Monday, April 30, 2012

Quote by Red from The Shawshank Redemption

"I have no idea to this day what them two Italian ladies were singin' about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voiced soared. Higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away. And for the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free." - Red

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Around the Horn: Covering lots of bases this week, pun intended.

James K. A. Smith, a la Hauerwas, on how making Christianity sexy takes imagination.

This is enough to get me to watch The Cabin in the Woods.

Obama/Fallon slow jam.

Scot McKnight leaves North Park University, heads to Northern Seminary.

That's right, Food Porn.

For shame, TSA. They defended the pat-down of crying 4-year-old girl at Kansas airport.

For shame, Ashley Madison. The company is offering $1 million to prove Tim Tebow is not a virgin. Ridiculous.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Praying for Your Prayer Life? I disagree

Respectfully, I disagree.

I came across this post today by Tim Challies. He suggests seven prayers to add to your prayer list. He draws these suggestions from Scripture, listing several passages to complement his seven points. But something about this seems off. It seems like it's a whole lot of throat-clearing before one actually gets around to the business of prayer. I believe there should be times where we examine how we pray, but not during our prayers. While these might be helpful instructions for prayer, probably even good intercessory prayers for others, the point seems to be how praying in this way helps us become people who pray. That's where I disagree. Praying in order to be a better prayers seems counter intuitive. Isn't prayer about something else?

So, just for good measure and a little bit of fun, I suggest alternatives to the first four suggestions that embrace Challies's concerns, but it such a way that prayer doesn't become about praying to be better prayers, but of the actual business of praying.

For the last three, though, I'm going to take it in a different direction.

- To his point, "Pray that your prayers would be expressions of a humble heart," I suggest we simply pray for grace in humility. The only way to pray from a humble heart is to become humble ourselves. Therefore, we should expect that occasions will arise when we will actually have to be humble.

- To his point, "Pray that God would remind you that He doesn't want or need your eloquent prayers," I suggest we practice silence in our prayers. That would be the best way to avoid eloquence, and might, perhaps, be more eloquent in an aesthetic/beauty kind of way that using words.

- To his point, "Pray that you would remember what the really important requests are," I suggest we pray the Lord's Prayer on a daily basis and actually remind ourselves of what the really important requests are.

- To his point, "Pray that you would remember biblical examples of answered prayer," I suggest we incorporate, no, immerse ourselves in the lives of the saints (all the faithful who have gone before us). Rather than pray for memory, let's begin to memorize and know these stories on visceral level.

These next three are a little more tricky:

"Pray that God would give you confidence in His sovereign power."
"Pray that God would help you persevere in prayer."
"Pray that God will encourage you that he is your loving Father and will give you only what is good,"

I think these prayers are for the person entering what has been called the dark night of the soul or the cloud of unknowing or the dryness as Mother Teresa experienced. The difference is that when you come to threshold of that kind of prayer and contemplation you are beyond the simplicity of words. So, while you might pray for confidence, perseverance, and encouragement, you are praying from a place of holy darkness and divine unknowing that is necessary for that more deeper and loving union with God. This kind of prayer is a gift.

Perhaps Thomas Merton says it best, "...the full maturity of the spiritual life cannot be reached unless we first pass through the dread, anguish, trouble, and fear that necessarily accompany the inner crisis of 'spiritual death' in which we finally abandon our attachment to our exterior self and surrender completely to Christ."

He continues," Hence the contemplative way is ... the paradoxical response to an almost incomprehensible call from God, drawing us into solitude, plunging us into darkness and silence, not to withdraw and protect us from peril, but to bring us safely through untold dangers by a miracle of love and power ... The 'desert' of contemplation is simply a metaphor to explain the state of emptiness which we experience when we have left all ways, forgotten ourselves and taken the invisible Christ as our way."

So, here are some first words on prayer:

To pray from the place of darkness and unknowing means that we have left behind all others ways of making sense of the world for the sake of Christ. To know this Christ - that is, to pray - means joining with Him along the way, going where He goes, doing what He does. The words of prayer are only a part of embodied existence. Our mouths and brains/intellect are a physical reality. Prayer is a bodily, fleshly thing.

