Sunday, April 29, 2012

Questions for going deeper with the Scriptures for Sunday: April 29th
  Mark 10:1-16 | Bonhoeffer’s notion of Costly Grace

If you've been to Frog Park in Oakland's Rockridge district this past week you've seen some major construction and trench-digging emerge.  I go there for dog park breaks with my dog David during the day.  Throughout the week I reflected upon the marks that appeared on the street, sidewalks, even the bushes indicating what was below.  It was striking to realize how much is down there, and how ignorant I am of its presence - and exactly how important it all is to and in day to day life.  I think this week's passage is like those markings, pointing to what lies below in our identities, our relationships and our day to day life.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blogging Towards Sunday April 22nd

A common joke among pastors goes like this: “If it weren't for the people, I'd love my church!"   While irreverently funny, it points to the true challenge of following the teachings of Jesus:  other people.  It’s easy (or at least seems easier) to work to love God, as Jesus said, with all our intelligence, passion and life-energy.  It’s other people that are difficult.  There’s a reason that Jesus claimed that anyone can love their friends and family.  What’s truly revolutionary is to actively love your enemies in a way that transforms us, them and the world.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blogging Towards Sunday: April 15th 
Mark 9:30-37

WWJD? [What Would Jesus Do?] is a phrase commonly printed on bracelets and t-shirts these days to proclaim a message of Christian ethics, morality or world-view shaped action.  It’s an acronym that has entered the lexicon of our national and pop culture.  It comes from the work and thought of Walter Rauschenbusch, an American theologian and Baptist minister of the last century [1851-1918].  He was one of the key figures in what became known as the Social Gospel movement: an effort to care for the poor, widowed, orphaned and excluded.  It began out of an effort to live out the teachings of Jesus, to truly be able to pray may your will God be done on earth as it is in heaven.  That movement faded in glory, losing popularity in the beginning of the 20th century to the growing evangelical and fundamentalist perspectives.  But now, the essence of the movement is back, feeding those later movements with its vigor.  I wonder though if the acronym isn’t wrong in itself?  I don’t think Jesus asks us to do what he did so much, as he asks us to find our identity in his kingdom and Way, asking us What Will You Do when you are confronted with….?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Blogging Towards  Easter Sunday: April 8th 

Easter is about more than just eggs.  It seems stupid to say it.  Yet in our current cultural context, commercial settings and pop culture vernacular, it has to be said.  What is Easter about?  Historically, we know that the group of Hebraic and Israelite followers and disciples of Jesus of Nazareth claimed that he rose from the dead, leaving his tomb empty, at sunrise on this third day after his crucifixion, as the Jewish Sabbath ended.  That community soon became diverse and different, incorporating and engrafting people from diverse cultures, languages and nations; as well as involving both men and women as full participants.  This diversity – which today seems commonplace – was radical in the time of the Roman Empire.  In the Ancient Worldview nations and tribes all worshipped their own gods. And so didn’t mix with other peoples by marriage, real estate location outside of their cultural ghettos and in religious communities.