Friday, April 03, 2015

The Seventh Word

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. ~ Luke 23:46

These words,"Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," have been repeated by countless Christians on their way to death. We Anglicans pray, at the Commendation in the Liturgy for Burial, "Into they hands, O merciful Savior, we commend thy servant." Christians repeat these word in imitation of Jesus and because we assume these are words of comfort as we face the unknown that death names. These words can and should comfort, but that these words comfort us should not hide from us that these last words of Jesus before his death name his willingness to embrace the ice-cold silence of hell. accordingly these words, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," are every bit as frightening as Jesus's prior cry of abandonment. Jesus is not comforting himself; he is gesturing to the Father that he is ready to face the final work that only Jesus can do.

Stanley Hauerwas, "Cross-Shattered Christ"

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Propaganda and the Death of Truth

In an age of 143 character quips and 10 second sound bites, the one yelling loudest and longest supposedly "wins". But what do they win? Has anyone ever really changed their opinion on an issue on the basis of tweets and sound bites? Look at who the social media blurbs are addressed to. "Liberals are really going to be mad when they see this!" "Conservatives just don't understand x, y, and z." Ninety nine percent of such social media sound bites are preaching to the choir. Liberals will not be mad, because they will not see the blurb, and if they did, they will not care. Conservatives will not be reading your brilliantly contrived propaganda sophistry, and if they did they will pick it apart in other blurbs you will probably not see, let alone read. Watching all of this going on in social media is like watching a comedy, but sadly, as with much comedy, the roots of that comedy are found in tragedy.. Welcome to the post-modern world. Behold the fruit of your post-modernity...

So this week, once again as they have done so many times before, the propaganda machines from all sides of the political fence are generating "drama" out of some issue or other; said drama calculated to advance the specific agendas, goals, and world views of the groups behind those propaganda machines. Emotions are appealed to on both sides and critical scrutiny and careful dispassionate rational thought and discussion is the casualty of the sophistry and "new speak" used to bend popular political and cultural will and thought into channels that feed the never ending lust for power and control of said groups. ...and all under the rubric of "news"... Of course "propaganda" is a word little used or understood. We can't talk about the nature of propaganda lest we expose the house of lies and deceit the propaganda machines have created. May God Almighty have mercy on us and deliver us from this scourge...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Second Word

"Truly I tell you, today you will walk with me in Paradise..."

Accordingly it is almost impossible for us not to identify with the thief's request. Please, dear Jesus, remember us. Insure that our lives will have significance so that we will be more than bubbles on the foam of life. Jesus's crucified companion, however, does not ask to be remembered so that his life will have significance. Rather he asks, as the Psalms have taught Israel to ask, to be remembered when Jesus comes into his kingdom. Such a request makes sense only if Jesus - a man undergoing the same crucifixion the thief suffers - can fulfill such a request. We desperately ask to be remembered, fearing we are nothing. In contrast this thief confidently asks to be remembered because he recognizes the One who can remember...

Here in this crucified Messiah, we see the love that moves the sun and the stars. To be "with Jesus" means we are not "lost in the cosmos," but rather we can confidently live in the recognition, with faith, that God is not other than the one found in Jesus of Nazareth. How could we ever think we need more than this thief? Like the thief we can live with the hope and confidence that the only remembering that matters is to be remembered by Jesus.

Excerpt from: "Cross-Shattered Christ", Stanley Hauerwas; (Brazos Press,2004)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Salvation is of the Lord

...It is all of God. Man cannot save himself, and the Law of God cannot save him, because it is weak through the flesh, our flesh. And even if the salvation planned and prepared by God Himself had to depend upon our flesh - my faith, my holding on, my abiding, or anything else - it would fail. But, thank God, it does not depend upon us at any point; it is altogether from God: it is God's action upon us at any point; it is altogether from God: it is God's action from beginning to end. The God who saves us is the God who keeps. He keeps us, we are in His hands, it is God's action.

This is vital to the whole argument of the Apostle. You can not have assurance of salvation, you can not have certainty of your final glorification unless you realize that salvation is altogether of God..."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "Romans: Exposition of Chapter 7:1 - 8:4: The Law: Its Functions and Limits", (Comments on Romans 8:3-4)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This is the end...

...of the year of our Lord two thousand and fourteen.

As I write, the New Year has already swept over Asia and Europe, and very shortly will be reaching the North America continent. Time is a peculiar thing. We know time is not absolute but is relative. Or as the fictional Doctor would put it time is, “Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey-stuff”. The Apostle Peter tells us that with God, one year is as a thousand, and a thousand years are as one. But for us in our finiteness, time goes forward without any going back; though we know it is not absolute in the scale of the universe, it is absolute to us in our experience of it. The end of the year means we are another year closer to the end; the end of our finite lives; the end of the world and universe as it will someday soon or later come to its cataclysmic end. Thus we are told to number our days, knowing that our life under the sun is brief and transitory. But we do not count them with the angst of stoic resignation. We count them in the hope of ultimate redemption and restoration; the New heavens and new earth where in dwells righteousness. So it is in that ultimate hope we enter into this new year of our Lord, two thousand and fifteen.

Peace be unto you...

.

A Union Soldier's Year End Reflections

"Another year has rolled past and joined the many gone before in the vistas of the past. Its glorious deeds of valor and achievements, its scenes of anguish and bloodshed, of wrong and oppression, are subjects for the future historian. Its ever varying scenes and emotions are indelibly impressed upon my mind, which death alone can efface. The snow has clothed the earth in a lovely mantle of white as though to hide the sad past, and offer a clear page for me in the coming year. Let me then look forward with hope and determination to keep in the path of virtue and right, striving to improve the blessings and privileges offered me, so that when 1865 closes I need not look back with regret at the year spent."

~ Jenkin Lloyd Jones, 6th Battery, Wisconsin Artillery, December 31, 1864, writing from Nashville, TN.

(Copied from DOTCW.)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Blessed...

"...Blessed is he who is alone in the strength of the fellowship and blessed is he who keeps the fellowship in the strength of aloneness. But the strength of aloneness and the strength of fellowship is solely the strength of the Word of God, which is addressed to the individual in the fellowship."

~ Life Together, "The Day Alone", Dietrich Bonhoeffer