A la Michael Scott, prayer takes us somewhere we can hardly begin to name. Even this blog post took me in direction I didn't expect to go this morning. I think what I find off about praying for confidence, perseverance, and encouragement (along with the bodily nature of prayer) is the lack of surprise. Faith and prayer are a little more unpredictable than that because the goal is love. I don't want confidence, perseverance, and encouragement. I want to know that I am loved by God and to love others in light it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Top 25 Road Films

A couple months ago Steve and I decided that we were going on a long walk. Six hours, we said, three out and three back. We had no geographical destination in mind. We made all decisions on the spot about which way to go next. I loved it.

At one point along the way I asked him what his favorite "journey" movies were. We quickly realized that we were naming a lot of movies, which meant that some part of our criteria for what constitutes a journey movie remained unclear. The problem was that all movies could be classified in terms of journey. It's a vague and ambiguous terms without clear guidelines for what you're after.

You can expect, then, how delighted I was to hear about IMAGE's declaration of the Top 25 Road Films. "Road" is their guideline. Some of these I have heard of, but many are new. In any case, I'm excited to start watching these. You can take a look at the list here, but be sure and read Darren Hughes intro post here. I really need give The Moviegoer another shot. I think Walker Percy and I would be friends.

Which ones on the list have you seen? What did you think about them? Which movies would you add to the list? For me, Little Miss Sunshine.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Theology Ryan Gosling

And I quote, "Helping disenfranchised female theologians feel loved one line at a time."


I read one, thought it was funny.

Literally, I thought in my mind, "that's funny," but in a deadpan sort of way. No emotion.

I read a few more and I found myself smiling.

After a few more I was laughing out loud.

I think it was the consistent, "Hey girl" that kept getting me. Imagine a cross between Andy Sandberg and the guy with the deep voice from Boyz II Men.

"Hey Girl."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quote by Edwin Friedman

"Perhaps the outstanding example of blame displacement in chronically anxious America is what has come to be called anti-incumbency, the tendency of voters to reject whoever is in office almost irrespective of their party affiliation. This flailing at the political winds amounts to a collective irresponsibility on the part of voters seeking magical, quick-fix answers to a complex range of the problems of existence. Instead of focusing on their own response to the challenges of change, these voters find fault in their political stars. And it is not just a political phenomenon; it is occurring with regard to coaches, educators, CEOs, and clergy, not to mention marriage partners and parents ... It is more a reactive response to the voter's own inner emptiness, personal frustration, general unhappiness, loss of hope, and feelings of helplessness." - Edwin Friedman, A Failure of Nerve, 79-80

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Around the Horn: Friends w/ Books!

This weeks "Around the Horn" is geared towards friends who wrote books that are coming out soon.

Public Jesus: Exposing the Nature of God in Your Community by Tim Suttle. Check out one of the accompanying videos. Here's the description:

Religion is personal and private. 

Many people are raised to believe religion is personal and private and should be left out of public life. But even if we wanted to follow the dictum “religion is personal and private,” doing so would be impossible. God is out and about in cultures and societies, working in every corner of creation to bring about God’s good purposes. God belongs in the public square because the public square belongs to God.

Yet, what it means to say that God belongs in public life is far from clear. Is it the street preacher shouting on the corner about the coming judgment? Is it backing Christian candidates for public office? Is it relief efforts, fundraising, Christian music, books, and concerts? What if the answer is as varied as the number of humans on the planet? What if the way God is present in public life is through you and me?

Answering these questions will require great imagination and ingenuity. It will require much more from all of us than we will be comfortable giving. It will require that we embrace Jesus’s call to take up our cross and follow him. Ranging from vocation to politics, Public Jesus invites us to wrestle with all kinds of questions about what it means for us to live our faith in public and what role we play in embodying the coming kingdom.

A Seat at the Table: A Generation Reimaginng Its Place in the Church by Shawna Songer Gaines and Timothy R. Gaines. Here's the description:

Why are so many 20- and 30-something Christians disappearing from the church? 

They are told how much the church wants young people, yet there is growing suspicion among young believers about who is in and who is out of the scope of Christian orthodoxy. Through this suspicion, a rift between the generations has emerged. In the face of frustration, of being cut out because they don t seem to fit, young believers often take their gifts and leave the church.

