June 23, 2009

Do you ever play the "what if" game?

I'm drawn this morning to the story of the woman "with the issue of blood." Mostly, though, I'm interested in how that story ends. Jesus, having noticed power leaving him (which is another post some other time), asks, "who touched me." The woman, knowing it was her and already sure that she had been healed steps forward and tells him the whole story. Jesus responds, "Your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease."

I can't help but let my imagination run a little bit though, and wonder, what if the woman had not stepped forward? I talk a lot about how living for the kingdom is a response to the gift of love already given to us by God, so I ponder, what if her response had been different? What if she had heard Jesus' question, been afraid, and turned heel to run far far away? What if she just stood there, awkwardly (like Tanner the wierd foot guy on the bachelorette) while Jesus stood there, silent, waiting for someone to say something?

Would then her faith have made her well, or would the issue of blood have immediately returned? No answers here, just encouragement that sometimes it is fun to look at a story from as many of the eleventy-billon sides as you can.

What if?

June 22, 2009

Sermon for Proper 7, Year B

Everyday more new information is created than exists in all the libraries in the world; medical images, financial transactions, emails, pictures, videos. The amount of information that is readily available at our fingertips is overwhelming. Most of us are keenly aware of how much data exists everytime we run a search on google or yahoo. A search for my last name, Pankey, yields 231,000 results. A search for Jesus, 202,000,000. There is a great commercial out right now for Microsoft's new search site, bing.com. It begins with a young woman saying to her friend, "we need to find a new place to eat breakfast." Her friend responds, "Breakfast Club, Breakfast at Tiffanies, Breakfast of Champions..." Which sends the waiter into a list of his own, which then spreads to the street, and all around the globe. People just shouting out random thoughts that were maybe at one time related to the intial point of finding a new place for breakfast, but by now are merely a cocophany of noise.
Chaos is a part of our shared experience. Be it external like a breakup, illness, the stock market, a storm or on the streets of Tehran. Or internal like when plans are dashed, expectations go unmet, or hopes get extinguished.
This morning, we find the disciples in the midst of chaos in a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Their heads are still spinning from a series of parables about the Kingdom of God being as big as a mustard plant, when Jesus suggests that they head across the Sea into Gentile territory. Having enough fishermen in his crew, Jesus takes the opportunity to rest in the stern of the boat. While he naps, chaos is unleashed. A storm blows in, waves crash against the boat, water is pouring over the sides. The disciples' minds begin to race. The sea [for the 1st Century Israelites] [had come] to symbolize the dark power of evil, threatening to destroy God's good creation, God's people, God's purposes They "think of Jonah... [whose] storm was only calmed when, at Jonah's prompting, the sailors threw him overboard. Or [perhaps they thought of their ancestors], coming out of Egypt when God blew with a mighty wind and made a way through the sea. [Maybe they went] even further back, to the stories of creation, when God's order... emerged from the dark primal sea. ." (Wright, 52). And there they were, beholden to the chaos swirling both beneath them and within them.
"Jesus! Jesus! Wake up! Don't you care that we are sinking? That we are all going to die?" Chaos and panic had swept through the boat, and yet Jesus was still sleeping, peacefully, calmly in the stern.
Chaos is the great equalizer. When life doesn't work out as planned, the chaos of the outside quickly, quietly, and all to easily moves inside. We all know that experience. You might have had plans for your career that didn't pan out, or for your children, or for your retirement, or whatever. Plans that go unfilled create storms; sometimes big squalls, sometimes little thundershowers, but always a storm arises. and our response is often, "Don't you care!?!"
Back on the boat, Jesus hears the cries of his disciples and awakes. I like Tom Wright's translation of what happens next, "He got up, scolded the wind, and said to the sea, 'Silence! Shut up!" (51) Jesus didn't keep the storm from coming, and he didn't wave his hand peaceably over the water, but he shouted "Shut up!" I like that Jesus wakes up in the same sort of mood as me. However he did it, the wind died down and the sea became calm. Chaos, for the moment, seems to have been thwarted.
And yet. And yet, we are told by Mark that the fear and the chaos has just begun for the disciples. The NRSV tells us that they were in great awe of Jesus as he rebuked the wind and the waves, but what the Greek really says there is something like, "they feared a great fear." In that moment when external chaos became peace they were able to see for the first time that the One they were following wasn't just a charismatic teacher who could do some healing and exorcise some demons. They were terrified when they realized that they were on board with the One Through Whom All Things Were Made. Being on board with God should have been enough for them, but they still needed action. "Don't you care" they cried out, but he did, he cared enough to sleep in the stern of the boat.
See, the great lesson of discipleship is that even when it appears as though God is allowing the chaos to continue - he is there. He was on the boat with the disciples in the midst of the storm, he continued to walk with them through the years of chaos that lay ahead, and he is in your life, walking right alongside, no matter the circumstances. The calming of the sea was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of event. But walking with Jesus in the midst of the chaos is something that all of us, can do every moment of every day. To walk with Jesus is to walk in peace even in as the storm rages all around. It isn't just something that happened once to a few guys a long time ago, but something that happens here and now for each of us. With the presence of God at our side, we can have peace even in the wildest storms, the most overwhelming chaos, the darkest of nights. (Barclay, 133)
Where is the chaos in your life? Is it the stock market? Is it an illness. Is it a child who just can't seem to make the right decision? What are you afraid of? Is it the storm? Or is it the realization that you've been walking with God Almighty all along? "Time and time again in Scripture the word is, 'Do not be afraid.' It is the first and the last word of the gospel. It is the word the angels speak to the terrified shepherds and the word spoken at the tomb when the women discover it empty: 'Do not be afraid.' Not because there are not fearsome things on the sea of our days, not because there are no storms, fierce winds, or waves, but rather, because God is with us....even though there are real and fearsome things in this life, they need not paralyze us; they need not have dominion over us; they need not own us, because we are not alone in the boat." (Huey, i.ucc) And we are not alone on the journey of life. God Almighty, who walks alongside us, is not a God of wrath and vengeance, but a God of grace and forgiveness. In the midst of the chaos of life's storms, he is there barking commands at the wind and the waves. While at the same time, offering us not words of anger - why are you still afraid - but words of comfort - have faith, I am here with you. The storms will come, the waves will batter our boats, chaos will continue to be a universal truth, but God is here offering peace. The temptation is to cry out, "Don't you care!?!" to call on Jesus to take action, but the reality is, even asleep in the back of the boat, having Jesus with us is enough, it has to be enough. Accept his peace. Accept his comfort. Accept his love. Even in the chaos. Amen.

