Much like Christmas, Easter tends to be one of those things that we do and move on with our lives. The only difference is that you don’t find a lot of people walking around wishing that we would live every day like it’s Easter. We love the Christmas spirit, the idea of peace on earth, and exchanging gifts. We want every day to be Christmas. Easter doesn’t get the same kind of sentiments. Maybe because it is seen by many as more a specifically Christian holiday, but still Easter just isn’t as big as Christmas. I’m sure some of you do wish that every day was Easter, but the vast majority of our culture has already moved on from Easter even though it was the beginning of this week. Continue reading
My heart is heavy and my spirit is weary. There’s so much happening in the world right now. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year, but it doesn’t feel wonderful. The countdown to Christmas is on, but it also feels like in many ways that the world itself is falling apart.
In our culture submission is a dirty word. We fight for our rights and our freedom. We don’t want anyone to be over us. The problem is the life of a disciple is a life of submission. It is a choice to submit first to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and second to live in humble submission to other brothers and sisters in Christ. Lent is a perfect time in the liturgical calendar to reflect on the practice of submission because it was so perfectly exemplified by the one who has every right not to submit, Jesus Christ. I was given the opportunity to reflect on the practice of submission and Lent over at Restoring Pangea. I invite you to head over and read my post Submission – Realizing that I am Philemon.
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 
The 2014 Winter Olympic Games began on February 7th and they ended on February 23rd. By the end of the month Russia, the host of the Olympic games, had invaded Ukraine. The Olympics have become widely seen as a picture of peace on earth. Instead of wars, countries send their best athletes to compete in friendly athletic events. In a strange turn of events, Russia went from hosting the Olympic games as a symbol of peace and good will to invading another country in a show of force. Continue reading
Come Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart
Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne 1
It’s probably a bit strange that I would say I am waiting on redemption because I have already been redeemed. When Jesus came, he saved us. His life, death, burial, and resurrection have released us from the power of sin and death. I have been forgiven. James Bryan Smith writes about this in his book The Good and Beautiful God. He says that as Christians we are in Christ. This means that, “Christians are not merely sinners but a new species: persons indwelt by Jesus, possessing the same eternal life that he has. The New Testament is unambiguous on this issue. Several Bible passages affirm this.” 2
Smith goes on, however, to talk about how while sin no longer reigns over us, it still remains. This is the reality that we live in now. Sin has no power over us anymore, but it still exists in this world. This is why I am waiting for redemption. At the heart of all that is broken in this world is the power and presence of sin. We live in a world broken an marred by sin. Sin causes violence, hatred, division, and suffering. When Jesus returns, this will all change. The world will be restored, people will be reconciled, and we will be redeemed. In the words of Andrew Peterson, “The world was good, the world is fallen, the world will be redeemed.” 3
As Christmas quickly approaches, we celebrate the one who came to save us and who will come to make all things new in the end. Together we wait for our savior to return. While we wait let us be about the work of reconciling, restoring, and proclaiming the redemption that he has given us.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come
among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and
the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.4
1. From Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus 2. James Bryan Smith. The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2009), 154. 3. “All Things New,” Andrew Peterson, Resurrection Letters Volume 2 (Centricity Music, 2010). 4. From the Book of Common Prayer: http://www.bcponline.org/Collects/seasonsc.html#advent
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.1
The world is broken, and in my last post I wrote about the broken relationship between people. When we look at scripture, however, we also see that the earth itself is damaged. In Genesis 3, the ground was cursed and began to produce thorns and thistles. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that all of creation is waiting for redemption and to be restored at the return of Christ.
In the beginning, God made all things good. All of creation was good. When we sinned, all of creation fell under the curse of sin and death. When Jesus came into the world not only did he bring hope to humanity, but to also to creation itself. Paul calls Jesus the second Adam. He is the firstborn of the new creation, his return will not only bring about the restoration of humanity, but all of Creation. Revelation 21 and 22 gives a picture of a world that has been made new. Jesus says in chapter 21 that he is making all things new, and chapter 22 tells us that there will be no more curse.
The world is a beautiful and wonderful place. I haven’t travel outside of North America, but I’ve been enough places to know that this world still is beautiful. I’ve seen the beauty of the ocean in California, Maine, and Florida. I’ve seen the beauty of the mountains in Colorado and the beauty of the plains in the midwest. This world that God created is amazing, and I am waiting on the restoration of all things. If our world is this beautiful under the curse, I cannot even imagine how beautiful it will be when Jesus makes all things new again.
In the meantime, we need to be a people of restoration. Restoration began with the first coming of Jesus. He loosened the grip of the curse on this world. When we choose to follow Jesus we become new creations. We live to help bring about the reconciliation and restoration that Jesus’ second coming will complete. Jesus is already king, he is at work reconciling, and, as he says in Revelation, he is making all things new.
O King of nations, your reign spreads through all the lands,
you defend the cause of the poor and plead for the wretched of the earth.
Fashion us into an obedient people, that we may spread the good news
of your reign of perfect peace and justice, until all creation will finally rejoice in your perfect will,
until all bend the knee to the King of kings and Lord of lords,
in whose name we pray, even Jesus Christ, your Son and our Savior. Amen. 2
The world is a profoundly broken place. In recent months this fact has become evident that there is a need for racial reconciliation in our country. It doesn’t matter what side of the story that you are on, if you are listening you can hear the cries of injustice that this country does not always protect the lives of minorities.
Over the past year, I have read and listened books and watched movies and documentaries that haven enlightened me and broken my heart over the racial injustices of country. I like most thought I lived in a country where racism is primarily a thing of the past and those who are racist fall into a very small minority. What I have come to realize is I live in a country that favors me because of the color of my skin and I have done little to speak the truth of the Gospel into the broken society in which we live. Continue reading
This week begins a four week season in the life of the church known as Advent. Advent comes to us from the Latin and simply means coming. The season of Advent is a time when we await of the coming of Christ. Since this is the season leading up to Christmas, we are commemorating the time of waiting for Jesus’ first coming which we celebrate at Christmas. In the Lectionary readings for this time of year the Old Testament readings tell of the coming Messiah.
That’s not the only coming of Christ that we await during advent, however. We are waiting for the second coming of Christ as well. The New Testament readings in the Lectionary all speak of the future return of Christ. Continue reading
In light of my recent post on Christian leadership, I decided that today is an appropriate day to again reflect on the how the church behaves differently than the world. On the church’s calendar, today is Maundy Thursday. This day derives its name from the Latin word that is the root of our word mandate. It’s called this because of Jesus’ words in John, “a new command I give to you” or a new “mandate.” This mandate comes after his washing of the disciples feet. Jesus is displaying that his style of leadership is built on love and service, not on power. With this “new mandate,” Jesus instructs his disciples to do the same to one another and then says that this is how the world will know that they are his disciples, by their love (John 13:34-35). Continue reading