“My friend Adele describes fundamentalism as holding so tightly to your beliefs that you fingernails leave imprints on the palm of your hand. Adele is gay, so she knows better than most people how sharp those fingernails can be. And I think she’s right. I was a fundamentalist not because of the beliefs I held but because of how I held them: with a death grip. It would take God himself to finally pry some of them out of my hands.”—
A wandering Aramean was my mother. In Egypt she bore slaves. Then she called to the God of our mothers. Sarah, Hagar, Rebeccah, Rachel, Leah. Praise God who hears, forever.
A warrior, judge, and harlot was my mother. God used her from time to time. She gave what she gave, and was willing. Rahab, Jael, Deborah, Judith, Tamar. Praise God who takes, forever.
A Galilean virgin was my mother. She bore our Life and Hope. And a sword pierced her own soul, also. Mary, blessed among women, mother of God. Praise God who loves, forever.
A witness to Christ’s rising was my mother What angels said, she told. The apostles thought it was an idle tale. Mary, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, women with them. Praise God who lives, forever.
A faithful Christian woman was my mother. A mystic. Martyr. Saint. May we, with her, in ever generation, Julian, Perpetua, Clare, Hilda, Praise God who made us, Praise God who saved us, Praise God who keeps us all forever. Amen.
a poem by Martha Blacklock of the Mother Thunder Mission in New York City, from Women Faithful for the Future.
Perhaps standing there in the stark and unforgiving light of the noon sun she came carrying more than a water jug. She came carrying her past as a mark of identity thinking and being treated as though she is nothing more than the sum total of her mistakes or the sum total of her victimization.
And taking his sweet time Jesus says “Yes.”
"What you have done and what you have left undone and what has been done to you and what has been left undone to you has really happened, yes, it’s true.
"And it is not who you are."
And in that moment suddenly the distance between how others see her and how God sees her disappears.
”—from Pastor Nadia’s sermon on the woman at the well.
And through the years in my ministry, I’ve watched many of my fellow clergy who fall into the aforementioned categories diminish themselves so some else’s fragile ego would not be deflated. I’ve seen them have their passions for ministry belittled, their program ideas usurped, and their accomplishments devalued. I’ve allowed it to be done to me. We learn from others that playing small to maneuver around other’s insecurities is a right and good thing to do.
It’s not. To quote from Marianne Williamson, “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.”
Because a truth is that shrinking won’t help someone who is insecure be more secure. It just makes us slowly fade away to feed their insatiable hunger of insecurity. God isn’t into people fading away. God would rather we give ourselves room to shine with love.
”—at Dirty Sexy Ministry, “Big Girls Need Big Diamonds”
Popping up on fellow seminarians’ and pastors’ blogs and Facebook feeds right now is an article by the Rev. Dr. Frederick Schmidt, called "Is It Time to Write the Eulogy?: The Future of Seminary Education." In it, he argues that seminaries are preparing students for a world and a church that no longer exists, and that both churches and seminaries have really no idea what they want from their clergy.
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went, And took the fire with him, and a knife. And as they sojourned both of them together, Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father, Behold the preparations, fire and iron, But where the lamb for this burnt-offering? Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps, and builded parapets and trenches there, And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son. When lo! an angel called him out of heaven, Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, Neither do anything to him. Behold, A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns; Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him. But the old man would not so, but slew his son, And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
——————————— Read in Pentateuch today. Seems appropriate, considering Libya.
“Many of our congregations are “older” and I would imagine that those churches fund their favorite ministries first. We all know many congregations that “want young families” if those families 1) don’t change anything, 2) add to the financial coffers, and 3) don’t change anything.”—Jan Edmiston, “If Retired People Rule the Church, We Should Have Awesome Youth / Young Adult Ministries”
But what I learned at Lutheran seminary is this: Christian Faith is simply not an if-then proposition: “if you believe then you will be saved.” It is a Because - Therefore proposition.
"Because God loved the whole world therefore God came to us in Christ so that there would no longer be any confusion about the matter."
"Because God loves the world, therefore we are free to do the same."
"Because God loves the world and God creates faith in us therefore we are free to believe."
In other words, belief is not what we offer God in exchange for God’s love, belief is what is created in us by the Holy Spirit when we have an encounter with the Word of God - be it the Word made flesh in Jesus high and lifted up on the cross given for us in bread and wine or when we have an encounter with the proclaimed Word of God and forgiveness of sins.
“Here’s my take on [critiques of] contemporary music: if it’s a repetitive song, whose words are more or less from the Bible, and accompanied by guitar and drums we call it a praise chorus and deride it. If it’s a repetitive song, whose words are more or less from the Bible and accompanied by the piano or sung a capella, we call it Taize and celebrate it.”—
J. R. Daniel Kirk, “Worship Old and New”
Seems appropriate on a day when I’ll be doing Holden Evening Prayer at LCCR at 7pm, and singing praise and worship music at Luther Sem at 9pm.
Writing my first RtA essay. Realized I wrote the “Biblical basis” paragraph all in present tense: the LORD calls Abraham to be the father of a great nation, Jesus shatters social and religious boundaries, etc.
I didn’t mean to do this but I like the theological implications. The Biblical stories took place in history, and are therefore “past” - but they are also my present and my future.
I’ll leave it as is and see what my professors say.
