Archive for February, 2015

Love and Security

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Love and security … the same or not?

We know loves importance ….

Love is our vital core. We grow warm because of its presence, and cold because of its absence, and when it is completely gone, we die. (Heaven and Hell 14, Emanuel Swedenborg)

And we know how when love is present, we can settle into a peace, a miraculous peace, a vital core, a peace which as Christ says “passes all understanding.”  It feels secure there.

But there is another security that love is not.  That security remains needy, self serving and clutching.  Churches must work in the space that questions that type of security.

I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out in the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.  I do not want to a Church concerned with being at the center and which then ends up being caught in a web of obsessions and procedures…. More than our fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within  structures which give a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits that make us feel safe…..

 

Allowing Christ To Make a Claim On Us

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

An incredibly powerful picture.  One tide breaking against another.  Look at the hands….

And why?  Why were they able to stand there – hands where they were – knowing that what they feared would happen did?

I wonder if this is why … because they understood.  Christ had made a claim on their lives. And they listened.

And it was not the claim of anger.  Not the claim of fear, of “states rights,” of historical memories tight like traps.  It was the claim of love, mutual love. One language … “the common good of all.”  Courage.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

Only Love Can Be Entrusted With Truth

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

“Only love can be entrusted with truth.” Fr. Richard Rohr

Early Christian history – beautiful because it fills with all the very normal human foibles and contortions.  Not a sterile pile of sanctified brethren but a pile of simple humanity.  Loved by God.  Lurching their way forward one bad choice, then one redeemed choice at a time.

So we must smile at the story in Acts 15.   The belonging police issue an edict.  ”Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses you cannot be saved.”  (Act 15:1)  Boom.  Unequivocal.  Measurable. No doubts. So we need to smile, smile at the painfully recognizable human tendency to create forced barriers of entry – a figurative secret handshake only the “chosen” know.

Thankfully the redeeming words of those of who knew Christ won the day … “It is my judgement that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Act 15:19)  Not sure how they found such graceful words but there you have it … a simple statement.  A simple invitation. “Lets not make this thing hard”, an echo of Christ’s words, “For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

Faith can become either.  Either a form of exclusion or a form of inclusion.  The former grows in places where love recedes.

The knowledge of spiritual and heavenly realities and even the mysteries of faith become nothing more than objects of memory when the people who are adept at them have no love for others. (Secrets of Heaven, 1197)

And there is a choice.  A choice to not make this thing hard … life is hard enough.  A sacrificial choice then to love.  A love that can be entrusted with the truth.

 

Living Patiently in a Construction Zone

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

We give our hearts, often, to those things that are at best clunky and rude.  We give our hearts to work, to jobs, where yes we find joy but also frustration and fear.  We give our hearts to our beloveds, where yes we find love but also disappointment, vulnerability, loss.

And our ego would have us eagerly believe the long anticipated and well earned blessing is out there, somewhere else with someone else.   Then our hearts would be truly free.  Then at last we would be truly seen.

Something seems to say that is not how it works.  That maybe the universal addiction is the addiction to our own plans.

So there must be a newness, a new way of seeing, a new way to slip beneath the waves or above the clouds – take your pick.

Maybe we are to have, what one author called, a continued “lover’s quarrel” with life.   One where the commitment remains.  Where the commitment stays.  But where that commitment allows for that thing we must push against.  Welcomes it.  A life filled with events and people – “traffic” – that does not yield to our opinions, our plans, our relentless pushing this way or that.

Maybe there, in forced patience and surrender, we find the soft ground where faith grows.

Churches and the End of Geography

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Some thoughts from author Seth Godin …

Some of the most important inventions of the last hundred years:

Air conditioning–which made it possible to do productive work in any climate

Credit cards–which enabled transactions to take place at a distance

Television–which homogenized 150 world cultures into just a few

Federal Express and container ships–which made the transport of physical goods both dependable and insanely cheap

The internet–which moved information from one end of the world to the other as easily as across the room

Cell phones–which cut the wires

If you’re still betting on geography, on winning merely because you’re local, I hope you have a special case in mind.

It is hard to argue with Seth’s observations.  Churches need to be aware. We are intensely local bodies.  But that definition of “local” is changing rapidly and maybe irrevocably.   We are centered in Pennsylvania. And when I talk to those in Florida, they just don’t seem that far away.