Friday, June 30, 2006

Weekly Bresee Article

1. God has truly captured himself, who is the gift of grace, in the person of Jesus, and He through Israel. This we could describe as a "few poetic words." God has captured humanities story in this same person and we, also, have been given the full reality of God, an eternal relation of love, the One Lord God.

2. It is amazing that God can know our story so much so as to hear our cry. We are forever Israel's story. We have been brought out of captivity.

In 1912 James Rowe wrote the words of the Gospel Hymn, Love Lifted Me. In the first verse of the song Mr. Rowe wrote,

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me; now safe am I.

I don’t know Mr. Rowe’s personal story of coming to Christ but I know he has captured in a few poetic words the story of a lot of people. It’s certainly my story.

I was raised in a wonderful Christian home with a Mom and Dad who loved me unconditionally. I was raised in a Church that spoke faithfully to me the message of Jesus. Still, even as a young boy approaching my teen years, I had never sensed a need for Christ – never even thought about it. Yet, I knew there were tendencies in me that were greater than myself, a bent, a predisposition, if you would, that I sensed were taking me down a destructive road I really didn’t want to go, but a road that drew me like a magnet.

My story isn’t of the dramatic kind that sells books but it is remarkable to me that in the midst of a storyline going wrong God broke in and, today, a whole lot of years later I can truthfully say, “The Master of the Sea heard my despairing cry and from the waters lifted me; now safe am I.”

What’s your story? Whatever it is God is able to enter into the storyline, even for those sinking deep in sin and who are deeply stained within. The story of the Gospel is the story of God hearing our despairing cry and moving into our lives by grace.

God has this unique way of lifting people from the waters and taking them into the safety of His own life.

I suppose that’s one of the reason it’s called Good News.

Forward Still,
Pastor Rick

Something good

This is a great excerpt from Henri de Lubac's book, Christian Faith. In this book he presents a catechsim of the faith through the Apostle's Creed. I am growing to really appreciate the way he articulates Christian faith. I hope others find in him the same thing.

"What this creed teaches us before all else is the mystery of the divine Trinity. In this mystery our whole faith consists. It is ‘the central axis on which the Church’s preaching rests down the ages’. It is light and life for us […]

The revelation of the Trinitarian mystery has turned the world upside down – not in the manner of human political and social revolutions, or, as people also call them today, ‘cultural’ ones, which mark out periods of history, but by forming within humankind a new, definitive, depth which we will never cease from exploring. By a complete refashioning of our idea of divinity, this revelation has at the same time transformed the understanding which we have of our own selves. Or rather, it has revealed it to us and transformed it. It is a mystery of total transcendence, and that is why its light can penetrate us totally, If I speak as a believer about the Most Holy Trinity, then ‘I do not speak of it as I should speak of a constellation somewhere in space, but I see in it the first principle of the last end of my existence, and faith in this supreme mystery embraces me also’. It embraces me, it embraces us all. It is by this faith that the Church of Jesus Christ lives. If, instead of letting themselves be caught up in the wretched masochism into which so many prophets are intent on plunging them, Christians decide to believe – I mean, to put confidence in their faith – their faith would make of them this very day, in truth, the soul of the world.

