The Lamb of Revelation

November 17th, 2019

The Lamb is an amazing and yet wonderfully disarming vision. In the face of Rome’s ideology of Victory, the victorious Lamb of Revelation looks almost incongruous. In place of overwhelming military strength, we are given the image of the Lamb’s nonviolent power. In place of Rome’s image of inflicting slaughter on the world, Revelation tells the story of the Lamb who has been slaughtered — and who still bears the scars of that slaughter. This reversal of images must have come as a big surprise to first-century Christians accustomed as they were to Rome’s images of power and victory. Revelation undertakes to reveal what true power and true victory is: At the heart of the power of the universe stands Jesus, God’s slain Lamb.

— Barbara R. Rossing, The Rapture Exposed, p. 109-110

Photo: Silver Bush, Prince Edward Island, September 24, 2019

Friends and Sandwiches

November 14th, 2019

I have had several bad experiences, and one thing I have learned is that friends and sandwiches make even the worst of situations more tolerable.

— Greg van Eekhout, Cog, p. 132

Photo: Prince Edward Island, September 23, 2019

Make Good Art

November 12th, 2019

Life is sometimes hard.

Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong.

And when things get tough, this is what you should do…

Make good art.

— Neil Gaiman, Art Matters, “Make Good Art”

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 11, 2019

Without Redaction

November 12th, 2019

The goal of the gatherings is to create space where everyone can be the most real version of themselves and know that they have a place at the table. When you’re sure that your truest truth really is welcomed, you want to share yours. You want to be fully known. This is the heart of our church: the only person you need to be is the one you are at any given moment; flawed, failing, fearful, and loved by God and by those you gather with. Trust me when I tell you that it’s heaven on earth.

Community, spiritual or otherwise, is only redemptive to the degree that we are fully seen and known when we partake in it, when we no longer feel burdened to pretend, when guilt or shame or fear are no longer a threat. When we can bring our truest selves without redaction, then we are really free. This is the table Jesus invites us to. This is the table his example demands we set for the world. We, the filthy lepers, all get to dine with a Messiah, and none of us need to be clean.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 81-82

Photo: Greenwich Dunes, Prince Edward Island, September 25, 2019

Universal Reconciliation

November 8th, 2019

Universal Reconciliation is the belief that all people for all time will eventually be reconciled to God — that this lifetime is not the “only chance” to be saved — but that there is only one way to God, through Jesus Christ.

Through a very intentional plan that reaches into future ages, I believe the true Gospel is that all people for all time will be willingly and joyfully drawn by the unconditional, irresistible, compelling love of a Father into a relationship with Him through His Son. In the end, every knee will have bowed, and every tongue will have confessed Jesus as Lord, giving praise to God (see Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10).

— Julie Ferwerda, Raising Hell, p. 6

Love as an Offering

October 19th, 2019

To love is not to possess the other person or to consume all their attention and love. To love is to offer the other person joy and a balm for their suffering. This capacity is what we have to learn to cultivate.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 95

Photo: L. M. Montgomery’s Cavendish Home, Prince Edward Island, September 23, 2019

The Kind of God He Is

October 17th, 2019

To begin with, let us state the obvious: Jesus Christ was sacrificed. As many Old Testament Scriptures prophesy and many New Testament Scriptures explain, the death of Jesus was a sacrifice. But the key to understanding the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross is to recognize that it was not God who demanded or required the death of Jesus; it was humans. Jesus did not die to please or appease God, but to please and appease men. In the Gospels, it is human beings who wanted Jesus to die; not God. Human beings called for His blood; not God. The sacrifice of Jesus was not a sacrifice from men to God for the purpose of pleasing and appeasing God, but was instead a sacrifice from God to men for the purpose of exposing sacrifice for what it truly is, thus bringing an end to it.

Yes, God sent His Son to die as a sacrifice, but this was not because God Himself wanted or needed the sacrifice, but because God wanted to reveal and expose to humanity once and for all the violent and sinful tendencies that reside in our own hearts. God did not want or need the death of His own Son in order to satiate His wrath toward sin and extend forgiveness to us. No, God has always loved and always forgiven all humans for all their sin, simply because that’s the kind of God He is. He doesn’t need or demand payment for sin. (In fact, if He did demand payment, then He wouldn’t be forgiving; He would be getting “paid off.”)

Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, by J. D. Myers, p. 121-122

Photo: Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, the Haunted Wood, September 23, 2019.

Empathy

September 16th, 2019

Empathy says: You and I are made of the same lovely, heartbroken, and screwed-up stuff. You are not an object to me right now. (Maybe I’m not, either! Let me get back to you on this.) Empathy, a moment’s compassion, seeing that everyone has equal value, even people who have behaved badly, is as magnetic a force as gratitude. It draws people to us, thus giving us the capacity to practice receiving love, the scariest thing of all, and to experience the curiosity of a child.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 174

Photo:  Cascade in France, September 29, 1997

Throwing a Party

September 14th, 2019

In Luke 15 Jesus tells three parables of repentant sinners, and at the end of each we’re invited to rejoice. The shepherd announces, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep” (verse 6); the woman exclaims, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin” (verse 9); the father of the prodigal crows, “Let’s have a feast and celebrate” (verse 23). At the heart of the kingdom of heaven, a celebration is going on. What’s the occasion? It’s not that all wars are over, or all suffering ended, or all the world converted. No, the occasion is that one lost sheep has come home. Joy, overlooking all the good reasons for pessimism, throws a big party over one lovely flower, one bird call, one child’s smile, one earth-shattering change in a human heart. How about leaving our somber studies to join the revelry of angels?

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 150

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 25, 2019

Savoring, Not Saving

September 13th, 2019

We always seem to be faced with this choice: to save the world or savor it. I want to propose that savoring is better, and that when we seek to “save” and “contribute” and “give back” and “rescue” folks and EVEN “make a difference,” then it is all about you . . . and the world stays stuck. The homies are not waiting to be saved. They already are. The same is true for service providers and those in any ministry. The good news, of course, is that when we choose to “savor” the world, it gets saved. Don’t set out to change the world. Set out to wonder how people are doing.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 174-175

Photo:  South Riding, Virginia, September 1, 2019