The Collect

I've written many times before about my dislike for contemporary Christian music. Mostly, it is junk lyrics with bad theology and cheesy, falsely emotive tunes. The Collect for Sunday, however, reminds me of the song that often runs through my head as I process down the aisle to begin our worship services on Sunday Mornings. I share with you this youtube video of "Lord Prepare Me"

Readings for Proper 8, Year B

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerston: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our L:ord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

June 18, 2009

Salvation History in Microcosm

The more I think about it the more I'm convinced that Mark 4.35-41 contains the entirety of salvation history in six short verses. We have the wind (Spirit) taming of chaos in creation. We have fear and faithlessness. We have God speaking a new reality into existence. And we have Jesus' death (asleep on the boat) and resurrection (speaking peace into being). That's it, right? Creation, sin, death, redemption, resurrection.

What is the gospel?

Mark 4.35-41 - God is in chaos. God rules the chaos. God redeems the chaos. God gives peace.

June 17, 2009

Last Week - Rehashed - Homily for Proper 6b

At least four days a week I do my best to write on my blog about the upcoming Sunday lessons. Some days are very deep, others very shallow, still others very confusing, but I write. I write because I think that my understanding of God is constantly evolving; each day with prayer, study, and reflection I gain a little more knowledge - I come to know God just a little bit better. So I've title my blog - draughting theology - because I am constantly re-writing, drafting, my understanding of God. Each day what I know gets put in stone, and each day a new stone is etched. I think we all do this. Our life experiences force us to reevaluate what we think we know about God. We meet someone new. We come up against a new obstacle. We see a prayer answered. Whatever our experiences, daily or even by minute or second we come to know God in a new and different way. We are all constantly drafting (or re-drafting) our theology.

