Advent is both terrible and hopeful. It’s terrible because it’s about a hopeful word, a newness about life – which promises to overthrow all our old, comfortable, sinful ways. And it’s hopeful for the very same reason. We know the shape of Advent, and yet we don’t know it. We may know the stories of the prophets, the Exile, the Exodus and the birth of the Messiah – but we often struggle to see that this “old” God is also breaking in upon human life in awesomely new ways still today – even here in 2012! Who would ever have looked for God to enter the world through a baby born to poor parents in a dry desert land dominated by the Romans and overshadowed by the wealth of Egypt?
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Third Sunday in Advent
Joy | The Shepherds
Joy is a great thing, one of the best parts of human life. And yet completely unexpected joy, the realization that deeply held hopes will be or have been fulfilled, is especially awesome and freeing. It’s not just waking up to find presents under a tree, it’s like waking up and discovering that you do have a tree and gifts underneath it. Joy is the realization that life is a gift, which we haven’t earned, deserved – or even really asked for. It’s what set the shepherds in motion to see what happened in the manger that night – and sent them exuberantly into the world to share what they’d witnessed. Joy is our response in faith to the discovery of the love of God that we know in Christ – a love that overcomes all things, heals all things, undoes all things, frees all things
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Questions for going deeper with the Scriptures for Sunday, December 2nd
The First Sunday in Advent
Hope | the Prophets
Advent is the liturgical season or period marked by the four Sundays preceding Christmas. In the Ancient Church it was a reflection of the season of Lent – a time of preparation, reflection and celebration before the feast of Easter (for Lent) and Christmastide (for Advent). The word Advent comes from the Latin for coming, or arriving. We celebrate Advent by special markers: the colors purple or blue and the Advent Wreath of 4 candles, one for each Sunday, culminating with the lighting of the Christ Candle (the 5th one) on Christmas. It’s a concrete way for us to articulate the waiting that defines this season.
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Questions for going deeper with the Scriptures for Sunday, November 11th
This week has been filled to overflowing with talk of politics, partisanship, gridlock, decision-making and agenda-setting. We see the unavoidable challenges before us that cannot be ignored away with a magic wand, or avoided until the solve themselves. How do we do leadership as Christians? The day after the election I heard CNN talking about how Protestants and Born-Agains voted for Romney while Catholics and people of color vote for Obama. I doubt that things are that clear and simply categorized. Maybe part of the reason for which we have such difficulty in our democracy regarding addressing the problems we face is that our media outlets play to the extremes, they like “good TV” – rather than speaking with bridge-builders and door-openers they focus upon fear mongerers and demagogues.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
We live in culture plagued by a vicious cycles of instant and incessant gratification. We want to quench our thirst, satisfy our hunger – and we want it our way! Our culture has become a society defined as consumer and consumeristic. In the midst of our hungers and thirsts (which are natural) somehow we get lost. The fear that there isn’t enough to go around, leads us to symbiotic anxiety and mistrust. We need to get ours or get git. In such presumed scarcity our needs are morphed into wants, desires and fantasies. We want it all, otherwise we might not get any. We want it how and when we want it, otherwise it might not be around. And yet the God of the Bible points towards a different way of life together, a community of koinonia or fellowship based upon the shared life-transforming experience of God’s love known in Jesus of Nazareth who gave his life rather than give into the anxiety of scarcity. His sacrifice changes everything, giving us a new lens through which to see the world as it truly is. How do we live this paradoxical truth by faith in a society based upon the myth of scarcity? How do we love our neighbor when we are told that our neighbor is out to get what we have? How do we testify to a life-sustaining God in a culture in which we are told to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and to save ourselves, because no one else will?
Friday, October 26, 2012
Blogging Towards Sunday, October 28th
The Exodus. This is the big climax (or is it?) of the story of the Exodus the Israelites are free. Chased out of Egypt, they pillage their former slave masters. They leave not just free, but masters of their own future. But quickly Pharaoh changes his mind, and the greatest army of earth sets off in pursuit of a ragtag bunch of slaves hobbling along with their cripple and lame, their livestock and unleavened bread. And just as quickly the Israelites change their mind about the nature and purpose of God. They seem to lose faith. Is this story just history, myth, good story or does it have something to say about the way that we live and an answer to our own metaphysical questions about the existence and activity of God?