This is the first lines of the hymn Awake, my soul, and the first words of my morning. What? “stretch every nerve” how is that done? Press on we know about. But stretch a nerve; that is not a modern western idea. And why is it the hymn for the feast of the Visitation? I knew someone that could answer these questions. She will be remembered today. Her life was spent answering questions like these. I served every early Sunday service with her the full time she was with us. We would often have a conversation after vesting and before the service would start. She was from a very different background than I, she from the Ivy League of the East Coast and I from the dirt of San Diego. She enjoyed my farm humor and I would stretch to understand her theology. Every so often she would stop in the middle of her sermon and tell the congregation about our conversation. Her “A” personality always demanded her total time. She often needed encouragement to keep the great silence. I know of no one in my life that could stretch a nerve except her. As I remember her this morning I press on with vigor and remember her ability to answer question that would baffle most. So long my good friend I will always remember the special Eucharistic feelings I had when serving with you.
Don’t know about you but may mail box is bulging with election materials,what a great nation we live in with such peaceful elections . I have been reading the book “Who wrote the Bible”, by R. E. Friedman and reflecting on the politics of the early days of the Jewish nation. My reflection took me to Asia and the middle East, more misery, my mind spinning with the images of Africa and more misery. I am exhausted with only clichés to help the mind make sense of the world around me. Mass murder in Santa Barbara has had an effect on all of California and our nation. Sometimes the good news escapes thru the holes in my argument. (Domine, quis habitabit) Then I look to the plasm again and say, “Conserva me, Domine” “For in you have I put my trust”. Then just like the people of old cried out, I also cry out,”O Lord consider my complaint, and hear my prayer”.
For some reason I am still having a conversation with the evangelical from last term. So I have been reading “The Paraclete and Prophecy in the Johannine Community” not a long read. It is Pentecostal and written by a Pentecostal scholar. Don’t be a nerd like me and read this. No one should have to endure the case for the Paraclete in the Johannine church, the work of the Paraclete in the prophets and the Paraclete in prophesy. I agree the Johannine community was a charismatic group. They did believe that the Holy Sprit (Paraclete) was speaking through the community. Prophetic utterances were part of their belief system. Some even call the Johannine Community pneumatic. This is not a new debate but did crop back up in the 1970’s and by 1985 there were volumes written on the subject. The one I like is by David E. Aune, “Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World”(Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1983); all of this has to do with the inspired speech in early Christianity. John does identify the Paraclete with the Holy Spirit. My Pentecostal friend does have a strong point when he states that the Spirit is given indiscriminately to all Believers.
I have been reading a little book called “The Case For The Psalms” by N.T. Wright. This has been such a good read I am sure you will find it a joy. I grew up on the Psalms said each morning, noon, and night. I still find that pattern to be a way of health and vitality. Long ago I sat through a one-hour lecture on the numbering of the Psalms; talk about nerdy and mind numbing. This book is not like that at all so give it a try.
Most of the fires are out.
Wow that was a hot week. I am exhausted, lack of sleep, COPD air problems, fires all around. The fog is back the air is cool and it feels like the beach again. Last night was such a great sleeping night. This morning I can taste the ocean. Stephen is remembered today as one of the first Deacons of the church. Then we read the passage on how Christ is the cornerstone, and we are living stones proclaiming God’s mighty acts in Christ, the very deliverance form darkness into the light.
Peter proclaimed that Christ is the cornerstone, the one that the people rejected. Christ proclaimed Peter the stone that he would build his Church on. Stephen proclaims Jesus at God’s right hand, and he is stoned to death. Stephen is remembered for his boldness and forgiveness, and as one of the rocks in the bedrock of the early Church. I know a lot of cornerstones of our church. These are people that have been filled with the Holy Spirit proclaiming the gospel in hospitals and rest homes. These people proclaim Jesus in mental hospitals and street corners. I know some homeless that proclaim Christ in their lives. When I am around these people I feel the solidness and holiness of them and I am humbled.
We know that Stephen and the others were already known in their community as hard workers. They were already caring for the community. But it was not until hands were laid upon them that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They then were bold and proclaimed Christ as the Son of God. Yet the town’s people only saw stones to do harm. Town’s people could not see what the Christian Community could see in these men. Often people that are not part of a community cannot see the value of that community nor the people working in it.
In the very complex mega city’s we live in today it is very hard to see the value of work done in one small corner of the city. Even the people working in these small corners do not know the value of their work.
The Internet has been a valuable tool for getting the word out. We live in a time of instant information, but if the information is not relevant then it is just so much rubble. Putting that rubble into foundations that can be used in the church will help in building community. We in San Diego are so lucky that we have such people that handle information so well. If only we could find someone that could do this kind of work for the other churches at the same level.
Remember that our community is just a stones throw away from other community’s.
A Response to the Jn 14:1-12
Jesus calmed the fears of his disciples; reassuring them of the future. Rensuring them they have a place in heaven. Each time I read this I think about all the times I have needed to be calmed and resured. Many times over this past year I have been worried about the future. Sometimes the future terrorized me; like just before a paper was due. In those dark hours I would have to stop and calm down. The bigger worry must be; do I still believe that there is a mansion in heaven just for me. The bigger question should be about my attitude. Attitude has to do with how I am living and treating other people. It is often self centered and I am the author of misery or joy in my life. There is a difference between Christian optimism and a great attitude. Christian optimism is not something that is self-initiated it is in spired by the Holy Spirit. Christian optimism is the living out of faith. It is Christian optimism that initiates a great attitude. Christian optimism does not care what the world says or how much the world would like to discount the faith we hold,or for that matter what the world will say for or against; it stands on its own.
Jn 14:12 “Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father”.
Now that is Optimism Christian !!
Acts 11:19 “Those who had been scattered because of the persecution over Stephen, traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, proclaiming the message but only to the Jews”.
But only to the Jews! Do I get it? Do I still only go where it is familiar both in language and culture? Do I still look for the easy way? These questions spin in my head as I prepare to work in the refugee network this summer. Working with people that are from a foreign culture and speak a language that I have never heard. Sure I can smile a lot and nod my head but what will I bring to their new world? What type of icon will I be in the mist of unfamiliar ground? Acts 11:26 “It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians”. Will it be in the food pantry, in the office, or at home doing computer work that I will first be call a missionary? Or do we just stand with coffee cup in hand and just say “I are one”. What a strange name for me in a strange place, I am a freshman again, a rookie, a true green recruit. Newbie reporting for work sir.
Today my friend Tom and I met with the director of the refugee network. The meeting went very fast and I am not sure we covered everything. But it was the first of our meetings. We met at St. Luke’s Church down stairs in the great hall. Nice and cool in that room as the outside temperature was reaching for the mid 80s. Now the hard work of outlining our summer project begins over the next few days.