This book helps those who feel displaced by this generational collision to find a sense of place and welcome with a church that is still becoming all that God wants it to be.

If you are a young person who wonders if there is a place in the church for someone like you, or if you want to know if your own church can be the kind of body in which young people are welcome, A Seat at the Table will give you a new personal and kingdom perspective. Embrace the challenge to re-imagine your relationship with the church in light of this generational collision, not seeing it as an unredeemable rift, but as an opportunity to give and receive hospitality.

Whirlybirds and Ordinary Times: Reflections on Faith and the Changing of Seasons by Katie Savage. Okay, so as my wife she's more than a "friend" to me, but we're still friendly with each other :)  There's no official description for this one yet, but it's a collection of essays loosely based on a seasons of the church year.

If there are others of you, my friends, who have a book coming out soon and you are not here, you should be. It's either because I forgot, or don't know about it. So, tell me (again)!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kingdom Entrepreneurs

I once heard N.T. Wright talk about being "kingdom entrepreneurs." It wasn't a whole lecture, but a little fragment of a reflection based on his reading the Scripture. I think he was talking about Romans, which he seems to do a lot, thankfully.

In this video he gives a few vignettes of this notion of being kingdom entrepreneurs. It's worth the watch and hopefully it stirs something up in your heart for your own context.

It resonates with what I was trying to say in my last sermon on John 20:19-31, specifically the part where Jesus says, "As the Father has sent me, I also send you." And how John's gospel in general is just messy and earthy: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us; Jesus spits on the ground, makes some mud, and puts it on the blind man's eyes; He BBQ's fish with His disciples, smoke in his eyes and fish guts on his hands; He breathes the Holy Spirit into them, reminding us of a God who put his hands in the dust of the earth to make humans.

Whenever I talk about the how Heaven and Earth are beginning to overlap, how the kingdom of God is beginning to appear, I will often say that it's something like a cosmic cross-fade. It's like when you pause right in between scenes so that you can see both of them at the same time. The old creation is cross-fading into the new. The kingdom is inaugarted in Jesus, but it's not here yet, although we are beginning to see it. This video helps us capture a glimpse of what that might look like.

I warn you, these kinds of things require imagination.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Off-the-Cuff: "I am a Concerned Nazarene"

I'm not sure how much good this will do, but I feel compelled to offer a few thoughts, if only because my brother-in-law asked me what I thought about this article.

So, here are my off-the-cuff remarks:

- Crux Probat Omnia. The cross calls everything into question. Doctrine should always be "under attack," lest we be so presumptuous about who God is. But perhaps Jaroslav Pelikan says it best, "What the church of Jesus Christ believes, teaches, and confesses on the basis of the word of God: this is Christian doctrine. Doctrine is not the only, not even the primary, activity of the church. The church worships God and serves mankind, it works for the transformation of this world and awaits the consummation of its hope in the next. 'Faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love' - love, and not faith, and certainly not doctrine. The church is always more than a school; not even the age of Enlightenment managed to restrict or reduce it to its teaching function. But the church cannot be less than a school. Its faith, hope, and love all express themselves in teaching and confession ... The Christian church would not be the church as we know it without Christian doctrine." As Pelikan says elsewhere, It is about continuity and change.

- Because of this I kind of hope we will become who we have never been.

- Continuity and change applies to music as well. (Are we still having this debate?) Hymns or praise songs? If ever there was  false dichotomy. Perhaps the better categories should be beauty and poetry. We just might rid ourselves of the problem before we have to deal with it. I say let the Psalms be our guide. Just try and categorize the scope of the Psalms into either "hymn" or "praise." I dare you to find a place for Psalm 88 and 150 and 33 and 118 and 78. Perhaps the question is not what music should we play but where are the artists can play the music?

- Witch hunts are bad. That's just Being Human 101. Rather than try and argue for the place of a generous and intelligent theological conversation where we love even our enemies, not just the ones who pass a litmus-test, I think I'll just bend down and scribble in the dirt for a while. I hope we rub off on each other.

