It’s been a bit rough lately.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had three family members in the hospital, a niece born at 32 weeks, and a classmate from college die. I still have one of my best friends in prison. I have friends in marriages on the rocks. My father’s childhood home of Israel is being torn up in violence, bitterness, and hatred. On the news I see privileged Americans chanting, “Not our children, not our problem!” at buses of refugee children who crossed the American border unaccompanied as Matthew 25:31-46 echoes in my ears.
I’ve rolled with it because none of these things are actually unexpected events in life. They happen every day.
Chances are, things like this are happening all around you too. It’s worth remembering that our limits are not God’s limits. There’s plenty of space around us for confusion, sadness, anger, and doubt. It would be hard to expect anything else. But as we approach the limits of our understanding and our capacity for emotion, we can take comfort in knowing that the God who made us suffered and suffers with us and is able to do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. God’s limits are not tested. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” he meant it. That was the ultimate challenge and God still reigns.
Rough times will be rough. That’s what they are. We may be shaken but, to quote St. Paul, “we are pressed but not crushed, perplexed but don’t despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. We always carry in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
I am determined to reveal life in the midst of death around me; light in the midst of darkness. And let there be no confusion, the light is the light of Christ, not my own. God bless you, even in rough times.
"Everyone believes things that are wrong. Including me. Including you. This does not absolve us of the obligation to strive for the right, but it is worth reminding ourselves that being wrong is not the exclusive purview of those with whom we disagree."
"We’re playing Portugal. What are their colors? Orange and evil?"
I’ll have more details forthcoming, but this fall I’ll be leading a series of alternative worship services at Westminster Presbyterian Church here in Nashville. Right now I’m planning to focus on John 1:1 with them. In particular we’ll be exploring Jesus as The Word of God.
What does that mean? It means many things, but consider that a word spoken can never be taken back. It can never be unsaid. More than mere speech, it is proclamation. It is revelation.
Remember that John wrote his gospel to be read aloud since most people of his time were illiterate. To John and his hearers, a word was not primarily a written thing, as I suspect it is for most of us today. It was spoken and heard, given and received. “The Word”, therefore, is decidedly ephemeral and robust at the same time. Fragile and heavy. Instantaneous and eternal.
There will be much more to think about over the coming months. I’ll keep you posted about the services.
Things I’m never sorry for doing:
1. Listening to U2.
2. Watching that Hagen Daas gelato commercial with the Italian couple.
3. Eating breakfast.
4. Quoting Ron Swanson.
5. Marrying Beki Baker ten years ago today.
Happy Anniversary, Bonker! I love you!