‘What you sow does not come to life unless it dies’ (1 Cor. 15:36). Spring sings jazzy harmonies and awakens the dawn; ok, birds do, and Missouri has scads of them, as many and diverse as the freshly minted trees in which they perform. From Lent throughout spring, all the bare trunks of Kansas City morph into verdant choir lofts. Awesome. Nothing like a Midwest Easter. Resurrection makes sense here. After lean, icy days of ‘dying’, this Californian comes alive. I take serious
‘I could strengthen you with talk, or shake my head with silent lips.’ (Jb 16:5) I spoke to him plainly of the dangers of ‘gay marriage,’ and the power of Jesus and His church to raise the ‘homosexual’ to wholeness. The earnest bishop implored me: ‘But we don’t want to be on the wrong side of history!’ I understand his dilemma. Last night while channel surfing for 15 minutes, I witnessed two same-gendered couples smooching to celebrate ‘gay marriage’ victories in PA and OR, a
‘The sick soul fears more than anything else the demands made on one who is well.’ Joseph Pieper
When the Holy Spirit blew open Jesus’ tomb, God blew away our excuses for living half-lives. The very Spirit that liberated Jesus from sin and death summons us from our tombs as well. We must choose. Will we leave our prisons, now that the door has been opened? Will we lay claim to the ground of the new creation or remain in the shadows, more comfortable in grave clothes than in
This Holy Week a pastor recounted to me the return of Kim, a congregant who had left her husband and kids years before for another woman. Her lover became physically violent and she returned to the Lord. Her family has moved on. Her help is Jesus, and a small band of Christians. Kim has no idea what His new life will mean for her now. She is reduced to Resurrection. In this Easter season we can hold an overly facile view of the Living God. He can too easily become a familiar
Jesus’ humiliation has been eclipsed with glory. So is ours, as we testify of how His mercy has washed us and solidified the new creation. Over lunch the other day, a friend recounted his healing story. To do so, he began with his shame, which was founded upon a history of early childhood sexual abuse. Staggering into young adulthood with same-sex attraction, he sought the help of two pastors who abused him sexually and spiritually. He vowed to trust no-one. Yet he knew Jesus
Thank God for Easter. Thank God for the season of Easter that spans far beyond its six weeks in the Church calendar; Jesus’ resurrection reminds us daily that He has trumped our old nature and activates us afresh to resume our pilgrimage. Following the Risen Christ is always a path toward maturity, with clear markers for our sexual and relational humanity. United with Him, we ascend slowly towards a horizon of boundless light. Each morning I rejoice in these words I share wit
Jesus' crucifixion. Woodcut after a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (German painter, 1794 - 1872) This is the fifth post of my Holy Week Meditations for 2012. Please click here for the archive list of posts as they become available. — Intimate Authority: Holy Week Meditations, 5 Weeping and lingering were the earmarks of Mary’s authority. These are the signs of holy intimacy; tears of gratitude spilt while abiding in His love, and tears of grief over the loss of love
— Intimate Authority: Holy Week Meditations, 3 Intimacy with Jesus made an ex-prostitute the bearer of the most important event in human history. God entrusted a woman, not one of the 12, with Christ’s resurrection. That’s why the Roman Catholic Church names Mary Magdalene the ‘Apostle of Apostles.’ Mary’s surrender to Christ was marked by weeping and lingering, two earmarks of loving another with all one’s heart. Such sustained intimacy gave Mary authority. Such reliance on
Merciful Discipline 6: Humbled, We Shine ‘When You disciplined us, we could barely whisper a prayer.’ (IS 26:16)
‘Christ’s abiding presence in the midst of our suffering is gradually transforming our darkness into light.’ Pope Benedict The sexual abuse crisis in the Church brings us to our knees. We do not kneel politely but painfully, a sprawl rather than a pose. On behalf of those felled by the weight of a priest’s perversion, we too stumble and fall. Behold the scandal we
Merciful Discipline 3: Broken, We Endure Shame In the Church, God has put Himself into hands that betray Him again and again. – Pope Benedict
Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers;
may Your mercy come quickly to meet us,
for we are in desperate need.
Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of Your Name;
deliver us, and forgive us our sins for Your Name’s sake.
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
(PS 79:8-10a) We repent on behalf of the abuse-broken chu
And God is always faithful to reduce me to mercy when I have majored on other things. He does this through suffering, through the slow boil of real life that tends to burn off extraneous things and distill what matters. In cooking terms, a ‘reduction’ involves the intensifying or thickening of a liquid mixture through boiling it. Some things evaporate, thus concentrating the flavor. I won’t bore you with details on my ‘boiling points’; we all have them, and they either reduce
‘He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.’ (Mk 16:6) Resurrection is reunion: Jesus, torn from His Father, now returns to Him. Evil demanded payment: crucifixion, the vast distance between God and God.
Love crossed over that gap, conquering sin and death. Resurrection is the ultimate Father/Son reunion. Every Easter, God extends to us a fresh invitation to reenter that reunion.
Jesus descended into hell to get us out of there.
He rose again into perf
‘But I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?
I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me;
Your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood;
They have completely engulfed me.
You have taken my companions from me; the darkness is my closest friend.’
PS 88:13-18 Jesus’ rejection, abuse, and murder at the hands of men were not His
On Palm Sunday, Lent becomes Holy Week—the seven days leading to the cross. Perhaps the parallel between Jesus’ 40-days in the desert and His commitment to crucifixion is becoming clear. Jesus sanctified the desert for us. He made a way in our wilderness. Instead of a place of temptation unto despair, He transformed ‘the desert of loneliness into a garden of solitude’ (Leanne Payne). His reliance upon the Father there grants us grace to encounter Him in the harsh realities of