Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Special Treat

My wife and I are in South Carolina visiting our extended families. In the coming and going between her folks and mine I drive through Greenville. This morning my schedule allowed a mid-morning treat at IHOP with Fr Dwight Longenecker (“Standing on My Head” — see blog side bar).

I have been privileged to meet “live” with Fr Dwight several times, and it is always a joy to share journeys and experience the fresh delight of God at work. In each of us who belong to Him, Jesus is writing a story (a wonderful awareness heightened by C. S. Lewis).

So, a “public” thanks to Fr D for his time and the great fellowship in the Spirit. On this occasion he introduced me to another pilgrim on the way whose past intersected with some of my contacts.

I am reminded again that The Way is well-traveled, the Church is both huge and yet surprisingly intimate, and the Communion of the Saints is around us all the time.

Journey on.....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God and Country

I have been cautious of nationalism for all of my adult life. This was reinforced early on as I began to understand the implications of ultimate loyalty to the kingdom of God, which is now trans-national and ultimately will be the one enduring order once the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God and of his Christ. My “national anthem” is Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

This means I am skeptical of politics. I stop just short of seeing politics as a necessary evil. I wrestle over a decision to vote, and usually when I do I have a keen consciousness that I am choosing between the best of two poor options.

There was much about Obama that caused me to think he was a poor option. His position on abortion, alone, was a major disqualifier for my support. I find it very troubling that he, as President, may appoint one or several justices to the Supreme Court who likely will be chosen from among people who have no commitment to law that is built on Truth.

Yet in spite of all this (and I could say more, but that is not my motivation for this post), I was thrilled and moved as I watched the inauguration today. What “got” me was one of the things which has been most controversial in the past few weeks; it was the prayer by Pastor Rick Warren. Specifically, it was the way he ended the prayer.... as a Christian.

I commend his sensitivity with his phrasing of the One “who has changed my life....” (recognizing that not all who heard his words are Christians). But as he began to speak the different words that diverse people groups use for our Lord, tears of joy came to my eyes knowing that I live in a land where the name of Jesus can be spoken so explicitly in such a public and politically-charged setting. For all the other things that were said on this day, the Name of the King of kings and Lord of lords was exalted.

When Obama’s term of office is concluded (and may God grant him physical protection and a wisdom beyond his own abilities), the kingdom of God will continue to be the one thing that is sure. That’s where I give my allegiance.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Baptism of the Lord

Today is the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.

Why was Jesus baptized? (Even John wondered, protesting that Jesus should baptize him instead.)

The Church has dated this Feast at the very end of the Christmas season, showing a link between the birth of Jesus and all that is to come through His ministry.

Just as Jesus came to be the ultimate revelation — the final Word, and to do for us what we could never do for ourselves — save us from our sins, the baptism of Jesus is one more “picture” of Jesus going before us and showing the way to follow.

Just as Jesus died for us, He was baptized for us. In His baptism He was further owning the humanity He shares with us in His Incarnation. In His baptism Jesus was being obedient to the Father as the perfect Son and getting the affirmation from the Father: This is my beloved Son.

Jesus' baptism starts for us what His death and resurrection fulfill.

Our baptism is meant to start in us the kind of obedience that leads us into the fullness of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is our salvation.

Jesus was baptized for us so we can follow Him.

Christians are people who are following Jesus.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


The particular circumstances are ultimately inconsequential, but the past couple of months have had several hard things that made most days feel heavy and sad (not apart from times when a realization of peace and joy are there, yet the “groaning” mentioned in Romans 8 has been the greater reality).

Today’s Office of Readings includes a letter from Raymond of Penyafort that, while saying nothing “new,” speaks with the life of the Spirit into our days when we feel buffeted in this world:

The preacher of God’s truth has told us that all who want to live righteously in Christ will suffer persecution. If he spoke the truth and did not lie, the only exception to this general statement, I think, the person who either neglects, or does not know how, to live temperately, justly and righteously in this world.

May you never be numbered among those whose house is peaceful, quiet and free from care; those on whom the Lord’s chastisement does not descend; those who live out their days in prosperity, and in the twinkling of any eye will go down to hell.

.....If from time to time you feel the sword falling on you with double or treble force, this also should be seen as sheer joy and the mark of love.

....As you drink the cup of the Lord Jesus (how glorious it is!) give thanks to the Lord, the giver of all blessings.

We go into this world following the One who, through His death and resurrection, is leading us into the fullness of a Life we cannot comprehend.

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