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Witnesses - Week Five: "Come and Help Us"

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This is what is known as the Season of Easter in the historic church calendar, and for the next several weeks we'll be continuing to celebrate Easter, and we'll also step further into our sermon series, "Witnesses."

Because where we are in respect to Easter Sunday is about the time that those first-century followers of Christ were asking a question--which is the same question you and I ought to be asking, too:    "Jesus rises.  Now what?"

It's a good thing that we are not alone in asking this very question.  Jesus' disciples wondered the same thing, and almost immediately after Jesus was raised from the dead.  We know this because of the book of Acts.

I love the arc that the story in the book of Acts takes.

It begins with a bunch of scared people in a room, wondering what is going to happen to them---disciples of Jesus, who are afraid to venture outside the door because they think they might be killed.

It ends---literally---with the word "unhindered…

Christ Isn't Jesus' Last Name

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"Christ" is the name for God's plan to materialize his formless Spirit. - Richard Rohr
I've been thinking a lot lately about where Jesus can be found in the world around me, and I have some questions. 

It's odd, I know.  It's just one of those things that you do when you're a pastor and a writer, and spend most of your time reading and thinking about that kind of thing for a living. 

And there's this...  

Sometimes I find myself wondering about Jesus' presence---because things seem to be a bit messed up in the world at the moment, which leads me to believe that whatever Jesus is up to is way beyond my understanding. 

I have come to grasp something really profound, though.  

"Christ" isn't Jesus' last name.  Jesus is the Christ, which means "Messiah," or "Anointed One," which in the Gospel of John is interpreted as the "Logos," or the "Blueprint," or The Creative Expressive Word of God.  (that las…

Bare Your Soul, Share Your Truth, Don't Be Afraid

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"My faith is personal.  I don't need to talk about it in public."  

I've heard that phrase or something like it dozens of times over the course of the last twenty years of ministry.  

I get it.  Sometimes I wish that the judge-y, church-y people who are always going on and on about their faith in public would keep their ideas to themselves.  

I'm sure that same desire causes a lot of people to decide to keep their life of faith private and girded against critique and controversy.  But when we choose the path of least resistance, we often miss out on opportunities to speak grace and peace and life into the universe.  

And in case you haven't been paying attention, the universe needs some grace, peace, and life right about now.  To put it quite simply, if those of us who have that kind of message to share keep quiet... people will listen to whoever is talking.  

And no one wants that. Trust me. 

It's hard to put yourself out there.  I get that, too.  It's har…

Let The River Flow

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Many years ago, I had a conversation with a pastor acquaintance about his personal mission statement.  I know.  I have riveting conversations.  

He told me that he believed his ultimate purpose was "to know and do the will of God."  Then he said something like, "It's just that simple."

As I recall, I pointed out that his stated purpose was a lot more complicated than he imagined because it was all predicated on the ludicrous notion that a person would be able to know the mind and will of God.  

"The best you can do is guess at it, right?" I asked him.  "And what if you guess wrong?"  And then--because I've always struggled to understand this--I added, "Or what if you think you believe something to be God's will, but it's actually yours."  

The guy had no good answers for me.  He grew flustered and blurted out, "If you are maintaining your Christian walk, and doing everything to stay in the word you'll be able to di…

Learning Humility The Usual (Hard) Way

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As the twig is bent, the tree inclines.  - Virgil

One of the most difficult lessons to learn on the Way of Jesus is the lesson of humility.  It's difficult most of all because of how most of us are forced to learn it.

Typically, we don't learn humility because of a revelation we have over a cup of coffee on some random Tuesday morning as we are checking email, getting kids ready for school, or planning our day.

It's not like it comes to us like a flash, "Oh! I really could benefit from being more humble!"  Unfortunately, almost all of us learn humility by being humbled.

It's the moment when we fall flat on our face when we were so certain of our footing... so confident in our abilities... so reliant on our talents.

But if we are being honest, the thing that hurts the most about those humbling moments is the fact that we weren't actually all that certain or confident, and we'd buried those feelings deep down inside, afraid to admit the truth.

And we can go i…

The Heartbeat of A Stone

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The world is turning
in the body of Jesus and
the future is possible. - Lucille Clifton 

The great Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran penned a short parable once about two men engaged in a debate over the oneness of things.  

In order to make his point that all things in Creation are connected, the older and wiser of the two asked his companion to pick up a stone that was lying at his feet, and then said to him: 
All things live and glow in the knowledge of the day and the majesty of the night.  You and the stone are one.  There is a difference only in heartbeats. When I read that it resonated with me so much.  The idea of stone having a heartbeat... that there is a mysterious and wonderful kind of energy and life in all of Creation...  all of it just left me humming with reverence.  

And because I'm a nerd about these things, all kinds of Bible passages went through my head.  

Like the moment when Jesus told by religious leaders to tell his followers to stop praising God on Palm Sunday: “I tel…

Witnesses - Week Four: "The Same Gift"

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The Season of Easter has just begun, and we'll be celebrating Easter for the next several weeks, as we launch into a brand new sermon series.

And this is just about the time that those first-century followers of Christ started asking a question--which is the same question you and I ought to be asking, too:   "Jesus has risen.  Now what?"

It's a good thing that we are not alone in asking this very question.  Jesus' disciples wondered the same thing, and almost immediately after Jesus was raised from the dead.  We know this because of the book of Acts.

I love the arc that the story in the book of Acts takes.

It begins with a bunch of scared people in a room, wondering what is going to happen to them---disciples of Jesus, who are afraid to venture outside the door because they think they might be killed.  

It ends---literally---with the word "unhindered" as the Apostle Paul sits imprisoned in Rome, which was widely known as the "very end of the Earth,"…