All Who Wander Are Not Lost -JRR Tolkien

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Sometimes it feels like we are wandering through a land of shadows alone but we don't wander about thus. It is in knowing that we don't wander alone on this journey but rather we journey with Christ- for Christ- through Christ; trying to sort out life. That is our reassurance. We are fellow travelers with their varied stories to share and many songs to sing. We are journeying along through these shadows together. For me I am journeying away from an evangelical ,conservative religion to ( hopefully) becoming a true Christ follower. I invite you to journey along with me. That if you are so inclined; then by all means feel free to wander and ponder.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gettng my bearings

I was making noise last time about no real idea where my destination lay in terms of my faith journey. As I have had a chance to think about it I am not so sure that is accurate. After all as a proclaimed follower of Christ then my destination should be to imitate him. In Action. In thought. In everything. That should be the goal. I know it is mine. But what really strikes me about this is that although it is a goal I can,and do, choose. It is not a goal I can reach on my own. True there are many ways I can imitate Christ. I can be kind to others. I can offer them hope. I can bring a healing to a hurt soul. I can feed the hungry. I can weed out my closet and give clothes those who are in need of them more than I. I can exercise more patience in the Wal Mart parking lot on any given occasion.
But ultimately despite what I do I still need to acknowledge that Jesus made a voluntary sacrifice for me, along with the rest of humanity as well. On the Cross. By his Death, Burial, and Resurrection I have access to a power greater than myself to become something greater than myself. I think that is important. Rather – I don't think, I KNOW! So I do know my destination on this journey. Some call it Christ likeness. I call it becoming human. What God had in mind when he/she/it created us humans. To take charge of the Creation and our fellow humans that inhabit it.
So I have to revise my sating I don't know my destination on my faith journey. I do. It is clear. It is simple. But it will also be the death of me because I have to die to 'me'. This is where I need Christ [ and the Holy Spirit] to help me change. I like all my fellow humans are basically selfish. That selfishness makes in impossible to really fulfill the Great Command of loving the Lord God and then loving your neighbor [ as much or more than you love yourself my paraphrase].
Having said all that I am now of the realization that I know where I am headed. I still have many stops for the tricycle along the journey but at least I am somewhat better orientated.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Destination Unknown?

     I have to admit that I haven't written in the past month or so because my life, as are other's lives, been a journey. Although for me there has been no clear destination in mind other than being the best 'Christian' that I could be. Just how t I am to arrive at that goal has been a bit of a mystery to me. In fact that seems to be a problem for many of us “ Christians”; we don't see this life as a journey or we haven't a clue as to our destination. If you are like me you have heard the passage from the New Testament letter to the Hebrews about how we are in a race witnessed by others and that we must run the good race to the finish [ Hebrews 12:1-3]. I might add we are supposed to run this race with great patience, something that I am in short supply of at times. But then again I think that can apply to any of us. I think of this passage often and wonder if I somehow missed the starting gun. Or if they even allow tricycles in this race. Besides haven't I read somewhere that Christians are supposed to be non-competitive? If that is true them Paul's more athletic allusions in his writings to the early church then somehow have missed on that concept ( and FTR I do think that Paul was the writer of the passage here).
But I digress, as I often do.
Back to my original thought. I started out this journey, as well as this blog, in hopes of becoming a better”Christian”. As I think more and more,maybe the destination for becoming a better”Christian” should be just becoming a better person. Simple as that. Maybe the key to being a “Christian” is understanding that the Gospel is more about reclaiming Life and less about gaining Heaven. After all Jesus started his 'public' ministry by reading out of Isiah 61. So where does that leave us with Paul's illustration of us being in a 'Race'? I am not sure really? I am pretty sure that this is something to consider as I resume my journey.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Celebration is a participation sport