- Right, mutual respect

- "Missional" does not solve our problems, but it might be a way forward. How can we know what the mission is if we cannot talk about God? What we say about God matters, absolutely. But since God is love, there is a way of being in relationship with God, and therefore one another, where we begin to look and act like God (we share God's character) even before we know exactly how to talk about it. Even still, doctrine is not about narrowing down our words until we arrive at the final, definitive explanation of God and faith. Perhaps theology is more about getting the first words right rather than the last ones. Perhaps the first governing, centering, orienting word is love.

Okay, I'm finished. I thought the spirit of the article was right, of course I would probably nuance it differently, which I hope began to show in this brief reply. What'cha think?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Preaching on the Trinity

Last Sunday I preached on John 20:19-31. If ever there was a passage that lent itself for some teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity, it's this one. There are very few passages where the Father, Son, and Spirit make such obvious appearances. Nevertheless, I won't bore you with the details, I struggled to do this.

I'm wondering if there are any resources out there (books, sermons, whatever) about how to preach on the Trinity. But more than that, how do we preach on the Trinity, or in light of the Trinity, without making each sermon about the doctrine of the Trinity. Does that makes sense? I suppose another way to ask my question is how can our preaching become more Trinitarian?

I don't usually plea for traffic, but pass this on to your friends and famous cousins and sent me some ideas!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Quote by Lesslie Newbigin

“How can this strange story of God made flesh, of a crucified Savior, of resurrection and new creation become credible for those whose entire mental training has conditioned them to believe that the real world is the world which can be satisfactorily explained and managed without the hypothesis of God? I know of only one clue to the answering of that question, only one real hermeneutic of the gospel: a congregation which believes it.” - Lesslie Newbigin

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Around the Horn

Tim Suttle points out a two part piece (here and here) in the New York times by Stanley Fish on science and religion. And you all should really know who Isaac Anderson is.

Doug Harrison posts some thoughts on some of the tensions of Christian community.

A fastantic post about making your own spoon.

Interesting video recap/summary of the occupy movement. I'm not really sure what to make of this, if this is accurate.

Saw this video floating around this week. I'm always skeptical of people who tell me to do more, as if doing more means living better, but I suppose there is some kernel of truth here.

And a movie I am going to see this weekend.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lectio Divina is Saving My Life

Lectio divina is saving my life. Let me tell you why.

Last week at our Good Friday service our pastor asked me to find some music to play while everyone was gathering. This meant that I had to go to my office, plug in my iPod, and find something on iTunes. I realized something about myself during this little task, which is that you cannot ask a person like me to do something like this. It's not that I don't want to help. Quite the opposite, in fact. I want to help a little much for my own good. I want to narrow down all of the contemplative music that I have on my computer, sort out the ones with vocals, and then listen to each one that's left, ruling out along the way the ones that sounds a little creepy or disjointed. I can't just find something and that's the problem. I have to make an informed decision, which means that I have to listen to every single piece of music I own. Did I mention that we had ten minutes before the service started?

I am finding this to be true in a lot of other ways. I won't begin a task unless I have time to finish. I refuse to do something because I don't understand it, which means that in order to understand it I have to become and expert, but I don't have time for all of that so I don't even bother. I find this especially true when I read Scripture. I have been wanting to inhale large chunks of Scripture in order to get a better handle on the narrative flow of the bible. The problem when I do this is that about a week later I am wounded from not reading the bible with any sense of devotion. I know that makes me sound really evangelical, but I hope it's more like me sounding like I believe God can speak to me through these words, because most of the time I feel like that's all I've got.

But ... lectio divina is saving my life.

I accidentally started practicing lectio during Holy Week and I haven't been able to stop. A person like me lives in his head. If Richard Rohr is right, we enter the world either through our hearts, guts, or heads. We're either primarily emotional, intuitive, or intellectual people. And this isn't say that some are smarter or whatever. It's just that we each lean toward one more than the others. For me, lectio allows me to put something in my head and hold onto it for day. It slows me down, helping me to pay attention to my breathing, which inevitably stirs something up in soul that I need to pay attention to. Typically, when I read long chunks of Scripture I start to think about how many theology books I haven't read. And then I put the bible down and go read those books, only to find that after a few days I realize I am not reading the bible enough. And it goes on and one. I think paying attention to what is stirred up is a better way to spend my time. I don't need any more guilt about not reading enough.

