October 24, 2013

Right Relationships in the Upside-Down Kingdom

Jesus' point (Luke 18.9-14) is that Kingdom values are different than human values. I had a recent phone conversation with a couple who had been to the funeral of someone who had left the Anglican Church and not shown any outward signs of faith for many years. They were concerned that she would probably not be part of the Heavenly Kingdom. But when the husband opened his Bible for evening devotions before bed he read “..for my ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts...” It was a teaching moment. We are judged on the attitude of our heart ‑ not on our religious accomplishments. Righteousness is all about the grace of an intimate right relationship of love with God.

I discovered this in a very humbling way. In my prayer time I was convinced I was having all kinds of wonderful revelations from God. I was writing these down in a diary. After some time I realized that it was all positive and all about me. It was really the voice of my ego – or possibly even Satan. In addition to the obvious ‘voice of Satan’.

October 17, 2013

We Are Called to Persist in Our Historic Faith (Lectionery Proper 29c)

The Readings call us to repent our collective failure as a church to proclaim the historic Gospel and to persist like the widow and Timothy in teaching the Faith that was handed down to us. We need to recognize our place as a Church that has been marginalized and in effect exiled as irrelevant to the culture. Like the Hebrews in exile we need to repent and be transformed into persistent faithful people.

1. The widow refused to give up in her quest for justice
Unlike many people – and our church, she was not willing to ‘go along to get along’. She stood up to the culture. She was loud and annoying. She overcame the culture and preserved God’s justice.
  •        In contrast many Christians and churches have gradually given in to a “Greasy Grace Theology” that de-emphasizes the serious consequences of personal and corporate sin (spiritual death) and the need for repentance and confession
  •          Many people seem to go directly from sin to forgiveness without any personal guilt, repentance or fear of God
  •          Being a “good loving person” has replaced personal holiness
  •          We have largely accepted a culture where correcting or rebuking people for sin is considered highly offensive

 2. Jeremiah prophesied a New Covenant of personal hope
He was living in exile with the Hebrew people who had been carried away to Babylon (Iraq). They were in deep grief – the grief of repentance.  After seventy years they felt abandoned by God. They had lots of time to think about what had gone wrong:

October 11, 2013

Thanksgiving Keeps Covenant & Multiplies Blessings

The story of  the healing of the ten lepers teaches us the importance of giving thanks to God for all our blessings. All ten lepers were healed of a terrible disease that can best be described as a living death. Only one returned to Jesus to give thanks. Because he gave thanks and acknowledged Jesus as his Saviour he received the double blessings of forgiveness and eternal spiritual life. The Deuteronomy (8.7-20) and the 2nd. Corinthians (9.6-15) Readings assigned, help us understand how giving thanks to God keeps us in our Baptismal Covenant relationship and multiplies blessings in our daily lives.

1. In Deuteronomy Moses is warning the Hebrews about forgetting God
The setting is in the wilderness, after Moses received then destroyed the first tablets with the Ten Commandments. He had returned and found the people had forgotten God and were worshiping a golden calf. Before he goes back up the mountain to renew the Covenant with God and write two new tablets.
·         Moses warns them that when they enter the Promised Land and prosper they will begin to forget God again and think they have prospered only by the work of their own hands