Friday, May 28, 2010

Sing to the Lord a new song

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Visible Signs

May our lives be a visible sign of the kingdom to come.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Psalm 131: Like a weaned child

There are times in our life when God must wean us off of something. We become attached to one thing or another, and God says to our spirit, "Seek only me." We may fuss like a child and feel that God is not loving us, but in fact God is loving us more. These are times to calm and quiet our souls and learn to trust God at even deeper levels.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Moses, Moses

This is a song for children. I wanted to tell the life of Moses from the viewpoint of his mother placing Moses in the river. What faith she had! Did she know that he would one day be a great prophet? I want this to be a view of Moses that children can relate to. Can we trust the little baskets that we are placed in? Can we trust that we too are called to be prophets of the Most High? We are called to speak the true Name into our world wherever our little basket takes us.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Love that binds the church

As I meditate on 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, I am struck with a startling realization. Paul is writing about more than interpersonal love. He is writing about the transpersonal love that knits the whole Body of Christ together.This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Love is a particular charism, gift for the edification of the Church. And love is the end state for the Church. Paul is calling the Church to wholeness and maturity.

The first three verses speak of factions that pursue specialized spiritualities. One group specializes in speaking in tongues, but they lack love for the whole Body of Christ. Instead they go off and do their own thing. Another group is captivated by prophetic powers. They specialize in penetrating mysteries and having all knowledge. They cultivate a powerful, supernatural faith, but they lack in love for the whole Body of Christ. So they go off and do their own thing. Yet another group specializes in asceticism. They give away all their possessions and pursue a life of martyrdom. But they too lack in love for the whole Body of Christ. They go off and do their own thing.

Groups like this may possess an "advanced spirituality" but they are blind to the work of the Holy Spirit to bind together in love the whole Church. These are partial spiritualities. They do not grasp the whole, the complete. "For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end." (Verses 9-10). Paul also likens this to maturity. "When I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways." (Verse 11) Prophecy, tongues, spiritual knowledge, and other gifts will in this way come to an end. They are not to be ends in themselves. Rather love is the end. Love is the completion.

This is transpersonal love. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not merely the love that humans can share one person with another, but it is the calling of the Holy Spirit. It is a working that is within, between and all around us. It calls us out of ourselves, out of our narrow communities; it calls us into deep communion with the whole Body of Christ.

And we wait for this this unfolding to happen. Love is the new covenant that is written on our hearts. We wait for Christ, the Messiah, to be revealed in the world. "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." (Verse 12). All we can see for now is ourselves, our own affections, needs and wants, but we will come to see face to face. We will know who we are even as we come to know whose we are.

Paul invites us to catch a glimpse of glory to be revealed in Christ, in us, in the Body of Christ. This is our faith, hope, and love. Love is the way, and love is the end. Let us submit to the work of the Holy Spirit and surrender to the the love of Christ.

"And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love." (Final verse).

O Lord, who may abide in your tent?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lord's Prayer

A meat-free theology

This Sunday I was disturbed by the text from Acts 10:9-16 where Peter is told in a dream to "kill and eat" the animals shown to him. Some people use Peter’s dream as a sort justification for eating meat. Most people completely overlook the problem of violence against other living creatures. This is particularly problematic in our day with the advent of factory farming. It is cruelty at an industrial scale that Peter and Paul could not have imagined. The issue then was more about keeping oneself clean; whereas, the issues today are solidarity with the starving poor who cannot compete economically with livestock for the world’s grain, cruelty to animals treating them as mere commodities, and environmental degradation due to highly concentrated animal agriculture. In other words, the ethical shift has moved from self-concern about cleanness to concern for others. This puts the issue under the new command to love one another, not the old law about which Paul was rightly concerned. I contend that eating meat is no longer compatible with a non-violent view of the gospel.

Moreover, the history of non-violent Christianity goes back to many of the earliest believers who practiced vegetarianism. For instance, Augustine in his defense of meat eating acknowledged that Christians who abstained were too numerous to be counted. James the brother of Jesus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origin, John Chrysostom, Basil, and the Desert Fathers were among those who abstained from meat. Obviously this issue will not go away.

I also believe that it is spiritually relevant to be aware of what we consume. Paul was wrong about many things—slavery, women at home and in church, homosexuals and transgendered people—and I would argue that he was wrong about meat. He taught that believers should buy meat from the meat markets without troubling their conscience. While I do agree that meat eating is a matter of conscience, the idea of consumption without conscience is problematic morally and spiritually. It matters how the goods we consume and support with our purchasing power were produced. What do we say about consuming goods produced by slaves, children and other oppressed workers? Can we simply consume these things without a care in our head or tenderness of heart? This is bad spiritual practice. We cannot completely extricate ourselves from a global economy which still functions with taint of violence, degradation, and oppression, but it should at least trouble our conscience. Even for Paul, he should have been troubled by purchasing meat offered to idols. What business does a Christian have in financing and perpetuating animal sacrifice of any kind? Jesus put an end to that and all creation groans (Romans 8:19-23) for the new way made possible through Christ’s death and resurrection. It is out of expectant joy at the living reign of Jesus that we can put away the practices of death.

I do not see meat eating as having any place in the world to come. At our Lord’s table we will eat bread and wine as it was in the beginning, no meat for the Pascal Lamb has put an end to sacrifice. “The wolf shall lie down with the lamb…and they will not kill or harm on all my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 11) In Christ we are already a new creation. We can joyfully live meat free now in this world and the one to come.