Defying Gravity

The cycle of ascending and descending is not just the theme of this story. It is the theme of God’s story. It is the pattern of God’s interactions with the Creation. The life of Christ follows this pattern, too, and it is captured in an early Christian hit song included in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. First, Christ came down, emptying himself of his God-ness, humbling himself down into human likeness, taking on the form of a servant, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:6-8] Then, in reward for that obedience, Christ was lifted up. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God…” [2:9] Can’t you just hear the praise band playing?

Christ in 140 Characters

The reason that Peter’s testimony was so powerful was not because he was so eloquent, not because he was so persuasive. Peter’s sermon was successful because Cornelius was so receptive. I can attest to the fact that when you have a willing audience, witnessing is easy. When a person comes to you with an open heart it’s a whole lot easier to pour God’s love into it.

The What of Worship

There you have it: the four elements of worship that we have to be careful to include in every worship service. As you can imagine, that leaves a lot of room for trying new things, because there are a thousand ways to include them. For those who are nervous about change, rest assured that we are committed to going back to the heart of worship, back to the foundation stones or our communal life together: the teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers. And before we pray, we're going to sing the song, Heart of Worship.

The Further Journey

In order for Saul to get to the second half of life, to get from the road to Damascus to the Way of Jesus, he had to do what Rohr calls "discharging the loyal soldier." Just as soldiers today often have difficulty leaving the military, Paul had a hard time taking off the uniform that he had been wearing and the strict rules that he had been following. And we do, too. Those of us who try to discharge our own loyal soldier find that we have to question everything we had always assumed to be true, and that can make us feel as if our whole world is collapsing around us. And we wouldn't be far from the truth. This is our first step on the "further journey," one that Rohr warns us we will experience as a setback. It will feel like a loss: a loss of faith and a loss of self. [50]

The Age of the Spirit

What Stephen Hawking did for the Big Bang and Black Holes, someone needs to do for the Holy Spirit. Someone needs to write A Brief History of the Holy Spirit in order to make a mind-blowing story more accessible to us mere mortals. The Spirit has a long and tumultuous history. It goes all the way back to God

Acts Out

This Jesus society didn't follow the rules. It didn't kowtow to the rulers. For Jesus showed poor people that they didn't need the patriarchy. They didn't need the monarchy. And they didn't need to fear the authorities. Now everyone knows that that kind of talk starts revolutions. The temple priests got anxious to arrest Jesus because they were afraid of the Romans and didn't want any trouble. So what did they do? They answered their fear of violence with more violence. They killed Jesus and they would have liked to do the same thing to his followers, too. But Peter and John were acting out of a different set of rules. They responded to the violence of the crucifixion with acts of healing and compassion. That's what we read in the Book of Acts.

Healing That Doesn't Cost a Thing

Another reason that we don't ask for the healing we need is that we get used to the holes in our souls, don't we, just as the man had gotten used to his disability. He had a routine. His life was arranged. And he didn't go around asking for healing because he didn't even consider that he could be healed. After all, he'd been this way from birth. It was the only reality he knew. Being able to walk and leap was beyond his conception and not many of us know how to ask for what we cannot conceive. Sometimes the healing we really need is something we can't conceive. Call it a disability of the imagination.

Remember Your Baptism

Right now, I wish we had a festival like Timkat. In general, I think Protestantism could use a few parades. But I don't think three days are nearly enough to celebrate our baptism, because I can't begin to imagine the rest of life without it. Ethiopian Christians know that baptism is a very big deal and that one way or another life will teach us to remember our baptism every single day and be thankful.

Beyond the Brady Bunch

For a few centuries at least, the Christian Church was the counter-cultural movement in the Roman Empire. The Church completely redefined family. For perhaps the first time in history, people who were unrelated by blood were now sisters and brothers by faith. Reading these verses I got to thinking, if the church could redefine what family means in the first century, why can't we redefine it in the 21st century?