I've known this, and talked about this, for several years now, but last week it came to life in very real way for me, and so this afternoon I'd like to share with you how God re-drafted my theology over the course of two very long days.

On Monday I woke up, did my normal routine, and sat down to read the lessons for Sunday. I stumbled upon what seemed to be a very strange verse in the lesson from First Samuel, "The LORD was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel." I sat with that sentence for a few minutes, and pondered just what it might mean, and I wrote this post entitled, Even the LORD Makes Mistakes.

I'm guessing that at some point in history, the worst thing you could say about someone had to be, "The LORD is sorry that He created you." I imagine that might sting a bit, especially in strongly Judeo-Christian cultures.

In the lesson from 1 Samuel that we have for Sunday, the author tells us that the LORD was sorry he made Saul king over Israel. Truth be told, God didn't want Israel to have a king at all, he predicted the corruption and destruction that followed, but God has a weak spot for the people of Isreal and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't say "no" to their desire to have a king.

I wonder what else God is "sorry about"? Is he sorry he gave us free will? Is he sorry he created the Church? Is he sorry that he allowed techology to move forward so that VH1 is now able to air Daisy of Love reruns everyday of the week?

We don't give much thought to the mistakes God makes. We don't care to ponder all the things that God must be "sorry about," but I imagine the list is extensive. And still, as the Canticle for Trinity Sunday said, "He is worthy of praise" because even in the midst of that which he is "sorry about" God is constantly working out his purposes for good.

Saul turned out just like God had imagined, but David was going to be the next king, and even in the midst of his failings, David would begin the restoration of Israel and of the whole Creation.

As you might guess, I got some reaction to that post. Asserting that God could make mistakes is not a very popular opinion. One friend sent me to a website that had an article arguing that God does NOT make mistakes. It was a good enough article, but full of proof texts, single verses from scripture, often taken out of context, that are used to prove the point one is trying to make. It was thoughtfully crafted, but for me, didn't carry much weight because my verse from 1 Samuel seemed to say just the opposite.

I went to bed on Monday, thinking hard about whether or not God could make mistakes. I awoke Tuesday prepared for a tough day. We were holding a funeral for a three month old baby here that day - a service I was officiating for a family who does not have a church family. I awoke thinking, I hope I don't remember this day for too long, but know now that I will never forget it.

The great uncle of young Fox gave a Eulogy on behalf of the family - a tough task for sure. He spent at least 20 minutes before the service on his knees; what he said, I'm convinced was from the mind of God. It wasn't the first thing he said, and maybe not even the second, but the only thing I remember, and I will never forget it, are these words, "God does not make mistakes."

No Scripture. No deep theological arguments. No dancing around tough issues of God. Just a word from the heart of a man of God racked with grief, "God does not make mistakes." And now I am convinced. My understanding of God was re-written on Tuesday, and now I know for sure that God does not make mistakes. Certainly, he was sorry that Saul was king, sorry that his people couldn't trust him enough to have God alone as king, sorry that Saul let the power and the prestige go to his head, but a mistake? No. Without Saul there is no David and without David there is no Joseph and without Joseph there is no trip to Bethlehem and with no trip to Bethlehem there is no fulfillment of the Scripture and without fulfillment of the scripture Jesus is just another 1st century Jew arguing for the resurrection of the dead. At the time things did not look too rosy, but a mistake? Nope. God does not make mistakes.

For the Love of Mystery

Thanks to Jan at A Church for Starving Artists, I am I reflecting on what it is about Church (and for that matter about God) that causes people to steer toward a New York Times and a crazy coffee drink from Starbucks and away from worship on Sunday mornings. I think for a lot of 21st century Americans it is two sides of the same coin - either they don't do mystery and the church does or they love mystery and think the church doesn't.

I think the first group might have a valid reason, but the second, well I know that many church's (both liberal and conservative) have tried to remove all mystery from faith, but truth be told, faith is all about the unknown.

I love mystery - the bread and wine of the Eucharist (Communion); the Word made Flesh; the uncertainty of Jesus' parabolic ministry; redemption; etc - and I think the Church should be all about helping people sit in the midst of paradox certainly only that they are uncertain. And so, I am drawn to this great piece of poetry from 2 Corinithians, "We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see-- we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything." I'm drawn to it because it is precisely what I think it means to follow the God of all mystery - the one who is completely unknowable yet desires that we come to know him.

