“I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news…”is a recurring theme of the Corinthian correspondence. Divided loyalty (I follow Cephas, I follow Apollos, I follow Paul, I follow Christ) leads the Corinthians to argue over minor matters, treat the body of Christ with contempt by making a mockery of the unifying meal and neglect the greater gift of love in favor of flashier outward signs of tongues and puffed up spiritual pride. The good news reminder shouldn't be lost on us who have received and now stand in the story Paul proclaimed. The Christ who appeared to the long list of witnesses and lastly to Paul has appeared to us so that whenever death in all its many forms (including discord) threatens to destroy “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8) we say “NO” and hold firmly to the belief that life and love will have the last word. And reminded that the last word belongs to the life of Christ means every word belongs to Christ which clearly includes those we speak to one another.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The Lord is the psalmist’s strength and song because in the “day that the Lord has made” the right arm of the Lord has done mighty things. But what about in the day when “the Lord punished me sorely” and the only place left to go was to be handed over to death? If every day is a day the Lord has made then the Lord is my strength and my song everyday even in the dark day of death. That is why we can speak the words of Psalm 118 “there are shouts of joy and victory in the tents of the righteous” when we gather under a tent at a graveside service. Granted our shouts of joy and victory are subdued by tear stained eyes and sobbing but then contrary to popular thought it is not our voice that the dearly departed hears. No. They hear the vast multitude too great too count – a hundred trillion, gazillion voices and beyond shouting Alleluia (the aloha of heaven) for while we look at a casket and wonder how we can go on without them the one who has crossed over is filled with the wonder of beauty beyond imagination, joy beyond description, love that cannot be contained, life that is pure and full of peace, holy and eternal. Those are the voices longtime Calvary member Susan Thomas heard yesterday afternoon when she took her last breath in this life only to take her first breath in the next. As beautiful as Easter services will be at Calvary this Sunday I can’t imagine Susan will be sorry to miss them this year. We will miss her. I know I will. But the promise of Psalm 118 is that one day we will know what she knows and when the gates of righteousness open for us Susan’s voice will be one of the vast multitude that welcomes us shouting Alleluia! Aloha!
Monday, March 30, 2015
God’s “no partiality” is still particular even if the promise to Jews was extended to Gentiles. That doesn't mean the nature of the arrangement wasn't radically changed. God cut circumcision, the signature sign of the covenant, along with the restricted diet, the observance of days, the sacrifices, etc. But the new “no partiality” is still only shown to those who fear God and do what is right. That means in the most important way nothing has changed in that fearing God and doing what was right was always what God had in mind even if those who lived the outward signs failed to embrace the inward ways. God desires relationship not sacrifice. So how do we who are the recipients of the new “no partiality” repay the favor? I’m afraid we write new rules and make our peculiarities particular to God. Who knows if the God who gave up kosher to include those who think everything's better with bacon might also give up all things for the sake of those God always intended to include in the “no partiality” covenant. Who knows? What we do know is that God determined to die hanging on a tree for the sake of those who could care less which may mean God is partial even to those who fail to fear God and do what is right.
Friday, March 27, 2015
The Passion of the Christ according to Mark begins with a woman (name forgotten) who is remembered for her costly act of devotion and ends with two women (names remembered) who see where “he was laid”. It is a story with the usual cast of characters in a human drama; betrayers, deniers, accusers, abusers, the clueless crowd crying crucify and the faithful few fear scattered and hiding. In the center of it all is the One to whom the “beautiful thing is done” by the name forgotten woman as a sign of the burial that the women names remembered see. From the table with the twelve to the garden of “take this cup from me” the confident One who predicts his death and resurrection moves inextricably to the moment where “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” means the Holy One bears the full weight of the world gone horribly wrong. Not that God the (perfect) Father turns his back on the (sin carrying sacrifice) Son but that God enters so fully into the human rebellion against the Divine desire for love that the power and majesty of the “in the beginning” creating Word is abandoned to the inevitable reality of “he emptied himself and humbled himself unto death.” (Philippians 2:7-8) A God divested of power is a God quickly stripped of life. So the beginning might be as important as the end. The woman (name forgotten) is remembered because the one she anointed for burial while alive came back to life after he was dead so that the women (names remembered) could point to the empty place where “swear to God” they saw him buried.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
I cannot say equality with God is something I would let go of and I’m guessing you wouldn't either. And if I found myself on other side of the Divine I would surely not choose the cross as an exit strategy. So God is not like me although God hopes that even if Christ is not like me I might be like Christ Jesus – “Let this mind be in you.” If God were a gambler we would clearly be the long shot but then again God is “all in” and has nothing to lose except his life – which in the end turns out to be the winning hand. So I guess “let this mind be in you” means be like God and bet everything on a losing hand.