Friday, November 30, 2007

Saint Andy the Apostle

Today is the feast of Saint Andrew. Andrew is described in the gospels as a fisherman and is the brother to Simon Peter. He was one of the first disciples of Christ, among the first four, along with Simon Peter, and the Sons of Thunder:James and John. (Jesus calls them the Sons of Thunder for their passion I suppose)according to John, all were formerly disciples of John the Baptist, so I guess they were likely Essenes, a Jewish sect of the first century.

The part that I like about Andrew's revelation of the Christ is that it is automatic, reflexive. Jesus calls and Andrew answers. Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains this reflex answer in Andrew to simple authority on the part of Jesus. Jesus calls and Andrew drops everything and moves.

I find this comforting. Jesus calls us all to peace. Peace within the world, and perhaps more importantly, peace within ourselves. But Jesus calls us to follow, not to become better, then follow, but to follow...period. We are not called to get our act together, then go with Him.!

Thoughts for Advent week One

Matthew 24:36-44

Something tells me the Hal Lindsey, of The Late Great Planet Earth fame, doesn't like this passage very much:But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. No one knows. God is a god of surprises.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hard Work

They say that work is hard. Why does it have to be hard? How about serious. When we want to be committed to something, we use the language of work: "I'm serious about music", or "I work hard on my music." Why is it that we don't have words for playful work? The feeling of flow that that guy Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi(wiki:Flow)talks about. Jesus gives a good metaphor, My yolk is easy, my burden light. A yolk is something that is used to harness the energy of animals, but Jesus' yolk is easy. Why? Maybe it's because the economy of the Kingdom is so at odds with the one we all live in. For more on the Kingdom look into the wonderful paradoxes that Jesus offers time and again, especially turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and remove the plank in your own eye before the mote in your neighbor's. All ways in which the christian is called to produce a counter rhythm in society.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Meditation on Sunday's readings

I'm going to start commenting on the readings for the coming Sunday. Call it sermon practice, first draft thoughts. I invite comments and critiques.

Readings: Luke 23:35-43 or Luke 19:29-38

Tough passages for a tough guy. These two passages bookend Jesus' late ministry, the Palm Sunday triumph and the crucifixion. I've often thought that meeting Jesus, in the flesh, might have been a difficult experience. I don't get the peaceful easy vibe from Him at all, I think he would have been rather unsettling. Jesus was like the jester in Shakespeare's plays, the only one authorized to tell the truth, and everyone's response was to ignore, laugh it off, or atand in silence and shuffle their feet.

Both of these passages show Jesus in public, he is being recognized in some way or another. First, in Luke 19: Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Then again by the criminal in Luke 23. Here it seems that the public declaration of Jesus as Lord doesn't get much, no political takeover, no reprieve from suffering.

When I was growing up in the Baptist church much was made to make a public testimony of your "walk with Jesus." The idea was to inspire others I suppose but I always avoided this because I had no testimony, I had just followed suit, when your about 11 or so get saved. Done.

Now, I think I have a testimony, and yes I am one of those whackos that thinks that Chritianity is a spiritual path with truth in it and is worth pursuing, maybe, gasp, to the exclusion of other spiritual expressions. But the testimony doesn't sound too enticing: Life with Christ is an insecure one, it is a life whereby the floor is nonexsistant, your thoughts and desires are suspect at best, and you will come to the realization that you hold nothing. But all this is absolutely liberating too. You don't have to hold onto your anger, you don't have to hold onto your happiness either, this creates a kind of nostalgic desperation. My testimony about life with Jesus is this: We own nothing, what we do have is a gift from God. Enjoy but don't hold. Something like that, I'm not a theologian, yet.

Wow, this is going to be hard...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Survivor's Guilt

O.K., I'm starting to come to terms with this whole priest deal. But here's something that's been on my mind: Survivor's guilt. There were three people in my discernment group who got a recommendation for the priesthood and there were four who did not. Now, the seven of us were in the fire together so it feels weird, here, on the other side. We all met for beers and pizza the other night and it was awkward as hell. What was once so easy and free, our conversation(we were all so scared, together) was stitled. I felt that everything I said, answers to questions, was gloating and pompous.

But this is part of that going out on a limb, that was hidden until now. Your going to make friends with these people, you will bear your soul to them and they to you. Some will get what they were after, some won't, and who knows how you'll feel. Most oif this is probably in my head, but I can't help but think that I'd be a little bitter if I hadn't received a yes.

Maybe this is where the grace lies, a realization that everything that I have is given as a gift. Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, he's like a Bishop for the Orthodox Church, talks about this a little in his book Beginning to Pray. We have to simultaneously hold two divergent concepts in order to see our place before God. One is that we have nothing, we hold onto nothing, we possess nothing. This is sel evident if you think about it for a second. Meditation is a good tool for learning this lesson. The other concept is exsistance is a gift from God, the things that we appear to have are blessings from God, to help us in this life.

For me this is a wonderful paradigm to think about because it at once allows us to be grateful for the things and people around us but also be detached from them as the source of our happiness.

How did I get from survivor's guilt to here? Oh yeah. When I got the yes recommendation my father in law was visiting, he congratulated me and said that I must have done a good job to get it. My wife corrected him and said it's not what you do it's who you are. This hit me like a 2X4 up the head. Nothing I could have done would have gotten me the recommendation. Maybe this was an actual call for God.