Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm just a hard-headed dim-witted priest

Let's face it: I'm a hard-headed dim-witted priest.  Just because I have a seminary degree and wear goofy clothes on Sunday morning doesn't make me a scriptural genius.  In fact, I think I'm more prone to make interpretive mistakes because I have to interpret all the time.  And in public.  So it's doubly embarrassing. 

Last night at our Gospel of John study my good friend Delayne totally blew my mind with a different understanding of the miraculous signs in John and his intimate knowledge of Greek.  Seriously, Delayne knows his stuff.

Personally, I'm thankful for people like Delayne and others.  Without his correcting influence the church can become lost, following a hard-headed dim-witted priest like myself.  In the Body of Christ, we are called to edify one another, offer insight where others are blind, and to teach when others are at a loss for words.

Thanks be to God for the Church - without it, I would flounder in my own dullness.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

in Christ there is no east or west

In our Gospel of John study, I have been emphasizing the abundance, the hugeness, the overwhelming nature of God.  Jesus turns somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons of water into wine (let's party!), he tells Nicodemus that God loves the world (the Greek word is cosmos), and he even expands his ministry to the Samaritans (Jews and Samaritans did not share things in common).

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul picks up on a parallel theme.  God shows no partiality.  The tension is whether to accept Gentile Christians (uncircumcised) into the new Church of God.

For all you women out there, this may seem like a silly conversation.  But for those of us with whom circumcision is a major issue, this conversation is very important.  The conclusion that Paul reaches, and the answer that is overwhelmingly given by the Holy Spirit is that all people, regardless of the status of one's body, have the opportunity to join the household of God. 

In God, there is abundance, blindness to division, and an earth-shattering overwhelming grace offered to all.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

thieves and prisoners

In the letter to the Ephesians, the author (purportedly Paul) offers a grand vision of the church - its mission, vision, and way of life.  Part of becoming the church and living a baptismal life means that we have to put away some of our old desires and turn ourselves to new and holier ones.

In the Church, Ephesians says, "thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy" (4:28).  A radical vision indeed!  Instead of locking up our prisoners (indeed, as Paul was locked up), the Church is called to accept those who once practiced evil and allow them to work for their own good and for the good of others.

Allow me to tell you where I actually, literally, have seen this: I know a church sexton who is a convicted felon.  He was put in the slammer for armed robbery.  To make a long story short, he was give this job by the church  and was allowed to work honestly with his own hands.  Then, in perfect fulfillment of Ephesians, this sexton shares with the needy through his own amazing ministry to homeless children in the Austin area.  He gives them food out of his own pantry, lets them bathe in his apartment, and helps them get on their feet and pursue an education.

Is this Bible true?  You betcha...