God’s Coordinates

It’s always an interesting time to be alive. Today I wandered into Church feeling the heaviness of a new Coronavirus variant, sick friends, more flooding in SW BC, economic stress, political division, increasing hostility, a lack of societal trust, and a general uncertainty about how we will cope with all of the above.

Under these conditions we sang the following words from an old hymn as a lone candle was lit in the midst of our collective anxiety:

Hope is a star that shines in the night,
leading us on till the morning is bright.

It is the first week of Advent, that time where the expectation for the anointed one to appear at Christmas begins to thicken. The first week is about hope… hope for the renewal and healing of all things.

I’ve been wondering about where in our lives we can meet this hope. I’m convinced that it’s found at the intersection of our deepest yearning and deepest disappointment.

I should explain….

I believe this intersection to be the coordinates of God’s unique presence in our lives. The geolocation of our salvation. It’s is a specific place that magnified the full intensity of our human experience. If we can bear to sit in the spot of our deepest yearning, while realizing that we will never fully be satisfied or whole while in human skin, we will find God. If we wait with the yearning and disappointment of it all we will come face to face with our truth and therefore come face to face with God.

Waiting is a big thing. We live in a world that doesn’t want to wait. We want relief from this personal anguish and we want it now. We find it in all sorts of ways. The bible calls these things idols. If we dare to sit in the middle of this intersection for some time, we will learn how we all, like addicts, are looking for a fix that will take the burden of life away. We race to get relief from our reality in all sorts of ways, but we will not realize true hope until we wait… right here… right now… at the place of our deepest longing and disappointment. The irony is that we do not need to travel to get to this intersection. it is here, right now. We just need to wait.

If we enter this intersection and resist every impulse to move away from the anguish that is sure to come, we will finally recognize that God is actually there with us offering healing balm for our empty souls. God is here now suffering with us and healing us.

I need to give a warning.

Everyone is in different places, if we by chance are not overwhelmed by the signs of the times above, just meditate on your own mortality for a moment. We all age and our bodies slowly or suddenly break down. We eventually die. Not one of us has the ability to avoid the earth that we will eventually return to.

But we can place our hope into the hands of the one that returned from the very earth that we spend our lives avoiding. Jesus conquered death and this victory extends to those who hope in him!

This is why we light a single candle in a dark world at the beginning of Advent. It is hope in the one who defeated the grave. It represents the promise of a story centuries old that prophets foretold… Of a child coming to reverse the systems of death and restore the external connection to the one that created us. The way things were meant to be.

The cross is an interesting symbol. There are two beams that intersect. The vertical can symbolize our yearning for heaven and the horizontal, the disappointment of our human experience. We can remember that Jesus embraced these coordinates with his incarnation. If we dare to enter this intersection in our own lives, we will surely find Him there waiting with our salvation in hand.

Tears are pouring out….

As a father of four kids all within or close to the ages of the kids whose lives were taken today, I grieve and mourn for the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The senseless violence that seemingly goes unchecked in our society continues to erode the fabric of what it means to be human. We demand justice. Feelings of anger and rage are brewing in a cauldron of increasing tears as hearts are torn wide open. Can you feel their loss? If you are human, this will tear something away from you too.

A self inflicted gunshot wound seems to be the standard escape from any accountability for such heinous acts. We see this more and more. Selfishly, shooters bow out with a personal bullet. I hope the parents and victims of this crime would cling to the hope that escaping in this way just ushers in God's judgement sooner. In one hand God holds and consoles the broken hearted, and in the other judges evil justly.

I imagine many presents for these taken children were already wrapped. In my mind I see stockings hung with their names on them. I sense the hope of all that Christmas brings filling their little lives with joy. There most certainly were letters to Santa already written and parts well rehearsed for the Christmas play. These children were looking forward to seeing grandma and grandpa. They were at the height of hope and innocence in their short lives. Now they are gone.

If there was ever a time when we could turn back time, that time is now.

