Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate states.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability--
and that may take a very long time.
Two years ago Justin Corbridge, a Wekiva Presbyterian Church member and a 2007 graduate of Lake Brantley High School, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing Sarcoma. Through aggressive treatment and tremendous tenacity he has been cancer free for 18 months.
Unfortunately Justin’s cancer has returned. His parents, Holly and Brady Corbridge are getting as much information as they can to help him fight this terrible disease. As many of you know, Brady currently serves on our Board of Deacons.
We want you to be aware of a fundraiser for Justin.
WHEN: SUNDAY FEBRUARY 26 TIME: 2PM-5PM
HURRICANE’S GRILL & WINGS- Longwood
Wekiva Springs Road and 434 in Springs Plaza
They will be raffling off a TV and many other items. Chris Hendren of 3 Bucksworth will provide the music along with a few special guests.
UPDATE: ABOUT $20,000 WAS RAISED IN THIS EVENT!
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." - Philippians 2:1-4
Notice that it all depends on being “united in Christ”.
One of the big challenges of every church, from the Philippians down to churches in the 21st century, is this idea of being united. Unity is not the same as uniformity.
In other words, look at it this way. Remember communist China under Mao Tse Tung? Remember how everyone was supposed to think alike? And everyone was even supposed to dress alike, in those Mao outfits that looked like cheap uniforms. Yes, that is exactly what they were, to produced uniformity. Regimentation. Lack of originality. Abdication of any spark of creativity.
That is NOT what Paul expects the church to be like (regimented, dull, uncreative). How boring and frankly lifeless it would be, if the church were like that.
Uniformity is NOT the same thing as being United in Christ. Being United in Christ is described very well in another letter of Paul’s where he talks about Christ being the head and all of those who believe in him being parts of the body of Christ.
Jesus came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Jesus came not to change you from a unique person into an automaton, but from a lost person into a found person. Your personality, gifts and insights are all the more valuable when shared in the fellowship of the faithful. So, too, apart from that fellowship, they fade and turn cold. Any faithful Christian will acknowledge how foolish it is to break fellowship with others for selfish reasons.
“Self-justification and judging belong together,” said Dietrich Bonheoffer,”as justification by grace and serving belong together.”
Here’s the thing…
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled; neither let them be afraid.” - Jesus of Nazareth (John 14:27)
What sort of peace is Jesus talking about here? If it is not the kind of peace that the world gives.
Maybe we first have to think of the kind of peace the world gives. Worldly peace runs on a continuum from “a cessation of hostilities” like an armistice at the end of a war to a détente if one is not really in a war or is pretending not to be in a war. This is probably the most superficial kind of peace—but still better than the alternative. The absence of war is a good thing. Trying to get along with difficult neighbors, whether individuals or nations, is a good thing. But this is probably a kind of peace that “the world gives”.
Old fashioned weddings had that line that said, “Speak now, or forever hold your peace.” Basically that means, no matter what you think you know, keep it to yourself. This is a good contrast to those who say things or do things just to provoke others. I recall one of my seminary professors, when referring to someone who was pretty well known as an author, saying, “Ah yes, he has never had an unpublished thought.” And we all know people whom you can depend upon to have something scathing to say on any subject—the ones whose favorite type of tea is “Constant Comment”. When it comes to holding one’s peace, let’s all agree that there are lots of things we think that we had better not say or do. So yes, that is another kind of “peace” that is valuable (and a great relief), but it still, I suppose, is of the kind that the world gives.
Peace and quiet are often lumped into a short phrase. So peace and quiet are not the same. We know that quiet means the absence of noise, and we have hinted that peace means the absence of conflict, both are valuable and worth striving for. Even so, the kind of peace Jesus gives is more than this.
Let’s hear what St. Augustine has to say about this passage:
"Peace He leaveth with us, that we may not judge one another of what is secret to each, while here on earth: His own peace will He give us, when He 'will make manifest the counsels of the heart; and then shall every man have praise of God'."
I didn’t really expect St. Augustine to take me to the inner reaches of the human heart, with this passage. I really was expecting him to tell us about peaceful coexistence with one another. And yet, somehow in this brief commentary, the ancient Church Father upon whom the great leaders of the Reformation relied, manages to include both.
