Where Christ is Crucified Again

Religious institutionalism and exploitative consumerism turn Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death into a historical artifact to be dusted off once a year.  Artifacts are convenient ways to ignore a disturbing truth.

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Christ’s suffering, death and victory on the cross are not only to be remembered as past tense, but are a present reality. Jesus’ death in the action of the Lord’s Table is a commanded practice, a remembrance, a proclamation of his victory (1 Cor. 11:26), a communion of a present reality between heaven and earth (1 Cor. 10:16), and a foretaste of his coming again in glory (1 Cor. 11:26).

Yet, Christ may be crucified again as the writer of Hebrews mentions (6:6).

Where is Christ crucified again?

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In the denial of his own people of his saving atonement or in the abandonment of their covenant with him when they substitute earthly powers for his Lordship whether out of fear or political or worldly expediency or their own self-righteousness for his blood bought gift.

He is also crucified again in the sufferings of his people who face rejection, loss, threats, beatings, prison or death whether in Iran, India or China.

He is also crucified again in the suffering of countless and nameless people all over the world who are flogged, tortured, kept behind bars, denied justice and voice to defend themselves as he was in the name of national security or the war on drugs or terror whether in Guatemala or Guantanamo.

In the prayers of the desperate and abandoned, and the singing of his saints, his cry of forsakenness and abandonment (Mt. 27:46) and his declaration of victory (John 19:30) have not been silenced.

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Forbidden Observances

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“Merry Christmas” has become the rallying cry of the jingoism of the (t)Rump pseudo-nationalistic ideology. However, Christmas has not always been popular even among Christians. In 1647, the Puritan-led English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas, replacing it with a day of fasting and considering it “a popish festival with no biblical justification”, and “a time of wasteful and immoral behavior.” On May 11, 1659, the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature officially banned Christmas and gave anyone found celebrating it a fine of five shillings

“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God & offense of others, it is therefore ordered … that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by for-bearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offense five shillings, as a fine to the county.”

Cotton Mather, New England’s most influential religious leader, told his flock in 1712 that “the feast of Christ’s nativity is spent in reveling, dicing, carding, masking, and in all licentious liberty…by mad mirth, by long eating, by hard drinking, by lewd gaming, by rude reveling!”

Most Western churches mark Dec. 25 for the liturgical celebration of Christ’s birth though the date is historically unreliable and most likely inaccurate. Many Eastern Orthodox churches mark the incarnation on Epiphany typically the first Sunday in January. Some, who are in the Puritan tradition make no big deal about it. Roman 14:5 tells us “one person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” That seems like a wise policy that spares making “much ado about nothing.” Sadly, Trump’s hijacking and distortion of the day to celebrate the wonder of the incarnation is far more damaging than any supposed “war on Christmas.” Slogans may pump up the crowds but it’s not the faith the church has confessed in the words “for us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

So then, either way, have a Merry Christmas, an incredible Incarnation, an effulgent Epiphany, and Happy Hanukkah or for any neo-pagans, a Super Saturnalia!

There are places I remember…

 

 

 

 

 

Places, practices and people form us. For many years, I looked at representations of the saints, recited the words of the liturgy and listened to the words of spiritual leaders. Sometimes I was bored, sometimes the words were tedious and made no sense and sometimes the presence of God shined through. Faith is more than cerebral. Faith is incarnate. Faith involves the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Even if God does not dwell in buildings built by human hands, humans are shaped by the physicality of faith. This has always been the scandal of the Word made flesh and the nemesis of creation shunning gnosticism, past and present.

My faith was shaped in no small part by the visual beauty and the familiar words of prayer of years of worshiping at All Saints Episcopal Church and Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, AZ. My faith was also shaped by the people who I came to know as teachers and counselors – Paul Urbano, Ken Whitney, Anton Renna S.J., Al Miller S.J., “Sister” Mary, and the small prayer group that met Monday nights. They were able to listen and support a teenager trying to get through some tough times. I was also able to witness the Spirit firing up the church through the preaching & teaching of Dennis Bennett, Terry Fulham and Francis MacNutt.  Those were years of hope about what the church could become that turned to disappointment as the ECUSA drifted farther and farther into irrelevance. However,  over the years God was at work and I was able to encounter worship scholar Robert Webber, the Alpha evangelism program and most recently Wellspring in Englewood, CO an Anglican congregation that combines sound preaching, God glorifying music and a liturgy in which the words are prayed with sincerity and passion. Ancient & future worship is alive!

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S.B.C. calls the alt-right out.

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Sounds like there was a ground swell refusal to allow denominational bureaucrats to stall and remain silent:

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of these hatreds, and come to know the peace and love of Christ through redeemed fellowship in the Kingdom of God, which is established from every nation, tribe, people, and language.