“But until churches and other religious groups, their leaders, and members feel comfortable interacting with one another around real questions of meaning and value—questions having little to do with doctrine and much to do with practices of compassion and justice—their social media participation will do no more to revitalize declining religious institutions than holding weekly Jazzercise classes in the parish hall.”—Elizabeth Drescher, “Facebook Doesn’t Kill Churches, Churches Kill Churches”
“On one side you’ll have the Reformed Conservatives—entrenching and ‘expelling’ folks. On the other side you will see the Progressive Evangelicals—migrating toward work with mainline churches. This thing is going to split wide open.”—
Jimmy Spencer, at Red Letter Christians, on the Love Wins controversy.
This sounds super awesome. Will the Protestant Mainline church be ready to work with the Progressive Evangelicals? What borders will we have to cross to regain unity with our “evangelical” brothers and sisters?
I don’t know all the details of how love will prevail…but I believe that it will.
So I might as well start acting like it—with my friends, with my enemies, with Rob Bell, with John Piper, with Republicans, with Democrats, with pacifists, with soldiers, with gays and lesbians, with Westboro Baptist Church, with the poor, with the rich, with the Japanese who lost everything on Friday and, as hard as it is, with the red-faced evangelists who say they deserved it.
For how can I proclaim that “love wins” when it has yet to win in me?
“Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all.”—
“I suggested… that as a Lenten practice, in order to habituate toward the mean of temperance, some women, and perhaps some men too, might need to eat exactly what they fear, but should love, in order to open themselves to God’s blessing…. Not everyone is in the same place. People are sinful in original ways. And so, to meet Jesus in grace during Lent will mean different practices for different people…. Will pastors recommend that the women in their congregation risk the appearance of sloth by taking a bubble bath rather than fast? Will they call the silenced to speak, and tell the loud to shut their mouths?”—Amy Laura Hall
From the comments section on Rachel Held Evans' blog
Tiffany:If I see one more post on facebook saying that God willed this awful event to wake up the Japanese or that this is a sign of the end times, I might just cancel my account.
KatR:To bring that example down to a personal level, it would be like you telling me your boyfriend broke your nose last night, and me responding that he did it to "wake you up to how much he loves you".
It sounds weird. You can’t make good music on it. A song you know might still sound familiar, but “off”. If it’s really out of tune, it will grate your ears; you will cover them, wince, try to leave the room if you can.
But what if, for fifteen years, all you’d had to play was an out-of-tune piano?
It would sound normal, eventually. Especially if you’d learned to play on it. You’d make your own rules, train your ear to expect the quarter-step differences that make a “tuned” ear weep. You’d play your own music, make your own tunes, dance to your own melodies and sing your own harmonies.
It sounds beautiful to you, because it’s all you know. As long as you played by yourself, you’d be fine.
But if one day you met someone who had a tuned instrument? Whose ear was properly trained?
You wouldn’t be able to play with them. You’d have to tune your piano. And once the piano was tuned, you’d have to tune your ear, as well. Fifteen years of hearing notes and songs and concertos a certain way, and you realize that it’s “wrong.”
You can recognize that the way that everyone else is making music is more aesthetically pleasing. You like it better, honestly. That doesn’t change the fact that your mis-tuned ear is now an instinct, a nature you have to fight so that you can play with others. You know that the songs you play are a quarter-step off from everyone else. But these are the songs you’ve known for fifteen years; your horrific key of A-flat-melodic-minor-with-augmented-third-and-diminished-sixth is how you sing.
If you want to play with others - and you want to - you have to not only tune the piano, but entirely retrain your ear.
That’s the problem with my social anxiety. I know that the piano of my brain is out of tune; I have an idea of how to tune it. But how do I undo fifteen years of obsessive anxious thinking patterns? How do I rewire my brain to sing in harmony with others? And how do I learn to sing my own song, in a beautiful key - a song that others can join?
In order to be a Pentecostal Christian, a cessationist, an End-Times date-setter, a female pastor, a pacifist Christian…
Reading and understanding the Bible involves lots and lots of interpretation. Not just in light of the world and culture around us, but in reference to other parts of the Bible. At best, there are things that are unclear and not easily harmonized from Genesis to Revelation. At worst, there are things that seem to be downright contradictory. That’s why I have doubts. That’s why theology can be so controversial.
“Maybe Lent is God’s gift to a people starved for meaning, for courage, for comfort, for life. If it is, if we can imagine that Lent is not ours at all but is wholly God’s, then maybe we’ll also begin to recall, at first vaguely but then more strongly, that we, too, are not ours at all, but are wholly God’s — God’s own possession and treasure.”—David Lose (one of the many brilliant people at Luther), in the Huffington Post, “The Trouble (And Blessing) Of Lent”
We’re working through Moltmann’s essay on perichoresis today in Reading the Audiences. As previously mentioned, I have some impatience with discussions on the economic life of the Trinity, so I’m thankful for Moltmann’s extension of perichoresis into a concept into which humanity is enveloped by the power of the Spirit.
I am struggling with the exclusive use of “The Father,” which makes sense because of Scripture but is troubling for me as I try to expand my imagination about the divine beyond masculine images.
As Prof. Malcolm was talking, I wondered if anyone had ever tried describing the Trinity as a marriage. A couple in a marriage is treated as one, and yet understood as two.
I can find plenty of resources where the Trinity is used as a symbol for perfect marriage (primarily occurring in Catholic and evangelical sources), but not where marriage is used as a symbol for the Trinity. I will have to think more on this.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, God may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through the Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.