2017 09 17: The God Who Delivers and Forgives

There are, I think, many things about the Christian faith that we would never have come up with on our own.  There are plenty of things that we would probably change about our Lord’s teachings if we put them up to a vote.  They just don’t seem reasonable.  After all, Jesus said some pretty out-there stuff, things like: turn the other cheek, love our enemies, and forgive not just one or two or even seven times, but seventy times seven.

Today’s Gospel passage is right up there near the top of the list of things about Jesus that we’d probably change if we could.  Everyone knows of course that forgiveness is central to what Jesus taught and how he lived.  That’s probably why nearly every church website and street sign I’ve ever seen says something about God’s extravagant grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.  That’s as it should be.  But the thing is that making forgiveness into a slogan can be a way to avoid having to think too much about the implications of what we’re saying.  I’ll bet you’ve never seen a church sign that said, “Jesus loves his enemies—especially you!”

2017 09 10: The Easy Waffle

I think that might be what Paul is getting at in today’s passage from Romans, living as if it is night, drowning ourselves in various vices, reaching for something that can quiet our hearts and still our souls just for a moment. We seek to escape, to choose the easy path; we want to provide for the flesh, just for a minute, to release all the tension and the stress just for a little bit of time. You know as well as I do that a waffle, even one scratch-made and freshly cooked, both crispy and gooey with syrup, will not solve even one of my problems. It won’t even make me feel better for more than the three minutes it takes for me to wolf it down. My waffle is provision for my flesh, my waffle is the easy way out. My waffle is the exit route.

2017 09 03: No Ordinary Flame

I had to turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why these people who had lost everything were not burned up, where this living flame of fire and faith and hope in the midst of many waters had come from.  The woman dressed in white kept singing.  As she sang I thought of a black woman from Fort Worth I’d met only a few days before at a church meeting, who had told us that after Charlottesville she had been asking people from church to give her rides to and from work, because every time she got behind the drivers’ seat she would be overcome with worry about what might happen to her out by herself.  I thought of that as I listened to the woman dressed in white who had lost everything sing out with joy and hope and power: Glory!  Lord Jesus!  Send revival!  We want to see your kingdom here!  I wondered: Where did this fire come from?  How does it keep on burning?  How does it still burn after being covered over by many waters?  

2017 08 27: St. Augustine's Sunday

Do we really want to know how we ought to be? Is the Kingdom of God, lived daily, even moment-by-moment, in the lives of St. Augustine’s parishioners, really something we want to glimpse?

Do we want to look that directly into the sun, knowing that it requires facing the darkness that clings to each one of our souls? Not only do we ourselves have to face our personal, individual darkness, but we must admit our sin to one another, even as we admit it to God in the quietness of our hearts, we must bear one another’s burdens in this way.

2017 08 06: The Transfiguration

Though God sees each nook and cranny of our hearts, our minds, and our lives, he does not look away in disgust or shame, he looks beyond our messes and our wounds and he looks with love and compassion into the deepest part of ourselves. In our great neediness, God heals.

More than just reaching down, or reaching out, or touching to heal us, more than being a sort of doctor who binds up wounds and then sends us on our way, or a famous orator who gives an inspiring talk and then leaves us in our tracks, God desires a two-way street with us. God not only knows everything about us, we are not just open books to God, but in the Transfiguration, God shows that he wants us to know him, too.