The “Trumping” of Messiah

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, it must have excited and energized the crowds who welcomed him.  Garments spread on the path, palm branches waving in the air, jubilant cries lifted to the heavens: “Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest! Welcome, Jesus, long awaited Messiah of God and Israel!” A number must have enthused, “It’s about time!  We saw how he ran from the crowds who would have made him King after he fed them; we heard how he rebuked those who proclaimed his royal qualifications; our hearts burned with zeal as he cleared out the Temple; we wept when friends told us what happened on the mountain when he dazzled them and the Voice confirmed who He IS!  Yes, this is long …

Kingdom, Lent, and Blessing

The Kingdom that begins with Lent also begins with blessing.  There is the call to turn—repent!—which is Lent.  There then comes a pronouncement: “Blessed!”  Consider how stunning this is. When Jesus begins to teach about the Kingdom of God, the first word is “Blessed!”  This is not what we expected, not from God almighty in the season of Lent.  We think it’s the time for sober and brutal assessment; time for acknowledging our failures; time to confess we are moral losers, spiritual losers, and relational losers.  Gather it all up and summarize our human condition as failed. Our natural default, sometimes even after long association with Jesus and his friends, leads us to expect that a perquisite of entering and …

OLYMPIC IMAGININGS

This evening I plan to join a billion others in watching the opening ceremonies of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.   I am confident that my billion plus friends and I will be treated to stunning sights, sounds, and sentiments. Together we will be like a crowd no one could number easily or ever, joining those who were physically encircling the center of the arena.  We will join people from most every nation, tribe, people and language (if not literally at least representatively and vicariously).  Participants donning colorful and culturally symbolic clothing, gloriously reflecting the diversity within the human family, in celebration of common commitment and achievement.  Common though incredibly extraordinary as well.  Where else and when else are …

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 …

BABY AS IMMANUEL!

In a world desperately in need of good news and forlornly weary of platitudes we celebrate the coming of Immanuel—God with us—in the gift of Jesus   Glory to God in the highest!  Well, yes, but what about us in the lowest? If it doesn’t work for the whole world and all of reality, does it truly work?  That’s a question I have been asking in recent years.  I was forced to ask it seriously and urgently when I began going to other places, addressing other cultures, and found that some of my most “creative” stuff just didn’t work there and in those circumstances.  So, does it work for the whole world—for the highest and the lowest places and those who …