Act Like Gifted and Beloved People, Because That Is What You Are

The scripture passage from Romans this week has a lot of special meaning to me and Tiffany. This particular passage was the basis for our college Chaplain’s benediction. Sure, it was Paul’s benediction first, but John Williams took Paul to a whole new level. Of course, his interpretation is not the standard one, but for my money, it is loaded with a whole lot more relevance and meaning. And of course, for me, it isn’t complete with adding on those words at the end, “And act like gifted and beloved children of God, because that is what you are.”—Imagine that being said with a thick Texan drawl and you’ll get the idea. What is interesting is that this passage is a benediction (from Latin for Good Words). It is a beautiful passage, but as you start to look a little bit closer at what it is asking us to do as faithful disciples, it may seem like Paul is asking

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Your Christ is TOO SMALL–so is mine…

“Who do you say I am?” If we are to look at the passage and reflection from last week, we might answer Jesus’ question with, “a jerk.” I think many in this day and age would say that he is the way to punch their golden ticket through the pearly gates. Perhaps he is the meek, mild and peace-loving teacher. Perhaps he is the Holy Troublemaker for which my blog is named. The Son of God. A revolutionary. The Messiah. A prophet. The Word made flesh. A rabbi. God incarnate. A criminal. A man. Something else entirely. Unfortunately, I think we all tend to have our “perfect” answer, that ends up leading us to an ultimately imperfect reality. It seems to me that when we have set our sights on one of these answers as opposed to the rest, we lose some of the richness of how we might answer this question. At the end of the day, during the

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Jesus the Jerk?

We are working on a very interesting text this week—Jesus and the Canaanite woman. This is one of those passages that most of us just don’t know what to do with. Jesus refuses to help a woman who pleads with him and then calls her a dog—not exactly the Sunday school Jesus we all know and love. David Lose wrote an interesting post about how we have historically approached interpretation of this passage: “Did the Canaanite woman Matthew describes pass a test or persuade the Lord? If we go with the former – which is probably the more traditional reading – then Jesus didn’t really mean what he said. You know, about saying he was exclusive, ministering only to the Israelites, let alone calling her a dog. All of this was just a test, a way of bringing to harvest the faith that God had already planted in her…I think we favor this interpretation because it saves Jesus from looking

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Celebration of Education Sunday

Can you believe that the kids are already preparing to head back to school? In fact, this Sunday we will be doing Celebration of Education Sunday! This is a week for us to stop and recognize the change that will be happening in the lives of children, youth (students of all ages really), teachers and parents. We have a lot of those folks in our church! Let’s put this in some context though. We could easily be asking ourselves, “Why not celebration of soldiers, or small business owners, or factory workers, or any other profession?” Well why not? I don’t see a good reason why not, honestly. What should be at the heart of what we do this Sunday is a commissioning that reminds people where their mission field actually is. When Christ sends the disciples out into the world in scripture, he doesn’t say, “Go, therefore, to walled in sanctuaries and make disciples of all nations.” Rather, he sends

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Why Holy Troublemakers?

It all started about 3 years ago. [cue flashback sequence]. Since the Presbytery youth retreat happened to fall on Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it seemed only logical at the time to run with Dr. Seuss books as our theme. We looked at the Beatitudes through the different lenses of Seuss’ writings and discovered some wonderful meaning. What was especially helpful was The Message version of the Beatitudes and its wonderful ending, “…my prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” Seemed to be the perfect fit, especially given Seussian characters like the Cat in the Hat. In so many ways there is a wonderful connection to the long-standing prophetic tradition in the biblical witness and the idea of being a troublemaker. Unfortunately, one problem for an institution like the church is that we often are more caught up in maintaining the status quo (since it has long benefited our institution), rather than maintaining a prophetic voice. Needless to

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