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Jesus said we are all gods?

Jesus said we are all gods?

One of the distinctives of the christian religion is the belief that Jesus was divine, the son of God, the second person of the Trinity. There's a big difference between him and us, and we can never become divine like him. So what's Jesus doing apparently saying ordinary people are gods?
Let the Dead Bury the Dead

Let the Dead Bury the Dead

I came to the church meeting distraught by all the negative, hateful messages that had consumed me from following too many political commentaries on social media. Those of us gathered around tables chatted away while waiting for the meeting to begin. As I ranted and raved about the political mess in which our country is embroiled, a brother beside me looked me in the eyes and said: “Let the dead bury the dead.”

This really caught me up short. I immediately knew what he meant. The verse he quoted comes from Luke 9: 60, and follows with the exhortation: “go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

The political scene as it is playing out in US America has distracted me far too much. Hearing and reading the discussions of others, I can safely assume that we are all too distracted. Our business as Christians is to get on with Jesus’ Kingdom work, proclaiming the Good News. Jesus gave us the formula for this proclamation in his inauguration address in Luke 4: 18-19:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

During the same weekend of the church meetings, I listened to a podcast of an interview of Xavier Le Pichon by Krista Tippett on her radio show “Onbeing”. Dr. Pichon is a world-renowned geophysicist and a devout Christian. After discovering that the continents are dynamic and moving instead of being static, Dr. Pichon was at the top of his career as a scientist. However, in his middle thirties, he became disenchanted by how his work consumed him, and how he was “not seeing people in difficulty and suffering,” To alleviate what he called his “spiritual crisis,” he went Calcutta, India, to work with Mother Teresa for six weeks. From this experience, he ended up working for a community of  L’Archefor three decades; a community that works with severely handicapped people.

Dr. Pichon went from being a world-renowned scientist to cleaning the diapers of people who for the most part have been pushed out of view to the margins of society. He left the comfort of his cushy job and fame to serve “the least of these.” He is a model of one who “let the dead bury the dead,” to carry out Jesus’ mission to “bring Good News to the poor.” He is proclaiming God’s Kingdom and making God’s Kingdom “come on earth as it is in heaven.”

It seems to me that we would be a lot less stressed during these anxious times if we would be about the work of God’s Kingdom, instead of trying to solve everything through allegiance to a false empire.

During the interview, Dr. Pichon stated that he spends one-two hours in prayer every day. This is what sustains him to continue to work with the challenges of the severely handicapped. This is also part of Kingdom work. If I spent as much time in prayer as I do on social media, I’m sure my anxiety about the political mess would abate significantly.

Let the dead bury the dead, and go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Virginia Mennonites file complaint against pastor Duane Yoder

Virginia Mennonites file complaint against pastor Duane Yoder

  Eight members of Virginia Mennonite Conference have filed an official complaint with the conference asking that pastor Duane Yoder’s credentials be put under review for breaches of trust. A letter distributed to the Lindale Mennonite Congregation on March 22, 2016, revealed that Duane Yoder withheld from his congregation for more than a year and a half a report by Lauren Shifflett of her sexual abuse at the hands of Luke Hartman, who at that time was serving as vice president of Eastern Mennonite University. The letter states, “Someone from our congregation contacted SNAP about an abusive relationship [involving Luke Hartman] that was brought to our attention in August 2014.” At the time, Hartman was known to be a close friend and ministerial colleague of Yoder’s. Hartman first met Shifflett when he served as a youth Sunday School teacher at Lindale while Duane was pastor. She was 15 years of age, Hartman was some 20 years her senior and married with children. The published accounts by Shifflett and her sister Marissa Buck, include a detailed report of grooming, sexual abuse, stalking and threats of violence by Hartman.

Season After Pentecost: The Epistles Passage – Paul’s “tender” side

Season After Pentecost: The Epistles Passage – Paul’s “tender” side

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7) It is interesting to read the epistles and try to figure out if they were living according to […]
Suffering: A Test Of Theological Method – A Review

Suffering: A Test Of Theological Method – A Review

Arthur C. McGill was a brilliant man who is unfortunately barely known in mainstream “progressive” post-Evangelical circles. His name is probably less known than that of William Stringfellow, which, unfortunately, is also not a common name thrown around these days. McGill was a theologian writing most prolifically in the 1960s and 1970s.
It Hurts When You Kick Against the Goads

It Hurts When You Kick Against the Goads

The following is excerpted from a sermon delivered by Rev. John Edgar at UM Church for All People on May 10, 2016 (the Sunday immediately following the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas police shooting). His sermon was based on Acts 26:12-18:

The risen Christ confronted Saul on the road to Damascus, asking Saul, Saul, “Why are you persecuting me?  It hurts you to kick against the goads.”  There is a whole lot going on in this statement, worthy of our careful consideration.

