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Showing posts from January, 2010

You can't always believe what you want

In light of my last two posts here and here, I thought it was a good time to discuss God's judgment. This is a difficult topic for many people. In many ways, the belief and hope of a loving and forgiving God has undercut the Biblical message of judgment. This brings up a few questions. Can there be mercy without judgment? Does judgment stem from anger? Are love and judgment mutually exclusive? Is God still planning to judge the world or did God's judgment occur in the sending of the Son and then in the cross and resurrection?
In order to talk about God's judgment, I'd like to broach a different, but related topic: universal salvation. Universal salvation is the idea or belief that God will ultimately save everyone. With this understanding, whatever happens at the end of time will ultimately result in all people being in the presence of God. The belief in universal salvation, then, eliminates the need for Hell, as a place opposite of Heaven.
Some verses that people beli…

Judgy Wudgy was a bear

Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today. Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, "Let me take the speck out of your eye, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye. [Jesus said, during the Sermon on the Mount], Matthew 6:33- 7:5

Jesus said to his disciples, "Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the se…

Give me a head with hair

Daniel 3:27

And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counsellors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunicswere not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them.
Matthew 10:28-31
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
1 Corinthians 11: 13- 16
Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no su…

Epiphany v. Revelation

I was recently asked how epiphany differed from revelation. This excellent questions aims at the heart of our understanding of words and phrases in our everyday English and how they may have a different meaning within our life of faith.
Epiphany means manifestation. The season of Epiphany is when Jesus began to manifest his power on Earth as the Son of God. He was always the Son, but after his baptism- the power of the Spirit within him became more evident and particularly manifested (became visible) itself in the signs and miracles that Jesus did as he lived among us.
When we say, "I had an epiphany"- we often mean "Things suddenly became clear" or "All the pieces came together for me" or "I found the solution". What had previously been absent was seemingly revealed. Therefore what we usually mean when we use the word "epiphany" is revelation.
Revelation means revealing or unveiling. We have the book of Revelation because John uses the…

Wining with Jesus

2 Epiphany (17 January 2010) Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11Why does John’s gospel begin with the story of the wedding at Cana? That question has always fascinated me. Is it to show that Jesus was a relaxed guy and enjoy a good glass of wine? To show that he respected his mother? We often consider this a miracle- water that becomes wine, but the gospel writer considers this a sign- something that points to who and what Jesus is. So, just to summarize, Jesus has gathered his disciples and they’ve traveled to a wedding. Perhaps that of a mutual friend. Perhaps a relative of Jesus’. It’s a big enough event that Jesus’ mother is also there. And the wine has run out. A wedding was likely a three-day event and this celebration may be occurring even before the marriage has taken place, but as the bride and bridegroom are being prepared. Men and women were mostly separated at events like these. Jesus’ mother is c…

Miep Gies: Hider, not Heroine

Yesterday (Monday, 11 January 2010) Miep Gies died.
She was the last person remaining of the small group of people who hid the Frank family and others in an attic in Amsterdam during World War 2. We know of her, the Franks and the others through her discovery Anne Frank's diary. She preserved the loose pages of the diary until Otto Frank, the lone survivor of the family and Anne's father, returned after the war, claimed then and eventually published one of the best known books in the world.
Gies never particularly thought of herself as heroic. Yet when we read about her or Corrie Ten Boom (or the many others who hid Jews and other persecuted peoples at other times in history), we often think of them as heroes. And we ask ourselves, "Could I do that?" Would I risk my family's health and safety, much less my own, to save someone else?
It's a question worth asking. Yet in the asking- it's always distant. Aren't there people now, causes now, who could use…

A Star is Born

Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV) In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men*2 from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiahwas to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd* my people Israel.”’ 7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men*89 and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homag…