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 …

ON HAITI AND AFRICA

As last week wound down, and then over the weekend, we all heard reports of disparaging remarks about the nation of Haiti and certain unnamed African countries.  These reports have sparked many different kinds of responses from people of different faiths and no faith, different political leanings, and different tones. The Free Methodist Church commits to viewing the world and its peoples through eyes and hearts shaped by the person and mission of Jesus, and seeks to interact in the world along paths forged by Jesus in his own ministry.  Therefore, generalized characterizations of people and nations, by their very nature, cannot help but misrepresent and disrespect the people of those nations.  As a matter of fact, it is because …

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 …

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 …