Today is a day for mystery

June 16, 2009

Don't You Care?

You know that scene from Bruce Alimghty where Jim Carey's character, Bruce, already filling the role of God sits down in front of his computer to begin the work of sorting prayers. His inbox fills with millions of prayers within minutes. I wonder how many of those prayers began, "God, don't you care..."

God must hear those words hundreds if not thousands if not millions of times a day. "Don't you care?" Our lives are full of moments when it feels like God has left, like God doesn't care, and yet, as the gospel lesson for Sunday reminds us, he does care, even when it doesn't seem like it. Even when he's asleep below deck in the midst of a terrible storm; he cares.

The lesson I think that we can learn is the boldness with which the disciples approach Jesus. When it feels like God doesn't care, call him out, he will answer. Get angry with God, it is OK, he can take it. Get bold, it is OK, he understands. Things aren't necessarily the way he'd have them be, but he cares and he's there to answer, support, and give comfort. All you've got to do is stand up and say, "Don't you care?"

Readings for Proper 7, Year B

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49
Psalm 9:9-20
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

June 11, 2009

an update on Monday's post

My post on Monday, in case you didnt see it, was entitled, Even the Lord Makes Mistakes.  Over on Facebook a friend challenged that thought, arguing that the tradition would say that God does NOT make mistakes.  He linked an article that for me was relatively unconvincing - proof texts and I don't get along very well.

I understood the point he was making, however.  To say God makes mistakes opens up a whole lot in the way of theological mumbo-jumbo.  Still I was unconvinced.

Then on Tuesday, St. Paul's opened its doors to a grieving family that had no church home.  On a scale of 1 to 10, a funeral service for a three month old who died suddenly is extremely awful.  It was a long and exhausting day, but in the midst of it, God spoke directly to me.

The greatuncle of the young boy gave a homily.  He is a man of deep faith, a man whose presence in prayer was noticable.  He stood up, and the third sentence out of his mouth was, "God does not make mistakes."

This, is a systematic theological statement that carries weight for me, and this, I now believe.

June 9, 2009

The Kingdom of God

Of all the teachings of Jesus, it is the kingdom parables that are, by far, the hardest to wrap my mind around.  If Jesus had said that the Kingdom of God would spread like the grain of the field or the mustard tree, well I get that, but my simple mind has a hard time understanding how the KoG is like a mustard seed or as if someone scattered seed upon the ground.

And so, I am grateful for 1) the Holy Spirit and 2) the great tradition of the Church that helps me make sense of such lofty words by Jesus; I am not a lofty thinker.  I am drawn again, as it happens so often to the Prayer for the Whole Church which in my tradition, Episcopal, gets used on Good Friday, The Great Vigil, and at ordinations (among other places, I think).

The Kingdom of God is like this prayer.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were being cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

...Let the whole world see and know that things which were being cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfectoin by him through whom all things were made...

The KoG is something like that.

