Brueggemann on Jesus’ …”Blessed are those who mourn”

52_brueggemann.jpg (JPEG Image, 175x248 pixels)“Jesus takes quite a dialectical two-age view of things. He will not be like one-world liberals who view the present world as the only one, nor will he be like the unworldly who yearn for the future with an unconcern about the present. There is work to be done in the present. There is grief work to be done in the present that the future may come. There is mourning to be done for those who do not know of the deathliness of their situation. There is mourning to be done with those who know pain and suffering and lack the power or freedom to bring it to speech. The saying is a harsh one, for it sets this grief work as the precondition of joy. It announces that those who have not cared enough to grieve will not know joy.”

Walter Brueggemann, The Prohphetic Imagination, pg. 119.

A Walter Brueggemann site for you

What is the place of mourning and lament in the Western Church today?

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Quote of the week – Annie Dillard

“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.”

Annie Dillard,

Teaching a Stone to Talk

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St. Elizabeth

“It is easier for a feeble straw to resist a mighty fire than for the nature of sin to resist the power of love. We must cultivate this love in our souls, that we may take our place with all the saints, for they were all-pleasing unto God through their love for their neighbor.”

~Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr

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The day the Lord spoke…

Today sure feels like one of those. I was impacted by numerous things in my daily tasks. This post will take the shape of a bit f reflection, some blog links, a picture and some quotes, as those are all the things that have stirred something in my heart today.

I am not sure whether the time and thought I have been putting into a Spiritual Formation engagement proposal has anything to do with it. But I think it may as my proposal is all about helping a community discern God’s presence among them for the purpose of deep missional engagement. The whole idea is to move from programmatic activity to a deeper missional lifestyle that takes seriously the issues of social justice before us. This process is stirring something in my heart.

With that fresh on my mind, I was hit with this image that Brant’s blog led me to. Now although this image won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1994, I have never seen it before. It touched me deeply and I feel something stirring in my heart.

Then Andrew Jones linked up to this site that posted an article about orphaned kids and missional families. This article addresses the absurdity of there being 65 million evangelicals in America and yet there are 115,000 orphaned kids. What’s wrong with this picture? Where is the true religion James talks about. We will not have another child until the a serious discussion about adoption is worked through. Bethany is a Christian adoption organization that you can start with if you are interested. This stirred something in my heart.

Then I had a conversation with my good friend Bill. Bill should blog, but he doesn’t. he is thoughtful and one of the best conversation partners around. We looked at the image above together (on the phone) and had a serious talk about justice and compassion and what it means to be a Christian. One thing we realized is that here in the west we often do not recognize our complicity in the issue of poverty simply by the way we live. This stirred something in my heart.

I then proceeded to read this Christianity today article about what it means to be poor in Spirit. Please read it, it seems we cant be poor enough. And again, this stirred something in my heart.

Then finally, and very inspirationally, Erika posted an email to her from a reader about making a difference in the life of a family. This person asked Erika to find a family or two that could benefit from a 50$ bi-weekly gift card for groceries. This story stirred something in my heart.

This quote stood out for me today

“Take this city, a city should be shining on a hill. Take this city, if it be your will. What no man can own, no man can take. Take this heart, and make it break.”


I’d be foolish to wonder for much longer what God is saying through these encounters today. Something is happening, Aslan is on the move in the hearts of the faithful to see a fresh and lovingly piercing movement of God’s people in the West. There is some upside down living going on that serves as criticism to the status quo that turns a blind eye to the things that matter most to God’s heart. The poor.

Is there something stirring in your heart? Or better yet, is it breaking?

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the missional encounter…

“The missional encounter……is like having the right prescription for a particular ailment. That can only occur via careful examination through listening and asking the right questions. In a world of rapidly mutating viruses, it sometimes requires that new remedies be created. Popping Advil may appear to work, but will not lead to a lasting cure, only surface-type numbness to the real problem”

~ Bishop Larry Newwineskin

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Quote of the Week

“It’s a big book, full of big stories with big characters. They have big ideas (not least about themselves) and make big mistakes. It’s about God and greed and grace; about life, lust, laughter and loneliness. It’s about birth, beginnings, and betrayal; about siblings, squabbles, and sex; about power and prayer and prison and passion….And that’s only Genesis.”

~N.T. Wright on the Bible,

From Simply Christian

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What the Church does when it is being the Church…

In an oppressive society if a group stands up to take care of the lambs, it automatically stands up against the wolves.”

~Vishal Mangalwadi

I feel this simple statement reflects the two fold effect of faithful Christian witness. It kind of reminds me of Jesus and his acts of compassion toward those untouchable ones of his society. His acts alone were a type of criticism to the status quo that in some instances supported the oppressiveness by not standing up against it. Is this what it means to be prophetic?

What do you think?

