Friday, October 31, 2008

The theological basis for "lettin' it all hang out."

Was it the Commadores or Lionel Richie who sang Brick House? As far as I'm concerned, it could have been Saint Paul. We are in the midst of the Dubose lectures and we had the dance last night. I think I had more fun at the dance than I had at my prom or any of those Sorority formals back-in-the-day. There is something deeply satisfying about seeing people who you have struggled with weighty topics with shake, shake, shake.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Feeling tipsy

Homecoming is over as of 10:30 last night, for me at least. I bartended at two parties yesterday. The best part was probably hooking up with the band at the first party. They are a string band and were very pleased to hear that I play old time banjo. After their gig they asked me if I could play what they were doing. "Oh, yes!" So maybe I'll be in a band again (please God!) since my Blue Beat Combo days (miss y'all). Here's a picture of how I made tips: pimping the kids.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Advil, take me away

So there's this Sewanee tradition for the University alums:
1.) Graduate
2.) Make a boat load of money
3.) Buy an old house in Sewanee
a.)trick it out
4.) throw a party for 100 of your closest friends (50% of which must be doctors and "in finance.")
5.) Get the university to supply bartenders

So the tradition continues and now I am a part. Seminary bartenders are as perinnial as the fog up here.I worked two parties today and will work two tomorrow. The bummer part was that I had to work out in the cold tonight, no respect for the working class! The up part was that I worked with Gordon, who is something of a celebrity up here, quite the character. He's an ex-homicide detective so I asked him lots of procedural questions because I want to write a mystery for this year's nanowrimo. All in all the bartending is really fun and I get some tips. Wish me luck for tomorrow, in the mean time my dogs are barking and my back feels old...

Quoteable Sewanee #2

While writing my Creeds paper I stumbled across this gem from Cantwell Smith by way of Charles Hefling:
One's faith is given by God, one's beliefs by one's century.
And I add: chew on that for a while.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Quotable Sewanee #1

"Being a creature is not a sin, but being unhappy about it is." Dr. Cynthia Crysdale

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Home visit and holy crap I'm an A+ student!

I don't want to brag but I'm an A+ student! I can't help but get good grades: B, B+, A-, A+ (100%), and A+ so far. Not bad for a guy who failed seveth grade and barely eaked out a 3.0 in undergrad.

New subject: We went back to my home parish this weekend and preached, see below for sermon. It went really well and I loved catching up with everybody. A big surprise was that I loved the music. Nativity had a guest group come and do music, I guess you could call it a praise band (I'm not a fan of praise bands, to put it mildly)but these guys were great, they even did the doxology and sanctus as a band. My one critique is that at times it felt like a performance, not an interactive event. This was likely because the music was new and unfamiliar. Thanks again Nativity!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Draft for Sunday's sermon

Sermon for 10/19/08

Pentacost 23
Matthew 22:15-22

"Then he said to them, 'Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's.'"

I speak to you today in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen +

In this instance I do prefer the King James: Render unto Cesar [sic].

Unless you've been living under a rock or, say, on top of a mountain, then you know there has been alot of talk this week about rendering unto caesar. The presidential debates are essentially a ping pong match of how we should best render unto caesar and in some cases how caesar should render unto us!

Today's Gospel, as usual, is eerily apropos to what is going on in our lives. Let's look at what we have:
"Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher,we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality."

Aren't they nice? Buttering him up for the kill. The Pharisees were the religious establishment of the day, the score keepers, they were the theological and religious law experts. The Herodians on the other hand, were sell outs to the empire. The Herodians were Jews who supported Herod's rule, and were rewarded handsomely for their loyalty and political influence. So in this scene we have Jesus in the middle a nationalistic group who were ardent in their desire for religious and legal independence on one side, and on the other the much hated Herodians: collaborators who made money and power off the backs and blood of their kin. This is the dynamic.

Matthew goes on: Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites?"

Jesus sees what's going on, they are trying to get him into a catch-22. If he says, "Yes, we should pay taxes." Then the pharisees will skewer him as being in collaboration with the empire and also with idolatry, because Roman coins bore the emperor's graven image and words to the effect of "all hail the emperor, high priest and god."

Now, if Jesus had said, "No, we shouldn't pay taxes." Then the Herodians, the representatives of the empire, could have booked him for sedition.

