The psalmist was a having a good day when Psalm 67 was written. Not like the day “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me” Psalm 22 was penned. That both praise and lament are sung in the same song book is a testament to the truth telling of the Psalter for life is both blessing and bust. There is a tendency in the American mega-denomination to attribute only glory to God and prosperity to God’s people who invest wisely and often. But the graciousness of the crucified God is to be present in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy. The blessing of the crucified God is to shine the light of God’s face into the darkness of our lives when forsakeness has sapped our strength and doubt has overshadowed our hope. The way of the crucified God and the saving power made known to the nations is justice for the oppressed, freedom for the captive, good news for the poor. When the blessing of God is no longer seen as a right for the righteous then equity among the peoples will be established and the increase of the earth will not be hoarded or squandered but freely shared. And that will be a good day indeed.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” You would think the church could get this one right. After all, love is what we preach and teach and claim to believe in the pulpit and in the pew. In fact, if there is anything we should be able to get right it is this simple command. Love one another. Just do it. It’s not rocket science. Of course that would mean the “one another” we are commanded to love would have to be a little more loveable or in other words a little more like us or better, more like me. It is a sign of our sinfulness that loving one another is contingent on conforming to my way or the highway. But in “love one another as I have loved you” we are called to conform to the selfless way of Jesus whose love was made visible in death to rescue those who refused to be loved. So if we do not love one another it is because we do not love Jesus for we cannot love Jesus without loving the “one another” Jesus was dying to love. That is not to say love is an invitation to be abused. You can love from a distance. But to love the “one another” as those loved by Christ means we see the other as Christ does. Therefore, love one another as I have loved you means love Jesus in the unreasonable other. Love Jesus in the selfish other. Love Jesus in the spiteful other. Love Jesus in the weak willed and untrustworthy other. Then others will know that we are disciples of Jesus for we love one another, for Jesus’ sake, so that others will love Jesus. None of which can happen unless you love the Jesus in you. So I guess in that way it really is all about me.
Friday, April 22, 2016
No sea on the new earth? And here I was planning on boogie boarding my way through at least half of eternity. Some read this word literally and explain that the “no sea” on the new earth is to accommodate the vast multitude too great to count. But that misses the point of the vision. The sea represents the chaos that existed before creation when the earth was formless and empty and darkness was over the surface of the deep. God’s spirit hovered over the water and in the word “Let there be…” order is called forth and chaos is contained. In this creation account the chaos that threatens is not the sea (which is good news for me.) It is death, for mourning and crying and pain and tears caused by loss can make our lives formless and empty and dark. So the new thing that God is doing here is no different from the first thing God did. In Christ crucified and risen God creates order out of chaos, life out of death, joy out of sorrow, laughter out of tears. I suppose that should enough but I’m halfway hoping for a new sea with really big waves and the ability to walk on water so I can boogie without the board.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
The Psalm 148 praise the Lord list is all inclusive even though not everyone on the list gets along. Wild animals eat cattle, kings make war on princes, fire and hail and wind do damage to fruit trees and of course sea monsters are not called monsters for being friendly to sailors. I don’t think the point is that if the all inclusive list spent more time praising the Lord they would spend less time preying on one another. You can over think a psalm in the same way that the marriage of melody and lyric loses something when the words of a song are over analyzed. So let’s just say the symphony of the all inclusive praise psalm is the song of everything all at once exalting the name of the Lord which in and of itself is a joyful noise to the Lord (even if the sound a sea monster might terrify us).