When we were little our parents would say to us, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but […]
law and gospel
I’ve been accused of many things. I accuse myself of many things. I am a lost and uncontrollable creature that has missed the mark, missed the point, missed my opportunity, missed out on too much. But I am maybe a little too confident for such an admittedly lacking being. When I feel scratched by sackcloth and burned by the ashes. When it stings and smothers inside. When I fear I might be slipping into insanity. But yet emboldened to walk on. Even in confusion.
She slowly walks into the room. Smiling at no one, and everyone at the same time. Running soft […]
Yesterday, my wife and I celebrated the 22nd anniversary of our marriage. 22 years of graduate school and moves across the nation, of children and creating our idea of what a home ought to be. 22 years of pets and home repairs and broken-down cars. 22 years of ups and downs, of joys and disappointments, of boring, aimless moments and times of great adventure and wonder. As I was pondering all this, I thought back to the day we got married. I can still see her clear as day. How beautiful she was in that gown.
For some reason, whenever I hear the term “circumcision party”, I picture the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice and Wonderland. I’m not completely sure why. Perhaps it’s the overall absurdity of each statement that is somehow laced with just enough reason to make it somewhat comprehendible. Reason turned on its head, but reason nonetheless.
“A fallen enemy may rise again, but the reconciled one is truly vanquished.”
Self-righteousness might be the most devastating disease debilitating mankind today. And it will stop at nothing to protect its host, even putting God on a cross. Jesus addressed it more than any other sin. Because, if a person is self-righteous, that is, doesn’t think she is wrong, she certainly won’t be self-reflective enough to see any other error. Self-righteousness afflicts us all; left and right, atheist or Christian, democrat or republican.
In the church we are used to speaking about the ramifications of the law and its impact in our lives. We speak about how God uses the law to show us our sin, to punish our sinfulness and to be a guide as we make decisions and chart a course forward. The law, in this way is all around us, our lives are saturated in it. Sometimes it hits us more deliberately than others, but it is always there.
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14). Most scholars believe this line used by St. Paul is part of an ancient baptismal hymn. You can imagine it being sung out by a gathering of the people of God as the newly baptized rises from the water. Its poetic words form a call to a new life, a life free from the terrors of the grave, free from futility and aimless wandering. Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
I feel genuinely sorry for people who do not go to a church that follows the old church calendar. Not that it will necessarily make the preaching better or ensure the handing over of the gifts of God, but as an organizing principle the movement of seasons and times throughout the year gives us something powerful, something beautiful, something to help drive our attention and focus. Could you imagine not having the season of Lent?