Some people attend charismatic or pentecostal churches because they need to see the miraculous to understand a God that provides healing, or understands them deeply, beyond what they share of themselves with the world. Some people attend churches that focus on social justice because they need to see a God that serves up justice and cares for the oppressed. Some attend legalistic churches because they need to experience order and clear cut rules amidst an otherwise chaotic life. And each of these churches provides an aspect of God to the world.
Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, the one who carries the double-edged sword that kills or gives life, asks a monk to bring him something out in the world that is not medicine. The monk searches far and wide, and finally returns, saying that there is nothing out there that is not medicine. To which the master says, “then bring me something that is medicine.” The monk then reaches down and plucks a blade of grass.
The master turns to the monk and says, “This medicine can kill people and it can also bring them to life.”
Daily Office Readings Psalm: 126In convertendo1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, * then were we like those who dream.2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, * and our tongue withRead More…
When I was a pastor for a small church up in the pacific northwest, I received a phone call one day. The call came from another pastor in our diocese, who wanted to let me know that he had a “word of knowledge” for me.
For those of you not particularly versed in the charismatic / pentecostal nomenclature, a “word of knowledge” is a personal prophecy, or discernment, regarding what God is doing in the life of another person. These can at times be very powerful, when truly directed by God. When not directed by God, they tend to take on the likeness of a battering ram.
Years ago, on a diocesan retreat, two men were arguing about a particular prophecy concerning where the new diocesan cathedral would stand. We were all sharing a cabin bunkhouse, and I was trying to get some sleep. The two could not, or would not, agree on any of the supposed signs that they had interpreted to indicate the location of the new building, and after a while, I got grumpy enough that I just flat out asked them why they were arguing.
As I sat there with a book next to the coals from the morning fire, a wind began to blow. And it continued to blow, and it got stronger and stronger, blowing sand into my pages, and blowing the pages over so that I had to keep my hand firmly on the book to be able to read at all. I finally got so frustrated I shouted at the wind, at God, at the universe, “Really?!?! I’m finally in the right mindset to read, and now this? Stop with the sand blowing already.”
And this was Paul. As a Pharisee, under the authority of the Chief Priest, he pursued the followers of the Way to foreign countries and cities, with a relentless perseverance because he was “so furiously enraged” at them. And then when he became a follower of Christ, Paul pursued the conversion of people in foreign countries and cities with the same relentless perseverance that he showed in persecuting Christians before this moment beneath the bright light on the road to Damascus.
People love to hear sermons about how God loves them. People love to hear sermons about how those who love God are blessed. People love to hear about how God’s love covers over their multitude of sins. People love hearing sermons about love as long as that love relates to them. But people hate to hear sermons that demand that they follow through on loving their neighbor, because others can just be so difficult to love sometimes.
Daily Office Readings – Gospel ( Luke 6:39-49 ) In the late 80’s, there was an anti-drug public service announcement that shows a father confronting his son about the son’s drug use.Read More…
“Didn’t we play stickball with him?” “Didn’t he once pull the tail of a donkey an make it bray so loudly at 3am that all the neighbors woke up?” “Didn’t he used to catch frogs down by the river and scare the girls with them?”
“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”