Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Preached at Christ the King Chapel, CFB Suffield, Ralston, AB, 29 April 2012

Texts for the Fourth Sunday After Easter (Year B) Acts 4:5-12, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18

16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.(1 John 3:16)

Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher was a British Royal Marine reservist serving in Afghanistan in 2008 when he did an extraordinarily selfless thing. L/Cpl Crouch literally laid down his life for his friends.

During a night operation in Helmand province, L/Cpl Croucher felt a pressure against his leg and then heard the characteristic sound of a grenade falling to the ground and arming itself. He knew immediately that he had triggered a booby trap. With seconds to react, Croucher chose, not to run, but to fall on the grenade in order to save his three comrades.

"The shrapnel would have gone off with a shotgun effect and spread, so I probably would have been hit anyway if I tried to get away. So I thought the thing to do was to get on top, I thought I didn't have much hope anyway but it might give others a chance.

The first thing I did was dive on my front, I think I had seen that once on Soldier, Soldier, but then I realised that wasn't going to work, and I twisted on my back. And then I lay there thinking how long will it be before it goes off. Then there was the loudest bang I ever heard, a flash of light and I was flying through the air."

Crouch was amazed to find himself alive and mostly unhurt, and found his comrades "very grateful". He was awarded the George Cross, one of Britain's highest awards for valour, and was praised for his "extraordinary bravery, self-sacrifice and devotion to duty".No one in the military is expected to throw themselves on a live grenade to save their comrades. It does occasionally happen, and not always with the fortunate result that L/Cpl Crouch enjoyed, but it's not expected. What is expected of soldiers is that they will understand something of the idea of self sacrifice, not just in the big, dying for one's country sense of the term, but most often in the small, everyday actions that make living through hardships with others possible.

When I was on my basic training course, I often saw small examples of self-sacrificial behaviour, such as one person helping another sort out their kit, or taking a watch for someone who was too tired or too sick, or generally just putting their own needs a distant second to the needs of others. And, to be fair, I saw the opposite. I saw people who consistently ignored the needs of others and put themselves first. We used to have a phrase for these guys, that they would be the ones to "leave you wounded on the battlefield". In a strange way, though, these guys did us a service, by showing us that a collection of selfish individuals can never function as an army. For an army to function, you need enough people who get the idea of selflessness, whether in small ways or, in rare moments, in big ways like L/Cpl Crouch.

In today's second reading, a preacher of the early church, who may very well have been the author of the Gospel of John, is trying to explain to fellow believers why they are no longer just a collection of selfish individuals, but are now part of a larger organization called the Body of Christ. As part of this organization, their job is to continue to show the resurrected Christ to the world and to be his presence in the world. This presence is what First John means when he says that "we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us" (1 John 3:24).

What deoes 1st John mean when he talks about this Spirit? First, he's talking about what the church would come to call the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity which is the gift that the resurrected Jesus gives the disciples when he appears to them in John's gospel (John 20:22), as we heard in church in the gospel for Second Easter. This Spirit, which connects the Father and the Son, also connects the faithful in communion with God the Trinity and with one another, so it is a spirit of community. Second, he's talking about the Spirit which raised Christ from the dead, so it is the Spirit of life and creative energy that comes from God, and which allows the church to share in the resurrected life and presence of Christ. Third, it is a spirit of self sacrifice, in that it allows us to get past our old lives of sin and death, and to be new creations in Christ. It's the third sense that I want to focus on for the rest of this talk.

What do I mean by a "spririt of self sacrifice"? First John says that "We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.(1 John 3:16), and we hear a similar phrase in today's gospel when Jesus says that he is "the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). So does that mean that to be a good follower of Jesus, we need to be ready to die for the sake of others? Well, yes, in part. The story of Christianity is full of people who quietly and generously gave their lives for others, though you don't have to be a Christian to act this way. The story of L/Cpl Crouch that I shared with you earlier is not a Christian story but an army story. Croucher acted for his mates, pure and simple, which is not to diminish his heroism, but simply to be real about it.

One hopes that soldiers, or anyone else for that matter, can act with total selflessness in moments of crisis, even at the cost of their lives, One hopes, but one knows that it doesn't always work that way. Not everyone is equipped for or capable of selfless altruism. Being a follower of Jesus, however, means that we don't rely on ourselves, but rather fix ourselves on the one person who was able to give himself for others, and not just for a handful of mates, but for all others. This is the point of the good shepherd language in today's gospel, because Jesus is pointing to his uniqueness, as the one person who can and who has saved us, the sheep. The distinction he makes between the good shepherd and the hired hand is about the responsibility, even the love, which God feels for us. A hired hand is just a caretaker, but a good shephered is a friend. Jesus points to this later in John's gospel when he tells the disciples that "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:13). He goes on to say (Jn 15:14) that he is no longer just their master, but is also their friend, and he goes on to lay down this expectation of them: ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12).