Our God is a living God. He is a God who is sufficient to himself. Karl Barth has written: ‘Nothing is lacking to him, neither unity nor otherness, neither movement nor rest, neither opposition, nor peace’. There is no solitude in him and no egoism. At the heart of Being, there is ecstasy, a going-out from self. This is, ‘in unity of the Holy Spirit’, the perfect circumincession of Love. So we can glimpse the depth of truth in St. John’s words (the converse of which is not true): ‘God is charity’. Our existence is not the result of ‘chance’ or blind necessity nor the work of a brutal and tyrannical omnipotence: it is the fruit of Love’s omnipotence. It we can recognize the God who speaks to us and wills to bind our destiny to him, it is because there is in him an eternal knowledge of himself; there is in him a dialogue which can spread out beyond him; he is animated by a vital movement and can associate us with it. If, even without a philosophical education, we can stand up to those who tell us that the basis of being matter, and if we instinctively pass beyond the over-abstract view of those who tell us that the basis of being is mind, or the One, it is because this mystery of the Trinity has opened for us a completely new persepctive: the basis of being is communion. If we can surmount all the predicaments which lead us to despair of the human adventure, it is because, through the revelation of this mystery, we know that we are loved. Loved by the thrice-holy God! And at the same time we learn what the most far-seeing have been led to doubt: we learn that we ourselves can love – we have been made capable of it by the communication of the divine life, the life which itself is love. So finally we understand also how ‘the plentitude of personal existence coincides with the plentitude of giving’, how self-realization is delusory apart from self-giving and how, on the other hand, that self-giving may be dissipated in an unfruitful activism if it is not the overflow of an interior life… We know, finally, that we must consent to this desire for beatitude, which no theorizing or refusal or despair can tear from the human heart, because, far from being the pursuit of one’s own interest, it expands, under the action of God’s Spirit, into the hope of loving even as God himself loves."

Henry de Lubac (Christian Faith, ix-x)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Prozac Nation - A marginal movie review with honest questions raised

I do describe a few scenes from the movie. If you have not seen the movie, you might not want to read further. However, because this is a marginal review I am not giving away much. The movie is not about the ending per say but that reality that it portrays. That said, I hope some find this helpful.

Prozac Nation
Based of the book written by Elizabeth Wurtzel

As often is the case with independent films, there are two results. First, no obvious point is made, thus leaving the viewer to draw from the subtleties, which might have some meaning or importance. Second, so loud is the point that it can’t help but be noticed and acted upon. Thus, this movie review arises out of the later.

A masterful performance by Christina Ricci, Prozac Nation commands notice. The viewer is drawn to the reality of depression through Ricci’s interaction with her mom, dad, friends, and persistent changes of life in general. The movie is narrated from Ricci’s perspective as the depressed but what is interesting is her seemingly dual personality. As the depression takes control in various situations she is almost living out a double reality. One is real. The other is in her mind, the way she wants it to be.

Gradually and then suddenly one enters into what has been classified as clinical depression, but in the same way can redemption occur. Ricci’s mom is guilty of living vicariously through her daughter, attempting to hide her own depression and inadequacies of a failed marriage and unproductive life. As she becomes poorer and poorer due to the costs of therapy so becomes her own journey of redemption with her daughter, though not with her own mom. Her Mom mugged, Ricci learns she is avoiding pain medicine. The realities of a different time begin to set in. In one scene along the way, Ricci’s mom allows herself to let go of the situation and simply tell her daughter goodbye. Goodbye in the conversation and yet also, it would seem, to the way things have been going. She is not going to give her the advice that she wished she had. She is simply saying good-bye to the way things had been.

In another scene, Dr. Sterling, Ricci’s nurse (played by Anne Hesche) walks in on Ricci in the bathroom where is holding a piece of broken glass to her wrist, shaking and battling the decision to cut. Silent, Hesche watches. At a moment, her own young daughter walks in which she picks her up and holds her telling her its okay. In that moment the gradual return from depression makes a sudden move towards redemption. Broken, crying, and bleeding, Ricci lives vicariously in that one moment, receiving the care and love that she lacked.

I cannot pretend to understand the in’s and out’s of clinical depression nor the pro’s and con’s of Prozac as a drug. It seems that Wurtzel, on the one hands is saying that drugs can provide breathing room and on the other hand, to what extent is the reality of a drug-numbed life beneficial. After all, when Hesche walks in on Ricci about to cut her wrist, the viewer is led to believe that her depression has been controlled. The controversy in the previous scene is whether or not she wants to continue in a drug-numbed life. I can say with confidence that in a nation where so many people are clinically depressed one has to question the continuance of the institutions and methods of which people are formed. United, a nation might stand, but autonomous, all will fall individually and lonely.