Jesus asked Saul why he was persecuting Jesus and immediately added that Saul’s effort to persecute Jesus actually hurt Saul, not Jesus. These vindictive deeds hurt Saul because in so doing Saul was kicking against the goads.

In Biblical times a goad was a pole with a sharpened iron spear like point that was used to prod oxen to move in the desired direction, especially when oxen were being used to plow a farmer’s field. Over time the ox learned to move in the direction that it was being prodded. Whenever, the ox in frustration kicked back against the prick of the goad, the force of the kick actually forced the point of the goad deep into the hide and flesh of the animal, magnifying greatly the pain from this self-inflicted wound.

The risen Christ was warning Saul that his efforts to hunt down and punish the early Christians was contrary to God’s plan. Saul was not only failing to go where the Holy Spirit was prodding, but Saul just like a stubborn ox, was actually kicking back against the goad, and that was the source of the pain he was now experiencing. Jesus intervened on the road not only to protect the Christians Saul was persecuting, but the risen Lord was determined to save Saul from himself.

The situation improved for Saul at the moment he listened to risen Christ and obeyed. He stopped kicking and began to move onto the path Christ had selected for him. The pain stopped and the joy in the Lord began to carry him forward.

We like Saul are prone to ignore divine intentions, because we are so preoccupied with our own desires. We pursue what we want and we fail to heed the signs or the warnings that the Spirit raises before us. When God begins to take more and more forceful action to bring us back to Christ’s path, we foolishly tend to kick back, rather than turn around.

This is especially urgent for our nation right now amid such deep racial divisions. So many horrible acts of violence. Sterling Alton. Philando Castile. The five police officers in Dallas. In the wake of the violence, we as a nation are drawn towards the temptations of escalating fear, deepening prejudice, and repeating attacks.

Furthermore this downward spiral is not coincidental.  It is in so many ways self-inflicted consequences of racial hate and discrimination.  What we experienced this past week is the direct result of 400 years of kicking against the goads.

First slaves brought to America in 1619, a year before the Mayflower landed filled with pilgrims. Then 250 years of legalized slavery. Then another 100 years of Jim Crow laws and ‘separate but equal’ that was never equal. And in the past 50 years since the height of the Civil Rights movement, racial and economic inequality have continued to spread creating ever deepening divides between people based on the color of our skins and first languages that we speak.

We are a nation of stubborn oxen.

We keep kicking back against the goads. Producing ever worsening wounds. More prejudice, more fear, more violence. And there is no end in sight, as long as we remain determined to keep going in the current direction.

We have to make a complete change. Admit that the entire situation has become unmanageable, how our country deals with race and inequality is out of control. Believe in a power greater than ourselves. Then, like Saul, turn ourselves over to Christ and let Him take control leading us in new directions.
It is never too late to turn around and begin doing the right things.  After all, a saint is just a sinner who fell down and got back up again.

It is not surprising that much of the wise guidance that is most important for us in overcoming the racial divides is found the teachings of this same apostle Paul who Jesus lifted back up again and set on a new path. For it is Paul who explained that we cannot overcome evil with more evil.  Instead we overcome evil with good. Paul also revealed every congregation is the body of Christ, but what kind of body would we be if we had only hand with no feet.  The church today as in all times is at its best, truly incarnating Christ when it is fully inclusive.

Comparing images from the 1960s and today
Click to Enlarge
Yes, Paul was right our mission now as 2,000 years ago is for the church to lead the nation in building up one another in the love of Christ, resisting in every circumstance the temptation to tear down. When we stop kicking against the goads, as we get back up and follow these time tested directions we become Christ’s answer for how we turn around a stubborn nation of oxen.

It can happen even after 400 years self-inflicted wounds of racial hatred and discrimination. In fact it will happen as you and I inspired others by our example to get back up again, join hands and go in direction of Christ’s own love.