The story of L/Cpl Croucher is useful because it underscores the point First John is making about what happens when we live in connection with others. First John is not talking about an isolated, "me and God" kind of relationship, but of our relationship with others. In fact, he suggests that we don't really have a connection with God if we don't have a connection with others: "How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?" (1 John 3:17). Being a follower of Jesus means that we live for others more than ourselves, whether that is sacrificing our money, our time, our ego, or our physical life. It means "dying to self" as our baptismal service puts it, and living for Christ and for others in a way that fulfils what Jesus meant when he said that he came so that his followers might have life, and have it abundantly.

16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.(1 John 3:16)

I suppose one could read this text as a grim call to duty, but I suggest that we try to see it as liberating, in the sense that God's friendship frees us from the tyranny of our obligations to the self, and opens the door to new connections and relationships with others, and new places to encounter God's spirit by participating in God's friendship with the world. That seems to me to be a useful amplification of the idea of having life abundantly. And who knows but whether the grenade that looks so threatening might prove to be alive, grateful, and thanked by others?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Military Picture of the Week

From the Archives feature of the US Stars and Stripes website, this photo shows a Roman Catholic priest preparing to celebrate mass in Vietnam.

Here's the caption:
"Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, February, 1971: Helmets are removed but placed nearby for quick retrieval as Chaplain (Capt.) Albert Hartlage leads services for soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry, of the 5th Infantry Division (Mech.). The troops were taking part in Operation Dewey Canyon II."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Seen on the Morning Run

This photo was take during a breather alongside the South Saskatchewan River at Strathcona Island Park in Medicine Hat last Friday, 13 April As you can see, spring has come to the river, the ice and snow are gone, and those are actually birds in the water, who seem quite happy about the coming of spring. For those readers who don't know this part of Alberta, this gives you a sense of the river walls, or coulees, that are a distinctive part of the badlands landscape here.

Taken using the Pro HDR app on my iphone.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

We Are Thomas

A Sermon Preached on the Second Sunday of Easter
15 April, 2012, Christ the King Chapel, CFB Suffield, Ralston, AB

Lections for Year B: Acts 4:32-35, Psalm 133, 1 John 1:1-2:2, John 20:19-31

Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." (John 20:29)

You may have seen this or a similar scene in any number of action movies or shows:

It's late in the film, the rescue scene. The hero has fought past hazards, moved immovable obstacles, defeated enemies, and when he/she finally arrives, the rescuee opens their (I'm trying to make this less sexist than action movies themselves are) eyes and says in a faint voice, "I knew you'd come".

Now think about the Easter story as an action movie (which is a cool thing to do, because it is an action story, really). Jesus has defeated death (no trivial opponent), come back from the grave (no small journey) including getting pasr a giant stone, and comes to rescue his friends the disciples from grief, hopelessness, and from their despairing thoughts that God maybe cannot do wonderful things after all. He appears in the room where they are gathered.

Does anyone say "Jesus, we knew you'd come"??

Nope. Not one. Not even in a faint voice.

In the first appearance of Jesus to the disciples in today's gospel reading from John, words of faith and certainty in Jesus' return are conspicuously absent. Sure the disciples rejoice, but they are surprised. Jesus has to show them his wounds before they rejoice. All the words that Jesus said about coming back to them after death apparently washed over them and were forgotten. As David Lose writes of this scene, "No one ... anticipates Jesus return and when he shows up, everyone doubts. Everyone."

All of this preamble is to take the heat of poor Thomas, the fellow missing from the first appearance of the risen Christ, who, when he learns about it, basically says "Risen? Are you guys NUTS? I won't believe it until I see it!" And for this he is labelled for all eterninty as "Doubting Thomas" and innumberable sermons have admonished congregations to "be faithful, and don't be a doubter like Thomas". Give the guy a break.

Has anyone been so full of faith that they didn't have doubts? I've known people, even clergy, who called themselves followers of Jesus but didn't think they had to believe that he had risen from the dead. And what if you do believe, somehwere inside, that Jesus rose, but have trouble connecting with the resurrection in moments of stress, or grief, or a feeling that God is distant, or amidst a culture that can be very hostile to Christianity? Aren't we all Thomas in those moments?

So what if the message of today is that it's ok to be a Thomas, even a blessing to be a Thomas? After Thomas gets his proof, Jesus says "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe" (John 20:19).

