A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

When Life Makes No Sense: A Lectionary Reflection on Genesis 22:1-14

Genesis 22:1-14

Abraham's faith is anguished. Here we see that faith is serious business. Abraham not only has to trust God that God will fulfill his promise to make of Abraham a great nation, even though the one through whom the promise will be fulfilled (Isaac) will be killed. As I mentioned on several occasions Abraham and Sarah tried to take matters into their own hands and fulfill the promise themselves because they were too impatient to wait on God and perhaps didn't even believe God would keep his word at certain times in their lives. Now Abraham has to trust that God will keep his promise even without Isaac, and continue to have faith even in the midst of indescribable grief as he mourns the death of his son.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Instruction and Indictment: The Sermon on the Mount and Discipleship-- The Beatitudes (The Mourners)

Jesus' second beatitude, "Blessed are those who mourn," is connected to the first beatitude. The poor in spirit know they are completely dependent upon God and that so often they are deprived of even the most basic necessities of life because of the the injustice and oppression of others, both individuals and societies. There is grief in knowing this. For Jesus, these mourners respond differently from the way many Christians would respond today. Scot McKnight writes,

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Scriptures and Prayer for the Third Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament: Genesis 21:8-21 or Jeremiah 20:7-13

Psalter: Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 or Psalm 69:7-10, (11-15), 16-18

Epistle: Romans 6:1-11

Gospel: Matthew 10:24-39
God of strength and courage, in Jesus Christ you set us free from sin and death, and call us to the risk of faith and service. Give us grace to follow him who gave himself for others, that, by our service, we may find the life he came to bring. Amen.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Instruction and Indictment: The Sermon on the Mount and Discipleship: Series Links

1. Instruction and Indictment: The Sermon on the Mount and Discipleship-- Introduction

2. Instruction and Indictment: The Sermon on the Mount and Discipleship-- A Manual for the Here and Now

3. Instruction and Indictment: The Sermon on the Mount and Discipleship-- John Wesley

4. Instruction and Indictment: The Sermon on the Mount and Discipleship-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

5. Instruction and Indictment: The Sermon on the Mount and Discipleship-- The Beatitudes (Introduction)

6. Instruction and Indictment: The Sermon on the Mount and Discipleship-- The Beatitudes (The Poor in Spirit)

Truth Is Stranger Then Fiction: Grand Theft Avocado

Grand Theft Avocado: 3 arrested in $300K California theft

From Associated Press
June 17, 2017 3:04 PM EST

OXNARD, Calif. (AP) — Police are calling it grand theft avocado.

Three produce company workers have been arrested in the theft of up to $300,000 worth of avocados, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

Thirty-eight-year-old Joseph Valenzuela, 28-year-old Carlos Chavez and 30-year-old Rahim Leblanc were each charged with grand theft of fruit and were being held in jail on bail of $250,000 each. They were arrested Wednesday.

It was unclear whether they have attorneys.

Detectives began investigating the suspects in May after receiving a tip that they were conducting unauthorized cash sales of avocados from a ripening facility in the city of Oxnard owned by the Mission Produce company.

The company estimated the avocado loss at about $300,000, the sheriff's office said.

"We take these kinds of thefts seriously. It's a big product here and in California," sheriff's Sgt. John Franchi told the Los Angeles Times. "Everybody loves avocados."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ghost Churches Near Jordan River Baptism Site Await Reclamation

from Ori Lewis, Reuters
Ghost churches on the western bank of the Jordan River, near where Jesus is believed to have been baptised, could be reopened to pilgrims as part of a project to remove booby-traps and land mines.

The river banks were once a war zone between Israel and Jordan, and were littered with thousands of mines and unexploded ordnance. The two neighbours made peace in 1994 but it took many years before some mine clearing began.

Both claim that the site where John the Baptist and Jesus met is on their side of the river. The Gospel of John refers to "Bethany beyond the Jordan" without further details.

In 2002, Jordan opened its site, showing remains of ancient churches and writings of pilgrims down the centuries to bolster its claim. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 2015.

The site in the Israeli-occupied West Bank opened in 2011 and has stairs for pilgrims to descend into the muddy river. It has more visitors than the Jordanian site but its churches, mostly built in the 1930s, has remained strictly off-limits.
The rest of the story can be read here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jesus Is Not a Poster Boy for Your Progressive or Conservative Cause-- G.K. Chesterton's "Mere Christianity"

C.S. Lewis was thrust into fame with his work that led to the publication of his book, Mere Christianity. Indeed, when many Christians hear the words "mere Christianity," Lewis is the first person who comes to mind. But G.K Chesterton published his own version of mere Christianity years before Lewis began putting his thoughts in print and on the radio. The Everlasting Man, published in 1925, is considered by many Chesterton scholars to be his finest work. While an atheist, Lewis read it, and he credited the book as a formative influence on his journey into Christianity. In reflecting later upon The Everlasting Man, Lewis said that serious atheists should be careful about what they read.(1) Lewis writes,
Then I read Chesterton's Everlasting Man and for the first time saw the whole Christian outline of history set out in a form that seemed to me to make sense . . . I already thought Chesterton the most sensible man alive "apart from his Christianity." Now, I veritably believe, I thought that Christianity itself was very sensible "apart from its Christianity."(2)
In The Everlasting Man, Chesterton argues for the indispensable nature of mere Christianity, which for Chesterton, and later Lewis, consisted of the basic doctrines of the faith believed by most Christians throughout history. Such "mereness" centered around the person and work of Jesus Christ who is indeed the everlasting man.