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Friday, October 17, 2014

Some Thoughts on Death, and Life

Sometimes, I find myself far more comfortable with death than I would like to be.  I did have the burden of burying both my parents and two childhood friends.  Death and dying was my focus during hospital chaplaincy.  I know that my faith in God gives me great comfort, and, having been delivered from the fear of death, I can now run toward the tragedies of others with the comfort I have received from God.  Knowing that death is not the end, I don't get bugged out about it.  Knowing God IS eternal life (John 17:3), so I know that there is something more beyond the confines of earth.

Most anti-religionists would argue that my line of thinking is merely some kind of spiritual narcotic, an emotional analgesic against the reality of death.  Religion is then only a system of social control and political occupation.  I would say, with great regret, they are correct.  Religion has been wrongly used for other than spiritual reasons by most major world religions for millennia.  This is why Jesus came, to shatter the conventional modes of rote belief, and bring in a new vibrant faith. Jesus said, "My words are spirit, and they are life."  In the Messiah, a new eternal life is breaking in, elevating us beyond the rat race, transforming us into Christlikeness, and living out the ideals of the Kingdom of God; imperfectly, yet always on the mend. "We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (1 Corinthians 4)

In death, those who grieve often lose their bearings.
-We suffer a kind of ontological anxiety, desperately asking the question, "Where do I belong now?" The loss of a loved one displaces everyone in that family constellation because in death there is an empty life space where someone once stood.  In death, we are confounded, befuddled for a time, wondering how ever will we find our way.  
-We also suffer from a moral anxiety, wondering again, "What is truth?" Especially if the one we have lost has been the moral compass for the family, we wonder from where will we source our truth.  Who will serve as counselor, mentor, friend for us?  -We also walk through an existential anxiety, questioning the brevity of life, that vapor-like quality where we see a person one day, and the next day, they are (physically) gone. 

In Jesus Christ, those who grieve can be released from those normal anxieties.

Jesus is the Way.  In Christ we enter a life, following him, walking in his dust, emulating him in life as in death.  In death we are made alive, as we practice carrying our cross and dying daily to the urges of self.  The Jesus life is a pathway, narrow and rugged, yet clear and pointing to eternal life.

Jesus is the Truth.  He is our Logos, our reason for being.  All things were created for him and by him.  By his creative Word, the Father created everything that has been created.  He gives us our moral center: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and your entire mind, and with all our strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love gives us the grounding we need .

Jesus is the Life.  He said to a woman at a well that being in union with him would open a lifespring unto eternal life.  Eternal life is a life beyond physical presence and existence, a life beyond the confines of earth.   There will be a consummation of all things, that will result in a new heaven and a new earth.  Yet from now until then, we receive the virtue to live in the Kingdom of God, for the “kingdom of God is within you.”  In other words, as we walk in union with Jesus, he forms the kingdom within us, we become a basilica, a headquarters for love, mercy and grace.  And there is where the great adventure begins, watching others being transformed by the infinite power of love.

Union with Jesus is not simply a spiritual narcotic, but a new dimension of life and power, virtue and love.  Not an escape from the world, but a breaking in to life.  Think of the Matrix.
Get into the Matrix. Believe. Follow. Jesus.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Pondering on Autumn

I have always loved the Fall: seeing the vibrant colors, feeling the crisp breezes, drinking hot pumpkin spiced whateversNOT!  (I am the harbinger of the coming pumpkin spice zombie apocalypse!).  And before those great tree colors, the leaves turn downward, turn a flat green, mourning as if the life was taken from them.  And it has. Change is never easy.  For every "Yes," there is a corresponding "No."

To move into your new season in your life with God, perhaps something from the old has to die.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: Pursuing Justice, by Ken Wytsma

This is a balanced gospel-centric approach: to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Pursuing Justice will help the reader to discover her Holy Concern. It is an encouragement to live big.
You will enjoy the read.
**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"