Who are those words addressed to? The first sentence, "Have you believed because you have seen me", seems to be addressed to Thomas, but the second sentence is open ended. It is as if Jesus is speaking to everyone, to all those across the gulf of time and places from the Jerusalem of Pilate's day to our own day and time. And what is he saying? Words of blessing, certainly. "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe".

In his first appearance in today's gospel, when Jesus gives his peace to the disciples and breathes his spirit into them, he does so fully aware of their doubts and shaky faith. He knows, as he has known all along, that he is dealing with imperfect, ordinary people, and he blessed them anyway. In breathing on them, Jesus repeats the action of God in giving life to Adam in Genesis, and repeats the vision of Ezekiel, when God breathed life into the dry bones of Israel. That echo of creation suggests that the resurrection is bigger than Jesus. It suggests that resurrection is an act of recreation that Jesus wants to share with his followers.

If you are burdened by the idea that Easter is about not being a Doubting Thomas, then I encourage you to let that idea go. I don't think Easter is about having to believe in an abstract principle, that Jesus rose from the dead. I suggest instead that Easter is about God's desire to recreate his people and to breathe life into us, despite out doubts and fears.

In finishing his story, John states that he has written the story of Thomas, like many others, "so that you may come to believe". Note that John doesn't say "you must believe" but "so you may come to believe". That suggests to me a gradual process. I think faith is a process or a journey, something that we come to gradually and over time. Perhaps that is why the church observes six weeks of Easter, as a reminder that the resurrection is not a once for all event but an ongoing process.

For the rest of Easter, I will be focusing on the idea the resurrection as an ongoing process. I want to think a bit more about Jesus' last words today, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe", and how the blessing of Easter as re-creation might work in our lives.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Go Find Him: A Sermon For Easter Sunday

Preached at Christ the King Chapel, CFB Suffield, Ralston, AB, 8 April 2012.

Readings for Lectionary Year B: Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, John 20:1-18, Alternate Gospel Mark 16:1-8

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." (Mk 16:7)

1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.

For the women going to the tomb that morning in Mark's gospel, their expectations were limited. They were going to tend to the body. That was their intention. Nothing more. Jesus was dead, they knew that as fact.

What are your expectations this Easter Sunday? What were your intentions in coming here? Hold that thought, I'll come back to it.

3 They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?"

The Mary's and Salome went with a plan to anoint the body, but did not know how they were going to get at the body. They ask one another, who will roll the stone away for us? Clearly they didn't have a plan for moving the stone. Perhaps they were going to ask a passer-by for help, we simply don't know. Mark, the most laconic storyteller of the evangelists, simply mentions their lack of preparation to deal with the stone and somehow that seems very real to me. It seems true to human nature to me that the women would cling to their sense of duty, even though the rock, like the death of the man behind the rock, had crushed their hopes.

What the women find is something they could not have foreseen. The rock, which Mark, delighting in concrete facts, tells us "was very large" (Mk 16:4) has been rolled away and a young man is sitting in the tomb where the body should have been laying. Is the young man an angel? If this gospel had been Luke or Matthew, we would be told that, but Mark simply gives us one sparse detail, that he is wearing a "white robe".

What follows however is very angelic, in the sense of the original meaning of the word angel as messenger, for the young man has good news:

But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." (Mk 16:6-7)

In John's resurrection story, a traditional gospel reading for Easter Sunday, Mary actually meets the risen Christ in the garden by the tomb. Here, we have to settle for the messenger's saying that Jesus has gone ahead of his friends and followers. Go tell the disciples, the young man says, and then go find Jesus. He's waiting for you, just like he said he would be (Jesus tells the disciples in Mark's account of the Last Supper that "after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee" (Mk 14:28).

Much has been written about Mark's abrupt ending, with the women fleeing the tomb in fear and telling no one, and much has been written about the final lines of Mark (16:9-20) which almost everyone things is a subsequent addition by someone who was dissatisfied with Mark's lack of resolution to the story. We could talk about these endings, but let's talk about something more interesting. Let's talk about you and why you are here today.

I asked you earlier to think about the expectations that led you here today.

Perhaps you came here because of you devotion to Jesus, and your desire to follow him. That is wonderful if you did, for that call to follow him is one that Jesus gives to all of us in our turn.

Perhaps you came here out of a sense of religious obligation. Again, that's wonderful if you did come for this reason, because a great many couldn't be bothered, and religious obligation was why the women came to the tomb to do the ceremonial annointing.