How does Jesus respond to this damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario? He says, "Show me the coin used for the tax." And they bring him a denarius. I can't help but notice how readily, how speedily, they produce the offensive item, I want Jesus to say, "You have this on hand? Oh, I see it's o.k. for business, just don't bring that idolatrous thing into my spiritual life." Maybe that's why he calls them hypocrites, they compartmentalize their lives. What's acceptable over in this sphere is not acceptable in that sphere and vice versa. How I conduct myself in my spiritual life has no bearing on how I conduct myself in society. I love God, but I have to consider what's mine! Jesus is my homeboy, but if you cross me, you're going down!

After some Socratic questioning Jesus concludes with "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." Jesus says to give to the emperor what is his because the coin bears his likeness and title. The emperor put his picture and name on the coin to say,"This is mine."

Then Jesus says give to "God the things that are God's." There it is. But what is God's? What are the things that are to be rendered to God? It's terrible in it's simplicity: we are. We are the things that are God's. Were we not "sealed as Christ's own forever" at our baptisms? Even more, we were Christ's at creation, because "through him all things were made" as the creed affirms. Indeed all creation will eventually join with Christ at the end of all time at the great banquet (in seminary we call it the eschatological banquet, it's the second coming, when Christ will marry himself to us in a new,complete, and utter way).

At baptism we are sealed as Christ's own forever. In fact, the chrism with which we are sealed, in the old usage, meant to seal, like a noble would seal, with wax, a document, to insure that it would not be tampered with. We are God's because we carry his seal, not unlike the coin, which bore the emperor's likeness, we bear Christ's image. We belong to God, we are the things that belong to God, that we should render unto him. We are. In our totality. We can give God everything, our faith, our doubt, our resentments, our joy, our anxiety, our bad psychology, give him everything, it's o.k. We were God's; before there was a "we" or an "I," or even a world. "Through him all things were made."

It's like the deeply theological hymn says: Oh, how I love Jesus, oh, how I love Jesus, oh, how I love Jesus, because he first loved me. Jesus Christ, God, loved us, loved everything first. This is not a transaction, we didn't cause God to love us. His love is simply a fact of life: the creator of the universe loves you, and you have access to that love, free! Isn't that exciting?

It kind of makes rendering to Caesar, sort of a joke.

Let us pray: BCP p. 252

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Fresh Air...

I've just finished this interview from Fresh Air. It is an interview with Katherine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA (or as my mother calls her the Arch-bishop, ain't no arch bishops in America, Mom!) I ususally think of Terry Gross, the host, as one of the most informed interviewers in the biz, but here she really shows some real ignorance. Now as I write that, I had an insight. There was one point in the interview where Gross asked a question about the divisions in the church and Bishop Schori wanted to clarify some things about the full humanity of Jesus, but Gross interupted her to say that the conservatives must see Jesus as only divine. Now, I know that Terry Gross can't be up on all the points of Christian christology, even a fundamental one like this (I could go on about this, I think if a poll went out into most churches this week the results would come back that most folks are heretics, along Nestorian or Gnostic lines). What got me about this interview was that Gross thought the issues at hand in the Episcopal/Anglican divide were more serious than sexuality. This is one thing that I've heard from more conservative episcopalians,"if the Episcopal Church doesn't proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, well then..." and on it goes. Where is this happening exactly? Maybe I need to get into New Testament to realize that Jesus is not Lord. That was a joke. Right?
I visited with some friends this weekend and they asked lots of good ontological questions about the affect of seminary on me. I think what is happening is that I've become more orthodox (small O) in my theology. Funny thing is that I think that Christianity, that is the understanding that God has made God's self available utterly to humanity in a historical person, and that the foundation of all being is Love, is clearly the most liberal thing in the world (and heaven).

Sorry for the stream of conscious...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Long time...

I haven't touched this blog in so long it was no longer in the history pull down! Update: we're in reading week, I've been reading and writing alot. Read Frederick Buechner's memoir: The Sacred Journey for my creeds class. It was top notch, required reading for modern Christians. Nativity! I will be preaching this Sunday, look for me.

Here's a song by my new hero:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Man

This video is eerily apropos to a discussion in Spirtuality for Ministry today...