Tuesday, May 29, 2012

God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him

In our readings in John 3:1-17, we learn that curiosity is the first step in seeing things through new eyes, and confusion is the unintended consequence of curiosity. As the "patron saint" of the curious, Nicodemus attempted to use his intellect to understand what Jesus was saying. But can we blame him? What does it mean, we must be born again? How on earth can such a thing happen?
Think about it: if we are born again, then we must grow up again.  What would we do differently if we had half the chance? How would we re-edit the narrative of our lives? Jesus invited Nicodemus as he invites us, to be curious about our lives, and to view life with an altered perspective. We are challenged to conduct a retrospective on our past, and to look to the future through the eyes of redemptive possibility. How might our life be different if we were born again? How would our life be altered if we truly believed, from the beginning, that God loves us with a sacrificial love? Margaret B. Hess, Christian Century, May 14, 1997, p. 475

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Witness of the Spirit

The witness of the Spirit testifies that the mission of the Father and the Son has been completed. The cross was not some travesty. It was not a failure. It was necessary for the Word to become flesh and for the Son to be "lifted up" on the cross so as to confirm the depth of the Father's love for the world and the completion or consummation of that mission. Now the Spirit empowers us to bear witness to the world, that Son of God's love has been made real and present for all the world.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Come Holy Spirit Fill the Hearts of Thy Faithful and We Shall Renew the Face of the Earth."

Without Pentecost, the Christ-event…the life, death and resurrection of Jesus…remains imprisoned in history as just something to remember, think about and reflect upon.

However in our readings in John 15:26-27 & 16:4b-15,
in the story of Pentecost, God is revealed as a God within us, who enables us to breathe the divine life ourselves. Thus, Pentecost completes the mystery of God’s revelation as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and invites us to become fully part of the inner life of God.

By becoming not only a God-for-us and a God-with-us but also a God-within-us…Jesus points forward to the new life in the Spirit that will be revealed at Pentecost. It will be a life lived in complete truth. Closely related to the word “betrothal,” the “complete truth” means full intimacy with God, a betrothal in which the complete divine life is given to us. (Henri Nouwen)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life."

Our scheduled readings can be found by clicking on John 17:6-19

In preparation for his crucifixion and death, Jesus prays for his disciples…for us. This being the last hSunday in Easter, his prayer is very specific in that the requests are for those of us who have bonded with Him, and remain in the world.

And though these words are in the form of a prayer of intercession, because they are requests from the Word made flesh, from the Son sent from the Father, and on behalf of those who are the Father's, they have the weight and substance of Jesus' declaring his estate / his blessing - the "goods" his followers will inherit after his death. They are:

  • Jesus is honored (glorified) in us
  • We are protected so that we may be one as God and Jesus are one
  • We are guarded from ever being lost
  • Jesus' joy is made complete in us
  • God's word is given to us
  • We are protected from the evil one
  • We belong to God and not to this world
  • We are truthfully and truly set apart and sanctified
  • We receive the mandate / mission / purpose that Jesus had - we are sent into the world because God so loves the world
  • For our sakes, Jesus sanctifies himself. That is, sets himself apart / dedicates himself wholly for God's purpose of loving the world  David Ewart, www.holytextures.com.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and be my friend."

In our readings in John 15:9-17 Jesus' use of himself as the model for love, and for commandment keeping, is anchored in daily life. One imagines His encouragement: "You can do this! You can do this because I have done it, and I am here to show you how to do it."

Given the grim stereotypes often applied to Christian faith by outsiders, these words of Jesus effectively combine human action (the fulfilling of his commandments) with a radical human emotion as their effect (joy). Abiding in Jesus the risen Lord. is not a matter of grim-faced respectability or dour commandment keeping−it is a joy, a holy hilarity!

Foremost among these commandments−as His words begin to resonate more clearly – is "that you love one another, as I have loved you." Jesus speaks of "commandments" earlier, but now he speaks of only one: love one another. He extends the depths and extent of this love by saying the greatest expression of love is dying for one's friends. We are not strangers, nor merely disciples, and certainly not just servants: we are friends. The reason he calls us "friends" is that he has shared the riches of all he has with us in terms of His relationship with the Father. "I have made known to you everything."  Here Jesus' offer of the intimacy of friendship is overwhelming. To appropriate Jesus the Risen Lord is to be invited into friendship with God.
Commentary on Gospel by Susan Hedahl

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I heard it on the Grape Vine

In our discussion of the parable of the vine last night, John provides a metaphor for us to know God through each other as our lives are connected and intertwined. This present moment... every object we see... our inmost nature, are all rooted in Him. God constantly speaks to us through each other as well as from within. The interior experience of God’s presence activates our capacity to perceive Him in everything else---in people, in events, in nature. We may enjoy union with God in any experience of the external senses as well as in silent prayer. Abide in me as I abide in you

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

By Him and With Him and In Him…in the Unity of the Holy Spirit…

The vine and branches in John 15:1-8 depicts a "dwelling place" or "home" that reveals the most intimate of all relationships between the Father, Jesus, and Jesus' followers. This “abiding” with the Father, Son, and the community of believers challenges a culture that would often prefer to imagine or even to keep God at a distance. The Father “presents” the Son who in turn “presents” the Father as far from being some cosmic judge who exercises power as the preserver of morality. Because the Father has raised Jesus from the dead, this Word of God now becomes flesh among us has and has an abiding and lasting presence that continues to dwell among us. (James Boyce Professor of New Testament and Greek, Luther Seminary)