting to fan the flames of hatred, publishes the shooters address on his Twitter feed. One of the problems with his action was that he didn't have his facts straight, and now an innocent elderly couple with no relation to the shooter has had to leave their home and go into hiding from the threats.

A Christian pastor in Michigan writes a book that opens discourse to the possibility that we may not have eternal conscious torture in store for us if we don't accept Christ right now; that God's Love and will for all men to be saved might be a bigger and more powerful thing than the way we have theorized His justice and wrath to be. Other Christians immediately denounce this pastor as a false teacher, heretic, and accuse him of leading people directly to the fires of Hell.

March 28, 2012

"Do This In Remembrance Of Me..."

 14When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood." Luke 22:14-20, NASB

Holy Week approaches, millions of Christians worldwide prepare to celebrate His death and resurrection. Yet for many of these people, Easter Sunday may be the only Sunday, or perhaps just one of several, where the Lord's Supper is celebrated at their church. I'm less interested in engaging in a theological debate (which has been settled since the day of the Apostles) but more interested in commenting on what I see as a modern culture shift in some parts of the Church.

A friend of mine attends a modern evangelical-styled church in her community. It's pretty typical of what you'd expect from that kind of service; upbeat Contemporary Christian music from a full band/praise team, impassioned prayer from the praise team leader, and a fast-paced, uplifting sermon. I asked her if they ever observed the Lord's Supper (they didn't the time I visited with her.) She told me that they did, but only about every six weeks or so, because they wanted it to be special, and not be just some ritual done every Sunday that loses its meaning and importance.

That bothered me.

A lot.

March 14, 2012

"My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?"

Some thoughts on the Crucifixion after reading the first part of Insurrection, by Peter Rollins.

Fully God, yet fully human.

In the beginning of the Gospels we see the fullness of God within the flesh of man.

In the Garden, we see all of humanity's fear felt by God.

On the Cross, we see God feeling the totality of the loneliness and desperation of our worst moments.

"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

Doubt moves to the knowledge of rejection.

March 7, 2012

Where Does My Mind Place the Power?

Over the past year I've been struggling with certain aspects of God as I have been trying to work towards living the two greatest Commandments, i.e., love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as you love yourself. In this struggle the main thing I've had to re-think and change my views about are the theories of universal reconciliation v. eternal conscious torment.

When I was younger, before the strains of legalism drove me from one church, I had no problem with believing in a literal place of torment for lost souls, and Christ's sacrifice as solely a substitution for the punishment we deserve as sinners. But in the past year, as I have tried to contemplate Christ's love more and more, I kept coming back to the question, "What is the purpose for eternal punishment in hell, and what end does it serve?"

March 2, 2012

Whose Sword?

A sword, not peace, is what He came to bring.
Not to divide the body of the Bride
But to pierce the hearts of those in the Bride.

Bringing contrition and repentance,
not factions and squabbling.
In Him, we are One; we make ourselves many.

He stands against evil, not against Himself.
We stand against evil and our self.
Yet when we admit our own mistakes, we still step back from one another.

Right and wrong, good and evil; we lose sight
of these large things through the magnifying glass of doctrine
and the microscope of opinion.

The small points do not determine who we are to Him;
only who we think we are to each other.
The vanity of Qoheleth.

His sword that brings repentance and forgiveness to our hearts
is a sword that compels us to build bridges and make ties that bind.
the torches and swords that burn and cut those belong only to us.

Forgive me, Lord, and teach me to bind and not separate,
to build bridges instead of walls,
and to see my fellow man as You see me...