Perhaps you came here out of a sense of hoplessness. Perhaps there is something in your life that is equivalent to death, or something that is styming you as certainly as the great rock keeps the women out of tomb, and like the women, you have no idea how to move it? If so, then the good news of the gospel is indeed for you.

Whatever our reason for coming here today, the good news of Christ's resurrection impacts us all.

If you came here because of your devotion to Jesus, then the words of the messenger to go into the world and tell others about his resurrection are especially relevant. The resurrection is a gift, a wonderful surprise that you can bring to others through your life, through your words, and through your relationships with others.

If you came here because of a sense of religious obligation, then the words of the messenger about Jesus not being here may apply particularly to you. Just as the women left with their obligatory annointing undone and forgotten, you may be called to set aside your ideas of religion and obligation. You are challenged instead to follow a living, surprising God who is somewhere out there in the intersection of your life and the real world. Go find him.

If you came here out of a sense of hopelessness, if you came here burdened and mourning, then the messenge that Jesus, "who was crucified ...has been raised" is especially for you. Someone rolled back that rock. Someone raised Jesus from the dead. Someone isn't going to stop there. That someone is the loving and creating God whose love and re-creation await you. Will you go look for him?

At the end of Mark's gospel, as I said, the women flee the tomb in fearful silence. Two thousand years later, we do not flee this church. We go instead to a time of sharing, freindship and of course, because it's church, food. But the same risen Christ is out there waiting for us. He remains faithful to his promise to go ahead of us. The same words of the messenger apply to us.

Don't be afraid.

Go find him.

Tell others.

For the Lord is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Military Picture of the Week

Don't look too long at this milpic if you are bothered by heights.

Members of the U.S. Army Parachute Team -- Sgt. 1st Class John Berentis, from Yuma, Arizona and Staff Sgt. Laura Dickmeyer, from Abilene, Texas -- assess the wind conditions prior to their pre-game jump into FedEx field for the Army vs. Navy game on Dec. 10. Last year was the first time in the game's 120-year history that the teams have played within the Capitol beltway.

This is from a series on the Foreign Policy website, the best US Combat Camera images of 2011.

Remembering Richard of Chichester

I was reminded today in my morning devotions that today is the feast of Richard of Chichester (1197-1253), and since I have a fondness for medieval saints, here is a post for St. Richard.

Richard of Wyche was a scholar and student of canon law. He was elected to be Bishop of the Diocese of Chicester in 1244 but the election did not have the approval of King Henry III and so Richard had to live on the charity of his priests and people for over a year. For All The Saints, a publication of the Anglican Church of Canada, relates that during that time "[Richard] learned how ordinary folk loived and what their problems were, and he walked with beggard and outlaws. When he finally gained legal jurisdiction over his diocese he initiated a wide range or reforms, all designed to bring the ministry of the Church closer to the people" (p. 136).

Richard is best known for writing a famous prayer, which became "Day by Day" from the musical Godspell:

"Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly and follow thee more nearly, day by day."

If you only pray once this holy week, this would be a pretty good choice, methinks.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Hidden Costs Of Drone Warfare

A French Air Force drone is released in Afghanistan in 2009: unmanned drones and cyberwarfare are set to be growth industries. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
Drone warfare is something Mad Padre has been tracking for a while, particularly the ethical temptations and implications of this kind of war. The proliferating use of drones allows western powers to exploit their technological impacts and minimize their exposure to human risk and casualties, which reduces the political risk of war.

Yesterday in the Guardian, John Naughton has a blurry encounter with Heidegger on technology, and draws the rather general conclusion that "technology is, in essence, a way of organising the world so that one doesn't have to experience it". Drones certainly make it easy for voters not to experience war. More specifically, he quotes Ross Anderson, who, I think, pinpoints the ethical concern here, namely that "politicians are obligated to explain, at regular intervals, why a military action requires the blood of a nation's young people. Wars waged by machines might not encounter much scepticism in the public sphere."

IN a related story, NPR's Rachel Martin notes that while the US Air Force is training more drone pilots than bomber and fighter pilots combined (a rather staggering fact in itself), 29% are considered burned out and 17% are considered clinically distressed.

"The particular nature of drone warfare is also a contributor to the higher stress levels. While the number is very small, officials who conducted the study said they did encounter a handful of pilots who suffered symptoms of PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder — directly linked to their experience running combat operations. Unlike traditional pilots flying manned aircraft in a war zone, the pilots operating remote drones often stare at the same piece of ground in Afghanistan or Iraq for days, sometimes months. They watch someone's pattern of life, see people with their families, and then they can be ordered to shoot."

