Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia and the greatest apologist for the Christian faith in the 20th century, fell in love with a divorced woman, Joy Davidman. Her husband was an alcoholic (and not a Christian) and their marriage fell apart. Lewis had never been married. His beloved Church of England, hewing to the biblical teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman for life, refused to sanction this union on the grounds that in marrying Joy, Lewis would be marrying another man’s wife, making them both adulterers.

But there was one priest who was willing to go against the grain..."

What C.S. Lewis's Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy

Monday, April 21, 2014

"I have found that extending our understanding of each other's spiritual practices and traditions can be an enriching experience, because to do so increases our opportunities for mutual respect.  Often we encounter things in another tradition that helps us better understand our own."
-- the Dalai Lama

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"God was the central reality of [Jesus's] life and the kingdom of God was the center of his message. The kingdom of God was not about heaven, not about life after death, but about the transformation of life on earth, as the Lord’s Prayer affirms. It is not about 'Take us to heaven when we die,' but about 'Your kingdom come on earth' – as already in heaven. The kingdom of God on earth was about God’s passion – and Jesus’s passion – for the transformation of 'this world': the humanly created world of injustice and violence into a world of justice and nonviolence. That’s why the powers that ruled the world of Jesus killed him. They were not unknowingly doing the will of God by playing their part in God’s plan of salvation to provide a sinless sacrifice to pay for the sins of the world. No. They killed him because he was a radical critic of the way they had put the world together and he was attracting a following. So they snuffed him out. In this context, Easter is about God’s 'yes' to Jesus and God’s 'no' to the powers that killed him. That, I suggest, is the primary meaning not only of Pau’s testimony and affirmation, but also of the Easter stories in the gospels."

--Marcus Borg

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How Does "Dying For Our Sins" Work?

"So let’s be clear, the cross is not about the appeasement of a monster god. The cross is about the revelation of a merciful God. At the cross we discover a God who would rather die than kill his enemies. The cross is where God in Christ absorbs sin and recycles it into forgiveness. The cross is not what God inflicts upon Christ in order to forgive. The cross is what God endures in Christ as he forgives. Once we understand this, we know what we are seeing when we look at the cross: We are seeing the lengths to which a God of love will go in forgiving sin."

--Brian Zahnd,   How Does "Dying For Our Sins" Work?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sunlight fell upon the wall;
the wall received a borrowed splendor.
Why set your heart on a piece of earth,
O simple one? Seek out the source
which shines forever.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
--Jesus (John 15:13)

“I shared with Syrians many beautiful moments, and received a lot. Now we see that these people are suffering a lot. The same way I shared with these people their treasures, I also want also to share with them their fear, pain, and death. Participation requires presence, staying in touch, being close. This is why I like to be in the centre, to move from fear to peace, from sadness to joy, from death to life.”
-- Father Frans van der Lugt, 75 year old Dutch Jesuit priest murdered in Homs, Syria

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, a day that commemorates Jesus's "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem.  This was an incredibly subversive act, both politically and religiously--a bit of prophetic performance art--as Jesus and his followers reenacted the ancient Jewish ritual of the king's enthronement (for which Psalm 118 was written and used).  But, as biblical scholar James Sanders points out, in the case of Jesus, "The messiah has arrived and been acclaimed king.  He has been recognized as king by acclamation not from those with power or authority but by a rather scragly crowd of disciples and followers."

The participants shouted "Hosanna!" which was a cry to God for justice and mercy.  "Hosanna" was what a person would cry out to the judge when they came into court, a reminder to the judge to be just and fair and merciful in hearing their case.  At the triumphal entry, the people were calling out to God to hear their case against the oppressive religious/civil/economic system that they were under.

Sanders says, "This enactment of the psalm [118] as a prophetic symbolic act would have been no less blasphemous and scandalous to those responsible for Israel's traditions (and they would have known them well) than similar symbolic acts performed by the prophets in the late Iron Age [such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel]."

So, if you go to church today and see the children waving palm fronds, consider that what they are reenacting is a moment of bold prophetic civil disobedience against rulers and powers and authorities and systems of oppression and the audacious proclamation of a different king and kingdom--a rule and reign marked by mercy, fairness, truth, compassion, kindness, peace, inclusion, grace.  A kingdom of love.  The kingdom of God.