Happy Spring

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Right now, at 10:26 local time, and whatever time it is in other parts of the world, the Sun is directly over the earth’s equator.

Winter has come to an end.

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring to you!

the art of Christmas

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Mystical Nativity by Botticelli In keeping with a theme here at some point I intend to do a Stations of Christmas. However, that point didn’t come this year.

So much of the Christmas story has been sanitized for popular consumption. In reality there’s a lot of pain, and frustration, mixed in with faith. In our canonizing of the characters we’ve taken them out of the role of examples, and thus remove the story from our own story. This makes for a heartwarming tale of Christ’s birth. But, it seems to lose some of the punch which the Gospels intend.

This all being the case, I will at some point work out online my thoughts on the topic.

For now, however, I commend the mini-art show that Onehouse.com is presenting for advent.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving

Holy Days

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It’s getting to be the Holy Day time of year. Not, however, the ones you’re likely used to honoring.

Which is a curious thing. It’s curious because it is the time of year which Jesus himself certainly honored particular days, as did Peter, and James, and Phillip, and Saul Paul. Scripture doesn’t mandate Christmas, or even Easter, let alone Labor Day, Memorial Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, May Day, Halloween, or Guy Fawkes Day.

It does, however, specifically note the importance of celebrating a number of other days, which we in our inerrant, Scripture honoring, back to the Bible Church have totally and completely forgotten about. Sure, we’ll make a big stink about the Commandments being posted in a public park, but we’re not too eager to actually make a point of honoring such other commandments in our own lives. Yes, we are free from the Law… but in our freedom we can honor God with even more respect and joy through honoring that which he mandated. It’s the Calendar of the Earliest Church, and so worth a note.

If you happen to live in the Southern California area I would highly recommend checking out the various upcoming Holy Days with a particularly noteworthy congregation: Shuvah Yisrael.

Preaching Good and Bad

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S.M. Hutchens has posted an excellent, and concise, entry on what preaching should be about. He basically summarizes my four quarters or so of Fuller Seminary homiletics, and does it in a way that should be posted on the door of every church in this land. This should be printed, laminated, and handed out to every pastor, with humility and kindness of course, and every seminary student as a quick reference guide. Keep these things in mind, or see these points as a goal, and preaching in this land will be raised to a new level.

I should also note that Monsignor Kevin Kostelnik, the pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles is a brilliant preacher who exemplifies each of Hutchens’ points. If you’re in the Los Angeles area I highly recommend going to the early mass at this beautiful Cathedral to hear Monsignor Kevin.

Happy Pentecost

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My Lord God, the Son was born, and the Son died, and the Son has risen from the grave. He has saved me from my sins, his sacrifice has washed me clean. He came and taught, he came and lived among us, so he knows what it means to be human. Thank you Jesus for your life, for the hope which is found in you.

Now, the Spirit has descended upon us all, giving us power, giving us light, filling us with the source of Life itself. May I not forget this reality, may I not be pulled back into the shadows, may I be who I am, not what I once was.

Fill me Lord, continue to fill me all this day, all this night, for the rest of my days. Fill me so I too can pray and respond in the way you desire. All hope is found in you, all light comes from you. May the God of heaven and earth be praised forevermore! The Spirit has come and Jesus will soon return.

Christ is risen! The Spirit is here!

Praise be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Celebrate in whatever way seems fit the glory of the coming of the Holy Spirit to all who believe.

Have a blessed Pentecost!

Time between Times

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Something I wrote last year at this time, which expresses what I feel this year at this time:

This is one of the more unusual days in the religious calendar. Friday is the crucifixion, that day in which we say that our sins were cleansed by the sacrifice of the Lamb. He took on the burden so we would not.

Tomorrow we celebrate the resurrection, the time in which death itself lost its sting, so that we who are of the Faith fear Sheol no more. To live is Christ, Paul says, and to die is gain. Death is but a transition from life to Life.

Saturday, today, is in between. Why didn’t Jesus come out on the Sabbath? Was it out of respect for the Law? Sunday had no special relevance until he made it so. Yes, the prophecies mention three days… why? Christ is not beholden to the prophecies, they are beholden to him. A curious consideration, and unknowable.

What were the disciples thinking? The Twelve, the others? Years of their lives had been spent with the man now dead. They could not return home, for traveling was forbidden for the most part. So they stayed, their lives lost, dead even though still alive. Already Christ had died on this day, he had not yet risen. They didn’t know he would. He told them, but they didn’t understand.

How many cursed Christ on this day for being deceitful? How many felt really bad about it after he rose again?

We live in the middle of the three days of the Passion, the time between times, Christ has come, Christ will come again. Already, not yet. Hoped for realities which are not apparent, no longer slaves to sin though sinners indeed, free and not free, alive and not alive, strong and weak, hopeful and fearful, that is our state. Yes, keeping the eye on the end is what helps us through the now, transforming our perspective even in the present so as to anticipate the future, letting us see time beyond time while we walk through time.

But we are living in the Saturday, the day between a day and a day, in which we expect everything and feel the loss of everything. Christ has told us what to expect, but we don’t really understand or believe it… just look at our lives, our hearts.

Saturday is an awkward day, neither here nor there. And so, it is a day of rest. May the peace of God come into our hearts, and help us wait patiently for the fullness of Christ to enter our world for all eternity.

For a lot of reasons Holy Saturday is my most precious religious holiday. It is the one which I live with and the one which suits my soul. This is the day in which I resonate with the meaning in a profound way. This is Holy Saturday. My whole life thus far is lived on this Saturday. Christ has died. May Christ be resurrected. Amen and amen.

Good Friday

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Take a little time and consider the day.

The Stations of the Cross

Good Friday

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The sun is behind the hill and cannot be seen. Is is now 6:00 in the evening, and the Sabbath approaches very soon. Some more servants arrive and Joseph orders all the men to roll the large stone in front of the entrance. The six of them grunt as they begin to push.

The stone moves, and rolls into place with a thud. And then silence.

After a minute a bird in a nearby tree begins to sing. Another joins the song.

The small group of people hurry back up towards Jerusalem.

The Sabbath has arrived. Jesus is dead and buried.

Good Friday

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It is 5:40. John puts his hand on Mary’s shoulder and says, “The Sabbath is coming soon, we must take Jesus now.”

She nods, and lets Joseph and John, and a couple of Joseph’s servants lift the body and begin carrying it down to where there is a new tomb.