March 2009

Bishop Dan from Nevada posted a sermon on a piece of what salvation is all about for him.  It’s probably only fair after his complaints in What Matters to Us.  He says:

There is always a part of us that just wants to be taken care of.
And God does take care of us.
But God also challenges us to grow up.
That is often hard. It can be painful.

It is like physical rehabilitation after surgery.
We need the nurse to take care of us for awhile,
but there comes a point when, in order to get strong,
we have to get of bed and work.
It takes courage. It takes determination.

Salvation is like that.
It starts with God accepting us as we are.
But, as the saying goes,
“God love us the way we are,
but because he loves us,
he doesn’t leave us this way.”

Salvation is more than being forgiven.
Salvation is being transformed.
Salvation is growing in grace,
developing the strength of character
we see in Jesus.

If you want to see more, you can find it on his site here.

I have been facinated by what I’ve been hearing about “the emerging church.”  This seems to be where much of what is exciting in the life of the church is happening today.  Nadia Bolz-Weber of  The Sarcastic Lutheran has her own definition:

“So, what IS the ’emerging church’?”


If I had a dollar for every person who has asked me “So, what IS the emerging church?” we could meet our budget this year. Here’s my own definition, and it is just that – my definition.  Not the definition.  When I use the term “emerging church” here’s what I mean by that.  (I feel like I’m walking into a mine field, but here we go….)

Emerging Church:
Christian communities that emerge out of very particular cultural contexts where the traditional church is basically irrelevant.  These cultural contexts are more often than not urban, youngish and post-modern.
If you want to see more, click here.

Jim (in Fiat Lux) also gave a link to the blog of Bishop Dan Thomas Edwards (of Nevada).  Dan asks what it means when his posting on sex generated twelve responses while his posting on salvation generated one response.  You can see this here.  This is where Jim found the poem on salvation quoted in my prior post.

As usual, there’s a lot going on at Fiat Lux.  There is a wonderful poem on salvation by Lynn Ungar in What is salvation?  Ask a poet:


By what are you saved? And how?
Saved like a bit of string,
tucked away in a drawer?
Saved like a child rushed from
a burning building, already
singed and coughing smoke?
Or are you salvaged
like a car part — the one good door
when the rest is wrecked?

Do you believe me when I say
you are neither salvaged nor saved,
but salved, anointed by gentle hands
where you are most tender?
Haven’t you seen
the way snow curls down
like a fresh sheet, how it
covers everything,
makes everything
beautiful, without exception? (more…)

Last night I started a new volunteer ministry:  I’m now an occassional on call chaplain for Kaiser in South Sacramento.  This means that on certain Thursdays (I specified I was available Thursdays so that, if called, I could sleep in on my day off Friday morning) I turn on my pager at 7 PM and leave it on until 7 AM.  If the pager rings, I go in to help with whatever pastoral situation wanted my presence. (more…)

I’ve been thinking, of late, about my own core beliefs.  And I find that there are, perhaps, three places from which I’m inclined to begin.  The first is Jesus’ story of the two brothers and their unreasonably indulgent father.  (Luke 15:11-32.  We usually call this the parable of the prodigal son.)  The second is Jesus’ summary of the law (see Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, and Luke 10:25-28 — but also Luke 10:29-37, usually called the parable of the good Samaritan).  The last is John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”).  You probably have to look at John 3:17-18 to give this a fuller context.  I guess I’d also have to add something about the incarnation (Jesus as fully human, not just God) and the resurrection (God’s power restore and renew even what seems lost forever) – and you can only talk about resurrection when you also talk about crucifixion.   I’m still thinking about this.  But this would form the core of my good news.

Most, if not all, of this is connected to narrative.  Which is fully appropriate.  Listening to some Christians, you might not know this.  But Jesus was a story teller, not a law giver.  Moses was the law giver.  Jesus was always trying to invite us into a story that made us think about what life with God was like.  I really like that about him.

