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)

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Photo In Need of a Caption

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Sign of Real Church

If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Luke 9:23).
Our cross is already there, ready, from the very beginning; we need only take it up. But to keep us from believing that we must simply choose an arbitrary cross, or simply pick our suffering as we will, Jesus emphasizes that each of us has his or her own cross, ready, appointed, and appropriately measured by God. Each of us is to bear the measure of suffering and rejection specifically appointed for us. And the measure is different for each of us. God deems some worthy of great suffering, and to them he grants the blessing of martyrdom. Others he does not allow to be tempted beyond their strength.

The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ. Every call of Christ leads to death... death awaits us, namely death in Jesus Christ, the dying away of our old form of being human in Jesus' call... Suffering is the mark of the disciples of Jesus Christ. The disciple is not above the teacher. Discipleship is... having to suffer. Thus did Luther count suffering among the signs of the real church.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, No Greater Love: Lenten Meditations.

What Will Likely Kill You?

from Live Science:
by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer
February 09, 2016 06:56am ET

Everyone dies of something, but after slogging through the daily news, you'd think most people die from terrorism, shark attacks and gas explosions. But are these tragedies-- not to mention deaths from lightning strikes, plane crashes and tsunamis-- actually top killers in the United States?

Not really.

Even combined, these incidents killed far fewer people than the most deadly illness-- heart disease, which took the lives of more than 614,000 people in the United States in 2014, accounting for about 23 percent of all deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

... don't stress about the freak events-- odds are, you'll die of something much more mundane.
The entire article can be read here.

Do Not Converse with Temptation: A Lectionary Reflection on Luke 4:1-13

Luke 4:1-13

The owner of a small business walked into work one morning with his usual package of a dozen donuts for himself and his employees. Those who were already at their desks working were surprised that he had donuts because he was on a diet prescribed by his doctor; and it was a diet than not surprisingly excluded donuts.

His employees questioned him. "We thought you were on a diet?"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Good News! It's Ash Wednesday and You're a Sinner!

from William Willimon:
Lent is that time when we all-too-worldly ones learn and relearn the great scandal that lies at the heart of the Christian faith-- Christ came to save sinners, only sinners.

Much of the time we get away with the fiction that we are, after all, down deep, rather nice people who have no need of salvation. We know we may not be the best people in the world, but we are not the worst. We are making spiritual progress, lifting ourselves (by ourselves) out of the muck and mire of what once was called "sin."

And then comes the church smearing ashes upon our foreheads, forcing us to our knees in confession, teaching us to say, "Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy upon us sinners."

That's not something many of us want the church to do anymore.

"Why should men love the church?" asks T. S. Eliot. "Because she tells them of sin and death and other unpleasant facts of life they would as soon forget."

Talk Is Not Always Cheap: A Lectionary Reflection on Romans 10:8b-13

Romans 10:8-13

This Sunday is Valentine's Day-- a day to find ways to express love to our significant other, whomever that may be. Cards are the most common gifts on Valentine's Day followed by candy and flowers. Valentine's Day also keeps the restaurants busy. It is the busiest day of the year for dining out surpassing even Mother's Day.

Scriptures and Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Old Testament: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Psalter: Psalm 51:1-17

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10

Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
O God, you delight not in pomp and show, but in a humble and contrite heart. Overturn our love of worldly possessions and fix our hearts more firmly on you, that, having nothing, we may yet possess everything, a treasure stored up for us in heaven. Amen.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

On the Necessity of New Birth

If any doctrines within the whole compass of Christianity may be properly termed fundamental, they are doubtless these two, -- the doctrine of justification, and that of the new birth: The former relating to that great work which God does for us, in forgiving our sins; the latter, to the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature. In order of time, neither of these is before the other: in the moment we are justified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Jesus, we are also "born of the Spirit;" but in order of thinking, as it is termed, justification precedes the new birth. We first conceive his wrath to be turned away, and then his Spirit to work in our hearts. (John Wesley, Sermon 45: The New Birth).

Raising the Minimum Wage: It's Complicated

Let me say at the outset that I support people making a living wage. As one who has dealt with the working poor, seeing people work very hard and yet hardly able to put food on the table for their children and provide them with even basic necessities, I say something is wrong with that situation and it needs to be fixed. But, knowing how complex our 21st century global economy has become, I don't think a single and simplistic solution will fix the problem.