Sometimes pastors shouldn't use their imagination to embellish Scripture. There are certainly some passages that need a little nudge. The spies hiding on Rahab's roof, little David and big, giant Goliath, even Peter's magic shadow might be candidates. I remember reading Sarah Hadas's great take on Abraham from the perspective of his wife Sarah.
Perhaps, church life is running in a kyklos. The kyklos is how the Greeks viewed government -- in a cycle -- always turning in on itself as regimes are formed and dismantled, models made and then splintered. It goes round and round. Monarchy turns to despots turn to tyranny turns to oligarchy turns to democracy turns back to anarchy.
According to the Greeks liberty eats itself. That's Paul too - everything is permissible but not beneficial. There are definite ends to it, and, at the end of things, it's not pretty. It's usually not worth much at the start either, since liberty most often begins with war. For the Christian that war is within the soul, the wrestling match with God himself and his word.
"I know that many wiser and better Christians than I in these days do not like to mention Heaven and hell even in a pulpit," says Lewis (The Weight of Glory). He goes on to say that nearly all the references in the New Testament about both destinations come from Jesus himself, and, "If we do not believe them, our presence in this church is great tom-foolery. If we do, we must sometimes overcome our spiritual prudery and mention them."
It’s heavy; I don’t know if I can bear it; the whips are driving into my back; my feet are sore; beneath me the riveting rocks press in; my eyes sting from the sweat; I am hot; I am cold. “Why don’t you save yourself?” jeers someone close to me from the lynch mob that has surrounded me. Father even now forgive them.
The moon rests just the same over New Orleans and Indonesia. The gutters of Japan bucket out the last of their dead onto a radio active ocean. The tsunami heaps onto its record - a prized fighter finding punching his opponents down for count after count. Africa is baked in tyranny as children are fatherless due to years of civil war and bombs burst all over the air.
Resurrection is a subject that is central to the Christian narrative. Lewis addresses the idea of resurrection in his stories (Aslan and Eustace come to mind, for example), in his theological works, and in his letters. In this simple series of articles during Lent, I want to point out several occasions where Lewis discusses resurrection with hopes that his take on the subject might better refine ours as we head into Easter.
Shel Silverstein’s famous giving tree tale points out the gravity that bends us to the ground… to sit, to retrace our steps, to finally die. If you believe nature is cursed with death, you might likewise find aging as a standard fare, but maybe it’s not. The only difference between death and life is breathing. Nothing more.
Trace back. Cain and Abel began the dance with great flare. What follows? The drunkenness of Noah; Abram’s lack of faith; the sin of Lot’s daughters; Isaac and Rebecca playing of favorites; the neglect of Jacob for his other sons; God’s rebuke of Eli for he honored his sons above his faith; the spear that divided Saul from Jonathan…
It began in the orange grove. They were too young to realize that their curiosity had blind-alley eyes. The earth tone pickup truck melted into the turns and weaves of squatty trees that dripped its fruit. Michael’s adolescent senses naturally hunted for a solace space to take his girl. He was a hound sniffing out the chase.
The death of legend Michael Jackson fell near the legendary anniversary of the moon walk. Forty years ago the earth's skin ripped open with a rocket's red glare, bursting out to discover what the moon is made of. "Is it cheese?" asks Wallace. "Is there a man up there?" asks the nursery song. We didn't know. A whole civilization could be looking down at us this entire time, eating cheese and wondering what on earth might be going on... well... on Earth.
NPR told me that ants smell each other to communicate. A scientist observed several ants discarding one of their own dead. "How do they know?" he asked himself, and began mixing concoctions until he could fake an ant's death. He placed a smelly substance that marked out death on the back of an ant and put her inside the colony. Immediately drone soldier ants came and carried her off.