At the Heart of Worship

You can don ancient vestments, light candles, and chants prayers amid clouds of incense; you can preach like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, sing great hymns accompanied by pipe organ, and love the dappled rainbows the stained glass throws; you can put up the largest LED screens, hire musicians that rock, get the stage lighting just right, and kill it with a genius Powerpoint. You can meet in an arena or a tiny rural clapboard or in the North Korean underground, or in… Read more

Christianity Yet Lives

I turned 50 today but it only occurred to me last night while reading Tikhon that there’s something real that we can call Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, I trust Christ and have, year after year, felt my conviction of his goodness and reality increase, but I have doubted, at times, whether there remains in this world, especially the older I’ve gotten, anything like an authentic humanity that has been touched by the words and actions of Jesus. I have… Read more

We Aspire to a Beautiful Mystery

Our culture has lost a sense of reverence and by that I don’t mean putting on starched shirts and ties for the men and white gloves and hats for the women, sitting in prayerful silence or singing solemn hymns in a building with stained-glass windows. Nothing wrong with anything in that picture but that’s not what I am getting at with the word reverence. By reverence I mean a state of wonder in the presence of a mystery. And one… Read more

Custodian of the Cosmos

When Jesus wraps a towel around his waist and washes the feet of his disciples he gives us a portrait of the unseen Father, who holds all things together–visible and invisible–as an unassuming, humble servant. When we dare to mess around with the invisible structures by which God holds the visible world together–splitting atoms, for instance–we witness the awesome energy generated by the smallest (not to mention unwise) manipulation of his handiwork. Yet this incalculable energy–even the smallest fraction of… Read more

God’s Radical “Yes” to Humanity

Telling or living the story of our salvation as a resurrection without a cross, as many contemporary Americans sometimes do, is to forget that we are made well by suffering, by Christ’s lifelong self-offering with its crescendo at the cross and by our willing participation in his suffering. We are not raised to new life without a saving death, both Christ’s dying and our participation in Christ’s dying. The life in Christ involves Good Fridays and Holy Saturdays and we… Read more

Not the God of Traditionalists or Progressives

In Jesus Christ, God is not an abstraction, concept, or idea but a Person. The Unknowable is made known. The Invisible is made material. All mysticism is now grounded, and all agnosticism now countered, in this particular Person; there is now, paradoxically, a Measure within Measurelessness. “For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.” (Col. 2:9) “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ.” (Col. 1:19) Conversely, whatever is not revealed… Read more

Bidden or Unbidden God Is Present

Things happen when you are a pastor; almost every week presents at least one scenario that in its–what is the right word?– banality, perhaps–confronts you square in the jaw with your own inadequacy. For me, I could not do this job if I did not see this town as my parish; I consider anyone in this area my parishioner, not just the folks–dear to my heart–who worship Jesus Christ at Holy Redeemer. One of the ways you can insure that this kind… Read more

Keeping It Real: An Easter Sermon

If you were inventing a story that you wanted people in the ancient world to believe as fact, the last thing you’d want to do is start with a woman seeing someone walking around alive whom everybody already knew was dead as a doornail. Almost no one in the ancient world accepted the word of a woman as an eyewitness: not in court, not in a family dispute, not in everyday life. They were not considered reliable. Silly of the… Read more

Welcome to the Cross, American Christian

If you welcome every person from the heart, seek to love as Christ loves, to forgive all, you will end up on the cross with Jesus. If you embrace everyone—and I mean truly enter into genuine friendship (real world connection) as much as possible with all persons—then those who define themselves by their own sense of righteous difference from others will nail you to a tree. And some of them will be Christians. Count on it. When, perhaps conversely, you… Read more

God Does Not Become What God Hates

What is man that God is mindful of him? It’s a good question. Watch televised newscasts and you will find yourself asking it often. No one is more inhumane to man than man. Yet God seems almost preoccupied with man. When we have all but given up on humanity, God becomes human. Nowhere is God’s surprising disposition toward humanity made clearer than in his becoming one of us. The incarnation binds man to God and God to man, forever. Now… Read more

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