Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Larry and I wrote an entry for our church's Advent devotional which came out today. I love that we wrote it together several months ago and a) I can't remember which of the words belong to me and which belong to Larry and b) I sense the anticipation of waiting for the light all the more!

There were clouds that morning, but not on the horizon where it mattered. Before us was the slope of the mountain and a gaggle of tree-covered islands before the expanse of the sea, all covered in a haze of deep blue. Our eyes were fixed on that horizon, expectant, waiting. The colors began to change, blue became purple, red, pink, orange. The undersides of the clouds lit up in fire and suddenly a point of light appeared, illuminating our faces. For all its intensity, we could not turn away until the light had disappeared behind the low-lying clouds. We were captivated. The light was literally seared in our vision for quite a bit of time moving forward.

Reading John’s words about Jesus reminds us of that day on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. John opens with the expectant image of waiting for the light. “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming”—it was coming!—into the world! (John 1:9) The Gospel of Luke reminds us of all those who were waiting for him, beginning with Zechariah and Anna. And then the rest of the Gospels give us so many full-on glimpses of the pure, blinding light of Jesus as he proclaims, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Light of life, indeed, who dispels the darkness of sin. (1 John 1:7)

As John says, the true light is already shining, but the darkness is still passing away and we see its shadows around us, perhaps inside us, still. (1 John 2:8) In a way, we join Zechariah and Anna, still waiting, still expectant, seeing in a mirror dimly but expectant to see face to face. (1 Corinthians 13:12) We anticipate his coming, piercing the deep blue expanse of the world. We are watchers of the world, watching the horizon for his full glory to be revealed.

Where are you waiting expectantly for God’s light to shine? What shadows have you seen Him cast out by His presence?

have mercy on me

Monday, November 21, 2011

I've had this image on my desktop for a quite a while now. I preached on the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18 last spring. I had heard it preached in my church like in January, and right up through class today, I still had a lot of questions about the story.

The situation is: 2 men come to pray in the temple. One leaves justified and the other doesn't. I was bothered that only 1 did, and that it wasn't the one I was relating to. See, the Pharisee comes up and stands by himself and prays what I heard as an honest prayer-- "God, I thank you that I'm not an adulterer" and basically-- I do my best to follow you. And I do thank God that I'm not an adulterer, and I do do my best to be a good Christian. So I didn't see anything wrong with his prayer.

What I realized when we studied this same passage in Luke class today was that it wasn't the content of his prayer. It was his attitude.

See, his "presenting problem" (medical term for my med friends out there) was introduced at the beginning of the story in Luke 18:9. The Pharisees had shown up confident in themselves that they were righteous because of all their religious activity (which wasn't bad in and of itself, but they thought it was making them super-holy) and despising everyone else. They had a heart problem. It was a big one, and it was affecting everyone else around them. He had no love for those around him, and he didn't need God to do anything to make his life more holy, he was doing fine by himself.
Contrastly, the sinner comes and stands by himself. He knows he can enter the temple. He knows he can draw near. He's trusting in God's love and grace. But there's nothing of his own doing that brings him forward. He's not bragging in front of everyone about how much he's read or given to the church. And we see this condition of his heart in his prayer, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner." He goes back home justified, set right, restored in relationship with God.

And it has made me wonder-- what's the diagnosis on my heart?

in love with "Once Upon a Time"

Monday, November 7, 2011

I am swooning over ABC's "Once Upon a Time." Not only does it have great characterization, the traces of bread crumbs (not Hansel & Gretel types, but the kind "Lost" is famous for), thrilling intros of favorite storybook characters, and some pretty interesting cinematography. BUT ALSO... as a theology student, Larry and I as well as my girls here just can't resist digging into the themes we're seeing.

What do you think about:
  • Snow White having a cross around her neck? Are the writers alluding to the Christian faith somehow with her? Is it a moral symbol indicating the purity of her character?
  • How the characters do not know who they are until they begin to understand their part in the story? Could this relate to how we only come to know who we truly are as we identify ourselves in a larger story?
  • Quotes like, "Good will always win"?
  • Quotes like, "Believing in the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing"?
  • Concepts like, the one who knows your name has power over you?
  • Out of the mouths of babes... the truth of the story comes out of a young boy?
  • Purity of love both breaks and seals curses?
  • Every curse can be broken?
What are you picking up on? Have you watched it yet?

all my single ladies

Friday, November 4, 2011

I've been deeply desiring to write a really good, insightful blogspot about my friends' singleness. Don't expect this blog to be that. But I do want to get one thought on paper:

A male, single, 20-something, seminary friend listed as one of his goals "To be married and have kids." And we all nodded in agreement. As a group, we affirmed that his goal to get married and have kids was equitable with the goal to be debt-free or to run a 5K or to own a dog. We all assumed that a male, single, 20-something, seminarian will have no trouble accomplishing this goal.

What if a female, single, 20-something, seminary friend had listed as her goal "To be married and have kids" ? We would probably politely nod, and then send someone to talk to her to make sure she was "finding her fulfillment in Jesus" because, let's be honest, she might not get married, and she might not have kids.

I was struck and bothered and dumfounded and confused and "puzzled" (a new word I learned last weekend) by this discovery of the innate reaction in me to assume that men can and will get married if it's their goal and women might not.

And so, Kevin DeYoung posted a proper response. Peruse and discuss, if you so desire.