Christos Anesti!

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How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?

First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he could make us share in the righteousness which he had obtained for us by his death.

Second, by his power we too are raised up to a new life.

Third, Christ’s resurrection is to us a sure pledge of our glorious resurrection.

Heidelberg Catechism, 45

What’s One Year?

2017

What’s one year?
12 Months
52 weeks
365 days
8,760 hours
525,600 minutes
31,536,000 seconds…
To be shaped by the Potter’s hand,
Strengthened by His Word,
Enlightened by the Spirit,
Nourished by grace, Forgiven by his mercy,
Conformed to his image,
More ordinary wonders, unexpected blessings & divine “suddenlies,”
Showing his love,
Closer to his Coming,
Nearer to Glory.

An Advent Poem

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In the darkest night, in the deepest pain, when all seems lost, no hope is found,

God is with us, Emmanuel.

Eternal light, shines forth bright, scatters the darkness around our hearts;

Fills with peace, the space within, his love reaches where none else may.

In midnight field, in nighttime fear, his presence guards our way; 

Not alone, not alone, joined with thousands unseen, joyful song rise again.

In the darkest night, in the deepest pain, when all seems lost, no hope is found,

God is with us, Emmanuel.

The Haven of Hope

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“My unchangeableness is the rock of your rest. When all the world is like the troubled ocean round about you, here you may fix and settle; I am your resting-place.”

(Mal. 3.6; Psa 62.6-7; 92.15; Jer. l.6; 2 Chron. 14:11)
FROM JOSEPH ALLEINE’S  “SAINT’S POCKET BOOK”

Welcome to the Kakistocracy!

Kakistocracy – (n) – government by the least qualified, most unprincipled citizens, most stupid members
Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad

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    The good news is Billary Inc. lost. The bad news is Trump Inc. won. As George Will has written the 2016 election turned out with a “loser who deserved to lose and a winner who did not deserve to win.” I guess it wasn’t so rigged as Donald thought.
Now we’re expected to let bygones be bygones, sing “Kum ba Yah,” have a group hug and jump in line & goose step with Boss Trump.

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Not so fast.
Losing the popular vote with 60,350,241 to 60,981,118 does not a mandate make.

I’m a 50+ year old White male, with 1 wife, 2 cats, 3 kids and 4 guns. Theologically, doctrinally, ecclessiastically I am “evangelical” (euanggelion – good news). But faced with 2 equally miserable choices, candidates who were both morally-challenged, ethically-challenged, and character-challenged, I voted for neither one. There’s little difference between going off a cliff at 35 MPH or 135 MPH except the speed of your own demise. I refused to support either party that has led us to this kakistocracy.

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Evangelical supporters say Donald has changed. I’m looking for proof. Genuine change is made up of genuine repentance, contrition and restitution, none of which have been evident in Donald’s behavior or statements since winning. Moral character used to matter to evangelicals – I guess that’s optional now if it’s an election year!
I’m still waiting for his tax returns. I’m waiting for him to apologize to John McCain & the Khan family. I’m waiting for him to ‘fess up about his assault of women.
Guess I’ll be waiting a long time.

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What would happen if voters for the defeated party acted like Republicans did when they lost to President Obama? Like John Boehner, offering his plans for the President’s agenda: “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.” Or the Trumpster himself who called the 2012 election a “total sham and a travesty…. We are not a democracy!” Or like countless bloggers since 2008 have suggested the president’s assassination by putting his face on targets, threatened divine punishment or prayed for his demise and death?
But that would be unseemly.

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The Donald has made some big promises. I doubt Trump will be the savior people expect him to be.If he doesn’t follow through those that voted for him may turn on him quickly and viciously.
Peter Hitchens wrote – “Maybe Mr. Trump will turn out to have been kidding us. Maybe he will surround himself with advisers of brilliance and subtlety, who will prove to have mastered the problems of reintroducing protection in a world governed by open borders and increasingly dominated by China. Maybe all that stuff about jailing his opponent was just talk. Maybe, despite all those years of, er, locker-room behavior Mr. Trump will turn out after all to be a Christian gentleman in office upholding the ancient virtues. I do hope so. But forgive me if I decline to be optimistic.”

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I wonder if Donald will survive 4 years without impeachment – it will be due either to his propensity for outrageous behavior, trying to run the executive office like “The Apprentice” instead of as the executive leader of a nation or worse – his thin-skin and low tolerance for critics and opposition point to darker authoritarian possibilities.
I hope I’m wrong . I will pray for our nation. I will pray he genuinely experiences converting grace that is abundant in the fruit of repentance.
I pray the damage from this fiasco will be minimal.

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