Tag Archive: Word of God

Good Friday Reality

A slow wading into the strange midday gloom of Good Friday listening in the darkness to the words spoken. Chosen words. Cross words. Words that would have taken concerted effort just to gather enough breath to utter. Heavy words that identify with our breathing and our aching.
“Why have you forsaken me?”
“I am thirsty.”
Words that speak to us with the unseen gravity of hope that draws us to and draws us through the dark places.
“Father, forgive them.”
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Forty days of journeying toward resurrection is a journey with one’s eyes on the ground as these Good words move out of the peripheral and into focus. The moon in orbit still pulling and affecting things below still sets our dates for celebrating The Life. On this particular annual trip around my eyes have focused on something much closer instead of a detached and distant view through the scope. These words have drawn my eyes to see the spirals, swirls and ridges that make up the imprint of a finger. Original one-of-a-kind fully fully human. The dignity of the divine is unforgotten, but the blood and pulsing pressure system that moves the red life around the body more real this year than before.
Chords and words of hymns of wood and blood sharpen the focus. Weekly gathering in community both large and small proclaiming and sharing magnifies things all the more. Today thanks to friends new and old I more than remember things which had gone soft in focus. I am re-membered because what came into view as those cross words were spoken was firm reality. Real as the warmth of the sun, the touch of a hand, and the force that holds me to the earth and pulls me to the grave. The solid reality of no more beating, the finality of a last breath and the concluding words from the cross saying

The Word went silent and breathed no more. The strangeness of this good dark day has placed firmly in my life the reality of a servant and a ransom, of a gift and lost things found, and of peace near and far. The reality of clear access to the Holy and the One because of the concrete reality of blood and breath.

This season of Lent as we have focused on the words Jesus Christ spoke from the cross has been like what I understand praying with an icon is to be like where you are simply drawn deeper and deeper into the profound reality of our faith.

Lord Jesus, when we distant ourselves from reality, we distance ourselves from you. Help us as we approach Easter to live into the reality of your loving sacrifice so that your gift of life becomes the real solid ground we walk on. Amen. 

Loving Your Enemies

I have found myself in a habit of reading or listening to a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. about once a year. So yesterday being a day in which we remember this great leader I Googled to find new sermon to read. (I need to just break down and buy a book with a set of his sermons)  I came across this one. The sermon was called “Loving Your Enemies” was delivered to Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1957. He preached from Matthew 5:43-48.  While it is has a few cultural particulars of his day in regards to nuclear energy and communism it seemed amazingly on target for today. While the particular enemies that are depicted on the news and across the internet are different today in certain ways(in some ways they are NOT different) than during Dr. King’s day the message still stands. What Dr. King says is still a timely word of the Good News of God.

Here is just one paragraph, but the entire thing is worth listening to or reading!!!

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

Click here to read the entire sermon.

Lord Jesus, may the eternal weight of your love weigh down on us until we can’t take it anymore and we are transformed into a people who love like you.  Amen.

80 Pages – Thankful for Words

[sorry, it has been a while since I last wrote, but I was busy doing some other writing. I thank God for all of you who have supported me through this amazing time.]

Jesus-Is-LordLast week I turned in my commissioning papers to become a Provisional Member of the Ordained Elders in the United Methodist Church. While I am not saying that 80 pages was easy, or that that I am chomping at the bit to write 80 more it was an interesting experience to reflect on God in this way. For example one of the questions was “How do you interpret the statement ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’?” I wrote two pages in response to this one question. I also had several moments, including a moment with this question, which felt like an answer could have been a book in and of itself. I began to appreciate more and more that this glorious, wonderful God revealed in Jesus Christ who we encounter through the ever-present Holy Spirit is beyond our words. There is not enough ink, paper, Terabytes of data, or time in all creation to adequately give space toward depicting in words the infinite God of all creation. There are not enough words to explore the WORD. So I am thankful that I had the opportunity to reflect on God for 82 pages, but I am also thankful for the gift of eternal life in which we get to spend the never-ending depth of love expressed in our savior Jesus Christ.

Word of God, thank you for expressing your love to us in Word made flesh. May our words give you praise and speak of your glory until your kingdom come.


Blossoms and Blacksmiths

Preaching is such a fascinating experience. As soon as I feel like I have found a stride in the art of sermon preparation and presentation something shifts. I have noticed two patterns starting to emerge, and when I live in one of the patterns for a while the other pattern typically shows up and takes me by surprise.

blossom 1443711_95563180One of the patterns is the blossom. I will be reading through the scripture like wandering through a garden and even though I have walked that path before I will turn my head and there, like it was never there before, a flower is blossoming. It is like the scripture just burst forth with life and the sermon blossoms right before my eyes.  I’m not saying that there isn’t any work to be done in studying, preparing, pruning, gleaning, refining, but the Good News comes alive like a flower blossoming before me.


Blacksmith_workingThe other pattern is that of the blacksmith. I feel like I am holding a hot piece of metal and blow after blow with a hammer a sermon begins to take shape.  Whether the scripture text is difficult or I am the difficult one, I am not sure. The scripture seems to exert itself on me as I try to fashion a sermon. I imagine I would never want to arm wrestle a real blacksmith, because after years and years of working so hard heating and beating the metal to shape it into something beautiful or something useful (Preferably both) the body of the blacksmith has been shaped, strengthened and molded.

I am coming to discover that both patterns are a gift in their own way. The beautiful surprise of God speaking in unexpected ways and unexpected places offering a life giving message of Good News, or the working with the scripture in such a way that through discipline and sweat God transforms me and in this process God reveals the beauty and power of The Word made flesh. So whatever pattern comes next I am learning to be thankful for the gift. Besides I wouldn’t be surprised if another pattern is just around the corner.

God thank you for your gift of scripture and your revealed love and truth. Thank you for your Good News that we can encounter in so many different patterns. Thank you that these gifts transform us.