I leave you with this. Many children were lost today and we cannot change that. We must mourn with the victims…embrace their loss like it's our very own. It is good to lament. Perhaps what makes this so difficult is that soon we turn our eyes to celebrate a child coming; the Christ child…the one whom was foretold would save us from our sins with a new type of kingdom; a kingdom where peace prevails and people are restored and healed on earth as it is in heaven. This may seem a distant vision from the vortex of the current pain, but this Kingdom is on its way, already breaking in. Take comfort in knowing that the Christ child knew suffering, for He was broken and taken also.


Letters to my children – Be Creative!

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There is a lesson that I have learned that I would like to impart to you. It is actually something you already do very well….being creative. So I hope this will be a reminder to stay young and never let the creative spark fade. At your age, you are in the cradle of life in it’s most special time, for the world hasn’t silenced the child in you and conformed you to the limitations of being an adult. Being creative is a way to swim against the tide of life and preserve your youth. So, guard the way you currently look at the world, for it is a gift that will benefit you if you hold onto it.

My advice: be creative! Don’t ever stop. Let curiosity and the delight of being a child guide your every impulse and endeavour…for if you do, I guarantee that you will experience the joy of living a full and pleasant life.

For me, my youth was filled with creativity. But as I grew older, I somehow separated the act of being an artist with the other things I did. It was as if the artist only came out when I was drawing and, over time, the child’s wonder and the creativity within became suppressed. My light faded and my mind forgot the way of the artist. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered again the joy of being an artist in everything I do. When we play the artist, we are naturally creative and our inner child emerges ready to explore in wonder the new possibilities of seeing something familiar as if for the first time. It’s being an artist in all that I do that has helped me unleash the creative potential to do things well…with passion and a voice! For the creative one is always asking and exploring new ways of seeing and being at work, at play, in school, in relationships, while cooking, in worship or whatever else you may do. The uncreative one becomes a lifeless cog in the wheel of life, turning meaninglessly in unfulfilment.

My children, the world has a way of driving you into being something less than human. Creativity has a way of inspiring you to be fully human as you imitate in your creativity the very God that made you with a child’s wonder.

So be creative in all you do. You are each gifted artists with a meaningful voice that the world needs to hear.

Out of the depths….

…I arise from a long slumber and make communication with the world again.

With an iPhone.

This little gadget is handy and I see the value of having my phone/iPod/organizer/etc all in one. Us canadians have had to wait for the iphone for a year.

Anyways… I hope to emerge with some thoughts soon. If there are amy readers of this blog left, I appreciate your interest. One reason for my absence is the little guy in the pic… As he grows he is becoming quite the adventurous fellow and hard to keep up with.

I am blogging this from the iphone via the free typepad app.

If you are interested I have uploaded some new pics to flickr. www.flickr.com/johnsantic Out of the depths....

Some Beautiful Work

This piece is by Marko Ivan Rupnik, a Catholic priest and artist. He is a brilliant painter. Scot McKnight just reviewed one of his books, In the Fire of the Burning Bush, that is on my list of desirable reading. Based on Scot’s review, he seems quite the mystic with profound Merton-like insight into the interplay between heaven and earth.

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Speedlinking – Aug 18th

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Bishop Larry Newineskin on conversion….

I sent Bishop Larry Newineskin an email the other day because I was struggling with the notion of discipleship and conversion in the West. So, I asked the Bishop to share his thoughts with me about conversion.

JS: Bishop, in light of the challenges of conversion and discipleship in the West, tell me, what are your thoughts about conversion?

BLN: Conversion is a very mystical endeavor. The most profound conversion experience one may behold is the tacit realisation of being found in the presence of YWHW when least expecting it. It’s like…BAM! A whack to the side of the head by the gentle love that from thenceforth redescribes your whole world and launches you full throttle into God’s redemption project as a very important instrument. This is a far more rich, deep, meaningful, and serious experience than the thin conversion that is so typical in the West; a conversion that settles down into an apathetic, spiritual impotence after the warm and fuzzies have run their course.

~Bishop Larry Newineskin

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Allelon Summer Institute


For those serious about leading congregations toward a missional engagement with the world, the Allelon Summer Institute is coming to Vancouver June 18-20 at the William Carey Institute .

Facilitators include Alan Roxburgh, Alan Hirsch, Cam Roxburgh and David Chiu.  This is a great opportunity for exposure to the theological and practical tools necessary to create environments of missional change.

