Choice

January 14th, 2020

The problem with choice is that sometimes people and robots don’t choose what you wish they would.

Cog, by Greg van Eekhout, p. 134

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 26, 2019

A Heart for Us

January 12th, 2020

Jesus called Simon to join him as he was. He did not make him confess his sins, get a higher SAT score, or improve his resume for a few years and reapply. Jesus knew he could expand Simon’s capacity to love by offering him grace. When we realize that God has a heart for us, it enables our hearts to expand. That experience may be what allowed Simon to put his shame or his guilt in perspective. It may be why Jesus later changed Simon’s name to Peter, to focus his attention on his strengths and future rather than on his past.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 38

Photo: Overlooking Los Angeles, January 1, 2020

Universal Grace

December 29th, 2019

Grace universally given is still grace. A gift made to everyone is no less a gift, and a gift that is intrinsically precious need not be rare to be an act of the highest generosity. Conversely, that gift becomes no more precious — indeed, it becomes much less so — if it is certified in its value by being distributed only parsimoniously. Our very existence is an unmerited gift, after all (unless, of course, there really is an eternal hell, in which case it is also, and perhaps preponderantly, an unmerited brutality). More to the point, if Paul is right, then — whereas natural justice is wholly concerned with matters of law and proportional consequences — the supernatural justice revealed in Christ consists in God’s victory over all the powers that separate his creation from him, and to that degree is as “unjust” as any other act of wholly unmerited mercy is.

— David Bentley Hart, That All Shall Be Saved, p. 52.

Photo: North Cape, Prince Edward Island, September 26, 2019

Until They Are Found

December 27th, 2019

It was only recently I noticed that the parable of the prodigal son is the third in a series of parables, all revealing the same crucial point: Something of great value has been lost — a sheep, a coin, and a boy — and that which is lost is helpless to rescue itself from its circumstances and must be sought after diligently, until it is found and restored to where it belongs. The owner or father is not satisfied as long as even one — one sheep, one coin, or one son — remains lost.

Twice in this series, Jesus conveys the heart of heaven: “In the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (vs. 7, 10). Doesn’t that imply it is necessary that we repent? Of course, but did the son have to repent before he was received into welcome arms? Did he have a choice about whether his father watched for him, found him, and never gave up on him? Did the straying sheep ultimately have the choice not to rejoin the flock? Did the misplaced coin have a choice not to be swept up and put safely into the purse? Do sinners and unbelievers have a choice when it comes to ultimately being reconciled to their heavenly Father? Might the point be, in any case, that the move to “come home” will eventually and always be agreed upon as desirable for the one lost?

In the parable of the lost sheep, it is the shepherd who goes searching for his missing sheep. He does not wait for the animal to find its way home; he searches it out, puts it on his shoulders, and carries it back to the flock. Similarly the woman from the parable of the lost coin searches by lamplight for her missing coin. She does not wait to happen upon it, or consider it hopelessly lost unless fate brings it to her.

— Julie Ferwerda, Raising Hell, p. 14

Photo: Prince Edward Island, September 25, 2019

His Kind of Eyes

November 26th, 2019

Have you ever noticed that the expression “the light of the world” is used to describe the Christ (John 8:12), but that Jesus also applies the same phrase to us? (Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.”) Few preachers ever pointed that out to me.

Apparently, light is less something you see directly, and more something by which you see all other things. In other words, we have faith in Christ so we can have the faith of Christ. That is the goal. Christ and Jesus seem quite happy to serve as conduits, rather than provable conclusions. (If the latter was the case, the Incarnation would have happened after the invention of the camera and the video recorder!) We need to look at Jesus until we can look out at the world with his kind of eyes. The world no longer trusts Christians who “love Jesus” but do not seem to love anything else.

–Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 31-32

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 23, 2019

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, ArtĀ 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