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meditation: a prophet without honor

Our church’s reading for today made me think about how we oftentimes read about the Pharisees of Jesus’ day – and the apostles too – marking how they couldn’t see Jesus as he is, and judging, even mocking them from a temporal distance. We joke how the apostles didn’t “get it”, or the Pharisees as “religious” people who also didn’t get it, a sly way of saying “we get it, but not those other Christians over there.” We do things like this not only out of a self-righteous pride we barely notice, but also because we forget to be reflexive, and misunderstanding the function of the Scriptures.

We must never forget to see ourselves in every Biblical character, from Adam to Sanballat, from Jesus to Judas. The passages from Leviticus and Matthew prompt me to ask myself whether I confuse Jesus as mundane, even profane, rather than sacred. If Jesus were to walk into our churches, disguised as one of the marginalized and disinherited, would we pass the test? Would I pass the test? Would Jesus receive honor when he walked into his home?

Moreover, when Christ speaks in my heart, do I recognize what I’m hearing? Or do I filter this raw, powerful otherworldly interruption of my world through what is known, worldly and safe, sanitizing it so it doesn’t move me to religious change – as the Pharisees did with Jesus? Is the Prophet of prophets honored within my own soul, or do I take offense at him?

These are only some of my questions, when I turn these Scriptures upon myself. What do you ask?

Open Letter From A Black Christian

I regret deeply that I can share this again, unchanged in its sentiments and pain, 2 years later. I have heard so much discussion this week of privilege, systemic racism, injustice, poverty – the powers that rule the American public.

I wonder: if I could hear every sermon or homily in every American Christian gathering this Sunday, whether it would give me hope? I anticipate most churches will speak about whatever was on their schedule or in the lectionary.

In the black churches, they likely will speak about Baltimore. But in the multicultural or mostly white churches, the places where it truly matters… I wonder if it will be silent? I wonder if the pain and anger among its congregants will be silenced by the rhetoric of the pulpit? If they do, I wonder if they will truly grapple with the issues, or take the easy, sinful road of criticism and judgement? What will the church say to millions of its congregants and parishioners who need to hear good news in the midst of so much trouble?

Warrior Poet

My heart is heavy today. It is pierced with pain and filled with fear. I wore a hoodie at church out of solidarity with the lost, so he may not be the forgotten. I saw glances and disapproving eyes. I felt backs stiffen. I heard only silent pews and pulpits on this issue confronting our nation. I continue to see, hear and feel all this. I must ask you, my brother, my sister, my Church—why don’t you love me?

A man follows me, as I am on my way to a loved one’s house. I don’t know him. He asks me what I’m doing here, where I’m going, who I am. To me, he looks threatening. I don’t want him to know where I live or where I’m going. If he doesn’t let me go am I not justified to defend myself? Why should I be stripped of my masculinity…

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What do skeptical ancient historians think of the earliest Christian creed?

Not my own post – however it definitely reflects my own thoughts so I wanted to reblog it here. Enjoy.

WINTERY KNIGHT

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson solving a mystery

Here is a post from my friend Eric Chabot. He writes about the earliest historical source for the minimal facts about the resurrection, which is the early creed recorded by Paul in 1 Corinthians: 3-7.

1 Cor 15:3-7:

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally…

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#ashtag vs Matthew 6:16? Nope.

My awesome wife often asks me challenging questions. About Ash Wednesday she wondered aloud if taking ashes contravened Jesus’ words in Matthew:

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

I suggest Jesus commands this to protect our souls from the sin of pride, so that our fasting will be effective and meritorious. It is the same reason, in the same sermon, Jesus commands us to pray privately. Yet, we Christians commonly pray in public, in front of each other, and for very good reasons. Based on long-standing Christian practice, and Jesus’ motivations for this command, I doubt this is a blanket prohibition (though I realize we could go into this issue at length!).

Let’s also consider that everyone knows it’s Ash Wednesday. It is no secret, so why hide the fact? Hiding the silent witness that we’re Christians and we anticipate the coming of our Lord Jesus seems, in that light, a moot point.

Today Christians are posting their #ashtags on social media, encouraging others to get their ashes. And I applaud them – brethren, if we hide our ashes, we hide our light. We should encourage others to get their ashes today, publicly, as there is no point in hiding.

Yet, the #ashtag opposers have a point. We cannot just “get our ashes”, post an #ashtag selfie, celebrate a few fish friday deals, and show up on Easter in new clothes. No, we’d commit the same offense Jesus warns us against.

We take ashes on our forehead are an outward expression of our minds’ inward repentance of sin, in hope of gaining meritorious grace. As the priest will say to us, we fast to “go and sin no more” remembering that “we are dust, and to dust we will return”.

40 days we meditate on these words, and at the end, marvel that God would allow his crucifixion to save us, those who certainly continue to sin, and are nothing other than dust.

We also marvel that this same God will one day destroy sin and our corruptible flesh, and make us who are dust just like his Son.

If you take ashes, remember this. If you post an #ashtag selfie, remember this even more, and guard your heart.

I applaud the risk, because we’re coming out of darkness into light, and showing the world that we love our God. The world wants to believe it will always progress, but Ash Wednesday says the world is dying and we must be reborn if we wish to see the Parousia.

Jesus, I realize that I am dust, and that save your grace, to dust I will return. Perfect in me your saving work, and welcome me into your kingdom. Create in me a clean heart that I may worship you. And draw others to yourself by my silent witness. Amen. #ashtagprayer

5 Reasons I Gave Up Sola Scriptura or How I Learned to Love the Bible *and* Tradition

Following a recent convo I had… from the archives:

Warrior Poet

At the core of my beliefs are the unity of God’s family, that we be one as the Trinity is One. So what follows comes from a desire for unity, not attack, unbelief or to stir up trouble. I also don’t wish to frustrate anyone’s evangelical faith, rather to strengthen and deepen it. Inspired by a great post out there in the blogosphere, I promised the author my own thoughts. Of course, I didn’t expect it to showcase the more interesting aspects of my theology… nevertheless, here are my 5 reasons I gave up sola scriptura and learned to love the Bible *and* Tradition:

  1. Sola scriptura often sows division and controversy
  2. Jesus is the Interpreter: the one with ultimate interpretive authority
  3. The Apostles were given the authority to interpret the Interpreter
  4. Jesus’ interpretive authority flowed through the Apostles and is carried in his Body
  5. Tradition is also a valid and…

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fragments on… living in creative tension

As the calendar changes, we often consider how we ourselves want to or are changing. Whether it is a new season or a new year, that brief moment of introspection causes to re-evaluate our self and our place in the world. “Calling” is what we pursue. Book after book discusses it, how to find it and live it. Blog after blog gives you enumerated lists to help you discover your calling.

I feel in such moments, when I am told how wonderful I am in God, and the great “calling” on my life, that I am attending the wedding dressed in rags. I am an imposter. (more…)