Gun violence in America is a scourge. Had an invader killed as many of our citizens, we would be demanding a declaration of war from our Congress. Instead, we hear the NRA talk about the “right to carry and conceal” and our Congress cowardly shirk before the Gun sellers. Had a virus or plague killed as many, we would demand the CDC and other government agencies coordinate a multi-pronged effort to arrest the virus and find a vaccination. Instead, we are subjected to lies and half-truths about the Second Amendment.
It is not patriotic to stand by as fellow citizens are murdered and wounded.
It is immoral, even if it be legal, to sell assault weapons.
Jesus told Peter to put up his sword. Christians, stop supporting the blood soaked NRA. Start asking your congresspersons to pass sensible laws that register and control what can be sold. Gun shop owners, stop selling assault weapons. Put away your guns. We are reaping the whirlwind.
Seasonal transformation is all around us. True, we had snow last week and the temperatures have been below average so many of us are walking around with our heads down as we walk into wind gusts and wind chills that elicit grunts and curses. Where is Spring!? we ask.
Of course, Spring has erupted already. The Forsythia, the leafing out of trees, the buds and flowers that ornament streets we pass through and lanes we walk down, all remind us of this fact. The grass is greener. The transformation is under way and evolves until one magical moment when sun and warmth coincide with brilliant sky blue and landscapes of trees and flowers and we know… we have passed across the threshold of Winter into Spring.
Little wonder then that this season fills us with hope for the transformation of our own lives. Now we can take all of this for granted. We can chalk it up to how things “just happen” and pretend the world around us is deaf and dumb. But oh, it is not. The world is talking to us, it is a dialogical masterpiece threaded with conversation and information that, should we take time to hear, will inform our own lives. The psalmist declared [139:14],
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works
In this season of transformation may your and my life be transformed. May the Spirit of change and renewal restore you and make you whole. This Sunday, let us join together in praise with the entire earth, for “the time of singing has come.” ~See you Sunday
“He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53: 12)
Crux sola nostra theologica est
The Cross alone is our salvation. ~Martin Luther
On this Good Friday, may we find our way through contemplation and prayer to the garden of resurrection and hope. ~ See you Sunday
I like padded pews, not that I get to sit in them since I’m the preacher. But they provide a measure of comfort that seems legitimate given how hard it is at times to listen to a preacher. You deserve a padded pew. At the least though, a preacher ought to preach the Gospel in a way that makes the pad necessary and I don’t mean by that the kind of hellfire and brimstone beating people in the name of Jesus sermons I heard growing up. I mean sermons that call us to the justice and peacemaking Gospel Jesus preached even before there was a crucifixion.
Speaking of which, we’re getting close to the Easter High Holy Sunday and as you know, you can’t really get to Resurrection Sunday without passing through Thursday and the Garden of Gethsemane, betrayal and Friday’s catastrophe of blood and shattered body that was the flogging and crucifixion. But like padded pews, lots of folks–both liberal and conservative–try to pad the Gospel and reduce Jesus to an ethical teacher or a prosperity salesman. It will be very important in the coming days and weeks as we approach Golgotha that we listen to the Christ and all he had to say about servant-ministry and sacrificial love. Martin Luther King summed it up well when he said, ’When I took up the cross I recognized it’s meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.’ We are all not called upon to give up our lives as King or Christ did, but we darn sure ought to get a splinter now and then from following the Crucified Lord.
Be awake. Be alert. We are following Jesus to Jerusalem. We will sit in the upper room and commune with him. And a time will come when we are tempted to betray him, to run from him, even before the rooster crows for the rising sun. It is time to weigh our souls in the balance and find our way to a Holy place. Easter is coming. First, however, there is a Thursday night of betrayal and a Friday noon of nails.
When I am mindful as I walk across a small bridge along a bike path flanked by trees and a large creek on one side, then I am mindful that I am suspended but crossing. I am mindful that someone crafted this bridge. I am alert to being a bi-pedal creature, oriented in four directions.
When I am mindful as I count the coins to hand to the cashier, uniformed and standing across from me, a name tag tagged to their chest, then I am mindful that I am part of an exchange today. I am mindful that beyond the coin lie certain tacit covenants between us, that I will hand this coin over and be handed my groceries. I am mindful that we both have names but are separated by a chasm even as we extend hands across that chasm to give and receive.
When I am mindful as I turn out the light and crawl into bed, sheet and blanket to cover me, quiet and silence descended, and sleep covering me quickly then I am mindful of the poverty of my human existence. That I need to be recharged. That my powers are limited to the day that has just spent me. That a descent into twilight and sleep is a resignation of my life over to the world that is greater than my singularity and a commendation of my soul into the boundless care of the Creator. Whether I sing in my head and heart a doxology to paddle into the night of rest that awaits me or pray a thank you, I am mindful until the switch is clicked and my mind rests.
When I am mindful, I wake up.
~See you Sunday. Let us come together and be mindful of mutual presence and the Presence of the Holy One. Perhaps we will step into an Awakening.
David Berlinski writes poetically a breathtaking overture to his book, A Tour of the Calculus. I am no mathematician nor a physicist, but Berlinski’s devotion to his subject is that of a priest at an altar. He has seen across the threshold into and through the mechanics of the universe and its symmetry astounds him. He relays his awe not through numbers–though he would likely argue that he could have done so by numbers alone–but through brilliant, often poetic, English. Which is to say, he relies as much on symbol and poetic nuance as any preacher trying to decipher scripture. His awe revolves around the fundamental revelation to which he is a witness: ”the real world may be understood in terms of real numbers.” You should take a moment to enjoy his brief prologue (easily enough to accomplish by looking inside the book on Amazon or having a sample of the book sent to you). This revelation is simply the notion that the world is comprehensible. Einstein said as much, “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible.” I prefer St. Augustine’s paean to the mystery of being, “And yet it is neither the heaven of heavens, nor the measure of the stars, nor the scope of sea and land, nor the nethermost hell; it is our own selves that we are incapable of comprehending; it is our own selves, who, in our too great height and strength, transcend the humble limits of our own knowledge; it is our own selves, whom we are incapable of embracing…” (“The Soul and Its Origin”).
As you tour the calculus of your life; fumbling with change and counting it; responding to the grumbling in your stomach by eating food; quenching your thirst; catching a glimpse of the moon carved in space in a pale blue sky; singing along with a song; communicating by way of words what is inside your mind to another living, breathing, sentient being; as you do these things and thus trace the symmetry and order of your life, you may step into the mystery (ah, thanks to brother Van Morrison!). I look forward to seeing you in the holy space of our sanctuary on Sunday. We’ll celebrate and sing the mystery. ~See you Sunday