Sports Idolatry

In response to some comments I saw on Twitter and Facebook after the Nationals win of the World Series. I’m a fan of baseball, and I liked the determination of the Nationals as a team that banded together as a community seeking to win baseball games. But, some of the comments sounded idolatrous to me. So I responded in this way:

I appreciate that a number of the players of the Washington Nationals are professing Christians. I also appreciate that many of MLB teams have professing Christians on the team. I appreciate the witness of the Gospel that they provide to others in the team and the larger community. The humility and generosity in their deeds and speech is refreshing. That said, God does not support one team over another. Nor does He need their victory to add to His glory. His glory is in the sacrifice on the Cross, in the triumph over death through the surrender of Jesus. Humanity’s games can not bring glory to God, no more than human works.

 

Some Wisdom from Eugene Peterson

I think some wisdom has legs and can walk across different contexts and still be effectively applied. This from Eugene Peterson

Peterson believes listening is also the key to prayer. As a pastor, he often heard people complain about prayer. He believes the problem is that we treat God like an answer man, “but we don’t know enough about God to know what to ask.”  His advice, “listen” to what God says.

He also suggests God’s people memorize the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms.  Even though the Psalms don’t always look like prayers, they can saturate our lives with words of Scriptures and are a way for us to talk to God.

This Is What Eugene Peterson Thinks Is Wrong with the Church Today

The Need to Celebrate Saints

Yesterday, Monday, the church gathered to celebrate the Life and Resurrection of a saint. Miss Trula, by all reports, was truly a saint in Fieldale and its surroundings. Though I did not know her personally, the more than a hundred that gathered did. I saw in them, and her children and grandchildren, the fruit of her life. And that is the glad news and also the admonition to remember that we all leave a legacy of one kind or another. Miss Trula left a legacy of joy and hope of life in surrender to Christ. Let us go and do the same. Amen.

Just Thinking Out Loud – Endings

This week I have had sometime to reflect on endings, especially as it is addressed in the biblical narrative. In the Bible there are many endings: endings of a journey, life endings, endings of kingdoms and even peoples. At the same time there seems to be always new beginnings born out of these endings. There is the shoot of Jesse, born out the ending of a reign of kings, with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. There is Jesus’ own death, with the Resurrection and Ascension.

It seems to make a case for endings for churches, with the prospect of a new birth, or even a resurrection from the dust of the old.

God is in every day living.

Some wise words from Mike Glenn, on the Scot McKnight site; “I think too many of us forget this in our everyday living. We get so busy rushing from moment to moment, we never stand still long enough for the Presence of Christ to seep through us into the moment. We’re constantly distracted by our gadgets and social media. We always have to be at the next place, and rarely do we fully disengage from the place we just were.”

What can we learn from the Black church?

Thursday evening and Friday evening, I had the pleasure to attend the Brady Theology and Lecture Series at Northern Seminary in Chicago. The speaker this year was Reggie Williams, a gifted writer, Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus, and a gifted speaker. He spoke eloquently and vividly about how Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a White Aryan brilliant theologian at a very early age, engaged the Black Church at Abyssinian Baptist in Harlem, NY in 1930-31. That one year encounter dramatically changed Bonhoeffer’s understanding of engagement with race and ethnic social-economic issues in his homeland of Germany. It led one to think of how if more White evangelical churches engaged with their Black counterparts how we could find new answers to racial hatred in this country.

Also significant for me was the panel discussion that was held on Friday morning in the last session. The conversation of what the Black church experiences brings to the table of for formation of both Whites and Blacks was very interesting, especially the comments of David Swanson, a White pastor of a multi-ethnic church in Chicago. He spoke from a reserved and humble position of the need for White pastors and congregations to engage the Black faith community with equal parts of humbleness and submission to their engagements in the community rather than assuming superior positions of power due to one’s Whiteness.

One can listen to the panel discussion on the Northern Seminary Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/northernseminary. It is well worth the time.

Changes and Fresh Challenges

Because, I fail to appear here very often, it is difficult to imagine the changes we’ve seen here lately.

The past 30 days the house has changed dramatically. It’s filled with moving boxes. That is only prep work for a bigger change. After 14 years in Winchester, Regina, Raini, and I, with our two feline children, are leaving for Fieldale, Virginia.

That, of course, points to another change. I’m leaving Redland Church to pastor the Fieldale and Mount Bethel Cooperative Parish. Change and fresh challenges.

So we will be moving from a single-level house to a multi-level house, from our own house to a church parsonage. Change and fresh challenges.

We are moving from the fastest growing county in Virginia, to a county sunk in poverty and seeking new direction. Change and fresh challenges.

Despite the change and fresh challenges, I’m certain of one thing: God in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is in the mix, and I’ll not only travel with this God, but I’ll give my all to love Him, as well as his people wherever they might be.

Father, I pray that as we take this new journey, I will have the eyes and ears to know your presence where ever we go, and I’ll remain connected to the gospel narrative of salvation offered in the Messiah, my Lord, Jesus, and that I’ll submit to your Spirit at every turn of the path. I give you praise and thanks for all things. Amen.

Feildale and Mount Bethel Cooperative Parish

Reading the Bible in Public Schools

I am not against reading the Bible in public. I frequently read my Bible at a local coffee shop or restaurant. I have even encouraged Bible study in such public places. But we always came together as a community of faithful Christians.

President Trump has recently spoken out in favor of bringing back reading of the Bible, as an elective, into public class rooms. I am not in favor of this idea. I agree with another blogger and Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, Alan Bevere, who wrote:

First, the Bible is not America’s book; it is the church’s book and must be taught in the context of the faith community. I have said it before and will say it again: America is not a Christian nation nor has it ever been. There is only one Christian nation in existence and that nation is called “church.” 1 Peter 2:9 states to the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” http://www.allanbevere.com/2019/01/scripture-refracted-or-should-bible-be.html I recommend reading his entire posting, as he gets into more detail than I will hear.

I have for many years now, after having attempted individual Bible study myself, to promote Bible reading only in community. I have seen too often how much damage can be done by both independent Bible study and study in groups outside of the formation Christian community. I have been led astray in my own individual pursuit, and only because I joined a caring Christian community, the church, was I able to be brought back and gain more solid footing in understanding the nature of the Bible witness.

In the 1970’s, I also took a course on the Bible as literature in a public university. I enjoyed the class, but I realize in hindsight, how it also failed ultimate purpose of the Bible as Scripture – the formation of a Christian soul. It was still not until the end of the Twentieth Century that I realized the seriousness of this error.

Thus, I can not support a move to bring Bible reading back to public schools. Instead, I would like to bring Bible reading back to Christian families in accord with a Christian community. I believe, our illiteracy in the Bible begins there, not in public schools. Christians, we need to make both prayer and reading of the Bible a primary function of our family life, along with regular attendance in the one true Christian state, the Church.

To sum it up, I let Bevere speak again:

In other words, the Bible cannot simply be taught “in terms of its historical context.” It must be embodied by those who have decided to follow Jesus. And those who follow Jesus do not become Americans; they become Christians and they belong to the nation called “church.” If studying the Bible results in anything less, it is not a true lesson in Bible literacy.