I wrote this small piece of Liturgy for today’s gathering of our church community:
"One of the things I always pray for…is the opportunity, God willing..to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you… so I can bring you some spiritual gift…that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together…I want to encourage you in your faith… but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”
Enjoying time and frozen yogurt with my daughter Destiny…at Blu Berry Frozen Yogurt on 57th on a hot summer evening. Hard to imagine this upcoming year will be her last one in Highschool, seems like I was just holding her in my arms as a little baby girl.
“At its most basic level, the everyday practice of being with other people is the practice of loving the neighbor as the self. More intricately, it is the practice of coming face-to-face with another human being, preferably someone different enough to qualify as a capital “O” Other - and at least entertaining the possibility that this is one of the faces of God.”—
'I thought of my walk route that I take for exercising, when I read this quote. Yesterday was a beautiful evening, so I got my daily sweat hour in a little later in the day. As I made my way into the upper, more rich part of the South Hill, I saw maybe one person on the upper half of my walk. I saw plenty of tvs on and lights within the houses but quiet outside other than cars whizzing by me. On the upper South Hill it was peaceful…but lonely. On the lower South Hill where we live, there were people walking their dogs, holding hands and enjoying the evening light, playing basketball at the park, Teetu(a Karen refugee) was kicking a soccer ball in the field. I was greeted, talked to and found myself among…others…and I was not alone. The difference reminded me of one of the reasons I moved to this neighborhood….the chance to be around people. I wanted to be part of a neighborhood again, not just live in a house…on a street. When I left for my walk, my youngest son rode up on his bike and told me he was going to be playing tennis at the park with Bruno and Christie (Bruno's mom)…When I returned an hour later, I could see them still playing in the park. It was a good feeling knowing that goodness was happening and it was taking place with people outside our family and home…with 'other' people.”
“We want guidance and leadership from people who can say, “I know what God does with pain. I should be blaming or bitter, but because of God and grace, I’m not.” We long for real people who are practiced in transforming pain, as Jesus did on the cross. These are the only spiritual authorities worth following. The rest of us just talk.”—
“'Transforming' is the key word to me…not just enduring, even though I think endurance is a biblical step in transformation. I think there are plenty of spriituality/religious concepts related to endurance, acceptance, submmission…deal with fate etc. The resurrection goes beyond the idea of the acceptance of an old creation's pain and futility and it lives into and out from a new creation happening.” -me
I was thinking that for Father’s Day I’d speak about good fathers from one of the men of the Bible, but after looking over the biblical fathers…I realized, there just isn’t very many to choose from…if any. I found father stories full of wrath, anger, adultery, drunkenness, rebellion, failure, pride, bloodshed, burning of daughters at the stake, incest, polygamy, prostitution, violence, murder, divorce, betrayal, abandonment, defiance, threatening, rejection.
I discovered that there are more ungodly sons of godly fathers mentioned in the Bible than godly sons of ungodly fathers. Implying that failure of fatherhood in relationship to spiritual matters is probably the norm. That one state of spiritual stature, doesn’t always guarantee the passing on to another, regardless of ‘how you train them up’…at least in light of the recorded record of fathering.
It appears from my study that ‘Fatherhood’ and ‘Sonship’ needed saved.
It’s interesting to me that one of the major relational gospel titles represented in the New Testament is ‘Father’ and ‘Son’. Christ comes as the ‘Beloved Son’ and God as revealed by Christ is the ‘Heavenly’ Father. Both roles are embodied, walked out, reflected in the Divine and in the Human in the Jesus Incarnation. Father and Son..both paths of humanity’s experience are gathered up in the act of Salvation and are swallowed up into Christ’s work of redemption.
We see all the touch points of the ache and struggle of Manhood in the experiences of Fatherhood and Sonship lived out in the life of Jesus. Love, affirmation, disclosure, knowledge, wisdom, presence, empowerment, strength, mercy, weakness, temptation, anger, misunderstanding, challenge, struggle of wills, absence, obedience, suffering, death…and rebirth.
"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:19-20
In the end of my study, I found less material to expound upon as teaching law…and more that reflected the beauty of the work of the saving cross. No matter how good a Dad you had or didn’t have or just how much of a super-dad or super-dud you have been…the reality is all of it needs to be redeemed in Christ. The victories and failures of our ‘fathering’ stories are one of the ‘ALL THINGS' of the cross that had to be saved.
This realization brought about a ‘peace' in me that I didn't expect to discover when I launched out in preparing for this Sunday's message. I found a fresh stream of grace break open from the side of Christ that soothed my failure prone father heart. My attempts or experience moved into the shadow of the cross and God's work of reconciliation of 'all things' once again dawned brighter than I had seen it before.
I hope this Father’s day, to expound upon this beautiful work of salvation in light of the above thoughts, I think it will encourage men, no matter what their fathering experience has been.
"The second insight about steps and stages is that from your own level of development, you can only stretch yourself to comprehend people just a bit beyond yourself. Some theorists say you cannot stretch more than one step above your own level of consciousness, and that is on a good day! Because of this limitation, those at deeper (or “higher”) levels beyond you invariably appear wrong, sinful, heretical, dangerous, or even worthy of elimination." -Richard Rohr, 'Falling Upwards”
" A personal relationship with Jesus"…that phrase never appears in the Bible. Yet in the past 50 years it’s become the number one way the evangelical church describes the Christian walk. It’s turned the gospel into a puzzle for men, because most guys don’t think in terms of relationships. Let’s say Lenny approaches Nick and says, “Nick, would you like to have a personal relationship with me?” Yuck! Men don’t talk or think like this, yet we’ve wrapped the gospel in this man-repellent package." -David Murrow
“The basis for the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount is not what works but rather the way God is. Cheek-turning is not advocated as what works (it usually does not), but advocated because this is the way God is - God is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. This is not a stratagem for getting what we want but the only manner of life available, now that, in Jesus, we have seen what God wants. We seek reconciliation with the neighbor, not because we feel so much better afterward, but because reconciliation is what God is doing in the world through Christ.”—Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens (via invisibleforeigner)
When the reformers through out the Catholic bathwater, what "babies" do you think also got thrown out accidentally?
A few come to mind: An ecclesiastical connection to the church of the past. A celebration and option for vocational ministry for the single person. A place for healthy monastiscm. An understanding of and love for the poor.
“Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire, God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire, God will not be known.”—William Blake, “Pentecost” (for Pentecost Sunday)
“He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light, He can bring thy summer out of winter, though thou have no spring; though in the ways of fortune or understanding or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as the dawning of the day, not as the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon.”