Lent 2B – Righteousness of Faith

•March 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Psalm 22:23-31

Romans 4:13-25

Mark 8:31-38

Have you ever said something and wished you could take it back? For me, it is too many times to count. Like our words, our sin is like a cat out of the bag: once out, it is impossible to get it back in. If we try to make a bad situation better, we seem to mess it up. Paul says in Romans that the law cannot make us righteous. Once the cat of sin is out, no amount of effort can correct the situation. We keep messing it up.

Into this mess that we created, God comes through Jesus and offers a gift of righteousness by faith. How does faith appropriate righteousness? What does faith change? How does it clean up our mess? I can come up with endless anecdotes of people of faith changing the world through good deeds. But the mechanism of faith being our righteousness is harder to describe.

Into this difficult description, Paul proposes a simple, yet profound, answer: Jesus. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can regain the righteousness and wholeness that was intended for humanity. Somehow in the acceptance of what Jesus did, we come back to life. In some ways life is not what we put into it but what we receive from God. True humanity is found in receiving. Living in faith and gratitude releases the power of heaven to change our mess.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



•March 1, 2009 • 2 Comments

This blog is moving to mennonitemonk.com. Please update your bookmarks and RSS readers.

Also, check out our new mission organization: one heart one world.

Lent 1B – Brought to God

•February 23, 2009 • 1 Comment

Genesis 9:8-17

Psalm 25:1-10

1 Peter 3:18-22

Mark 1:9-15

Sacrificial love: the anti-thesis of human culture is what God has given to us. The hallmark of our great religion is the renunciation of self for the sake of others. Jesus died for our sins that we committed so that He could bring us to God.

At the end of this passage (1 Peter 3:18-22) is a scripture that I have used as an argument for believers’ baptism. The baptism that saves is the turning to God with a clear conscience. But there is more to this than my simple understanding.

First baptism saves. In some way, I have to deal with this fact of baptism. Now what exactly is meant by baptism could be debated: water baptism could be argued from this passage, so could turning to God apart from any physical act.

Second, turning to God seems to be something that we do. I don’t know Greek well enough to say that this is our action but it seems to point in that direction. Yet the reason we turn is pre-emptive: Jesus was raised to life. Since Jesus’ resurrection happens before our action can turning be something that even infants can do? Again, I find myself short of the answers.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Haiti for Obama?

•February 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

HaitiAnalysis posts an article from the Boston Globe by Paul Farmer and Brian Concannon. Dr. Farmer is Presley professor of social medicine at Harvard Medical School and a co-founder of Partners In Health and Brian Concannon Jr. is director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Together they give a brief but incisive history of the US involvement in Haiti. Our influence has been less than admirable on the whole.

The exiting US administration of George W. Bush re-established our historical contribution to the fall of Haiti. The Haitians are watching to see what the incoming Obama administration will do to help the development of Haiti.

Now my views of Bush and Obama are not clear cut. I tend to be conservative but had problems with some of Bush’s policies. I am trying to keep an open mind about Obama but I don’t like some of his stances on abortion, etc. But when it comes to Haiti, this article adds a new disappointment in Bush.

Technorati Tags: , ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Jesus Christ Superstar – Transfiguration of Jesus B

•February 16, 2009 • 1 Comment

2 Kings 2:1-12

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

Mark 9:2-9

I have not seen Jesus Christ Superstar but if there was an event that made Jesus look like a superstar, this was it. His disciples have come to understand some of the greatness of Jesus. They had seen miracles, heard incredible teaching and lived with His compassionate life.

But nothing in their experience would prepare the disciples for this moment. In a moment of transcendence, Jesus is transformed into something of His glory with His Father. What a statement of Christ’s superiority and worthiness of worship!

Why does Jesus want them to wait? Why is transfiguration secondary to resurrection? Perhaps it would be too much for others to hear.  They wouldn’t understand. Perhaps our focus would be too much on a supernatural figure who isn’t human. Perhaps if others knew about the Transfiguration, they would resist the Crucifixion. perhaps Jesus is to be known in His scars than in His transcendence.

Technorati Tags: , ,,,,,, ,,, , ,,

An Inconvenient Love – Epiphany 6B

•February 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

2 Kings 5:1-14

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Mark 1:40-45

“If you are willing…”

These words ring strongly with me right now. There are people in need of healing, comfort, strength and help. They are looking for someone to be willing. He knows that Jesus is capable of healing but he is not sure that Jesus wants to heal him. Perhaps he has seen others that he thought were capable but unwilling to do anything. I would not be surprised if that were true.

My parents came back from Haiti at the end of January. They said that many people said, “Thank you for leaving your comfortable homes to come help our people”. There is a certain surprise and gratefulness in that comment. The Haitians see the great comfort of Americans and our relative inaction. They see people who are capable but who are unwilling to help.

“I am willing…”

This statement almost slips right by us. Of course, Jesus is willing. But in human experience, finding someone willing to help is rare and surprising. Jesus shows the heart of God to heal and help those in need. How much do we need to have this kind of heart to help others!

Then after stating His willingness, Jesus does the unthinkable – He touches the leper. He enters into the suffering at the risk of religious scrutiny. He does what it takes to bring healing, no matter how it looks. He knows that He has come to bring a change in our thinking – sin does not stain righteousness, righteousness changes sin. The power of healing is greater than the power of disease.

Jesus heals this man out of compassion. Yet He knew that this man would help spread the news too quickly. Love is inconvenient. Love requires willingness, bravery, confidence, and flexibility.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get On Your Boots

•February 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

You can hear the new single from U2, Get On Your Boots at their website. I like the intensity of the song – sort of like “Vertigo”. But it also has a different feel in the chorus, like Beetles but not, like middle eastern tuning but only for a second. U2 continues to grow artistically.

I also like the Sugimoto photo for the cover art. I was able to see a collection of his work at the Hirshhorn Museum in DC. In fact I have attempted to recreate some of his ideas once while visiting Lake Erie.

Anyway, good song. I can’t wait for the album.

Get "No Line On The Horizon"

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,