The Kingdom that Begins with Lent

What kind of a kingdom begins with Lent?  Well, a good and godly one.  In fact, the gospel story begins with Jesus announcing the presence of God’s kingdom, and then proposing our proper response in “Lenten terms.”  “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced.  “The kingdom of God is near!  Repent of your sins and believe the Good News “(Mark 1:15, NLT). At least at the beginning, all who enter or participate in the kingdom Jesus announces will do so in Lenten terms. Most of my church friends will agree that this makes sense.  All have sinned … .  So, yes, repent of your sins if you want anything to do with the kingdom of the …

I DON’T SEE JESUS!

“But I don’t see Jesus!” That is what little Ari, our granddaughter, said at bed time when we asked her whether she wanted to pray.  She hesitated or declined to say the prayers because she couldn’t “see” Jesus.  She had spent Christmas Day with us, along with siblings and parents, and then had stayed over that night.  After a long day of playing, eating, laughing, receiving gifts, playing some more, watching special Christmas programs on TV, it was time for bed.  But she didn’t want to pray to a Jesus she couldn’t see. A part of me wanted to shift into analytic, apologetic mode and respond to the question of how to interact with the Divine who is invisible.   Another …

GOD AS BABY!

When you held your first-born baby, or grandchild, or any infant, you probably did not think, “This is how God was!” C.S. Lewis famously noted that the greatest miracle of Christianity is not the resurrection but the incarnation. If you can accept that God became a baby, the resurrection should not be a problem. The biblical story tells us about a baby’s birth.  During these weeks of Advent, we will read and sing from two famous passages found in the Prophesy of Isaiah.   At a time when the people of Judah cowered in fear over an alliance of Israel and Syria against them, the Lord gave a sign: The virgin will conceive and bear a son, whose name will …

WAS JESUS ABANDONED?

When from the cross Jesus cries out: “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” he felt the full consequences of human sin, which separates from all that is good, including God who is good.  To embrace human sinfulness in bodily life in loving self-sacrifice, as Jesus did, pushed him to the outermost edges of inhabitable reality.  It overshadowed his dimming and dying perceptions and awareness.  It acquainted him with the deepest of griefs—the shrouding of conscious awareness of God’s presence.  It drove him to a despairing sense of abandonment, unthinkable and unimaginable until that very moment.  In these final moments, he felt the generationally-compounding weight of humanity’s isolation from the Presence required for human life and flourishing.  It …

BUT … IT IS POLITICAL!

In recent days I have heard several people say something like: “I am not trying to be political, now, …” or “Please don’t take this as a political statement,” or “Not to be political but … !”  I think I know what each was trying to say, or not to say.  But each time I thought to myself, “But … it is political!” They were making a point about the church or the gospel or what they believed to be an appropriate response to present circumstances, and they offered this disclaimer.  They were not trying or wishing to be “political.” But how can people who follow Jesus as their Messiah, that is “King,” speak about or act upon their faith …