The gospel reading at my Monday mass was Luke 7:1-10, the story of the centurion whose servant is healed by Jesus without setting foot in his house. A line that the centurion says has become a key part of the weekly Eucharistic liturgy: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” There is something essential about that posture of humility for us to be able to encounter Christ authentically and receive the transformation that He wants to instill in us. I worry sometimes that Christians like me define ourselves so much against the overemphasis on human wickedness in fundamentalist Christianity that we end up having a blithe presumptuousness about Jesus’ grace in our lives which turns our prayer and worship life into a farce.
Today is Yom Kippur, Judaism’s day of atonement. It’s a day for fasting, repentance, and healing. Atonement is a concept that Christianity inherited from Judaism. Jesus’ cross is our Yom Kippur for our sins. The Hebrew word kippur means most literally “to cover.” In English, atonement is a compound of three words: at-one-ment. So what is being made “at one” with atonement? And how does being “covered” by something make us “at one”? Continue reading
I just looked over an essay by Katie Mulligan that deals with the topic of redemptive suffering in the context of Tony Jones’ controversy/dialogue with feminists. Redemptive suffering is a very abused concept in Christian history. Many women in abusive marriages have been told to stay put and “bear their crosses” because their suffering somehow honors God. Enabling an abuser is not redemptive suffering; it’s allowing a lie to be treated as the truth. But Mulligan points out a different way that people in a position of privilege can allow for healing and redemption through a different kind of suffering in conversation with those who have been wounded. Continue reading
The LifeSign alternative worship service at Burke United Methodist Church is doing a sermon series called “Ugliness Into Beauty: Six Blessings of the Cross.” Here is a promotional video which I first tried to make of me drawing on a whiteboard and then had to improvise using Microsoft Paint.
I’m going to be a little raw. I’ve been wrestling with God about this whole “Jesus Is My Candidate” campaign/idea/thing that hasn’t seemed to go anywhere at least in the grandiose large-scale sense that I hoped it might. I got called out yesterday for promoting myself after I sent out a mass facebook message about the campaign and this new Election Day Communion idea to an eclectic group of pastors , some of whom I have enough rapport with to humor me and bear my silliness with patience, but some of whom I apparently don’t. I’ve been reflecting on whether and to what degree this campaign is reducible to my narcissism. I’m grateful for getting called out as I told the person who did it; otherwise I would never learn. But to some degree, I don’t think you can be a preacher without being a self-aware narcissist. Otherwise how could you stand up in front of a group of people every week to speak on behalf of God with any authority? It is a constant brutal struggle with pride. I don’t know how to be a good steward of what God gives me to share with the world other than to kick and scream and bang on every door I can find. Please unfriend/unfollow me if you have a problem with that. So far I’ve had one famous Christian writer get on twitter to make fun of what I was trying to promote and another one say that she would block me if I tweeted directly to her about things like this since I was exploiting her platform. In any case, as I was feeling resentful, flustered, and confused this morning, I remembered a story in which Jesus showed that He wasn’t stingy with His platform.