Caiaphas, Caesar, Christ

Can we live in the way of Caiaphas or Caesar in the name of Christ? Are there multiple ways Messiah can wage the battle, achieve the victory and save the world and us? Does the supreme value of Kingdom-come justify whatever means are necessary to get there?   When Jesus told them what being Messiah would mean and Peter rebuked him, Jesus named him “Satan.” When James and John asked for special places on Jesus’ right and left, and Jesus says those places are already taken, Jesus may have meant the crosses that would be on either side of his. When James and John asked about fire-bombing the unwelcoming Samaritan village, Jesus rebuked them and continued on to Jerusalem, signaling …

Kingdom, Lent, and Blessing

The Kingdom that begins with Lent also begins with blessing.  There is the call to turn—repent!—which is Lent.  There then comes a pronouncement: “Blessed!”  Consider how stunning this is. When Jesus begins to teach about the Kingdom of God, the first word is “Blessed!”  This is not what we expected, not from God almighty in the season of Lent.  We think it’s the time for sober and brutal assessment; time for acknowledging our failures; time to confess we are moral losers, spiritual losers, and relational losers.  Gather it all up and summarize our human condition as failed. Our natural default, sometimes even after long association with Jesus and his friends, leads us to expect that a perquisite of entering and …

I DON’T SEE JESUS!

“But I don’t see Jesus!” That is what little Ari, our granddaughter, said at bed time when we asked her whether she wanted to pray.  She hesitated or declined to say the prayers because she couldn’t “see” Jesus.  She had spent Christmas Day with us, along with siblings and parents, and then had stayed over that night.  After a long day of playing, eating, laughing, receiving gifts, playing some more, watching special Christmas programs on TV, it was time for bed.  But she didn’t want to pray to a Jesus she couldn’t see. A part of me wanted to shift into analytic, apologetic mode and respond to the question of how to interact with the Divine who is invisible.   Another …

BABY AS IMMANUEL!

In a world desperately in need of good news and forlornly weary of platitudes we celebrate the coming of Immanuel—God with us—in the gift of Jesus   Glory to God in the highest!  Well, yes, but what about us in the lowest? If it doesn’t work for the whole world and all of reality, does it truly work?  That’s a question I have been asking in recent years.  I was forced to ask it seriously and urgently when I began going to other places, addressing other cultures, and found that some of my most “creative” stuff just didn’t work there and in those circumstances.  So, does it work for the whole world—for the highest and the lowest places and those who …

GOD AS BABY!

When you held your first-born baby, or grandchild, or any infant, you probably did not think, “This is how God was!” C.S. Lewis famously noted that the greatest miracle of Christianity is not the resurrection but the incarnation. If you can accept that God became a baby, the resurrection should not be a problem. The biblical story tells us about a baby’s birth.  During these weeks of Advent, we will read and sing from two famous passages found in the Prophesy of Isaiah.  At a time when the people of Judah cowered in fear over an alliance of Israel and Syria against them, the Lord gave a sign: The virgin will conceive and bear a son, whose name will be …