"There is an intellectual desire, an eros of the mind. Without it there would arise no questioning, no inquiry, no wonder." Bernard Lonergan

"It seems clear that humans cannot significantly reduce or mitigate the dangers inherent in their use of life by ccumulating more information or better theories or by achieving greater predictability or more caution in their scientific and industrial work. To treat life as less than a miracle is to give up on it." Wendell Berry

"Do not be afraid, my little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32

Friday, March 29, 2013

It is finished.

“It is finished.”  And so it was.

            Good Friday.  Day of death.  The veritable death of God by the biblical account and by Christian acclamation.

            John Dunne, master poet and Englishman of letters and lore once wrote, “Last night in the wee hours a thought came to me:  to trust God beyond my own understanding of God.”[1]

            If there is anything good about Good Friday, this day of darkest action and deepest need, then it is this:  that Jesus Christ, arrested, beaten, scourged, and crucified trusted God beyond our understandings.

            We ask God about suffering…

            We ask God about death…

            We ask God about pain…

            We ask God about injustice…

            We ask God about right and wrong, and should and ought…

            We ask God about poverty and pain in our midst and the whole time we are demanding an answer that is within what we already know, or in terms that we already understand.  We expect God to tell us what we expect to hear.

            It is not that God is not answering.  God always answers.  Most of the time, it is we who are not fully prepared to hear.  Our “understanding” – whatever that is – gets in the way.  Most of the time, we want cherubs and seraphs, angels on cloud and wing and harp, heavenly choruses raining down “Alleluias! and Hosannas!” upon our dried tears and our warm feet.

            But on Good Friday we get a cross and an empire and cold footed death.  We get a reminder that its God up there on that cross, and by virtue of Jesus, us too.  We get a reminder that we are upon that cross while we are at the foot of that cross.  We get a reminder that while we want to pass go and collect our 200 dollars, while we want to stop at the rest stop as quickly as possible and resume our 75 mile per hour journey to Easter morning and the resurrection sun; we get a reminder that with no cross there is no tomb; no Friday, no Sunday; no death, no resurrection.

            “It is finished.”

            Suzanne Gutherie at Cornell University writes, “What is loss but the experience of love, after all?  If you did not love, there would be no loss.  Absence become a kind of presence.  What man or woman does not bear grief?  Even a happy and healthy childhood has its frustrations, and too often war, hunger, injustice, poverty, disease, and natural disaster prevail.  What drove Abraham and Moses to plead for their generations?  What drove prophets to pit their lives against their society and culture?  And absorbed as he was in that tradition of patriarchs and prophets, what drove Jesus to the cross?”[2]

            Dear friends, it was love divine all love’s excelling, and nothing less.  Love for the criminals to his right and left.  Love for the poets, the lovers, the thieves.  Love for the educated and proper.  Love for a world which in that moment was not prepared or able to love him back or to even be aware that what he was about would be and was the most important work that any of them would ever witness.

            They failed to pay right witness to it – not the Mary’s or the chosen disciples, but the great and obtuse “they” who were simply going about their business, tending the fields, faxing the documents, placing the orders, making the copies, feeding the child. 

            Canadian theologian Douglas John Hall has written, “The cross is our Christian reality-check, and unlike a lot of other religious symbolism the cross doesn’t lie about realty.”[3]

            “It is finished.”  And so it was.

[1] Christianity Today, page 92.  April 2005.  from A Journey with God in Time.
[2] The Christian Century March 22, 2005.  Suzanne Guthrie, “No Time to Linger,” page 18.
[3] Journal for Preachers.  “Preaching the Cross in our Context.”  Easter 2005, page 12.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013



 How do we remember God, Jesus?  Especially this Holy Week? 



With hesitation, great or small?

Would we rather not think about him at all?

Do we remember him like an old friend?  With a drink, a libation, a shot and cheer?  Or is it a quiet memory on this Wednesday, the eve of Maundy Thursday?

It strikes me that among the most basic human concerns that we all share is this one: how will we be remembered?

Who among us does not want to be remembered well?

On of the most interesting activities I have led on retreats with adults is having the people write their own obituaries. It is a humbling endeavor. Obituaries generally don’t list assets or property. They usually don’t list favorite movies or favorite songs. They are not concerned with the cars we drive or the type of television in our living room. They typically list the people, achievements, and accomplishments by which we are most likely to be remembered; they are concerned with family, community, and church.

In so far as this the last supper, Maundy Thursday, is the obituary act of Jesus, then we can learn a great deal about him by understanding what he offers as a means of remembrance, as a method of obituary.

He is sitting with his “family” – his disciples, brothers in faith, presumably with the remainder of his closest followers in the streets nearby. His act is an act that feeds the community around him – it’s a supper, a meal of remembrance that allows us to join alongside each other and our neighbors. There is no community that is not enhanced by the sharing of a meal, by the breaking of bread, through what our forefathers and mothers have called ‘table fellowship.’ His actions are become for the church sacramental. They are a continual giving of himself as a sign and seal of God’s gracious love.

An example for us each time we gather arround a table of communion and Eucharist. And when we share this supper to remember Jesus time and time again we take our proper places in the continuity of witness, and we stand alongside brothers and sisters in the church visible and the church triumphant, saints of every time and place.

We break bread.  We pour cup.  And when we dothe Holy Spirit connects our memory to the memory of those before and those who will come after. Indeed I might be so bold as to say that long after the homes we have lived in have crumbled, long after our portfolios have exhausted, long after our businesses and practices have changed hands over and over again there will be somebody in this world tearing a loaf of bread and blessing a cup.

It is sacrament because it allows us to become a part of Jesus’ obituary-meal.

And in a sense as we sit at table with Him and His Holy Spirit we become a part of His obituary even as he is most assuredly a part of ours. And so Jesus makes a way, on the night before his scourging and his crucifixion to leave us a ceremony and a sacrament that emboldens family, community, and church.

I want to remember Jesus the way he asked to be remembered.

Friday, March 15, 2013

This image found at relevantmagazine.com a site you all should follow and give time and attention to. This image is from St. Peter's in Rome from the past week. What does it tell us about the nature of the church? Here are a group of people participating in a ritual that is 1000's of years old. Look what has happened in the past 8 years. What does it tell us about the nature of the church? Everything is chaning in our midst. My sermon on Sunday should have been titled, "The seven last words of the church: we've never done it that way before." I think most of us think that if we change how we practice our faith we will become like "them" (whoever "them" is). My argument: we better be prepared to change so that "we" can remain being "us." The change is exponential. We ignore it at our own peril.