Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No need to be so concerned, With who's best or... who's holiest

I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. Romans 1:14

The native people (barbarians) showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. Acts 28:2

I am pretty bound up and surrounded by the foolishness of the Greeks, considered the wise, as I wade through The Odyssey with my ninth graders. The ancient hero Odysseus’ first option is to lie, every time. He tarries with wine, woman, and song for many a month while his wife, his child and the people under his leadership wait, staring across the salty horizon to no avail. If there is a treasure or curiosity to distract him, off he goes, no matter what the cost to his men. The wise.

And here we have the barbarians, the fools who didn’t even know how to read and write and whose idols were probably crafted from old washed-up logs and not the creamiest marble, but they sure knew how to treat the wayfaring stranger.

But Greek or barbarian, wise or foolish, the point is the Gospel of God concerning His Son through whom we have received grace and apostleship with which Paul has been obligated.

And I got dragged into a political discussion last night. Drats. Because really that sort of thing produces no fruits of righteousness. Or unity. Or what is true and honorable and lovely.  And all of us are foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless in so many ways. And the wrath of God is rightfully against all ungodliness, and we all deserve death. And therefore I have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another I condemn myself, because I, the judge, practice the very same things.

Yet. Yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is His great love, the Gospel, the good news.

This morning someone asked for the lyrics to Cameron’s “I Will Always Love You” and some supporting Scriptures. And gladly I could scramble through the Scriptures.

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love.

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

In this I can rejoice. May this good news fill my thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

hago, haces, hace, hacemos

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:18-20

And to Him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve Him;
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and His kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:14-15

So God in the second person of the trinity permanently purchases
With perfect purpose and a death of infinite worth
Rising from the earth to assert certain prophetic words
Serving as a legal substitution to completely reverse the curse
To God alone belongs salvation. M. Ramirez

Go therefore and make disciples.

And the making part is very tied up in the “therefore” part–all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me.

And I am pretty sure that is not how I frame my life. Not the glasses I wear as I trudge out into the day, tired before it starts, viewing the tremendous mountain of heavy-laden soaring upward, blocking the sun.

And while it is true that some of the disciples, even as they stood on the mountaintop of Galilee with The One Triumphant Over Death, still stood in disbelief, refusing to take hold of His feet and worship.

I can choose.

And this sort of decision is based on empirical evidence. I mean, Jesus was right there, with a thrustable hole in His side, and still they stood, unbent. That angel smashed open the earth and shone like lightening, and still those guards accepted filthy lying lucre. And this morning the waning moon hung high above the noctilucent blue billows striating across pale pewter skies declaring that I am without excuse.

Still.  Still can be an adverb used for saying that something remains true despite what you have just said, Or. It can be an adjective describing my heart.

Still. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto Him.

And I kneel down, releasing it all, the heavy-self-constructed-burdens. And therefore, go and make disciples.

Yesterday I tried to explain the power and breadth of the Spanish verb hacer, to do and to make at the same time. Let it be so.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Who are you? What have you sacrificed?

And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” Matthew 27:23

I must confess that images from Jesus Christ Superstar are those that frame these verses. The egos and hysteria and twisted plots swirl around the alert, even poised figure in white. He is the one who knows what He is about.

Crucify Him. Crucify Him.

What evil has He done?

And all of the deceit and grudges and manipulation and doubt and meanness and cruelty and lust and envy and disrespect and other products of brokenness were piled so very high onto the altar on Golgotha.  Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Once and for all. The punishment that brought us peace.

And darkness fell over all over the earth.

And He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” They did not know that they were participating in the fulcrum point of all history. We never really know the backside of the story.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

The gleaming Mark O'Hagin table holds up Life

 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” Matthew 25:26-29

This mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
to rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And He will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
The veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth,
For the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for Him;
Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:6-9

Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.

His kingdom is now.

Sin and death have been destroyed.

So all of us teacher-types were packed up to Glendale yesterday for a professional development by a horse-whisperer sort of guy. And really, there were lots of bits that I didn't really agree with and that it thought were contradictory etc. etc. but. He did remind me of one absolute truth. Satan has lost the battle. It is done. Over. Finished.

And all of the doubts and fears and brokenness that weighs us down, the heavy-ladenness of life is mostly tied up with not saying, “Get ye back, Satan” enough.

And I am reminded that Jesus Who Knows What Is True always blesses first.   Before He broke the bread. And may that be my first response to life, a true thank you God for You are good and Your kingdom is Now. Not in the distant by-and-by, but Now.

And a friend, recently tattooed much to Alan’s dismay wrote about our little Plymouth Brethren Chapel, imperfect yet whole, and the breaking of bread service led only by the Spirit.

Bethany Chapel
Bracketed between the first
tentative prayers, a silence fills
this place, a shadowed listening
as our separateness seeks out
the Spirit’s focus for this hour
and gathers strength enough
to peer and soar
into small, shining arcs of praise
held at their lower ends
by the old hymns. Christ
in this crowd of rest and rising
humbles himself again to our
humanity; and like the sheep
(trembling in the shearer’s hands)
surrenders to us once more
in quietness.
As at his dark birth and death
we had his body in our fingers,
now, again, we split the whiteness
of his loaf by turns, and tasting
his imaged life against
the cup’s cool rim
we take him in.
Nourished by that final flesh,
that ultimate blood behind
the chosen signs, our God-thoughts,
seeds of worship, multiply to words.
Light flows down to us, and back,
joins us in one body of fire –
one polyphon of light now
sounding out himself –
one flame of singing
burning into being.
Luci Shaw
And because I am married to the worship leader, I know that today’s service is about this selfsame silence.

And my heart always fills in the part, “and they sang a hymn and went went out to the Mount of Olives” with an unspoken “in silence.”

And I know Marco was unhappy with the careless chit-chat before and between and after the Eucharist.

And today may I hear the silence.

In the one flame of singing burning into being.