As American Christians we have a very high view of ourselves. I remember being on a summer mission trip and participating in a learning exercise that was created to open our eyes to the need of missionaries to the world. The Americans were designed to be the heroes and the other parts of the world world were displayed as being less than in Christian faith.
That is illustrative of our individual hearts too, I think. Many of us believe that we really have our stuff together.
Yet, that’s not reality.
The book of Acts is one of my favorite books in the Bible. The story of the early church is fascinating to me. The boldness of the apostles blows me away. They are constantly standing in the midst of the people proclaiming Jesus. Paul traveled the known world and stood before kings preaching Jesus. It’s a beautiful story of grace and adventure.
Over the 40 years or so the Evangelical wing of the Church has become ever more engaged in politics. They are a coveted voting block. According to many pundits it was their ability to get out and vote that won Donald Trump the presidency over Hillary Clinton (though the real culprit was probably lack of voter turn out for Clinton). This political engagement has been seen as a key component to the “Culture War.” This war, according to some, is over no less than the soul of America.
We Christians get really excited about the resurrection and rightfully so. It is the cornerstone and bedrock of our faith. Without the resurrection there would be no Christianity. Yet, what’s fascinating is that Jesus was all about something else, the ascension.
The day that Jesus rose from the dead his disciples were huddled together in fear. They were hiding from the Jewish authorities. Jesus says to them, “Peace. Again, I say to you peace. I am sending you as the Father has sent me.”
One of my favorite book series is The Lord of the Rings. It is an amazing tale that gets richer as the books progress. Too many times "sequels" are not as good as the original. I think what makes The Lord of the Rings particularly good is that it was conceived as a whole from the beginning. Many of our current novel series were not. The first one is written and published and then after it has shown to be marketable the rest of the books are commissioned. Often this leads to holes in the plot or some disjointedness in the narrative. Not so with The Lord of The Rings. It goes somewhere from the start. The beginning of the story really only takes its full meaning from the end of the story.
Maundy Thursday is the day that we remember the evening of the Last Supper. It is when we Christians traditionally believe that Jesus celebrated this final Passover meal with his disciples and then was arrested. It is a somber evening. It is the beginning of the end of the life of Jesus. In mere hours he will be handed over, beaten, and ultimately crucified.
Yet, in the midst of this Jesus is looking at the bigger picture. He is shaping and creating identity for his disciples. He showing them that there is more to come after his crucifixion. The Cross is not he end, it is the beginning.
What do you think about? What consumes your mind when you have time to think a bit? Does your mind fill with worry, anxiety, or details? Are you consumed with thinking about all the things that you have to get done? Perhaps your mind wanders to what others think of you. Maybe you are filled with thoughts of your favorite sports team or what you're going to to do this weekend. Are your thoughts filled with the news and everything that is happening in the world?
Do you know people who have green thumbs? These folks could plant a water lily in a desert and have it grow. I am not one of these people. It simply wasn't part of my life growing up. I never learned the "joy of gardening." Yard work was always a chore. Our "gardens" simply meant more work.
When we built our home we had some landscaping done, professionally. We did this because we knew we wouldn't do it on our own. As we met with the landscaper we told him we want as little maintenance as possible. He came through in a big way! We have, what I consider to be beautiful landscaping and it doesn't require much from me.
What happens when you challenge the status quo? If someone rocks the boat those in power get really uncomfortable. When you start doing things and saying things that force people to look at the world differently then folks who guard the normal begin to try and stop you.
Do you ever wonder if there is a point to anything? Is your life heading anywhere? I wonder that a lot. It seems like we do the same things over and over and over and over and...
As a campus minister and a pastor you see a great many things. I think the hardest thing that I have had to do over years is help people see that they are in destructive relationships. Each of us has a desire to be deeply loved and accepted. For many people they are willing to be in a destructive relationship simply to be in a relationship.
Our culture does not handle death well. We are hide it. We run from it. We fight death tooth and nail. I think that there are times when we more than anything else want immortality.
Other cultures celebrate death. When a loved one dies they hold a parade and celebrate their freedom from this rock and their entrance into eternity.
Why are we afraid of it?
As a parent of a young child there is one great fear that we all face. It is the kind of fear that strikes people to the heart. This fear is real and palpable. You might think it is the fear that comes from wondering if your child will grow up well, but it's not. Maybe this fear is that you won't like their future spouse, that's not it either.