Pearl Jam

I just purchased Pearl Jams new album, Pearl Jam, off itunes. Being that I am only a recent listener to Pearl Jam I do not feel like I have much to say as to value of this album compared to their previous ones. I am, however, very aware of their fame and importance in the grunge world. Like Nirvana, Pearl Jam brings a level of honesty to the table that is refreshing.

As I listen to the songs and become more familiar with their content I will post more. For now, here is an article from Rolling Stone Magazine on the new album.



Friday, June 16, 2006

Weekly Bresee Article

Here are three quotes that I found at I think they go with the article.

St. Leo: “Sharing in the body and blood of Christ produces in us an effect which is none other than that of making us be changed into that which we take.”

St. Augustine: “I [Christ] am the nourishment of the strong; have faith and eat me. But you will not change me into yourself; it is you who will be transformed into me.”

St. Thomas: “The principle for arriving at a right understanding of the distinctive effect of a sacrament is to consider it by analogy with the matter of the sacrament…. The matter of the Eucharist is a food. It must, then, be that its distinctive effect is analogous to that of nourishment. One who assimilates bodily nourishment transforms it into himself; that conversion makes good the losses of the organism and gives it its proper growth. But the Eucharistic nourishment, instead of being transformed into the one who takes it, transforms that person into Itself. It follows that the distinctive effect of this sacrament is such a transformation of the person into Christ that the person can truly say: “I live, now not I; but Christ lives in me.”

Enjoy the article, for "even now our lives can be consumed by the ways and means of heaven so that even in this world, the reality of the future is everywhere present."

From My Heart
By Rick Savage

The first Century missionary said, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), and he told the truth. We do, don’t we. We walk by faith. We don’t walk by sight or by feelings our by bottom lines. We don’t walk by our ingenuity, creativity or accomplishments. Instead, we take hold of the hand of Jesus and where He leads we follow. And, we follow knowing that whatever God does in and through our lives is “not by might nor by power, but by [His] Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

When we walk by faith we are placing into the hands of God all it means for us to be who we are and all it means for us to live in this world. Truthfully, to live in this world, some days at least, is a chore. You just have to get up, put one foot in front of the other, and do what you have to do. When you are created to live in heaven but for now must live in a fallen world, it can be tough, emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually.

However (and don’t you just love the word however when it comes to God), the truth is that even now our lives can be consumed by the ways and means of heaven so that even in this world, the reality of the future is everywhere present. We can live for God today. In fact, we are called and empowered and enabled to live for God today.

Maybe one of the great aspects of what it means to be a follower of Christ and a witness to His wonderful life is to take what comes our way, commit it to God, and live as faithful men and women in a world that doesn’t honor or respect Christian faithfulness much.

Life can be hard but Jesus is always Lord. So, we place our hands into His hand and walk by faith, not by sight. It’s a great way to live. It is an awesome way to live.

God bless you as you seek to live it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Perfection in holiness can be achieved only through humility and that through faith

"The thief who received the kingdom of heaven, though not as the reward of virtue, is a true witness to the fact that salvation is ours through the grace and mercy of God. All of our holy fathers knew this and all with one accord teach that perfection in holiness can be achieved only through humility. Humility, in its turn, can be achieved only through faith, fear of God, gentleness and the shedding of all possessions. It is by means of these that we attain perfect love, through the grace and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory through all the ages. Amen."

St. John Cassian

From the Philokalia, Volume One, 93, On the Eight Vices.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Yesterday, the US dropped a 500 pound bomb on a city killing 19 and wounding 40 (apporximately). In this attack, the US was successful in killiong al-Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zaeqawi...

There have been a few (that's an understatement) stories covering the death of Zarqawi (BBC ). I was watching a clip from the Glen Beck show last night and they had made a Zarqawi cake, complete with an icing outline of his corpse.

