THE GLORY AND THE PEACE

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace for people of God’s good will (Luke 2:14).” It is common to pass quickly from these traditional words of praise to the detailed account of what the Shepherds discovered at the Bethlehem crèche—the child swaddled, parents adoringly attending, and the animals carrying on as usual.  Stunning was the discovery just as the Heavenly Host had described!  Stunning enough to explain the rush to see “this thing that God has done and revealed to us,” (2:15). One reason we so quickly move from the sheep and fields to the village manger traces I think to an assumed split between heaven and earth which moderns accept as self-evident.  Heaven is there and …

POLITICAL QUESTIONS–WHAT (do we do) NOW?

What some might have thought unthinkable has happened.  This November citizens of the United States will cast ballots to elect either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as their next President.  Conceivably it could be different, but only in the same way we often say, “I suppose anything can happen.” That it comes to such a choice is truly remarkable in several ways.  While both have a passionately committed following, they also both have an equally or more passionate, and perhaps equally sizeable, segment of voters that would say, “Anyone but that one!”  Thus, the next U.S. President might well come into office because she or he has the lower undesirability rating.  The victor would then be the least deplored, somewhat …

Trinity of Tears

On the fourth day at the tomb of a dear friend Jesus wept (John 11:35).  On the first day of the week, as the crowds hailed him as king, Jesus wept (Luke 19:41).  On the night he was betrayed, Jesus wept (Luke 22:39-45, Heb. 5:7). In the face of death, at the place of death, in response to the fact of death, in the midst of friends experiencing the pain and grief of death, Jesus enters in.  Jesus wept, knowing full well what he would do next.  Weeping not because death was final, but because death was real even if not final.  Weeping not because death has no answer but because the answer could not come short of entering into …

“GIVING-UP OR GIVING-FOR” FOR LENT

What are you giving up for Lent?  This has become a common question reflecting a common practice among Christ-followers today.  The Lenten season, which begins today, is the forty day period of repentance, confession, and seeking by which the world wide community of Jesus enters into the passion of Jesus once again, eventually joining Jesus in the Garden, on the Via Delarosa, at “the place of the skull,” on the cross, and in the tomb.  We hope to enter into the way of Jesus, with Jesus, and along the way acknowledge our complicity in the sin that led to Jesus’ suffering, our determined resolve to be done with all such sin, and our seeking after the grace that forgives and …

Disturbing Contrast

Last week I read about the global church south and east of us, that is exploding in growth with aims of taking the gospel back to Jerusalem and boldly proclaiming the good news of Jesus all along the way, much of that way dominated currently by Islam.  When this church calls others to follow Jesus, they tell them it will cost them perhaps their very lives but will allow them to enter into God’s plan for the restoration of the whole world.  As they prepare their people to witness, they teach them how to witness in prison and under extreme duress. Then on Sunday we attended a growing multi-site church that by all western standards is fruitful and effective for the kingdom. …