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Showing posts from March, 2010

Dream a Little Dream

Today I'm thinking of the wife of Pontius Pilate. We hardly ever mention her or her dream.
While [Pilate] was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him." Matthew 27:19
There are many traditions about Pilate's wife, regarding her name, history and even her faith before and after the crucifixion. There has been speculation as to her dream being from the Holy Spirit to bring her to faith and rival contemplation that perhaps her dream was a move by Satan to thwart the plan of salvation through the resurrection. (If Jesus doesn't die, he can't be raised now, can he?)
Regardless, in this week of sleeplessness (full moon + breastfeeding + Holy Week), I think of this woman waking up in a cold sweat, calling for a servant and telling him to go without delay to her husband and give him this message. I wonder how she felt when Pilate came home a…

What Happened?

So, if you've been checking regularly for the continuation of the bracket series, it will be resurrected (so to speak) after Easter. Each bracket takes time and extra writing time is not magically appearing in the Holy Week season. And, yes, I do know it wasn't Holy Week last week, however- there is more than one week's planning going on here. I don't think I can manage 32 face-offs, but I've done three and I have at least five other topics, so an "Elite Eight" will happen. If you're frustrated by this, talk to the blog followers who've been waiting for me to finish the "50 most important Scriptures" series.

Bracket 3: Infant Baptism v. Consecration Edition

Today's game is sponsored by:
The Real Presence of Christ. So you aren't sure you're getting what you need from the bread and wine? Christ has promised to be present in these earthly elements to feed our faith and to strengthen us to do what He has called us to do. The love of Christ compels to come and eat and then to go and serve. He's there. He has to be. He promised.
Today we're looking at infant baptism versus consecration. The baptizing of infants is a sticking point for many Christians in getting along. How can an infant be considered able to respond to God's call? Furthermore, does an infant need cleansing from sin? Some people classify the opposite of infant baptism as "believer's baptism". However, I think it's safe to assume that the persons who bring their child to be baptized believe in what's being done there. So, let's say "adult baptism".
Are infants sinless? Well, yes, if you consider sin only to be deliberat…

Bracket 2: Paul v. Paul (Paul v. Women Edition)

There is no more loved and more hated person in Christian history than Paul of Tarsus. (I could make good cases for Constantine in that category, but that's not this bracket.) Paul deriders say he was a misogynistic egotist who hated Jews (might have even been the original self-hating Jew) and moved Christianity to the margins today because of his words. Paul supporters say he was a great philosopher who was far more open than his day would have allowed and, without him, Christianity might never have become a mainstream religion, much less the powerhouse that it is today.
For the sake of the argument, let's allow in the game the seven books (just like b-ball!) that we're pretty sure were penned by Paul: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philemon, Galatians, Philippians and 1 Thessalonians. There's a place for redaction criticism (as a point guard) later in this game, but I'd like to point out first that this Scriptural debate is brought to you by...
God, the Fat…

Bracket 1: Ecumenism v. Inter-faith Relations

In the spirit of the NCAA 2010 Basketball tournament, I've decided to do a little blog bracketing. Now, for the most part, there won't be actual competition between the "opponents", but I will do my best to explain something that's confusing about the two, how they're different or I just might bring them head to head and see who has the power.
In today's bracket, we have ecumenism up against inter-faith relations. These terms are often used interchangeably, as though they were synonyms. They are not the same thing. You could do both, but not with the same partner. An event could be both interfaith AND ecumenical, but it would need at least 3 participants.
Ecumenism is Christians working together. Since Vatican II (and before), there has been a desire for one Christian church, yet Christians often find more points of disagreement than agreement. While most (but not all) Christian churches are willing to participate in joint spiritual activities with other …

To tell the old, old story (Sermon 3/14)

Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 The story of the prodigal son is so familiar, most of us could give the highlights of the tale if we were woken up in the middle of the night. Boy takes inheritance, goes and wastes it, comes back, father welcomes him, older brother gets mad, father tells him that he’s been welcome all along. It’s interesting because as this story becomes familiar and as we hear about prodigals returning more and more often, we begin to miss the sharp edges of the story. The edges that made the story shocking to Luke’s original audience, the edges that made the story uncomfortable to Jesus’ original audience. This story is full of inappropriate behavior. Let’s start with the younger brother. A man needed two sons to take care of him in his old age. Two sons were needed to keep track of the family land, to keep the lineage going, to uphold the family’s good name. When the younger brother asks for his inheritan…

Joseph the Faithful

Today (March 19) is the feast day (saint celebration) of Joseph. Depending on your view of Joseph, he is called the husband of the Virgin Mary, the earthly father of Jesus or the guardian of Jesus. For many Christians, Protestant and Catholic, Mary is the first Christian, the first to believe in Christ. She served as Theotokos, the "God-bearer".
However, there is good reason to include Joseph, if not as the first believer, as the second. After all, he wasn't pregnant. In the gospel according to Matthew, Joseph learned about the circumstances Mary's pregnancy in a dream. Despite his misgivings and probable fears (do you want to be with the woman who is carrying the Son of God?), Joseph stood by his woman, helped her give birth in a stable, and raised Jesus with love and discipline. (Joseph, like Mary, was worried when they thought they lost Jesus during the post-Temple return trip in Jesus' 12th year.)
We don't hear much about Joseph once Jesus starts his form…

Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life

Lately, our little church has been singing "Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life" twice a week. It's serving as our Lenten hymn of praise on Sunday mornings and it's featured in the liturgy we're using on Wednesday nights. You might not be familiar with the words of George Herbert's poem, which is quite beautiful.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, My Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joys in love.


We sing this to an arrangement by Ralph Vaughn Williams. (Ralph's friends pronounce his name "Ray-fe".)
I'm a big fan of thinking about the words we sing and this song/poem has some interesting and complicated phrases. Of course, in my interpretation, I might …