I’ve already addressed Jesus incarnation in How God Made a Home, where I said:

God is looking for a new way to come into the world.  God is looking for a new way of working in the world.  He finds his point of entry in the person of a young woman.  We’d probably call her a girl.  My best guess is that she was 12 or 13 years old.  Marriage documents seem to have been signed between her and an older man.  I’m guessing Joseph could have been anything from about 15 to about 30.  They were living apart, with the marriage unconsumated — probably because they were giving her an extra year to grow up first.  And God sends a messanger to her (Luke 1:26-38 — our gospel reading).

God asks her to make a home for him.  God asks her to bear a child and call him Jesus.

I addressed it more directly in my Merry Christmas message, where I said:

Christmas tells us that God comes to us, not from on high, but from down below.  Jesus is born to an unknown woman from a subjugated people.  He comes to us as a baby — and there just isn’t all that much needier than a newborn baby.  Jesus comes to us from a position of dependence, not authority.  In my mind, in Jesus, God comes to invite us, even to court us, not to lord it over us.  There is an assumption of equality on God’s part that draws me into a very different relationship than it would to a God who came down from on high to make demands of me.

And that, for me, may be the most important thing there is to know about God.  God chooses to approach us by invitation.  God chooses to invite us into the beauty of holiness.  God chooses to share our condition, the human condition, and experience all the joys and trials and tribulations of our lives.

That probably says enough about my sense of the importance (centrality) of incarnation.  I’m expecting I will try to say more about other beliefs that are core beliefs for me in the near future.

I loved Brian Baker’s little Lent/Easter meditation that accompanied Trinity Cathedral’s Easter Appeal:

I do not know if it is exactly accurate for me to say I “enjoy” Lent.  I appreciate and need Lent.  It is an important time for introspection.  Lent invites me to re-focus my time, my priorities – my life.  I feel like we, in the United States, have been experiencing a communal Lent.  Faced with the economic crisis and general anxiety about the state of our world, many of us are stepping away from unconscious shopping and are rethinking our priorities.  There are also many of us who are facing personal financial loss. (more…)

Jim Richardson has shared an essay from his friend, Holly, who is actively exploring her faith.  She says:

I wonder about the term “Christian” because it seems as if it’s used a bit loosely as of late. … But what gets me thinking is this, “We all believe in the same God.” Do we really?

If you want to see the whole thing, click here.

Roshi Doshi blogs about his visit to St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco.  You may remember his blog piece I linked to on take this bread earlier:

10 march 2009

St. Gregory of Nyssa

St. Gregory of Nyssa church in San Francisco is located directly across from the Anchor Steam Brewery in San Francisco. Nadia had suggested that I attend morning prayer at St. Gregory’s since I was in town on business anyway … and as I trudged up the street at 745 AM and spied the simple wood building that is St. Gregory’s I almost turned back to the Starbucks and the New York Times that are my more typical morning prayer service. You see, another participant in the prayer service was going to be Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread, about whom I have posted. Sara’s book was a big part of my “decision” to jump into the unknown of being a Christian. Meeting a hero is a bit unnerving.

I walked in between the two wide open wooden doors to a huge sanctuary with incense hovering in the air like a ghost, illuminated by the rising sun from across the bay. Sara instantly saw me, called out “Richard!”(bear in mind we’d never met) and gave me a huge hug. It was quite something. So, I was glad I passed up Starbucks for St. Gregory.

If you want to see the whole thing, you can link here.

I’m playing catchup again.  I found this on Brian Baker’s blog:

At Religious Dispatches Randall Balmer sees a dynamic where Evangelicals remain a force even as (because?) its conservative wing recedes:

As I travel to evangelical colleges, I find that the issue of sexual identity (for example) is, well, not much of an issue among a younger generation of evangelicals. Sure, if you pressed them, many would say that homosexuality is wrong, but they simply can’t understand why Dobson and the other leaders of the religious right are so exercised over the matter. 

So too with abortion….

Finally, this younger generation of evangelicals understands that global warming is real, not some left-wing conspiracy as leaders of the religious right would have them believe. On this issue of care for the environment, more than any other, Dobson and other old-line leaders of the religious right lost credibility with younger evangelicals. Besides, how can anyone advocate the teaching of something called “intelligent design” in the public schools, and yet evince so little interest in the handiwork of the Intelligent Designer?

If your interest is piqued, you can find his whole piece here.

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