Category Archives: Church

Good Friday

This Friday is a somber day for Christians throughout the world. Maybe I have a slight feeling for what Mary, the mother of Jesus experienced as she watched her son die such a slow and painful death.

I have read about the horror of a crucifixion and what an awful death it was. It was so demeaning that no Roman would be subject to it, only outsiders.

May you realize the sacrifice that God has made for you this Easter Season. In His unparalleled grace and mercy, He has forgiven you all your sins. You are His beloved child.

In return, ask Him what plan He has in mind for you.

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Passing Through

Luke 4: 16-30

 

Corcovado jesus

Jesus went home. After ministering in Galilee he decided to go back to Nazareth, to reconnect with those who had known him as a little boy, to visit his mom, to speak at the synagogue that he knew like the back of his hand. At the synagogue, he spoke about his mission. The locals were at first offended and then enraged. They took him to the cliff which marked the edge of town with plans to throw him off. Then the miracle happened. Scripture says, “But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.” One man in an angry mob and “he passed through the midst of them!” He did not call for help or fight his way clear. He just passed through them.
When we think of Jesus’ miracles we consider events like healings, resurrections, calming the sea, walking on water, or turning water into wine. We never see this miracle listed, but I see it as an incredible moment that relates to our journeys so often. How many times have you walked through frightening, dangerous, heartbreaking situations and gone on to live out your life? How many times have you not been able to explain how you did it, how you made it through? How many times have you weathered opposition and hostility and continued to live victoriously? How many times has your broken heart healed? How many times has your mind been calmed by an unexplainable peace? How many times has your soul been restored? How many times have you been at the edge of the cliff sure you were going over, when some Presence led you through the fear and pain and hurt and death? Each of those times was a miracle.

Jesus knows all about standing at the cliff’s edge with other situations or people pushing you over. He knows what it is like to look down at a chasm of hopelessness and despair. He understands the pounding of your heart, the wrenching of your gut, the tears of your hurt. He reaches out his hand and leads you as you pass through the midst of them and go on your way to love and serve Him.

Reflection – What has Christ helped you pass through?

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Good Heart

Statue of John Wesley at Wesley's Chapel City ...

Statue of John Wesley at Wesley’s Chapel City Road, London. (January 2006) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking that he desires they should allow him, and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He is patient with those who differ from him, and only asks him with whom he desires to unite in love that single question: “Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?”

—-John Wesley from “Catholic Spirit”

The words of John Wesley ring loud and clear in this confusing and divisive time. Wise men allow others to differ from them without turning on them. The concept that we must all walk in step with one another or become enemies is destroying our churches and nation. Our political or theological stands are not the sum total of our being.. The heart reveals our true nature. We are people of good heart or bad heart. If we wish ill will and destruction with any who disagree with our opinions, then I would say that we are not of good heart. However, people of good heart and wisdom can embrace others even if they are not in full agreement with them. 

People of good heart:

  • Look for areas of agreement
  • Attempt to find the greater good
  • Work for the greater good
  • Seek truth
  • Understand there is more than one right answer
  • Give up power

To all I ask: “Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?”

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, John Wesley, Methodist, Unity

A Real Person

English: Roman Centurion

English: Roman Centurion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bible shows us a very real person. He can be found in the book of Luke 23:47&48. Rome had many burly, manly men. They had been hardened by war and the type of depravity that came with it. There was a Roman centurion in charge of Jesus following his arrest. His behavior can serve as an inspiration about being real.

My assumption is that he was like all other centurions of his day. He had proven himself in battle. His loyalty to Caesar was unquestioned. The Centurion was a man to be looked up to and modeled. All these things, as good as they are, do not make you a real person. The Centurion did, however, possess some qualities that made him real and worthy of being a role model for us today.

1.The real person Listens.
The Centurion walked with Jesus as he carried his cross up to Calvary. He heard those who ridiculed him . He saw those who worshipped him. He heard it all.

2. The real person Acknowledges.
When all was said and done, the Centurion looked up at Jesus on the cross and said, “ This was truly the son of God .”

3. The real person Feels
I believe the Centurion felt the pain of Jesus as he went through torture, public humiliation, and finally a very painful death. Throughout all of this he became increasingly empathetic with Jesus.

4. The real person Takes Risks.
When the Centurion acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God, he opened himself up to criticism from all sorts of places. The Romans could say that he was not worshipping the gods of Rome. The Jews could say he was just crazy. It didn’t matter, because he was real.

Let’s all try to be as real as the Roman Centurion. I don’t know about you, but I like real people.

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Dark Night of the Church

English: Marsh Lane, Easter Sunday 2008 Photo ...

English: Marsh Lane, Easter Sunday 2008 Photo taken from Burgate on Easter Sunday morning. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frederick Buechner wrote that “dreams of fame and fortune die hard if they ever die at all.” Sometimes it takes a long, dark night of the soul before those dreams die, before they are wrenched from imaginations that cling to them. And sometimes it’s God who does this work in us.

Is there also, as Elaine Heath asks in her book The Mystic Way of Evangelism, a dark night of the church? Are we experiencing it? Is God at work wrenching our alluring memories of social prominence and significance from our minds, ripping dreams of fame and fortune from our imaginations? Recently a church member mentioned the “good old days” when we had to put up folding chairs in the aisles on Easter Sunday. Is God inviting us to let go of those days and the accompanying dreams and memories?

(Christian Century 12/14/12)

I would call us all to ask ourselves if we are living with a dream of reviving the past rather than a vision of building the future. The church’s future cannot be achieved unless we are ready to embrace the fact that our beloved church is in a time of darkness, a darkness brought on not by lack of conviction or faith but  lack of love and grace. We will not bring the church out of it’s “dark night” by imposing tougher and more Spartan rules and yearning for the good old days. The future will be found as we fall down on our knees in prayer and lift our hands and voices  in cries for justice.

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, contemplative, missional

A Love for All Times

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day Jesus was confronted by some of his detractors. They ask him what was the greatest command of the law. He told them to love God with all their beings. Then he added, ”Love others as much as you love yourself.”. That word love is just all over the place. Yet we live in a world  that thrives on power and the ability to control. If we need to use force, we will. The message of Jesus is one of love and grace.

Our great challenge is to. learn to live with that love in our lives. Lives that are filled with love can easily be spotted. They stand out in the crowd. Their demeanor can calm a tense room. Their gentle spirits can soften a hostile crowd. Their openness can bring acceptance to all they touch. If we can discover the secret of love of Jesus we can conquer the world.

Jesus does give us a few hints that can help us climb the mountain of self-absorption that we find ourselves facing. His love is a giving love. He gave his all for you and me. His love comes without price to us. We all too often demand a price for our love; it is a conditional love.  When Jesus opens his arms his love reaches out to everyone not just to those who respond.

Maybe you and me can try to practice the love that is giving and free. It might be a big challenge but with God’s help we can do it.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, Love of God, missional, Missional Living