June 8, 2009

Sermon for Trinity Sunday

    Last winter, Cassie and I joined her family on a trip to Cocoa Beach, Florida.  At the time, her dad was considering buying and building a aerobatic bi-plane kit from a company that happened to be located twenty minutes south of our condo.  So one morning Doug and I made the trip south to see the factory and take a tour.  It was a really cool couple of hours.  The owner of the factory took us around to see the first ever prototype.  We saw the CNC Machine that cut out the thousands upon thousands of struts, ribs, and connecting pieces that make up the kit.  We saw planes in various stages of construction, and learned all ABOUT what made this aerobatic bi-plane special.  We learned about the engine that is made for a plane three or four times as heavy.  We learned about the wings, which unlike a regular plane wing taht is curved only on the top to provide lift, is curved on both top and bottom so that the plane doesn't care whether you are flying it rightside up or upside down.  As you can tell, I left that two hour tour knowing a whole lot ABOUT this bi-plane. The next day, we headed to the airport where their professional test pilot was going to give my father-in-law a test flight in their trainer.  After he was done, he told me all ABOUT the aeloron rolls, barrel rolls, flips, and tricks they had done.  And then, something very unexpected happened, the pilot asked if I might like to go up.  I thought for about 2 milliseconds, and said "yes."  As he helped me put the five point harness on, the pilot said something to me that I will never forget, "if anything goes wrong, this is your ripcord, pull it."  I quickly realized that it didn't matter how much I knew ABOUT this particular aircraft because I was about to know it, intimately.  And boy howdy did I get to know that airplane.
    There is a tendency on Trinity Sunday to do a lot of talking ABOUT the doctrine and dogma of the Trinity.  Sermons about the various points of doctrine ironed out to make up the Nicene Creed will be prevalent.  Various ways of thinking about our Triune God will be explored: God as water: ice, liquid, and steam; God as star: light, heat, and radiation; God as modes: creator, redeemer, sanctifier; God as persons in non-male language: mother, daughter, and holy womb.  There is, without a doubt, a whole lot of talk going on this morning helping people to know more ABOUT the Triune God that we, as Christians, profess to follow, and that is a good thing, but all the many ways we can concoct to talk ABOUT God leave us feeling a little empty.  Quite frankly, we could talk ABOUT, write ABOUT, and read ABOUT God for the rest of our days and still not cover all that there is to cover.  Most importantly, even if we could know everything there is to know ABOUT God, it still pales in comparison to knowing God.  And so, I believe that Trinity Sunday is celebrated each year, not to help us come to know and understand more ABOUT God, we'll never be able to know if God can create a rock that God can't lift.  Instead, today we are called to a deeper relationship with the Triune God who meets us, who makes himself known to us, as Father, the one who creates, as Son, the one who redeems, and as Holy Spirit, the one who guides, protects, and sanctifies.  So the question this morning is not, how much do you know ABOUT God, but simply do you know God.
    Nicodemus probably knew everything there was to know ABOUT the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  As a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews, he had attended school since he was just a young man of thirteen.  He had studied under the finest minds in Jerusalem and made his way through the ranks to be one of the most respected men in all of Second Temple Judaism.  He came to Jesus full of knowledge ABOUT God, but still very much seeking to know God.
    "Rabbi," Nicodemus said to Jesus, "we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God."  A very polite way to begin the conversation, stating the facts as he saw them, Nicodemus was hoping to gain some more insight into why God was working through this itinerant Rabbi from Nazareth.  What he got in return, however, was the religious equivalent to "if anything goes wrong, this is your ripcord, pull it."
    Jesus began to teach him, not ABOUT God, but how to know God.  As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus the Messiah, was able to speak the wisdom of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that had never before been revealed.  He spoke it all to Nicodemus by way of an invitation to enter into a relationship with Him, and his Father, and the Advocate.  He invited him to strap on his parachute and join into the ongoing and beautiful dance that is the Triune God.
    "Be born from above," Jesus told Nicodemus, "Know the Spirit of God and experience what it is to be a part of God's plan, picked up from the face of the earth and set down precisely where God would have you work and live.  Know the Father who created you and wants more than anything to set all relationships back to rights.  Know me, and see that I am the Messiah, soon to be lifted up, exalted upon the cross, so that all of creation might be saved."
    This invitation from Jesus is a most dangerous one.  It is an invitation out of the social system, the political system, the religious system and into God's system of redemption.  It means that all that Nicodemus knew, all that we might know ABOUT God is now moot, God isn't keeping a heresy card, or a sin talley, but instead is asking us to accept his forgiveness and then share it far and wide with a world desperate for relationship with Him.  It is an invitation to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet Isaiah and answer, "here I am, Lord," no matter how frightening or rediculous the call might be.
    Here I am Lord, send me to Fountain Prision to serve as a Kairos Minister - called only to Listen, Listen and Love, Love.
    Here I am Lord, send me to the Domican Republic where I will build pews so that you might be worshipped and praises might be sung to your honor and glory.
    Here I am Lord, send me to the Diocesan School for Deacons so that my passion for the poor, sick, and needy might by made complete by the outpouring of your Spirit.
    Here I am Lord, parachute strapped to my back, ready to go where ever you call, hoping only to know you: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and share you: Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier with the world at large.  Send me O Lord, that I might be tied to you intimagely, as your hands, your feet, your heart, your ears, your embrace.  Here I am Lord, I may not know much ABOUT you, but I know you, and I know you sent your Son not to condemn the world, but to save it, to redeem it, to return it to wholeness, allow me to help you with that dangerous and holy work.  Amen.

