Rob Bell’s Book: Love Wins (Thought 1)

I love the quote I read from Rob’s recent book.  He writes:

Imagine a high-school student whose family is part of a Christian church.  She belongs to a Christian youth group, has only Christian friends, reads only Christians books and has to attend Christian chapel services, because it’s mandatory at the Christian high school she attends.

That student can potentially become so anesthetized to Jesus that she is unable to see Jesus as the stunning, dangerous, compelling, subversive, dynamic reality that he is.  She has simply sung so many songs about jesus that the name has lost its power o provoke and inspire.

Her ‘nearness’ can actually produce distance.

Rob has a great way of challenging Christianity at its most basic level…that skewed understanding of Jesus in American culture that seems to believe we own Jesus more than we belong to him.

Devotional 04-24-11

Scripture: Matthew 28:5-7

But the angel said to the women, advice “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’  This is my message for you.”

Thought for the Day: Good morning, Easter!  It is good to see you for there is so much pain and suffering in our world: war and conflict around the globe, communities destroyed by tornados, Japan trying to recover from the earthquake and tsunami, migrant workers trapped in a system of physical and economic abuse, an economic crisis that continues to push people out of their homes, and the list goes on.  Amidst it all, Easter brings a simple message: Don’t give up!  In the darkest moments, there is always hope.  Let us not only proclaim such a truth today, but let us live it in a way that becomes contagious and others awaken tomorrow and say, “Good morning, Easter!”  And though it won’t technically be Easter, it will be for them a resurrection day.

Prayer: Good morning, God!  It is good to greet you on this Easter day.  May my Easter celebration be more than a few chocolate eggs as I desire to know and share the fulness of the Easter joy.  Amen.

 

Devotional 04-23-11

Scripture: Matthew 27:57-60

When it was evening, no rx there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.  So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.

Thought for the Day: A number of years ago, I heard an archeologist make a passing comment that really stuck with me.  He was referring to the building of the Egyptian Pyramids, and he said, “There were thousands upon thousands of slaves who spent their entire adult lives building tombs for men and women who would most likely outlive them.”  The sole purpose in life for those slaves was to build another person’s grave.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a very empty life, yet thinking of it in more metaphorical terms, I believe it describes the lives of many people.  They find themselves trapped in a life that is really about death.  On this Holy Saturday as Jesus lies dead in the tomb, it gives us time to reflect upon the meaning of his life and death.  This moment provides us the opportunity to recognize an alternative way of living, one that is no longer entangled and consumed by an empty purpose.  Though Jesus is dead, we see one whose existence was entirely about showing us how to more fully live.

Prayer: Free me, O Loving God, to live a life that reflects what you had in mind when I was first conceived…a life of hope, joy, love, peace and grace.  Amen.

 

Devotional 04-22-11

Scripture: Matthew 26:72-75

Again Peter denied it with an oath, treatment “I do not know the man.”  After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.”  Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed.  Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Thought for the Day: Why do we not see it coming?  In times of calm when life is easy going, we make profound statements in regard to our commitment to Jesus.  Yet when difficulty arises and our reputation or way of life is on the line, we find ourselves saying and doing things that do not resemble the life of one who is committed to Jesus.   Like Peter, it is only after the fact that we are awakened to the reality of what we have done.  This is a season of confession and renewed commitment, but let us be mindful that devotion to Jesus will take practice and discipline and intentionality.  Don’t beat yourself up when you have a Peter moment, but take the time to reflect on how you might strengthen your resolve when life will once again become demanding.

Prayer: Gently nudge me, O Giving God, toward a life that more fully resembles the life of Jesus.  Amen.

 

Devotional 04-21-11

Scripture:Matthew 26:38-39

Then Jesus said to them, illness “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”

Thought for the Day: In reading these words, it is difficult to understand how some people throughout history have come to see Jesus as having no human characteristics.  They make Jesus into a God who just happened to have legs, but that is not what is depicted in these words as Jesus enters the Garden of Gethsemane with a few of his disciples.  He clearly sees where this journey will end, and he is overwhelmed.  This is not a show for the crowd, but a man who is afraid and conflicted.  Some people might need to follow a Jesus who knew no such emotions, but at the end of the day, I would prefer a Jesus who has walked the road all of us will walk at one time or another.

Prayer: O Merciful God, I will follow the ways of Jesus for he is the one who was fully human.  Amen.

 

Devotional 04-20-11

Scripture: Matthew 26:19-22

So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, sick and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, order he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”  And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

Thought for the Day: Passover started yesterday, and Jewish families and communities began celebrating the seven day festival.  Passover is a reenactment of the Exodus story, and Jesus used God’s liberating narrative to explain what God was doing again.  Jesus named the imperfections and insecurities of his followers, yet God would call forth those who sat around the table…those who would reject and abandon the whole vision and mission that Jesus had been teaching.  And though they would run away, God would find a way of drawing the disciples back in and making them the leaders regardless of their frailties and failures.

Prayer: Thanks for your persistence in calling each of us, O Lord, even though there are times when our actions betray you.  Amen.

 

Quote on Prayer

Rev. John Auer gave me this quote from Father Richard Rohr (he is with the Center for Action and Contemplation).  Rohr said, see “To pray is to build your own house.  To pray is to discover that Someone else is within your house.  To pray is to recognize that it is not your house at all.  To keep on praying is to have no house to protect because there is  only One House.  And that One House is everybody’s Home . . . That is the politics of prayer.  And that is why truly spiritual people are always a threat to politicians of every sort.  They want our allegiance and we can no longer give it.  Our house is too big.”