Hear the good news, the same loving Jesus who confronted Saul on that road to Damascus is here this morning eager to turn you around.

How much do you have in common with Saul on the road to Damascus? Where are you persecuting Jesus by doing what is harmful to yourself or others? How often, just last week were you kicking against the goads?

Surely, now is the ideal time to stop fighting against God, and instead just allow Jesus to nudge you back onto His path. When we let go of our stubborn ways and let God take control there is no limit to how much better life becomes.

So let’s start today.
We Can Do Better: how my report of rape at a Christian school made things worse

We Can Do Better: how my report of rape at a Christian school made things worse

This post has been a long time coming, not that I haven’t written about it or spoken about it before, but I’ve never written about it or spoken about it in this depth, to this wide of an audience. As more comes to light about Eastern Mennonite University’s response to the issues concerning Luke Hartman, particularly from survivor Lauren Shifflett, I feel like I have to offer my voice and my story. This story does not include Luke Hartman but it does involve EMU’s failure to appropriately respond to a student’s report of sexual assault. That student is me and this is my story. I echo much of what Lauren said in the beginning of her story—this is just a part of me, a part of my life; it is not all of me. There is so much to say so let’s just start at the beginning. I began my freshman year at Eastern Mennonite University in August 2007. It was a hard adjustment. I dealt with depression for as long as I could remember, scraping my forehead with the metal, eraserless end of my pencil in elementary school when I didn’t get a perfect grade.

We Didn’t Keep Score (#SmallWonder Link-up)

We Didn’t Keep Score (#SmallWonder Link-up)

The thought never would have occurred to me.  

The teen behind the cash register at the local Sport’s Emporium asked, “Are you going to keep score or not?” and I said, “Yes.”  This was after we picked our ball colors, before we chose our clubs. 

“Western theme or Castle?” she asked.

“Castle,” I said, which is what we’d agreed on, although I knew my eight-year-old son was awful curious about the Western course.  She reached into a bin and handed me a piece of card stock folded with a sharpened golf pencil tucked inside.  Between the folds were tidy squares for keeping score and the par expectations for each hole. 

Leaving behind the video games, laser tag and AC, we set out across a concrete wasteland toward the putt-putt courses.  Alone with our older two kids for the night, we were happy to be doing something that would’ve been impossible with two four year olds in tow.  Sophia and Solomon loped along, their spindly legs flashing new sneakers, hers a neon sherbet and his navy blue. 

We were sweating already and yawning in the early evening light, but strategically placed waterfalls and a breeze pulled us up the hill toward hole #1.  The cashier had planted a seed in my mind and so I asked my husband, “Do we want to keep score?”  

“Do you guys want to keep score?” John asked the kids. 

“No,” they called back over their shoulders.  So we didn’t.  The tidy little pencil and its accompanying card stayed buried in my bag.  It was a good thing, because right off the bat at hole #1, Sophia’s sent her ball flying directly into the water.  We laughed and, noting how hot it was and how far away replacement balls were located, fished the ball out of the water.

“Can I try again?” she asked.  Of course. 

And so it went.  Two gawky kids in new sneakers and two almost forty parents spinning along through 18 holes of minor mishaps and triumphs.  We took turns, mostly, and refrained from “walking the ball” when a shot proved too tough, mostly.  Solomon consistently sent other people’s balls flying with inadvertent taps from his big, new shoes.  He tripped over his own club at least twice and, around hole #10, sent his own ball arcing though the air into the water.  We all gave-up at one point or another and then, at the next hole, got back into the game again.

We had fun, which was the point.

Around hole #15 it dawned on me that perhaps, because we weren’t keeping score, we weren’t really trying.  Then I got a little tense and tried to focus on the shot at hand.  It didn’t seem to make a difference.  

I realized then that I was trying, only my effort was turned in a different direction – away from perfection and accomplishment, toward fun and enjoyment.  As far as I know, there isn’t a score card for that.  

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Only 10 spaces left!  I'm super excited to be joining with Andi Cumbo-Floyd and Shawn Smucker to organize a weekend writer's retreat this summer at God's Whisper Farm in the beautiful mountains of Virginia.  Visit Andi's website for more info!

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.  

What if we chose to deliberately look for small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God?  

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.   

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