“That we may not judge one another” is so valuable a phrase for Christians. Yes, we are to be discerning, but not to judge one another, lest we be judged. I must confess that I cringe when I hear some of the rhetoric that issues forth from “super Christians” who believe they have the only take on God’s truth. I can almost hear the Lord saying to them, "Friends, you are more than that; you are better than that." As Karl Barth has rightly said, "If we think there is no other way, we are always wrong." A measure of a mature faith, it would seem, is something of an attitude of charity and yes, an open mind, toward those other believers whose faith and practice may be different than our own but whose Lord and Savior is without a doubt Jesus Christ.
“What is secret to each while here on earth” is a very elegant way of saying “God is not finished with us yet…” We are all still on the faith journey. We have not yet arrived. It is like ascending from the floor of the Grand Canyon toward the rim. We are all climbing, and some are a bit further along on the switchbacks and, therefore, have experienced more, while others are still not far from the Colorado River, and have a long way to go. Why would those who have climbed a bit higher think they know and see all, when the rim is still a long way off? And why might they criticize those who have not yet managed to travel as far as they are? And why, for that matter, would any who are on that path criticize those who are climbing to the same rim but by a different route? The secret matters of the human heart and mind and psyche must be tenderly cared for, here and now, if they are to become the mature Christians God is calling them to be. In God’s perfect timing, not in our own impatience.
Augustine trusts that Christ will make manifest the counsels of the heart and then (and not before, we must add) shall every one have praise of God.
Peace, then is like a soufflé. If you try to peek in to the heart, by opening up the door too soon, it will not rise. It is bound to flop.
So let us remind ourselves that Christ gives us peace, but not the kind of peace that the world gives. Peace is like a rare, valuable blooming shrub, that is planted within us, and grows in season. God does the planting, does the tending, and offers all that we need for peace to grow, whole-heartedly and freely and blossom as it was meant to do.
If you would see signs of God’s peace, look for those who are more and more devoted to the good of the other, who learn that the best way is when nothing is held back, and nothing is demanded in return, simply because that follower of Christ seeks to be more and more like God, who SO loved the world ...
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Synonym words for pure are: authentic, genuine, bright and real. That’s what we mean by pure. Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that purity and perfectionism are synonymous. In fact, they strive for perfection in others, to the point where any slight flaw or imperfection means that the person is impure in their way of living. They do that with groups and denominations that they may wish to absent themselves from as well.
I remember as a kid, that some friends of ours were into being pure, or their version thereof (spending much too much time seeing the spec in the other’s eye, while missing the log in their own). They had left a church because it was not pure enough for their liking and joined a much more strict and straight-laced church. This happens all the time, but since these friends lived nearby we heard about it, and saw it firsthand. Purity in their way of thinking meant a kind of separation, a pulling back from what those who were less discriminating did, and refusing to do what those people might do.
For instance, television. There were commercials on television in those days for Playtex living bras. Or maybe it was Jane Russell and her fuller figure? Either way, it was terribly shocking, to the sensibilities of this particular family. I suspect they would have a much harder time with what is on the tube, today. But back then, it meant quickly turning the TV off whenever one of those offensive bra commercials aired, all in the name of purity.
Then there were movies. The strict and stringent church to which this family had decamped was utterly opposed to movies of any kind. Now both parents were musicians by vocation—the father was a band director (a very fine band director) and the mother was a church choir director. Both had wonderful singing voices. Live music was fine, as long as one was scrupulous. But movies? They never went to any movies. Until “The Sound of Music” was released. Wholesome. Filled with wonderful music by Rogers and Hammerstein. Their kind of music. What was this family to do? They wanted to see just this one film. They knew that their denomination was opposed to movie going. They knew that if they went to see the Julie Andrews feature film in their home town, they would probably run into people who knew their denomination’s scruples against going to movies. So they went to see the movie, but in a town fifteen miles away, instead…
Was doing that what one might call authentic, genuine, bright or real?
Authentic, genuine, bright and real is what is meant by pure.