  Happy Mother's Day! This is one of those holidays tat the cynical side of me wants to say is a manufactured hoilday. Created by the card companies to increase their revenue stream. But Mother's Day as Holiday has merit because our Mothers are worth celebrating. Something I wonder at times, although I have to confess not very often, is about the maternal side of God. I mean God is God and we cannot really get a full grasp on that but I think that one of his ( Interesting how we almost automatically assign a masculine pronoun to God). And it seems odd to me that we don't often discuss the maternal side of God. After all them maternal had to come from somewhere didn't it? It didn't just appear out of thin are.  mean,if we believe that we a created being then the instincts that we were created with have had to come form the Creator themselves-right? So then using that logic then we have to assume that God the Creator has a maternal side. But I wonder if it we should call it    " a isde' because that sounds like to me that it is a lesser part of God. A not as important p[art of them as the Creator. To my way of thinking as it has been changing as I pedal the trike along But then I think that if God is God then all parts of God are as equally as important. Our wanting to rate God in parts in somewhat silly and  show a measure of disrespect. especially when it comes to the maternal instincts of God ,which I believe God has. I mean I can remember hearing a theological discussion on the Holy Spirit as being the Feminine side of God. And for a long time I bought in to that thought.I am not saying it is wrong. Just wondering if it is not entirely accurate. Then again I happen to think nowadays one of the traps we fall into is the idea that somehow we can accurately define a God who is something wholly other and beyond what we can describe or define.As to the maternal nature of God I suspect that it is there and that it is important.  So if that is the case then I have to think, at the risk of being blasphemous or disrespectful, that God is owed a lot of Mother's day cards.

Monday, May 2, 2011

ding dong the wicked witch is dead?

    When the news that the terrorist,who had eluded us for nearly a decade, had been killed came over the TV Sunday night ; I had some mixed feelings. I still do even 12 hours after the fact. My fist reaction was relief that bin Laden had been caught. He paid the price for all the hate,violence and murder that he caused. Spontaneous celebrations broke out causing my heart to grow heavy. Watching the crowds gather I understood that this was a moment that was meant to be shared ,savored,appreciate. But seeing some of the reactions that ranged from gloating to ' hope he burns in hell'. I have to admit I am bothered. This is wrong, I thought to myself, death-any death is something that should not be celebrated like the home team just won game 7 of the championship. Maybe I am missing something here or maybe it is the American psyche thats says there has to be a clear winner and a clear loser in any given situation;otherwise there is no satisfaction. No resolution. No definition. Maybe I am seeing the cheering crowds in a wrong manner. After all we have been living for close to a decade with the pall of bin Laden the terrorist who got away with –whatever he got away with. We have spent ten years making war to what end? The news that bjn Laden had been killed gave some sense of closure the American people. After all that is a part of the national psyche; that we don't like having the feeling of a job left undone. The fact that bin Laden was out there, free and loose ,taunting us made us angrier. More resolved to find the bugger. Find him we did. We found him and finished him. I can't ( or won't) down play that.
So why am I bothered by the celebrating crowds? I don't know. I don't think they are right or wrong. All I can think is where would Jesus be in all this? Where IS Jesus in all this? Do I think he would be cheering with the crowds or weeping for the loss of a human life, no matter how twisted? I'd go with the weeping. Jesus himself said , God so loved the world. The world.. Humanity. All of it...all of us... past... present.. future. Even Osama bin Laden,as evil ,as hate filled a person he was, mattered to God. God would have forgiven bin Laden,I have to believe that,so if God would have forgiven bin Laden then so should I. The hardest part of our faith, the act of forgiveness especially forgiving a person so heinous and murderous. After all I -wear the name of Christ. So then I as a Christian-have to forgive ,not celebrate. This probably why I feel somewhat out of sorts about all of the news. I suspect I should be glad that I feel like tis because it means I am still human. I am part of the fabric of humanity as well as a part of Gods family. The dichotomy of my faith is not lost on me. As a human, as well as an American, the desire for vengeance is strong but as a Christian the desire to forgive should be even stronger. I know that my thoughts here are not the ones of the evangelical conservative Christianity I come from, or be be the norm for most ' good patriotic' Americans, especially the kind that surround me here in central Florida. However I really don't care. I have to be honest as I try to become as authentic as Christian I can be. Don't get me wrong, I am glad justice is done for the 3,000 victims and their families. I just know deep within my heart that I have to mourn the loss of a human life as well as forgive them as God does. Thus the struggle.

conversation about a post resurrection conversation

Lately I have been thinking about conversations. You know,the ones that are made of more than just small talk about weather or sports or royal weddings. The kind that eclipse the everyday hype that seem to fill up the voids in our minds. True conversations about things that really should matter. Ones with words that excite,enrapture, and encapsulate the mind. I am talking about those conversations that happen on a so infrequent basis that they change our lives by challenging our lives. It is the existence of those such conversations that are fraught with so much that we can almost miss them. We don't seem to have them as much as we should. Instead we talk around each other, or talk about each other, or worse yet we frame the conversation we may be involved with in such a way that marginalizes people , make them less that so our words seem more important . I, personally have been guilty of such conversations. I really don't want to do that anymore. 
 I really want to be more like Jesus -especially with the two travelers' on the road to Emmaus. [Luke 24:13-34] It is in this post Resurrection story we find a pair of men walking along .conversing as they go, when Jesus joins them unrecognized. The three strike up a conversation about the important life challenging ,life changing events of the past several days since the Passover in Jerusalem. They talk of the prophet Jesus and the loss of hope that came with his death. The conversations turns to the some what doubtful story told by a few women followers of Jesus that he was risen from the dead. But those tales turned out to be untrue.
What is about this conversation that has captured my imagination? I am not really sure. What I do know is that While thinking about what I wanted to write here I am struck by a conversation Wonder and I had recently. The short version of it would be that we as Christians have chosen to be Christians because it is the one faith that offers any real hope. I can tie that to the conversation on the road to Emmaus by the comment made[ Luke 24:21] And we had hoped that he would be the one to liberate Isra'el! Besides all that, today is the third day since these things happened; Complete Jewish Bible] The death of the prophet//Rabbi Jesus represented the death of the Hebrew hope of their liberation. Several things stick out to me here.
One, that hope can be easily lost ,maybe more so, than gained. Especially when there is the expectation of 'liberation” Or restoration. Or Freedom. I have often noted- ;particularly among political conversations , that there is very little in the way of hope Ever wonder why that is? I have to suspect that is the work of an enemy who wants to steal our hope, especially if that hope empowers us to do things greater than we could imagine before that hope arrived.
Two, Hope can be misplaced. For myself I have been re-learning what is that I really have hope in. One of the things I have noticed about the followers of the teacher/rabbi/prophet called Jesus is that they some how missed out on him claiming his God-hood. I don't know about you but that is kinda important. Without Jesus being who he said he is; he then becomes another man. Fallible. Misguided. Powerless to deliver on his promise of hope –'specially if he is dead.
Three, Hope can be revived. The news of Jesus resurrection at first offered a brief glimmer that hope had returned. Of course not finding what was expected dashed that moment. Then there was the Jewish tradition that taught that after three days the spirit left the body of the deceased;making any hope of resurrection or renewal impossible. Hope Denied.
Lastly I see that Jesus explains the real interpretation of the Scripture and the Messiah,that he had to suffer before being raised from the dead. Hope renewed. These truths don't seem to take hold until they stop to eat.This is where Jesus reveals his true identity to his fellow travelers. AS HE BREAKS THE BREAD …. interesting.
So to sum up my thought, Conversations are important and some conversations are more important than others. A Life changing conversation is about hope. Our Faith, as well as the Gospel is based on hope. It is only with real hope, and real conversation, that we can change the world. The resurrected Jesus lives to give us life challenging, life changing hope. It is this hope that makes for a real faith I can believe in.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

a post resurrection story

 It is Easter night and I have been thinking about Jesus'post Resurrection stories. One in particular- the one where his former disciples go back to what they were before he turned their lives , as well as hopes and dreams, upside down. Maybe you remember it too. The one where they decide to go night fishing. The one where while they are headed home with empty nets, no fish, and less sleep. They get a tip from a stranger on shore. A tip that results in a net full of fish. So many the net nearly broke. But that isn't the part that I have been thinking of. I have been thinking of the breakfast the fisherman had on shore. That and the conversation that went along with it. It is that conversation in which Jesus asked Peter if he loved him more than the things around  Peter's life that catches my attention . We read it in John 21:9-17

 There are several things in that scene that I notice
   1] Jesus cooked and fed them. The resurrected Son Of God still acted the servant.
   2] Jesus broke the silence among them. The text seems to indicate that they at in silence. I would say that this is so typical male but I have a feeling none of them wanted to speak out of fear. Or shame.  Or maybe not wanting to allow them selves to hope in Jesus again.
    3] The question that Jesus asked of Peter is deeper than most translations give.  Jesus spoke Aramaic, a combination of Greek/Hebrew, so the phrase almost reads do you breath in what I meant to you on a moral/social level? In other words, do [did] my words have an impact on your life?

 That is something I want to dwell on here. I have been learning in my relationship with Wonder, that love is more than some four letter word centered around how I feel. Love is actually something that changes how a person thinks . I know that to true in my life. Because I love Wonder I have had to become more open to how I think about her feelings. I make more choices with that as a template.  and so;because I love Jesus/God I have to become more open to how I think about them. I make life choices according to that template.  Jesus asked Peter a question at that breakfast as a way of pointing out that Peter had to change the way he had previously thought out Jesus. To make choices about his life according to that new template that was drawn out by the gospel [  see Luke 14/Isa 61] Christ had lived out and tried to teach his disciples. This ,to mw, is just one of those post Resurrection stories that I can't let go of.