From the first time I saw a trailer for Netflix’ Messiah, I wondered how they were going to bring it to a conclusion. It seemed that there were only two possibilities: either the main protagonist is the Messiah, or he is some kind of charlatan. Is he a fraud? Is he some kind of cult leader, or maybe a terrorist? Or is he actually the second coming of Jesus?
There can be no off days. There are no times when a preacher can just mail it in, saying, “I’ve covered this all before. I’ve said it all before. Perhaps this once, we’ll do something different. Perhaps, this Sunday I will take the opportunity to lay out a vision for the future of this congregation. Perhaps, this time I will get creative and show my prowess for finding the hidden connections of a particular text and how they matrix with the greater Scriptures. Perhaps, I won’t worry so much proclaiming the Word. Just this once, I won’t focus so much on the distinction of Law and Gospel and instead I’ll give some good lessons for reading the Word at home.”
In Michigan Groundhog Day carries a little more significance than those of you who dwell in more mundane and never changing climes. Winter gets hard around February and even though we snicker at that ridiculous rodent, a little pagan voice inside us prays to Brighid that Phil fails to see his shadow and Spring will come soon.
Every Christian is engaged in the battle of the devil and the world today. Shocked by the culture, disappointed by the grasp of the evil one, those who take comfort in Christ are already in the midst of a fight. Those on the other side believe a story that is not one from the lips of the Triune God. Those on the other side ridicule and belittle a historical account of a savior passed on from generation to generation. Those on the other side proudly declare war on those who trust in the God who created and redeemed. And so there seems to be no other option. Prepare for the war. Ready your weapons.
I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about our current state of public discourse and the political climate in our country. Our conversation covered everything from the practice of law on a local level to the impeachment trial being played out for political theater in DC. One of the things that seemed certain to us both is how perhaps the greatest challenge anyone faces in our day is the ability to change their minds, to see things from a different point of view, to admit wrongs and happily go forward in a new direction. Instead of seeking and discovery, there are entrenched views where the other side is shouted down and one happily roams about in their own echo chamber. Perhaps the ability to change is a dying art. Perhaps the rise of the internet and social media has made it unlikely one will change. If this is so, I think we should all be saddened by it. Life has become somewhat less, darker and bleak.
I have a complicated relationship with David Bazan’s music. I’ve probably seen Pedro the Lion/David Bazan in concert more than I’ve seen any other musician and I have nearly all his band and solo albums. I’ve followed his very public trajectory from conflicted “Christian” artist to denial of what he sees as the message of the Bible and of Christianity. In a very real way, I’ve grown up with his music (he’s about three years older than I am).
The bookstores are full of books on prayer. When the pastor conducts a survey for possible Bible study topics, one of them is bound to be prayer. And why not? Praying seems to be the thing to do in the Bible, Christianity and all religions. Jesus prayed.