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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Ordinary Radicals

“Ordinary Radicals” is not my term, I lifted it from Shane Claiborne. It’s a gritty term, but one I imagine would make Jesus smile.  Reading Mark’s version of the gospel, I think he’d approve of the term as well, though I don’t picture him smiling. He took it all with deadly seriousness. For Mark, the grittier, I think, the better he liked it. This disciple stuff was not for the faint of heart. Tax collectors, and sinners, and sundry other unsavories. Oh, my! But now, as then, that’s where you’ll find Jesus hanging out.

Ordinary Radicals

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 1 July 2012.

(The file is a Windows Media Audio file – if you have problems, right click and download the file to listen.)

I’m not sure why, but Leonard Cohen’s haunting song “Suzanne” feels like the perfect reflection. I love Judy Collins‘ version, and I imagine you will too.

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Oh Lord, How Long?

There are some words (phrases in English) that just signal trouble. This is one of them.

It gets translated as “Here I am!”, like in the song of the same name, you know the one I’m talking about? The one we sing at ordinations, the one that celebrates letting go and letting God? In reality, though, like many things having to do with the divine-human relationship, this human utterance is not so blythe and breezy. It’s a word for situations where words fail us. “Behold!” is how the King Jimmy renders it, but it’s more like clearing your throat because, when you tried to say something, nothing articulate came out.

Most people think that “the call”, as in “call from God”, ends with some poor fool saying “Here I am”. But it’s only the beginning.

Oh Lord, How Long?

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 3 June 2012.

(The file is a Windows Media Audio file – if you have problems, right click and download the file to listen.)

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Chain Letter

It took me a long time to learn that everybody carries a boatload of stuff around with them, and most of it isn’t pretty.

I was not very worldly or sophisticated when I went off to college. If I’d come from some little cow town, it wouldn’t have been so humiliating, but I grew up in a big city! Not that it made a lick of difference – I really didn’t know very much about life. The first year I was away at college, I met people who had troubles I didn’t even know a person could have. Troubles that made my “burdens” seem like fluff. Happy problem to have, actually, and I’m grateful my problems were mostly in the annoyance category.

I learned a little bit, from the people I met in college, about empathizing with others. I learned a little bit more when I began working at my vocation as an engineer. I learned more when I married, and oh, boy, did I learn when the kids came along. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but now when I meet someone, I find myself looking and listening to discover their back story, wanting to know about the chains they’ve carried. There was a time I couldn’t understand, and there was a time I didn’t want to. But that’s changed, for the most part. I find myself wanting to come along side and understand why they are the way they are. Why they do the things they do, even when it gives them no joy.

On rare occasion, you will meet someone who has realized that the chains most of us carry are not locked. They’re just dangling free, and for no reason at all, other than habit, perhaps, we continue to haul them around. We profess that salvation comes from faith in Jesus, but it’s kind of hard to tell if we really believe it or not from the way most of us act. Whatever was, is, or will be needed to free us from the things that bind us, Jesus already took care. Done. Over. Finished. Jailhouse doors are swinging in the breeze, chains are laying on the floor, loose. All you have to do is restrain yourself from picking them up again before you walk away. Too radical a message for most of us!

Chain Letter

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 20 May 2012. My friend, Colin Pritchard, wrote an awesome song about this passage.

(The file is a Windows Media Audio file – if you have problems, right click and download the file to listen.)

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Resurrection can be one of those confusing, embarrassing things. Not Jesus’ resurrection, of course. The problem comes when we start thinking about ours. Most people I know opt for the “death is a doorway into the next life” explanation and bypass the resurrection altogether, because why mess with this old body when you can get a new model with wings?  I don’t seem to have a lot of company, but I am comforted by the thought that when I die, I will be really truly dead. I actually think that’s the way God intended it from the beginning. But the idea of a bodily resurrection when God is ready to make good on the promise and make all things new is also incredibly comforting. A God big enough, smart enough, and powerful enough to reassemble not only my body, but my experiences, my memories, and my emotions is big enough, smart enough, and powerful enough to make good on every promise.

The Last Word, 1 Corinthians 15:1-27

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 8 April 2012. (The file is a Windows Media Audio file – if you have problems, right click and download the file to listen.)

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Endless Song …

There is an old hymn that has been something of a “theme song” for me for years. It captures the feelings of both restlessness and hopefulness with which I have always lived (or maybe they live with me – either way, we’ve been together for a long, long time).

My life flows on, an endless song,
Above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the sweet, though far-off hymn,
That hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing? 

As I get older, it feels as if I have a higher vantage point than I used to – more perspective and a broader horizon. I don’t know it changes much – still can’t avoid or evade what’s coming, it’s just that now I see what’s headed my way in relation to the other events I’ve managed to weather. Still holding on tight. Still singing.

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