I am a bit of a headcase, but then again that's how I roll, according to Rohr.

In any case, in an effort to let the words of Scripture take a little more precedence in my life, I am forgoing my usual fifteen minute sermon at the Kansas City Rescue Mission tonight. Instead, we're going to read the bible slowly and thoughtful, maybe even meditatively, and by God's grace contemplatively.

Those guys hear enough people yap at them as it is.

I hope God is good to us tonight.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Of Irony, Sentimentality, and Good Friday

Read John 19:1-37.

I'll warn you ... I meander a bit here. This turns into more off-the-cuff thoughts. And for some reason I have violence on my mind. Probably because of last nights Maundy Thursday reading, Luke 22:51, "Stop! No more of this."

Time and space prohibit me from really describing the convolution of images that John has brought together in order to write about the death of Jesus: The irony of being crown king by the very people who will kill Him. The presentation of the new Adam, i.e. the new creation, when Pilate says, "Behold, the Man!" The irony that Jesus is the passover lamb, simultaneously refused as the Messiah from God and offered as a sacrifice in memory of how God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. Your just going to have to spend some time with the text to let the full implications of that night seep deeply in your hearts and minds.

"It is finished." That's one of the words Jesus spoke from the cross. As Stanley Hauerwas writes, "The work that is finished ... is the cross."

He continues, "He will be and is resurrected, but that resurrected One remains the One crucified. Rowan Williams remind us of Pascal's stark remark that 'Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.'"

Think about that for a moment, especially in light of what Hauerwas says about sentimentality, which I'll interject here in the middle of this quote: "I think nothing is more destructive for our ability to confess that the crucified Jesus is Lord than the sentimentality that grips so much that passes for Christianity in our day. Sentimentality is the attempt to make the gospel conform to our needs, to make Jesus Christ our 'personal' savior, to make the suffering Christ on the cross but an instant of general unavoidable suffering. I should like to think the relentless theological character of these meditations helps us avoid our sinful temptation to make Jesus's words from the cross to be all about us."

In what ways do we cheapen the cross by reducing it to a mere act-in-the-past that is all but disconnected from our actual on the ground, day to day, lives? How is the story of God about memory? How is it about more than memory? What does it require of our bodies?

That Christ is in agony until the end of the world, when all is put right, " ... is a remark that makes unavoidable the recognition that we live in the time between the times - the kingdom is begun in Christ but will not be consummated or perfected until the end of the world. Williams observes that Pascal's comment on Jesus's ongoing agony is not an observation about the deplorable state of unbelievers; it is instead an exhortation not to become nostalgic," or sentimental, "for a supposedly less compromised past or take refuge in some imagined purified future, but to dwell in the tension-filled time between the times, to remain awake to our inability to 'stay in the almost unbearable present moment where Jesus is.'"

Tension, indeed, for today our Lord dies and there is nothing we can do about it. And tomorrow, on Holy Saturday, we will be forced to remember that old line from the creed, "He descended into hell." There is no quick pass to Easter. Before their is resurrection, there is death and waiting.

All of this shapes and forms us, as the church, to be a people who live in tension of the times between the times, between the first and second coming of Jesus. The question before us is how should we live in the meantime? Does the cross say anything about the trajectory of our lives, marriages, and friendships? Does it question our politics, wars, and violence? Does it stir up compassion, justice, and peace? Or is it just something that happened in the past that doesn't make claims on our lives today?

Perhaps the greatest irony of the cross today is our sentimental embrace and, thus, refusal of its deepest implications. The first being, in light of death/cross of Jesus, that perhaps violence get's us nowhere.

What is finished? Jesus's life? Creation, which means that the New Creation is about to begin? Violence? There's a lot to consider here.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Maundy Thursday Lectio and Reflection

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, *got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus *said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean. - John 13:1-11

"Maundy" comes from Latin word, mandatum, which means "mandate" or "commandment." "A new commandment I give to you," says Jesus. "That you love one another, even as I have loved you" (John 13:34).