Even the LORD makes mistakes

I'm guessing that at some point in history, the worst thing you could say about someone had to be, "The LORD is sorry that He created you."  I imagine that might sting a bit, especially in strongly Judeo-Christian cultures.

In the lesson from 1 Samuel that we have for Sunday, the author tells us that the LORD was sorry he made Saul king over Israel.  Truth be told, God didn't want Israel to have a king at all, he predicted the corruption and destruction that followed, but God has a weak spot for the people of Isreal and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't say "no" to their desire to have a king.

I wonder what else God is "sorry about"?  Is he sorry he gave us free will?  Is he sorry he created the Church?  Is he sorry that he allowed techology to move forward so that VH1 is now able to air Daisy of Love reruns everyday of the week?

We don't give much thought to the mistakes God makes.  We don't care to ponder all the things that God must be "sorry about," but I imagine the list is extensive.  And still, as the Canticle for Trinity Sunday said, "He is worthy of praise" because even in the midst of that which he is "sorry about" God is constantly working out his purposes for good.

Saul turned out just like God had imagined, but David was going to be the next king, and even in the midst of his failings, David would begin the restoration of Israel and of the whole Creation.

Readings for Proper 6, Year B

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
Psalm 20
2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17
Mark 4:26-34

Click here.

June 4, 2009

like the wind

Have you ever met someone who was too smart for their own good?  Someone who was so smart they were stupid?  I think we all have; sometimes book smarts and street smarts are mutually exclusive.

Have you ever met someone who was too spiritual for their own good?  Someone whose head was so far in the clouds they couldn't attend to earthly things?  I have, and up until this morning I've thought that perhaps they had it wrong; after all, Jesus didn't come to condemn the world (read physical things) but to save it.

But there is that line, that line that my very practical, very type-a, very tacticle mind wants to ignore, "The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whre it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." The image of the Holy Spirit from Wm. Paul Young's The Shack is exactly what I've thought to be a weakness in those who are head in the clouds spiritual; they flit about, always somewhere else, never really cognizant of what is going on around them.   And for me, that personality style, that way of interacting with God is frustrating, but, as Jesus says, it is the way of life for those born of the Spirit.

When you think about it, even the most practical, most type-a, most tactile follower of Jesus has a certain flitty quaility to him.  The pursuit of the dream of God requires flexibility, freedom, and a willingness to be blown around by the wind (which is a great play on words we miss in English - RUACH in Hebrew is wind, breathe, and Spirit).  I'm reminded that the only way I ended up meeting Cassie, hearing my call, and living in LA is by the whim of the wind of the Spirit.

Are you open to the wind?

June 2, 2009

to know is more than to know about

We find ourselves once again approaching the first Sunday after Pentecost, preparing for Trinity Sunday, the day that most parishoners turn off their hearing aids so as not to be confused by the deep (too deep) theological rant coming from the pulpit.  What I'm seeing in the Year B lections, however, is that this Trinity Sunday is full of lessons that call us not to learn more about our Triune God, but instead I think we are called just to know God.

Do you see the difference?

This past Sunday, St. Paul's held a memorial service for Lt. Col. Mark Stratton II, USAF, who was killed in active duty serving in Afghanistan.  During the memorial service, I learned a lot about Lt. Col. Stratton; he was a devoted son, brother, husband, and father; he had always wanted to serve in the USAF; he expected excellence of himself and others, not to look good, but in preparation for what was to come next; he was, as his brother said, "a superhero among us all."  I never met Mark Stratton.  I now know more about him than I ever expected to know, but I did not know him to experience his personality, his gentle spirit, his love of God.

God doesn't care what we know about him.  I'm fairly certain he's not keeping a heresy chart or a checklist of who had all the right knowledge about him.  What God cares about is that we know him, that we experience his love, that we enter into relationship with him through his Son, and that we interact with him by the Spirit.  This, I think, is what Trinity Sunday is all about - coming to know God rather than adding to the list of things we think we know about him.

May God give me the grace this week to speak Him and not about him, and may you be blessed in your relationship with him.  Amen.