Turns out that drone pilots, sometimes derided in the military as joystick cowboys who can commute home from war at the end of every shift, are not immune to the "existensial crisis" of war.

This second story seems a small icon for contemporary warfare, in that a small number of professional soldiers carry the burden of war and its costs, while the public is mostly oblivious and governments can employ deadly force with near impunity.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palms and Crosses: A Sermon for Passion Sunday

Preached at Christ the King Chapel, CFB Suffield, Ralston, AB, 1 April, 2012

Lections for the Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday, Year B
Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Mark 14:1-15:47

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
(Phil 2:5-7)

Let's say you had a powerful friend, someone in high places. What would you expect of that person? I think it would be human nature to expect that in some way, this friend would make your life better. Perhaps an introduction to celebrities, or access to some prestigious place. Perhaps political or business opportunities, the chance to make money or connections. It must be human nature, because most of our political scandals revolve around someone in high office doing inappropriate favors for their friends and cronies. One of our discontents with power and politicians is what we call influence peddling, the belief that the system favors those who know friends on the inside, those with money and prestige.

Would it be any relief to the cynical to know that this is nothing new? Earlier in Mark's gospel, when some of Jesus' inner circle are beginning to figure out that he is someone special, the jockeying begins to get close to the guy with the influence. James and John ask Jesus, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ (Mk 10:37). One could read this quite piously and say that James and John wanted to piously bask in Jesus' divine glory, but I don't think anyone in Mark's gospel, prior to his death, really understands what Jesus is all about. Jesus rather gently chastises them, warning them that they have no idea what they are asking, since they have no idea where he is going or what he must do.

Then Jesus says something that challenges the basic assumptions of James and John and pretty much of everyone else who has ever lived and who thinks they understand how the world works.

‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

This is the language, not of the conquering Son od David hoped for by his people, but of the suffering servant promised by Isaiah, It is the language, not of someone who's going into town to confront the powers and overthrow Pilate, but of one who is going to spend his last night with his friends, washing their feet as if he was a slave. It is language spoken from a cross, and not from a throne.

The little emblem that you are given today captures the contrast between how the world works and how God works. As a palm leaf, it reminds us of the branches cut by the crowds and strewn before him as Jesus entered Jerusalem like a hero (Mk 118, Mt 21:8). In this context the palm stands for power and prestige, as a symbol of how the world works.

Folded into a cross, however, the palm dashes the expectations of triumph and power and points us to the cross, the place of painful shame and death. Ironically, it is the place where Jesus' true identity is shown most clearly. In all of Mark's gospel, as we have been tracking it thus far through the church year, it is often said that no one really gets who Jesus is. Only at the very end, at the foot of the cross, does one man, a Roman officer, figure it out. The centurion says "Truly this man was God's Son!" It takes a Gentile, someone not one of God's chosen people, someone who upholds the order of brutal power and authoritarian violence in the world of his day, to see who God is and how God operates.

In our second lesson from Phlippians, we heard the Apostle Paul trying to explain what happens at the cross:

5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross.

What Paul sensed when he wrote this was something of the mysterious and wonderful character of God. God the creator, whose might and wrathful justice was warned of by Jeremiah and the other prophets of Israel, now reveals more of himself in an act of self-empting love. God shows himself profoundly indifferent, even contemptuous, of the powers and heiracrchies of the world. In going to the cross, even though he knew its cost and feared it, as we see in Gethsemane, Jesus shows us a new road to follow and a new way of being. God does not about our connections, our influence, our ability to get things done behind the scenes. There is only one heirarchy in this new kingdom, and that is of God's son, who "is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2:11).

In taking this little cross home, you have a reminder that you have the best friend to have in high places. The cross is the ultimate symbol of influence, the reminder that we are both servants and adopted children of God and of his Son. No one else has that kind of influence.

Realizing this new order is the first step for followers of Jesus. All the other steps flow from this recognition, which Paul calls having the "mind" of Christ. The preacher Elizabeth Johnson puts this better than I can when she offers some thoughts on what having the mind of Christ means.

Does our life together reflect "the same mind that was in Christ Jesus"? Are we looking to the interests of others rather than our own interests? Are humility and servant hood evident among us?

Having the mind of Christ ought to shape not only the internal life of a congregation, but its relationship with its community and the world. While some may mourn the passing of "Christendom" and the waning influence of the church in society, Paul calls us to relinquish our grasping for worldly power and embrace the role of servant. Power struggles and pining for glory do not honor the name of Jesus. Rather, by following Jesus in identifying with the lowly and giving ourselves away in humble service to a suffering world, we honor "the name that is above every name."

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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