More information can be found HERE

And you can register here


Some worthwhile Theological resources…

Below are a number of links I hope you find helpful in your study. Should you have additional ones please leave a reply with the link and I can add it to the growing list.

[UPDATE] A great Lent resource: http://www.gbod.org/easter/ 

Are the NT documents reliable? Let FF Bruce guide you to some conclusions…


Professor Barry D Smith – The New Testament and its context…


Book review of Miroslav Volf’s work, "After our Likeness: The Church in the image of the Trinity" by John W Steward


Veritas Forum – some great lectures in MP3 (Dallas Willard, Vinoth Ramachandra, etc…)


Intervarsity Christian Fellowship – Plenary session speakers…some good stuff (Marva Dawn, Ramachandra, Willard, Volf…) and an excellent talk by Dean Trulear.  He whoops it up and gets passionate about expectation and engagement.


Some Bible reading resources…


Nothing beats Walter Brueggemann shattering people’s assumptions about scripture…


An unofficial, but excellent Walter Brueggemann site…


More than 6000 great articles about everything you could imagine…


NT Gateway – Award winning resource site for everything NT


Glossary of Theological terms…quite helpful


And to conclude…an excellent site about everything NT Wright.


Leave a reply with additional resources and I will put a list on the front page of my blog for all to have access…

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Random Links to great posts in the Blogosphere…

Brant Hansen has brought some sharp whit and humor to his blog, Letters from Kamp Krusty.  I recommend you have a visit and explore his site.  This particular post: Kamp Krusty Answers Your Questions: The "Left Behind" Video Game, is too funny…

I’ve linked to Will Willimon’s blog recently, but think it necessary to point to it again as he says some profound things about Resisting the Clutches of Consumerism.  His blog is titled A Peculiar Prophet and his writing style and thoughtfulness suggests it to be an appropriate name.  Have a read and be challenged.

Let me recommend Bill Kinnon’s series on marketing the church. Part 1, Part 2, Part 2b, and Part 3.  All are well thought out reflections about one of the most pressing issues the Western Church needs to address to stave of further gospel reductionism…Will there be a part 4? 

Perspective on the incarnation…

Len, at Next Reformation, gives us the following thoughtful reflection about the incarnation.  A reminder of where our focus should reside as we give thought to the meaning of Christmas…here is a glimpse:

"Lights, bright ribbons, hot chocolate, Starbucks and Wal-Mart.. come on. Who is threatened by this stuff? It’s good for the state. The Santa myth won over the Christmas baby with hardly a struggle. There is no death there.. no rumor of angels.. no harsh travel on dangerous roads, and no swat teams. The Santa myth is all about consumption, addiction, good times for all, and a growing economy. What government in their right mind would want to oppose it?"

Read the full article

Random Links…

Richard Rohr has some interesting thoughts about being "Utterly Humbled by Mystery".  Here’s a sample:

"Whenever I think there’s a perfect pattern, further reading and study reveal an exception. Whenever I want to say "only" or "always," someone or something proves me wrong. My scientist friends have come up with things like "principles of uncertainty" and dark holes. They’re willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of "faith"! How strange that the very word "faith" has come to mean its exact opposite."

Here is an excerpt from Miroslav Volf’s newest contribution: "The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World".  The article is called "Letting Go: the final miracle of forgiveness"

Thanks to Matt Martinson for the two leads above…

Finally, Out of Ur has a great post that brings awareness to the attempts of Corporate America to market through Churches…goes to show how the consumer society continues to shape the church and it’s people…read: Product Placement in the Pews.

Friday Evening Office

"Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of the living God,
who at this evening hour rested in the sepulchre,
and sanctified the grave
to be a bed of hope to your people:
make us so deeply sorry for our sins,
which were the cause of your passion,
that when our bodies lie in the dust,
our souls may live with you;
for with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit
you live and reign now and forever. Amen

Through his wounds may you find healing;
Through his pain may you find relief;
Through his suffering may you find freedom;
Through his cross may you find victory."

Friday evening office – The Rhythm of Life: Celtic Daily Prayer, David Adam

I was deeply impacted by these words tonight…