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Bulletin Blurbs

A Cross-Shaped Coffee Stain

I pressed my coffee mug to my lips as my eyes scanned a book I’ve been muscling through for weeks. They strolled lazily, line to line, when a section of text pulled my focus so suddenly that coffee began to dribble down the front of my shirt. What was this portion of text rich enough to pull my mind away from the java that now stains my crewneck? I’m glad you asked…

“Jesus’s many teachings reverse common expectations about God. For example, few people in Jesus’s day would have expected God to ‘justify’ a tax collector who was too ashamed to ‘even look up to heaven’ (Lk 18.13) instead of the righteous Pharisee who fasted twice a week, gave a tenth of all he earned to God, and who thanked God he was not like ‘robbers, evildoers, adulterers’ or ‘this tax collector’ (Lk 18.11-12). Similarly, few if any expected God to welcome into his kingdom ‘tax collectors and prostitutes’ before religious leaders who, everyone held in high esteem (Mt 21:31). Indeed, because the God whom Jesus revealed was so contrary to the understanding of God among the status quo, Jesus repeatedly taught that those whom most assuredly were ‘outsiders; would find themselves ‘inside,’ while those whom most assuredly were ‘insiders’ would have found themselves ‘out.’” (Crucifixion of the Warrior God, Vol. 1, pg. 180-81)

Why did this hit me so hard? Because it made me aware that frequently I am indistinguishable from the world. But perhaps more jarringly, I noticed that the Church is sometimes indistinguishable from the world. The world has harsh biases, closed minds, hateful lips, and spiteful fingers that maliciously strike at enemies through key strokes. But often, Christians are not much different. That, family, is a tragedy in and of itself. We are called to be a kingdom that is radically different than the world. Not by our pious rhetoric, but by our radical love. We are to be a people that breaks down the status quo and extends mercy and grace to all. We are to be a people who hasten to throw aside political jargon, prejudices, hate masquerading as boldness, fear, and pride, in order to embrace people of any background. We are to be Christ.

--Bishop Darby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Good morning!

Once again, I’m happy that all of you are here this morning! As you read this, I am likely in Henderson, Tennessee for the annual FHU Lectureship. I look forward to seeing you in person again this time next week! It’s always an encouraging thought to know that, though I’m 716 miles away, we’re both worshipping the same God on the same day. Though we’re apart, we’re all part of the same family.

It’s hard to believe we are already a month into this New Year. It seems like every February, I have that overwhelming feeling that time really goes by too quickly. I want to express what we discussed last Sunday at our youth devotional. Often in our New Year, we discuss new beginnings and how, if the last year was not our best, we can “turn over a new leaf” this New Year. Well, now we’re 1/12 into the year 2014, and my guess is we’ve all fallen to a sin or temptation at some point. We’ve all proved that we aren’t perfect. Luckily, God does not measure time in years, months, weeks, etc. like we do. We always have the opportunity to change for the better.

David, after being confronted by Nathan for his sin with Bathsheba, wrote the 51st Psalm. In verses 10-12, he prays this: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

We, like David, can and should pray this prayer. Unfortunately, we are imperfect. We have a Heavenly Father who understands that, and sent his perfect Son to die for us, so that we have a chance to come back to him, have our hearts made clean, and have our spirits renewed, not at the start of each new year, but whenever it is needed. Isn’t it a blessing to be a child of God?!