Friday, August 18, 2017

Our Life Together

“History repeats itself. Has to. No one listens.” Steve Turner, poet.

During the 1940’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer penned the classic Life Together. His reflections were largely based on his experiences in the secret seminaries hiding from the Nazi’s in Germany. Bonhoeffer was later executed by the Nazi’s for his role in resisting the “supremacy” they purported. Perhaps this can serve as a jumping off point for a few observations.
  1. Any claim or action that claims supremacy of one person over another is fundamentally against our nature (Gen. 1:26) and the redeeming work of the Gospel (Eph. 2:14). This supremency absolutely needs to be denounced and we must not even have the appearance of toleration for those who promote it. I am grateful that we belong to a denomination that has already publicly decried such belief and behavior. 
  2. We must tell … Again, we must be clear that this so called supremacy is not part of the gracious story of the Word. To quote words attributed to Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil … Not to speak is to speak.” What does this mean? Our speech should be that of prayer, both public and private. We need to be speaking to our family and neighbors, encouraging when we can, denouncing when we must. Finally, we must exhort each other in following the right path. 
  3. But, we must also … show: Telling is action. PRAYER is action. But it is not the last action to be taken. All Christians should do all that they can in their various spheres of influence and as neighbors to bring healing and reconciliation. We must weep with those who weep. Listen to the hurting, and through practical and courageous love, prove false the claims of white supremacy, even to the point of openly standing with those being attacked by white supremacists. The cost of discipleship for Bonhoeffer was his life– a cost he was willing to pay in looking at his Savior. Again Bonhoeffer, “not to act is to act.” (There are many opportunities for these practical acts of love right here in our midst. Please talk to me if you are willing but don’t know where to start.) 
  4. Finally, we must abide in our Gospel core. It is only as we draw deeply from the basic Gospel truth, we are a lot worse off in ourselves than we think, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever could imagine, that we will have the right mix of humility and boldness to engage this present moment with the grace of Christ.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Looking and Seeing

Artist David Arms recently reflected on looking and seeing:

To “look”, I engage my eyes.
To “see”, I ask my eyes to join hands with my heart, mind and soul.
I have the gift of vision which gives me the ability to “look”.
But, unfortunately, I don’t always “see”.
Certainly pleasure can be obtained from looking.
But seeing turns that pleasure into an experience, often making clear the presence of the Divine.
“Looking” sees a rock as grey.
“Seeing” observes in that rock the unexpected painter’s palette of lavenders, blues, golds and greens.
“Looking” sees a bare tree on a winter’s day, standing lonely. Quietly
waiting for its beauty to return with the first sign of spring.
“Seeing” realizes that beauty remains in each tree’s unique, intricately designed architecture,
silhouetted starkly against a mottled grey sky.
Seeing might take a moment. To be present. To be aware.
And that’s where the problem often lies for me.
Life is busy. In that busyness I forget. So I look. But do not see.
When I “see”, I’m more likely to live in a state of awe and gratitude.
I’m aware of the magnificent world just outside my door.
Full of wonder. A miracle at every turn.
I recall the many reasons I married my wife.
I see a human, a being, inside the ragged clothes, at the corner, holding a cardboard sign.
I am less likely to focus so greatly on myself.
Which opens my eyes. Makes me aware.
Then I can turn my eyes to a whole new world that awaits me in this very spot I have been for many years.
If I just breathe.
Then look.
Then see.

While we often struggle to see, God never fails to see. We encounter this God again Sunday in Genesis 16 as we come to patriarchs who struggle to see and a woman on the run who has a remarkable encounter with her “seeing” God. As we learn to rest more and more in this God we find that being seen helps us see. Or as the psalmist put it, in your light do we see light. (Psalm 36:9)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Grace from beginning to end

There is a much-loved hymn that communicates some of the themes we’ve been exploring the last couple of Sundays in our series on Genesis:
The God of Abraham praise, whose all sufficient grace
shall guide me all my given days, in all my ways…
He by himself hath sworn, I on his oath depend.
One of the main lessons we’ve been learning from Abraham’s journeys is that the life of faith is not a straight line. It would be great if we only experienced steady progress in holiness after answering the Lord’s call to follow him. However, as we all know full well, following Jesus has its ups and downs, and sometimes we take a couple of steps back. The beautiful thing is that God uses these setbacks to remind us that our salvation is by grace from beginning to end. That is why we don’t sing, "Abraham praise," but "The God of Abraham praise." None of us can boast in our moral accomplishments. We can only praise God for remaining faithful to his promises despite our shortcomings.

God is so gracious that he doesn’t just give us wonderful promises: he also confirms and seals these promises unto our hearts through his sacraments. On Sunday Pastor Steve will be opening the word for us as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Just as the Lord confirmed his promises to Abraham, He will confirm his promises to us through bread and wine. In fact, the Lord will confirm to us the very promises he made to Abraham, because in Jesus, all of God’s promises are "yes and amen" (2 Cor 1:20).

Daniel Eguiluz
Church Plant Coordinator for Discipleship and Admininstration