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Showing posts from January, 2008

Who is my neighbor?

Who is my neighbor? In the gospel, those words lead into the famous story about the Samaritan who took time to stop when others didn't, couldn't or wouldn't. When we think about that phrase, we're often pointed to the downtrodden and disheartened in communities around us. That is a good place to look, to be sure, but does anyone ever look at the person sitting next to them in the pew? What has happened to the community in the church? In a time of busyness and over-scheduling, church does not need to be just "another thing to do", but what can it be? What do you expect to receive from your faith community? Recently I have heard many people lamenting the changed times, when it is difficult to get people to come to confirmation or weeknight Bible studies or Sunday night youth group- things that were congregational staples even ten years ago. So what happened? I don't know that the answer to this question is one about "making time for God"; maybe

Paul's Conversion

In the Christian calendar, today is the day we celebrate the conversion of Paul. Paul remained a Jew for all of his life, but when he was embraced by Christ- he took the message of Jesus to the world in a new way and a new light. Here's how Frederick Buechner describes the call of Saul of Tarsus: He was still in charge of a Pharisee goon squad in those days and was hell-bent for Damascus to round up some trouble-making Christians and bring them to justice. And it happened. It was about noon when he was knocked flat by a blaze of ligt that made the sun look like a forty-watt bulb, and out of the light came a voice that called him by his Hebrew name twice. "Saul," it said, and then again, "Saul. Why are you out to get me?" and when he pulled himself together enough to ask who it was he had the honor of addressing, what he heard to his horror was, "I'm Jesus of Nazareth, the one you're out to get." We're not told how long he lay there in the

Curiosity

"Curiosity is the unknown fruit of the Spirit, the stealthy expression of God's presence." - Michael Yaconelli ( Dangerous Wonder , 44) As I was reading today, this sentence burned a whole in my mind. We do not often embrace curiosity as an element of faith, as something we should embody as people of God. Yet Jacob was curious enough about that angel to wrestle a blessing out of him. Thomas was curious enough to demand further evidence of the risen Christ. Mary was curious enough to ask the "gardener" where she could find the Jesus' body. Curiosity implies an active faith. A faith that demands answers to questions and wrestles with mystery is a faith that is in continual renewal and relationship with God. Curiosity spurs us onward, turns us outward and pulls us forward toward the presence and the answers of God, revealed in the world. What are you curious about? How curious are you? What can you do about it?

A Light shines in the darkness

I recently read a book by a well-known Catholic author and I was surprised at how much this writer seemed to struggle with what he could do to make himself accept God's grace, which highlighted his larger struggle of whether or not such grace is for him. He repeatedly discussed how far away he felt from God and how God wants to grace the world. The thing is, what God wants to do, God does. God does not watch us from afar, waiting for us to say the magic words to merit forgiveness, grace or the gift of greater faith. God gives us these things because of who God is. It is important not to confuse the mysterious side of God with the idea that God is distant. God does have a side we do not understand. Think of the seven thunders in Revelation 10:3b-4. The author is told not to write about them and this reminds us that we do not know everything about the mind of God. However, we do know about the promises of God. In Jesus' words at the end of Matthew, he promises to be with the d