My hope for Christians is that there is no celebration. Even if one affirms a just war theory as a mode of discipleship, one should always mourn death. And even if one affims that war as legitimate in any and all circumstance, I would hope that your reasoning and what little compassion may be left in your being would still flinch at the sight of death and violence. "Christians are prohibited from ever despairing of the peace possible in the world. We know that as God’s creatures we are not naturally violent nor are our institutions unavoidably violent (Stanley Hauerwas, The Reader, 325)."

" your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)." And then it says something about being perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect which seems to indicate that we (Christians, not necessarily the US, although it might be interesting) can once again reflect God's image even as the Holy Spirit teaches us how to reflect God's image. Interesting.

Consider that Hitler smiled. It is often the case with "enemies" that they become the faceless evil of which one is not required to look at with the compassion and love of God. Perhaps one has to consider the situations that drive people to act the way they do. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not justifiying their action. Zarqawi, like Hitler, is subject to God and will be dealt with accordingly. As for our formation as disciples of Christ, we are proghibited from ever despairing. Perhaps some can be changed by the love of God, but it takes a Church willing to die at all costs that some might live to even regret their actions and be turned to God. Interesting.

Consequently, I found this quote from the Washington Post to be rather ironic: "This is a message to all those who use violence killing and devastation to disrupt life in Iraq to rethink within themselves before it is too late (said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, appearing at a news conference with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. military commander in Iraq)."

Whose violence? which devastation?


Thursday, June 08, 2006


Recently Angelina Jollie and Brad Pitt announced that they were going to sell their first baby photos to celebrity magazines (People and Hello!) and donate the proceeds to charity. These pictures could sell for up to $7 million dollars.

I have thought about the concept of charity in American culture for the past few years. For the rich, it is often seen as a way to help out in the common good of the world and get a break on your taxes. For the poor, this is often where the largest donations come from towards making changes in society all the way from the first to the third world.

I cannot begin to say that I understand what the “common good” is. I believe the Catholic Church to be doing great things in promoting more just societies and helping governments see just what they are doing to there own people when half the budget goes toward the defense fund.

I think in situations like Pitt and Jollie’s we have to be thankful that they are at least paying attention to the poor even if they are using a celebrity status that does make them more money to do some good, and yes, I do think it is good that they are donating the money. My question lies in the formation of persons in the way of Kingdom.

What the Church should be careful of in talking about charity is to not mistake the practices of those not of the Kingdom of God with those that are. If, for example, they decide to donate money to Namibia, a place famous for diamond export, it is the task of the Church to call into question that practices of a government that, while so rich, has so many poor. If they go otherwise, we must be wise with our words, for or against.

Pope Benedict XVI said in his first encyclical, “For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally be left to others, but is a part of her nature, so indispensable of her very being." (Thanks John for pointing this out!!!)

However, we have to have eyes to see the Kingdom when it sprouts up in unusual places and claim those bursts of life as the work of the Holy Spirit. We are in season of Pentecost after all.

Weekly Bresee Article

From My Heart
By Rick Savage

The people of God live with a vision, a vision rooted and grounded in the redemptive activity of God in the world. If we disconnect from that vision we lose our bearings and find ourselves working hard for things that are not of eternal value. Without God-driven vision God’s people become just social clubs or glorified service organizations, doing good, yes, but not the kind of good, that moved God out of heaven into the dusty streets of Galilee.

It is extremely important that local congregations so profoundly connect themselves with the visions and dreams of God that nothing will shake them from staying true to whatever it means for them to be faithful to God in their places of service. The world doesn’t need another service organization or social club; it needs a transformed and transforming Church created by Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit.

The old Irish Hymn says it well in these wonderful words of commitment and faith:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art—
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

May God help us to be so fully caught up in what He is doing that everything else, for us, will pale in comparison. May God be our vision. May His presence be the light of our lives. May the very being of our church be baptized in the wonder that is God, and may we live and move and have our being in Him.