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Voice of the day….after a bit of silence

It’s been over four days since I’ve put anything up on the blog; apologies to the regular readers looking for new stuff. I’ve been swamped. Ive also felt a little blocked for new material. I don’t want to throw stuff up on the site just because, but because I’ve been inspired to do so. New material is in the works…I am still trying to wrestle through some of my thoughts about the previous post on "Church as Public Companion". Also, I will be exploring further the area of Spiritual Formation as it relates to the courses I am taking. Look for stuff on intimacy with God and Spiritual Practices…coming soon.

But for now, I thought I would leave you with some of Mother Theresa’s wisdom that speaks to the simplicity of God’s mission; a simplicity that leaves room for relationship…

"To show great love for God and our neighbor we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God."

– Mother Teresa
from "A Gift for God"

Standing in the midst of nourishment..

Macrina Wiederkeher in her work, A Tree Full of Angels, reflects on the spiritual emptiness we who live in this vast land of plenty often face. She writes:

“We stand in the midst of nourishment and we starve. We dwell in the land of plenty, yet we persist in going hungry. Not only do we dwell in the land of plenty; we have the capacity to be filled with the utter fulness of God (Eph 3:16-19). In the light of such possibility, what happens? Why do we limp? Why do we straddle the issues? Why do we live so feebly, so dimly? Why aren’t we saints?

Each of us could come up with individual answers to all these questions, but I want to suggest here a common cause. The reason we live life so dimly and with such divided hearts is that we have never really learned how to be present with quality to God, to self, to others, to experiences and events, to all created things. We have never learned to gather up the crumbs of whatever appears in our path at every moment. We meet all of these lovely gifts only half there. Presence is what we are all starving for. Real presence! We are too busy to be present, too blind to see the nourishment and salvation in the crumbs of life, the experiences of each moment. Yet the secret of daily life is this: There are no leftovers!

There is nothing-no thing, no person, no experience, no thought, no joy or pain-that cannot be harvested and used for our nourishment on our way to God.”

~Macrina Wiederkehr

The more I reflect on how I traverse the landscape of life, I realize the fleeting nature of it all. Kids grow up too quickly, joyful moments tick away as if they are but a teaser for the eternal fulfillment we were all made for. The weeks go by faster and before we know it years have mounted up behind us with fewer before us to get us excited. A source of anxiety, perhaps? What Macrina says above can be a healing balm for the “blah-ness” that often overwhelms us. Her suggestion can also help tear us away from the false dichotomy of the secular and the sacred. It can help us connect with God in each moment of our lives; with our kids, in silence, at work…they are all an eternal gift before our eyes, if we would only pick up the crumbs and recognize them as a form of manna from heaven.

Some nourishment in my life…


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Thomas A Kempis – Wisdom and Imagination in preparation for Lent

“My sons and daughters, do not let the work you have undertaken for me wear you down, nor let tribulation dishearten you, but always let my promise strengthen and console you. The reward I offer you is beyond measure and without limit.

You will not labour here much longer nor will you always be weighted down with sorrow. Wait but a short time and you will see your trials come to a swift end; the hour will come when all toil and trouble will cease. Everything that passes with time is short-lived and of little consequence.

Do whatever you are doing; work faithfully in my vineyard and I will be your reward. Continue with your reading or writing, singing or mourning; keep silent, pray and endure all trials as a person should. \Eternal life is worth these and even greater conflicts.

Peace will come on a day that is known only to the Lord and it will not be a day or night such as we now experience, but it will be a day of unending light, or infinite brightness, of everlasting peace and enduring rest.

On that day you will not say: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Nor will you cry out: “Woe to me for sojourning here for so a long time. Death will be overthrown,” and salvation assured forever. There will be no more anxiety but only blessed joy in the sweet loving fellowship of our being together.

if only you had sen the everlasting crowns of the saints in heaven and the great glory they now enjoy! What a difference, from the time they were on earth where they were treated as objects of contempt and were considered unfit to live. If you had seen their crowns and glory you would have immediately humbled yourselves to the very earth and sought to be everyone’s servant rather than to be Lord over a single individual.

You would not look forward to joy-filled days in this life but you would find greater happiness in suffering for God, and you would account it your greatest blessing to be reckoned as nothing among people.

Oh, if you found relish in these thoughts and allowed them to penetrate your heart, you would never dare to let slip a single word of complaint.

Turn your face toward me in heaven where I reside with my saints who had endured hard struggles in the world and now live amid joy and consolation. They are now secure and are at rest and will remain with me in my Father’s Kingdom for all eternity.”

~Thomas A Kempis

Perhaps the above may serve you as a primer for the Lenten season just one week away? I am touched by the creativity to imagine dialogue with the Lord…it makes it more real in a very genuine way…

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Ten Propositions on self-love

Form Faith and Teology, well worth the read…

by Kim Fabricius
1. There is a lot of BS talked about “self-love.” Allow me to wield a pitchfork and begin a cleanout of this particular Augean stable, the whiff of which has become unbearable in our shamelessly therapeutic culture.