Purity is Authentic – Let’s say you are going shopping. Do you want an authentic designer handbag or do you want a knock off that is sold by a shady street vendor. Just asking. And what makes the difference? Is the knock-off that has the repeated logo pattern all over it close enough for you to the authentic bag that you will continue to be happy with it over time? What about a work of art, or a selection of food. Do you want the authentic or something that pretends to be, all the while being a cheap imitation? Why have fake this or that, when you can have the original? What about authentic values? What are they, as compared with cheap imitation values? What about fake faith? What is “in” fake faith?
Do you know that before H J Heinz and some of his fellow food manufacturers, pure food was not a given in the United States. Heinz had a higher standard and lobbied Congress to enact pure food laws. He understood the difference between authentic and fake. If the label said tomato ketchup, that had to be true, not a lie. As Beethoven said: “Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup.”
Jesus encouraged almost everyone, but did you notice? He criticized the Pharisees who were good at putting on the cheap imitation label of stringent behavior when what was inside didn’t live up to it. The Lord used some of His most scathing language against them. The word was "hypocrite". The words were "whitewashed tombs". Ouch!
Purity is Genuine – Very close to authentic, is the word genuine. I recently revisited Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park” and noticed how discerning Fanny Price was, given the expressed interest that Henry Crawford paid to her. Henry did a lot to try to convince her that he was sincere in wanting to marry her and that he could be trusted. Fanny exasperates him (and even the reader, at points), where it seems that he has proven that he is genuine in wanting to be a dependable person and therefore a good husband to her. He travels to Portsmouth to woo her. He professes his love. He goes to somewhat extravagant lengths to show it. Somehow, Fanny still knows that Henry is not being genuine. When his true colors are revealed, Fanny’s caution and discernment are proven correct. He had put on his expressed love for her, and could take it off, just as easily. Contrast that with what Nathaniel Hawthorn says: “A pure hand needs no glove to cover it.” In Jesus parable, genuine is the son who said he was not going to work in the father’s field, but then went ahead and did it. As opposed to the one who gave working the field lip-service, (hmm, think Eddie Haskell?), but who never lifted a finger to help. Purity is genuine and sincere. Not fake.
Purity is Bright – Is bright synonymous with smart? Maybe. Some people who are smart are also extremely dull, though. So there may be some shared ground between bright and smart, sort of like a Venn diagram. But the two are not equivalent. To be bright in the pure sense is more like that often used adjective in the UK: Brilliant! Meaning exactly right and more so for the need or occasion.
Purity is Real – Do you remember the term “get real”? Once when I was finding more and more about family history, I learned that Judy’s family boasts a “double signer” – someone who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. There are only a dozen people who signed both. So this was exciting news. The kind that makes history come alive. The ancestor in Judy’s family tree was George Clymer. I was mentioning this at supper one evening, when our kids were in middle school, and quipped that had we known that at the time when our son was born, we could have named John “George Clymer Dalles”. Without missing a beat, John looked at me across the table and said, “Get real, Dad.” He knew I was kidding and, naturally, we all laughed about it. But he made an excellent point. Let's be real, shall we? Be whom God created us to be. A sea gull does not act like a chipmunk, or even a robin. A real sea gull can only be and do what a sea gull is and does. That is being real.
Somewhere Jesus says that the pure in heart shall see God. What’s that you say? It is in the greatest sermon ever preached—the Sermon on the Mount? Yes, you are correct. Maybe a good way to begin the Lenten Season is to give up the ways of the Pharisees, and their kind who are all too busy looking for imperfections. Because that is all they are ever going to see. Imperfections. Not God.
How much better to be authentic and genuine, bright and real. In a word: Pure.
Happy Shrove Tuesday!
Monday, February 20, 2012
The season of Lent starts with a commitment to repentance, as each Christian begins a journey toward the glorious news of Easter Day. On Ash Wednesday, we hear Scripture reminding us that now is the time to return our lives to the Lord. During Lent, God's people reflect on the meaning of their discipleship in Christ and upon the gift of His death and resurrection for us. The sign of ashes points us toward both our human mortality and our human frailty. With the ashes in the sign of the cross upon our brow, we intentionally seek the Holy Spirit's renewing presence in our lives.
A Prayer for Ash Wednesday:
you care for all that you have made,
and you forgive the sins of all who repent.
Meet us where we are,
set within us new and pure hearts,
so that, as we repent of our sins,
we may receive your
pardon and forgiveness,
through your Son, Jesus Christ,
our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen