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Showing posts from April, 2012

My Spider Dream

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I had a dream the other night that I've been pondering ever since I woke up. The details are sketchy, but here are the basics.

I was in a house that apparently was my home, although it bore no resemblance to my current house. The lighting was poor, and the walls and floor were made of crude pieces of wood. If I'd been self-aware I would have wondered if I'd watched some sort of haunted house program on TV before falling asleep.

In every single doorway of this house, there was a spiderweb that spanned across, making it very difficult to pass into the next room. The webs were huge and intricate. They were masterpieces, really. And the spiders who made them were very active on them, keeping them up as best they could. If I wanted to enter a room, I'd have to duck so as not to disturb the beautiful weavings of my houseguests. And I actually did this. I couldn't tell you why, but I actually did try to avoid breaking down these webs. I held myself to this despite the inc…

The Swing of the Pendulum

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Okay. This blog post is going to make me look like a chump. I'm telling you this up front because I want you to see that I'm acknowledging that fact. And in case you're wondering why I'm writing this post at all when I easily could have posted a lolcat picture or something and just forgotten about the whole thing, I feel like I owe it to my readership to come clean on this issue, and you'll see why in a second.

During Holy Week, our ministerial association holds an ecumenical service. We don't robe, although the Catholic priest and Lutheran pastor tend to, anyway. The rest of us wear suits, more or less. So before the service, I went to my closet, pored over my rack of shirts, suits, and pants, and made my selection: my black pinstripe suit with purple dress shirt and silver tie. I looked good, I felt good, and I thought I was dressed well enough to help lead worship with my colleagues.

On Easter morning, I picked out my blue pinstripe suit with a green shirt a…

A Week Off

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The pic on the left is how I'm feeling.

I'll return to blogging next week.

Pop Culture Roundup

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I'm still reading Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, although it is much slower-going than it was a few weeks ago. And...uh...that's all I got for that right now.

WWE Wrestlemania 28 happened on April 1st, and we watched with gusto. There were hits and misses, as every Wrestlemania has. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus was all of 18 seconds long with Sheamus becoming the new World Heavyweight Champion, but it was one of those strange things where Bryan seemed to benefit more from it: there were chants for him the rest of the night and the following night on RAW, particularly his now-signature "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Undertaker/Triple H was less a match and more of a drama, as the story was bigger than the specific moves. Eventually, Undertaker extended his Wrestlemania undefeated streak to 20-0 and the three involved (Shawn Michaels was the guest referee) had a great final bow together afterward. Chris Jericho and CM Punk also put on a great match, although the storyli…

"I'm Not Bigger Yet"

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A few months ago, I was strapping Coffeeson into his carseat. We were getting ready to go to preschool that morning, and I had just encouraged him to climb in so that I could buckle everything around him. I can't pretend to know why or remember what prompted it, but as I was clipping everything together he said, "I'm not bigger yet."

My best guess is that it was a commentary on having to sit in the carseat. It will be years before he can sit in a regular seat and wear a seatbelt like his parents. The context of the statement supports my theory, but it's only a theory. He could have been thinking about something else, or perhaps he just felt like saying it. I doubt he remembers that moment, so I can't ask him about it now. So here I am, that statement still with me: "I'm not bigger yet."

There's something about the word "yet" that is hopeful. There's something about that word that points out that something is inevitable. You'r…

Easter Sunday

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When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid…

Holy Saturday

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The Silence of Death

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When I was a hospital chaplain, I was present for the death of a patient. It was the first time that I experienced such a moment, and it was really by happenstance that I was there. I was making my way around the rooms in the Cardiac Care Unit, making it a point to visit the newest patients first in order to assess their spiritual needs, and this woman, elderly and frail, was among them.

When I entered the room, she had a niece and her husband visiting. She wasn't conscious in the least, hooked up to all sorts of machines and tubes. As I talked with her family, they expressed that they were basically here for the inevitable, having already made the decision to remove life support. There wasn't anything more that could be done, and they had made peace with letting her body give out on its own.

We watched in silence as the numbers on her machines gradually dropped, her life measured in beeps and jagged lines slipping away until the nurse walked in, looked at the screen, and said, …

Go to Dark Gethsemane

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Sunrise

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There are a fair amount of churches that, as part of their Easter celebrations, are planning sunrise services sometime early Easter morning. My church will not be holding one, although there was a time in the not-so-distant past when they did, led by dedicated and faithful lay members. I am told that this consisted of the group gathering on folding chairs on the concrete slab by our cemetery to watch the sun rise from behind the trees, and give glory to God for the new day and for resurrection. This was followed by a breakfast in the fellowship hall. Apparently the practice faded out due to dwindling numbers and the eventual inability of those entrusted with leadership to continue on in their role.

My experience with sunrise services is limited to a small 5-year window of time when at my father's final settled pastorate. There may have been sunrise services at other churches he served, but these are the only ones I remember. I recall getting up before dawn, sleepily pulling on clot…

Bonded in Suffering

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In the mystery of incarnation, we Christians believe that God bonds forever with humanity. God doesn't simply enter humanity when Jesus is born and then depart when he ascends: God takes humanity into God's self in an indissoluble union. So during Holy Week, as we consider the sufferings of God in Christ nearly 2000 years ago, it is appropriate to ask where humanity is being beaten and bloodied today ... because these assaults are assaults on the God who is forever bonded with humanity in suffering. - Brian McLaren, Holy Week Meditation 4

Vintage CC: Atonement

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From February 2008. This seemed like a great time to re-post this. I still largely agree with what I wrote then, but I probably could have cleaned it up and expressed it better. Anyway, hope it provokes some good thoughts during this special week.

Since it’s Lent, I’ve been thinking a lot about atonement. If there was any time of year appropriate for thinking about atonement, it’d be now. Right?

Let’s get it out of the way up front: it’s been a long time since I’ve believed that atonement is as simple as saying, “Jesus died in my place on the cross for my sins and now God isn’t mad at me any more.” For one thing, when the New Testament talks about Jesus being a sacrifice, the writers don’t have an idea of substitution. When animals were sacrificed, it was never understood that they were dying in someone’s place. They were understood to maintain or repair a relationship with God, but not in the sense that the animal is being punished in someone’s place.

Second, boiling Jesus’ life purp…

Palm Sunday

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All glory, laud, and honor
To thee, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring!
Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David's royal Son,
Who in the Lord's name comest,
The King and blessed One!

The people of the Hebrews
With palms before thee went;
Our praise and prayer and anthems
Before thee we present:
To thee, before thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.

Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King!
All glory, laud, and honor
To thee, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring!

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