In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark,  and Luke), on the night that Jesus was betrayed, the night before His death, He blesses the bread and cup and shares them with His disciples. However, for John, in place of the last supper, he highlights Jesus washing the disciples feet. It's in the context of John's gospel where Jesus talks about the new commandment, the only commandment: love. These two images are meant to overlap. This picture of Christ's broken body and shed blood overlapping this picture of service. The image is that of the love of God, the self-emptying (kenosis) of God in Jesus for the life of the world. Love. Compassion.

I won't pretend to say I have obeyed the commands of Jesus. I will sometimes fool myself enough just to make it through the day, but the fact is I am in need of a good foot-washing, a good cleansing, a savior who knows how to navigate all of my brokenness - what I have done, what I have left undone, and what's been done to me. Most especially, my persistent refusal to bend the knee with Him, to share in the downward mobility of his life.

As Michael Lodahl writes, "But what strikes me about Jesus, time and again, is His amazing gift for downward mobility ... Thinking about God in that way does not come naturally - which is one of the big reasons why Jesus came. Thinking of ourselves in that way does not come naturally - which is another reason why Jesus came. This really is downward mobility, and that's a direction that most of us have little natural interest in pursuing" (When Love Bends Down, 46ff).

I wonder what would have to change about your life, family, church, politics, biases, bigotries, prejudices, ignorance, and fears for something like the downward mobility of Christ to be even remotely recognizable in you?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Lectio Divina and a quasi Holy Week reflection

I accidentally started practicing lectio divina again on Monday. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but for some reason the fact that it was Monday of Holy Week seemed to compel me to spend time with the Scripture in a new way.

For several years now I have been reading the bible towards the end of getting a better feel for the story as a whole. This meant reading large chunks at a time. The benefit of this kind of reading is that you get through the bible very quickly, which allows you to hold on to the overarching story. The problem with this kind of reading is that one can lose touch with text as that through which God speaks. The bible quickly becomes just another book I have to read. And I don't need another one of those!

Lectio divina is a way of reading shorter passages (10-20 verses) meditatively. It involves reading a passage several times, with long moments of silence in between, paying attention to words and phrases that stand out, as well as what your feeling as you read. The goal is to submit to the words as best you can. To open yourself to the God who is speaking through the words. It's kind of like mining for gold. Scooping up and sifting through a large amount of dirt until you arrive at what you're looking for. And it's not unusual to do more scooping and sifting and listening without necessarily finding some specific and direct word from God.

Using the Revised Common Lectionary as my guide, so far I've read John 12:1-11, John 12:20-36, and John 13:21-32.

Three images have stuck with me this week.

- The first is Mary anointing Jesus' feet with oil and then cleaning them with her hair. This image of devotion is the first thing we are to think about in Holy Week. This act of devotion that seems to be more important than compassion for the poor. Or perhaps, a devotion that is more authentic than Judas faux sense of compassion. Works that arise from faith, not works absent of faith and true devotion.

- The second is the Greeks who come to the disciples asking to see Jesus. It is another image of devotion. The blessing of Abraham is reaching the nations (gentiles).

- The third is Judas betraying Jesus. And here I am deflated, reminded that no sense of devotion erases my implication in the death of Jesus. Whether I am Judas who betrays Him or Peter who denies Him, to enter the story of God in Holy Week is to spend time as His betrayer.

You may want to reflect for yourself on these images of devotion and betrayal, pausing long enough to let the weight of each have its say.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Quote by Robert Barron

"As we saw, the first words out of the mouth of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark are a call to conversion: 'The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the Good News' (Mark 1:15). The life, preaching, and mission of Jesus are predicated upon the assumption that all is not well with us, that we stand in need of metanoia, a renovation of vision, attitude and behavior. A few decades ago the book I'm OK - You're OK appeared. Its title, and the attitude that tie embodies, are inimical to Christianity. Anothony de Mello answered that book with a better motto: "I'm an ass and so are you!" A salvation religion makes no sense if all is basically fine with us, if all we need is a little sprucing up around the edges. Christian saints are those who can bear the awful revelation that sin is not simply an abstraction or something that other people wrestle with, but a power that lurks and works in them. And this is why knowing that we are sinners - even wart hogs from hell [a la Flannery O'Connor] - is the second path of holiness." - Robert Barron, The Strangest Way