Archives For February 2013

After almost three years of being out from behind a pulpit, this weekend I get to share with my home community here in Portland: Theophilus Church. We are nearing the end of our journey though the book of Hosea together and AJ has asked me to keep us moving forward by sharing out of Hosea 13. If you’ve not read that chapter recently (or ever) you should take a minute to do that.

Man, this chapter seems like a really Debbie Downer of a passage, right? Check out this imagery:

[T]hey will be like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears,
like chaff swirling from a threshing floor,
like smoke escaping through a window.

. . .

I will come upon them like a lion,
like a leopard I will lurk by the path.
Like a bear robbed of her cubs,
I will attack them and rip them open.
Like a lion I will devour them: a wild animal will tear them apart.
You are destroyed, O Israel,
because you are against me,
against your helper.

. . .

Pains as of a woman in childbirth will come to him,

. . .

They will fall by the sword;
their little ones will be dashed to the ground,
their pregnant women ripped open.

Hosea 13:3, 7-9, 13a, 16b

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God, right?

So, where am I going to go with this passage? Well, if you’re in the Portland area on the evening of Sunday February 24, you should come find out. I’ll give you the working title for the message is the same as the title of this post, so maybe that will give you a clue as to what I’m thinking: “Cafeteria Spirituality, A Wild Lion, & the Death of Death.”

What would you draw out of this chapter? Or, even better, what would you want to hear talked about from this chapter?

Lent for Newbies

February 12, 2013 — 6 Comments

lent_ash_cross

I didn’t grow up in a high church liturgical tradition, so I knew little about Lent until I was in my twenties. Each year, it seems, I hear of friends and relatives who want to give up something for Lent, but aren’t really sure what, how, or why. So, they usually give up chocolate or beer or smoking and then complain about how hard it is. If you, like me, didn’t grow up in a tradition that observes Lent, but you are intrigued by what you might be missing, I hope you find this post helpful.  Continue Reading…

sistine_smoke

So, Pope Benedict XVI is resigning. The last Pope to do so was Gregory XII in 1415, but his resignation was more of an abdication than a voluntary retirement. The Church was in the midst of the Western Schism. There were three claimants to the papacy and, in the end, Gregory XII resigned under pressure and made possible the election of Martin V two years later.

One must travel back nearly 750 years to find the last time that a pope voluntarily resigned. Pope Celestine V resigned his post in 1294, after filling the See of Peter for a mere five months. Interestingly, one of his most notable contributions during his tenure was declaring that any pope had the right to resign or retire. He then utilized that very declaration to leave his position and return to his pre-papacy life of solitude.

Now, for the second time in a decade, the College of Cardinals will convene to vote on the next man to step into apostolic succession. Beginning in March, the world will turn its collective eye to Saint Peter’s Square and watch until the smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel changes from dark to white, signaling the election of the next pope.
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crisis chinese

Popularized in a 1959 speech by President Kennedy, it is said that when written in Chinese, “crisis” is composed of the two characters meaning “danger” and “opportunity.” Though the actual linguistics of such a translation are a bit shaky, the sentiment is a good one: crises are crucial moments with high stakes.

The church is not unfamiliar with crisis. Throughout its long and storied history, the church has faced despotism from within and from without. She has been both the persecuted and the persecutor. She has been both endangered by standing against kings and kingdoms, and she has been endangered by playing bedfellow to Presidents and Prime Ministers.

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future sunglasses

We are in the midst of some big changes within evangelicalism in North America. For many, the word “evangelical” means “right-wing Republican Christian fundamentalist.” So what are those of us who still call ourselves evangelicals, but are made crazy by right-wing fundie Republicans, to do? The course a lot of my peers have taken is to stop using that label, to call refer to themselves as “post-evangelical,” or to join the growing ranks of the Nones. I think that doing those things only serves to remove otherwise sane voices from an increasingly insane fundie evangelicalism, and it does nothing to witness to the long (and non-fundamentalist) history of evangelicalism. I’ve written about that history elsewhere, so I won’t rehash it here.

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