The John

Because of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek to do you good.  Psalm 122:9

December 27th is the Feast of St. John.  There’s plenty of scholarly publish-or-perish paper to peruse about whether John the Apostle, John the writer of the fourth Gospel, John the source of three letters to the Church (or heck, let’s argue about whether different people wrote all three!) and John the recipient of the Revelation (yes, THE Revelation TO John, NOT Revelations of John) are the same dude.

As to so much of the institutionally bulky but spiritually puny church, we might say Whatev and just feast on the Good News associated with John’s name.  It is so appropriate that his Feast falls during the 12 Days of Christmas, because where Matthew and Luke bless us with the details of Jesus’ birth, it is John who gives us the full import of the event in the Prologue of his Gospel,

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

That’s the meaning of Christmas, missed by the many who skip the First Sunday After Christmas, when John 1:1-18 is the appointed Gospel (except this year, when January 1 falls on the Sunday and the Holy Name of Jesus is celebrated).  That’s The Incarnation, the establishment of the new and truest house of the Lord in the body and blood of the Christ.

John’s magnificent synthesis of Semitic prophecy with Hellenic philosophy doesn’t just float in the clouds, but walks the earth.  Because Jesus is the true house of the Lord, there is good to be done.  The same Gospel of a preexisting, divine Word calls for an on-the-ground, human application,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (Jesus, quoted in John 13:34-35)

Throw in the three letters attributed to John and the Revelation, and the name of the beloved disciple presents a Christianity that is at once spiritual, intellectual, mystical and behavioral; steeped in past prophecy and itself prophetic of things to come.

One of my favorite passages in John is his remembrance of Jesus’ patient effort to get the truth across.  Those of us who preach and/or write  can find some comfort in the fact that the message is not easy to convey; even our Lord had to try and try again,

“A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…”  (John 10:5-7, and when that “illustration” doesn’t seem to work he tries again with “I am the good shepherd.”)

May we come to know the fullness of God in Jesus and, because we do, love one another in this life and together enter the life to come.

The Collect for this day in the Book of Common Prayer sums it up well,

Shed upon your Church, O Lord, the brightness of your light,
that we, being illumined by the teaching of your apostle and
evangelist John, may so walk in the light of your truth, that
at length we may attain to the fullness of eternal life; through
Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Advertisements

What a dump.

“Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a
mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen.”
 
The Collect for this 4th Sunday of Advent made me pause and realize what a broken down place I offer to the Lord.
 
I don’t mean my physical self, aging and decrepit as that is, because “though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.”
 
No, I mean that inner nature, which is under renewal but has such a lot of maintenance needed. Structural stuff, not just a new coat of paint.
 
I’m grateful he’s OK with being born in animal pens and such.

A Shift in Journalists’ Awareness?

“…the secular understanding of reason, that being reason divorced from faith, is not sufficient for engaging with non-secular cultures. It actually works against a true multiculturalism and dialogue between peoples. In a country such as the United States, this creates a split personality; we are a country incapable of dialoguing with its self.”

the theological beard

In a recent interview, Dean Baquet, The New York Times’ executive editor, admitted that media powerhouses including himself and other journalists at the New York Times do not understand religion and the role it plays in people’s lives.

I want to make sure that we are much more creative about beats out in the country so that we understand that anger and disconnectedness that people feel. And I think I use religion as an example because I was raised Catholic in New Orleans. I think that the New York-based and Washington-based too probably, media powerhouses don’t quite get religion. We have a fabulous religion writer, but she’s all alone. We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives. And I think we can do much, much better. And I think there are things that we can be more creative about to understand the country.

View original post 277 more words

Coming into focus

This is embarrassing to admit, but until I read it at Morning Prayer today I’d not noticed the revelation of the Trinity lurking in Isaiah 9:6,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever… John 14:16

Mighty God For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God… Deuteronomy 10:17,

Everlasting Father Pray then like this:“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”  Matthew 6:9,

Prince of Peace But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace… Ephesians 2:13-14

trinity-cross
Trinitarian Cross, carved in fish bone.  Photo by the Rev. Kenneth Tanner

 

The reconciling of our human life to the eternal, creative love that is one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, was foretold by the Prophets, born of the Virgin Mary, won on the Cross, first harvested at Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, given to us to proclaim at Pentecost, and awaiting each of us in our death and all of us in the return of the Prince of Peace.

 

Death calls for action, not platitudes

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)

“Therefore encourage one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18). The preceding verses (4:11-17) about the return of Christ, entry into eternal life and reunion with those who have died in the past can be dismissed as a myth created to cushion grief.

calvary-008
Bishop William Hobart Hare’s body awaits Christ’s return. Calvary Cathedral, Sioux Falls

Except that the words “encourage one another,” in Greek, mean something like “come alongside one another to encourage, advocate, counsel and comfort.” They are not pious words to create an emotional band aid, but the recognition that loss and grief are real, should not be borne without help, and are an injury to the soul requiring the spiritual equivalent of physical therapy after major surgery.

The verse is not saying, “There, there. So and so is in heaven. So get over it and have closure.” It is saying, “We are all suffering horribly under the power of sin and death. Let’s help one another keep going toward the hope that is in Jesus.”

It isn’t just comfort, it is a call to hard work with a promise of great reward.