2. It is often said that self-love is commanded in the Bible itself: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Such a reading of this text suggests either wishful thinking or exegesis gone on holiday. Luther and Calvin read more accurately and insightfully: they saw that neighbour-love begins only where self-love ends, and vice versa. As Robert Jenson observes: “Though it is sometimes supposed that Scripture’s famous mandate makes self-love a standard which our love for the other is to emulate, the relation in Scripture works the other way; Scripture contains no mention of self-love except as a foil for love of the other. The object of love is always other than the love.”

3. How, in fact, do we love ourselves? With a passion – the passion of distorted desire – which is to say with utter self-absorption. How are we to love others? With precisely that as-myself absorption – but directed entirely to the other-than-myself. The paradigms are the Trinity and the cross. Self-love looks inwards; in contrast, observe the gazes, the looks of love of Father, Son and Spirit, in Rublev’s famous icon. Self-love is full of itself; in contrast, other-love is empty of self, i.e. it is kenotic (cf. Philippians 2:1-11).

4. Am I saying, then, that we should hate ourselves? Heaven forbid! Self-hatred simply plays Tweedledum to self-love’s Tweedledee: both are equally forms of self-centredness, of the homo incurvatus in se. We must be delivered from self altogether – and in Christ we are: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).


Continue reading…

The Voice in the Garden of Solitude

Henri Nouwen says…

“Solitude is the garden for our hearts, which yearn for love. It is the place where our aloneness can bear fruit. It is the home for our restless bodies and anxious minds. Solitude, whether it is connected with a physical space or not, is essential for our spiritual lives. It is not an easy place to be, since we are so insecure and fearful that we are easily distracted by whatever promises immediate satisfaction. Solitude is not immediately satisfying, because in solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our feelings of lust and anger, and our immense need for recognition and approval. But if we do not run away, we will meet there also the One who says, “Do not be afraid. I am with you, and I will guide you through the valley of darkness.”

Let’s keep returning to our solitude.”

I’m going to try and practice this as best I can while here in the midst of the city that never sleeps…

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Two quotes that say so much about worship and the Church…

Erika Haub at The Margins shares her Quote of the day with us…well, actually, it’s two quotes for the price of one that speak volumes about the topic of worship/ecclesiology that has seen some popularity of late in light of a controversial blog post a while back.   These two quotes up against each other really expose the issue that has many who muse about the Church concerned.  Here they are:

"What should we get out of worship? Wrong question. Worship is not a utility but an offering, i.e. a sacrifice, an economy of grace that interrupts and critiques the feverish cycles of production and consumption – which is why the collection is not fund-raising but cultural critique. If you want relevance, excitement, or profit, go to a rally, a concert, or the stock exchange. To put it most counter-culturally: Blessed are the bored, for they will see God."

~ Kim Fabricious

and….are you ready for this?

"It is our desire not to merely have a church service, but to create an experience through song, video, messages, and any other tools the Holy Spirit might place in front of us. Sure, we’ve been accused of entertaining people, but I would much rather entertain people than bore them. Jesus didn’t mind creating experiences, and His church shouldn’t either.

We are serious about making Jesus’ name famous, and that just can’t happen when church is boring. I believe a boring church is a sin! So, we are going to always do all we can to make sure that when a person attends our church on Sunday that it is one of the best hours of their week. I believe people should look forward more to church than 24, Lost, or American"

~ Perry Noble


Questions about Mega-Church Ecclesiology
Church of the Little Rascals
The Greatest Show on Earth

Words that bring forth life…

This morning as I was reading prayers from, A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People, the following struck me in a way that made me realize the presence of the Divine…may you realize God’s presence as you allow these words to wash over you…please, let them wash over you.

"Every time I say not to the birthing and dying that is set before me at the tale of daily life, I seem to hear the echo of Jesus’ words to the woman at the well. “If you but knew the gift of God…” whether God weeps at the beauty and potential of our lives at birth or the lost potential of graced moments along the way, I hear that voice urging us to claim our splendor and our glory. “If you but knew the gift of God…”

The gift of God is the Divine Indwelling.  It comes quietly into your frailty at baptism.  You become a tabernacle for the Source of Life.  When you come to understand this old yet forgotten truth, you will know what is meant by the words heaven on earth.  This is it!  You are beginning to live heaven on earth in the Divine Indwelling.  You, frail earth-creature, having given your frailty over to God, have created a place of splendor within the depths of your being, a holy and eternal space where you meet God face to face.  Cherish this truth.  It is costly grace."

From: A Tree Full of Angels, by Macrina Wiederkehr