The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. In ancient times, people would physically show their repentance by sitting in sackcloth—a rough, burlap-like fabric—and ashes. It was a way to demonstrate to others that you were really sorry for a wrongdoing of some kind.
As a "side" project, TheResonant suffers from being to the side of many other areas of life: my pastoral call, family, and other volunteer projects. When something has to give, this is one of the first things. But that's no way to build momentum and a worthwhile project. So I'm embarking on a new project for the season of Lent this year: a sort of reverse idea of "giving something up".
I wrote a piece for our national church's magazine, The Canadian Lutheran, entitled Canada Today: Understanding the Times. It takes a quick look at some recent statistics about the exercise of Christianity in Canada, and reflects on God's Word to help us understand how to engage with our culture that is moving further and further away from Biblical belief and practice.
I came across this article recently. It struck me while I read it (and it's worth a read for all who are seeking to be cultural exegetes) that, for the Christian, the answer to the primary question of the article —"Something is stopping us from creating the families we claim to desire. But what?"—is stunningly simple: removing Yahweh from the equation.
I’m more than a bit of a grammar nerd. I’m fascinated by the way language is constructed, by the way words convey meaning and the ways they relate to each other. I’m such a grammar nerd that I have a whole argument laid out in my head (soon to be committed to this site) about why prepositions are the most important category of words. As I’ve begun to learn the original Biblical languages over the past number of years, I’m fascinated by them, too.
At the end of the last football season, the coach of a professional football team used a word to describe the state of his team after it had just been eliminated from the playoffs. (Yes, we’re talking about playoffs, Mr. Mora.) Talking about the inevitable disappointment that comes from such a loss, he said that it had been tough, but we’re a...here it comes...family.
At our church during this season of Lent, we’ve been working through a series called “Behold the Man!”. It’s based on the words of Pontius Pilate when the soldiers had dressed up Jesus as a king, intended to mock Him (but ironically dressing Him in an expensive purple robe, which actually was fit for a king!). When Jesus is brought out before the crowd after being flogged, spit on, mocked, and dressed in the robe and a crown of thorns by the Roman soldiers, Pilate says to the crowd as he’s trying to set Jesus free, “Behold the man!” (John 19:5).
You might know that the church body I belong to—Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC)—has been rocked in recent years by a scandal involving a collective fund (called the Church Extension Fund, or CEF) that was set up in my District of LCC almost 100 years ago to help congregations with building projects. In January 2015 we were informed that the fund was insolvent. Then we learned it was insolvent because most of the fund was used to provide for the development of one gigantic church/school/housing project which, basically from its inception, was in trouble.
Two weeks ago, we had a reading from 2 Corinthians 5:1-17 in our worship gathering. It's a jam-packed reading, and we focused in more on the end of the reading, where the Apostle Paul describes the new creation that we are in Christ. Last week we read from 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, and I referred to 5:18-21 to "fill the gap" in the system of readings that we have that didn't include those few verses.
There's an oft-repeated phrase in some documents that are hundreds of years old: "believe, teach, and confess". The documents are a collection of statements about what some Christian churches in 16th-century Germany were doing. And quite often the introduction to these explanations was, "our churches believe, teach, and confess...".