Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Klein on Recriminations

It is more profitable to do something with the past than to be depressed about our inability to do a great deal about it. All our lives we shall be redeeming the past.

Walter C. Klein

Friday, April 16, 2004

"God has not commanded me to love a bloodless abstraction"

The observant Christian discovers anew every day of his life that holiness is compatible with the continuance of irritating personal traits. The devoted human personality remains embedded in nature. If I want God's love through my brother -- and for my own good I ought to be delighted that I am not likely to get it any other way -- I must take it with my brother's moldy jokes, his asinine opinions, his halitosis, and his maddening mannerisms. God has not commanded me to love a bloodless abstraction. Constructive love cannot flourish between me and a human being stripped of the features and ways that repel me and remade to my liking. In loving the work of my own hands, I should merely be loving myself, and in this there is no gain. God is the author of all idiosyncrasies, whether they exist in me or in my neighbor, and in each of them He has wonderfully and inimitably blended the elements of our nature. Simply because the makings of a man are assembled in my brother as they have never been assembled before and will never be assembled again, he has a peculiar grace to communicate to me. I shall never obtain that grace unless I love him, not as I should like him to be, but as God has willed him to be.
From Walter C. Klein, Clothed with Salvation, 1953

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Resurrection Begins the Story

From (N.T.) Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham:
"Easter is about the beginning of God's new world. John's Gospel stresses that Easter Day is the first day of the new week: not so much the end of the old story as the launch of the new one. The gospel resurrection stories end, not with "well, that's all right then", nor with "Jesus is risen, therefore we will rise too", but with "God's new world has begun, therefore we've got a job to do, and God's Spirit to help us do it". That job is to plant the flags of resurrection - new life, new communities, new churches, new faith, new hope, new practical love - in amongst the tired slogans of idolatrous modernity and destructive postmodernity."
Sadly, the link is dead now.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Holy Saturday

Christ in the Tomb

A Prayer for Holy Saturday

O faithful, come, let us behold our Life laid in a tomb to give life to those who dwell in tombs. Come, let us behold him in his sleep and cry out to him with the voice of the prophets: 'You are like a lion. Who shall arouse you, O King? Rise by your own power, O you who have given yourself up for us, O Lover of mankind.'

Click here for a short meditation on Holy Saturday, by Simon Jenkins of Ship of Fools.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Maundy Thursday 2004

I've been gifted to preach at the footwashing tomorrow, so I wrote this dramatic monologue in lieu of a traditional sermon. +Dallas was even kind enough to lend his crozier for a prop!

(You can listen to the audio version here)

Maundy Thursday, 2004

It is good to be with you. My name is Simon Peter. I lead the community here in Rome. We tell a lot of stories this time of year, to remember the death and new life of our King. We tell stories to learn who we are.

When we celebrate the Passover meal, we remember that we were created by God’s saving act. We who were slaves became a nation when Yahweh moved his mighty arm and delivered us from the hand of Pharaoh hundreds of years ago. We became his special people all over again thirty years ago when our Master Jesus became the Passover for us and by his resurrecton saved us from the darkness of sin. Many of you who were not of Israel became his because of this. We have been created by his saving act.

But tonight I want to tell you a story a little less grand, but no less important to who we are. It was our last Passover with Jesus on the night he was betrayed – by all of us. We gathered in an upper room to share the meal. Our feet had gotten dusty, and needed to be washed before we gathered at table. We were talking, cutting up and just enjoying being together. It had been a dark week, and we needed to celebrate. But then we suddenly quieted; we could have heard a feather hit the ground. Not many things can silence a room of rambunctious fishermen. I looked about to see what had happened. Jesus had taken off his robe and put on a towel. He filled a basin and began to wash our feet. We were completely speechless, and I was incensed. We had gathered to celebrate our identity as the free people of God, and he was doing what would have been disgraceful even for a slave!

He came to me, and I asked him just what he thought he was doing. “You don’t understand now,” he said, “but later, you will.” I refused him: “You’re never going to wash my feet!” He was patient and adamant as always. “If I don’t do this, you can’t be my disciple.”

I was shattered. I had spent three years of my life with this man, given up everything to follow him. But... if refusing this meant refusing him, clearly I had missed something. But I loved him, so I did the smartest thing I think I ever do: I obeyed, even though I didn’t understand.

As the rough hands of the carpenter cradled the rougher feet of this fisherman, I was struck by the tenderness of the act. Feet are very basic things, right? They’re just there. But as his fingers moved between my toes to wash, I was devastated by the intimacy. I began to understand. On that night in a little room in Jerusalem, just before all hell would break loose, this is what it meant to love us to the end. He was dedicated to me and to each of us. There were no lengths to which he would not go to love us, heal us, and set us free. This lowly service showed me the very heart of God.

He told us that this would be the pattern for our lives. This is a symbol of how he bears us up in all of our sins, failings and idiosyncrasies.

We remember this tonight. We confess our needs and submit to his washing—submit to his tenderness. We will leave and remember that our brothers and sisters have dusty feet also. We will wash them.

So in this story, learn who you are.

Let the Lord be with you in the weak places, in the dirt. Then go, take up your basin and towel, and be who you are.

In the name of Christ. Amen.