Tuesday, June 20, 2017

That's It

... for now.

A break for this blog, and for me, this summer.

Back in September.

- John.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Genuine and Infectious

Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac. Despite the odds—being beyond child-bearing years—they bore a son.

Upon hearing the news that she would have a child, Sarah laughed. Was it laughter of joy, at the prospect of caring for that bundle of joy, or was it disbelief that such a thing was even possible? Probably the latter, because Sarah seemed to be ashamed of her laughter. But it doesn’t really matter—laughter is a hard thing to force, it is almost always a natural response to something unexpected. The son they bore was named Isaac, the very word means laughter. An ever present reminder of (not of the indiscretion of laughing, but) the marvelous God, who keeps promises.

Rarely is this column used to criticize anything—but Christians could do well to give up our dower, serious and often humourless bearing we too often project. Just like people wonder, what’s so good about Good Friday, so too people wonder, what so good about the Good News, when it is delivered in such judgmental and unhappy tones.

Faking happiness and laughter won’t help either—and there’s probably way too much of that around too.

Striking a balance is the goal—there are times for sadness and mourning. Our grief and sorrows need to be honoured too. After all, the Good News is serious business.
That is one of the things I truly love about our community, we usually strike a good balance between honouring the trials of life and taking joy at the sweetness and beauty that abounds. Trials that are offset by the grace of God and joys made all the more wonderful by God’s love.

I’m not one who’s given over easily to naïve innocence and there’s nothing naïve about being optimistic. Optimism is hard work, but work that I believe is of God, it helps foster true joy. A joy that is genuine and infectious. A joy that that can’t be contained. A joy that often surfaces as laughter. Sometimes it’s disbelief that such Good News is even possible. Sometimes it is shear joy because of the possibilities that exist because of it. Either way, joy is the centre of the Good News: that the Christ can be born in each and everyone of us.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My Simple Mind

We’ve been to the moon and we’ve sliced bread—the fact is we are pretty smart. How they get the caramel centre in a caramel bar seems obvious now that we have TV shows like, How’s It Made. Yet, there are a few things that elude our comprehension.

The suffix “ology” means, the study of. And the word “theo” means, God. Theology is the study of God and it is something we humans have been doing for an awfully long time. So long, in fact, that you’d think we have God all figured out by now.

Yet, a full comprehension remains beyond our scope. This was not a problem for peoples long ago. They didn’t expect to fully comprehend God—learning about God was a worthwhile exercise and full comprehension was not even the goal.

We construct images and metaphors to help us understand God more fully, such as the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a way of compressing the idea of God into a comprehensible formula: that we experience God in three main ways—as Creator, as Saviour and as present with us now, in Spirit. The idea of the Trinity was never intended to be the only way to think about God. Jesus uses other images: a woman looking for a lost coin, a mother hen.

None of these images are meant to be the final word on God—they simply can’t be. As clever as we are we will not fully comprehend God in all God’s majesty.

Trying to know God is a worthwhile goal because it is not just about seeing God’s action in history, or being amazed at the words of love and justice spoken by Jesus, it is also about discerning what God would have us do today—here and now. In the end, that’s really what theology is all about—discerning God's will for us today. With the help of a loving and discerning community, my simple mind can find great satisfaction with just the knowledge of what God might want from me now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"Let us pray,"

There are anomalies in worship, as in many things. The one that  is of concern right now is the invitation, “Let us pray.”

At the start of our worship time, it makes a great deal of sense, but, during our worship service it might cause someone to think, “but isn’t that what we were doing?”

Yes, of course, it was what we were doing, but it is good to be reminded every so often.

Celebrating the Day of Pentecost is, in this way, a bit like hearing the invitation, “Let us pray.” It serves as a reminder of what we were doing, or what we should have been doing.

Jesus makes it clear what he expects of his followers. There are constant reminders throughout scripture. Even the men who appear after the Ascension remind the Apostles where they are to go and do.

The Day of Pentecost is not the birth of the Holy Spirit, or even the birthday of the Church—it is an invitation, issued once again to be a people intent on doing the will of God—loving God with our whole being and loving our neighbours as ourselves. That’s what we should be doing, that’s what we are doing (or at least trying) and Pentecost reminds us of this.

The Apostles were perhaps surprised that they were given the ability to speak and do God’s will, that God’s Holy Spirit enabled them for their ministry. That same Spirit is with us, with the Church today, calling us into new places to show God’s transforming love and justice.

The expectations Jesus has of his followers is great, but never beyond our Spirit infused ability. That’s the wonderful and mysterious beauty of the Holy Spirit, pushing us beyond what we thought we were capable of, all the while, guiding us on our journey.

The Day of Pentecost is a day to celebrate God’s constant and loving presence with us—nothing new, just a reminder of what we are to be about anyway.