22 April 2017

spirit in the machine

We are early in the Easter season.  Easter is the high point of the church calendar.  We celebrate the resurrection of the Lord.  Still, every Sunday, every Lord’s Day, is a “little Easter.”  Today is Earth Day, in which our attention is refocused on the wonderful, precious blue ball that is our home.  (As if once a year is sufficient for that!)

Combining those themes, what does resurrection mean for the Earth?  We’re told in the New Testament that the risen Christ could seemingly pass through walls (Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-23).  The risen Christ could pass through matter, such as the Earth itself?  In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we read that God “has put all things under [Christ’s] feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (1:22-23).  And, “He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).  Am I going too far to suggest that according to this, the risen, ascended Christ is about more than theological and poetic language?

Perhaps I’m going into the realm of fanciful speculation, but isn’t it possible that resurrection can be seen, not as some body floating up into the sky and winding up who knows where, but as inhabiting creation right here among us?  I’ve heard scientific theories of there being up to eleven dimensions.  (I can’t wrap my head around that.)  We know that we three dimensional beings would seem to have godlike, spirit-like powers to a theorized two dimensional being.  The example commonly given is our ability to point to anywhere on a 2D world, like the top of a sheet of paper.  A 2D observer couldn’t comprehend how their world is being impacted.  It would seem like a god or a spirit is doing stuff!

What about additional dimensions?  Could that in part explain how the resurrected Christ was able to pass through 3D walls as if nothing were there?  Maybe it explains spirits (if you believe such creatures exist).

Well, there are some thoughts to ponder on this combination of Easter and Earth Day.  (Or not!)

19 March 2017

gracefully holding on

This afternoon, I participated in a service of healing.

For years, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has seen congregations break away and join other Reformed denominations.  Usually the driving factor has been theological.  There has been a perception that the denomination has been moving in a more liberal direction.  It typically manifests itself in positions on social and political matters, but at heart, it begins with one’s view of scripture.

But I don’t want to talk about that now.  As I said, I was in a service of healing!

Congregations departing, and the presbyteries from which they’ve been departing, haven’t always played nice.  Well, maybe “nice” isn’t the right word.  Maybe words like “loving” and “faithful” and “keeping-each-other-accountable” are more on target.  And yes, I know that the last one isn’t a single word, but it expresses what I’m thinking right now!

In the wake of lawsuits (believers going to court against other believers?) and other rancor-inducing matters, presbyteries have been encouraged to devise “gracious dismissal policies.”  Well, that’s what our presbytery did, and I served on the first Presbytery Discernment Team to be guided by that policy.  The congregation in question, after a lengthy time of soul-searching, remained in a nearly 50-50 split on the question of “should I stay or should I go”?  The vote fell far short of the 75% needed to sever the ties.

Our stated clerk delivered the sermon this afternoon.  One of the things he so well expressed (and I’m paraphrasing and grossly oversimplifying) was that being in community is a tough thing.  It’s very tough.

I know it’s tough for me.  There some people I just don’t want to deal with.  And I’m also aware that there are plenty of people who don’t want to deal with me.  But as one of the members of the congregation put it today, “The church has been dealing with this for 2000 years.”

At the end of the day, things like proper institutional boundaries, gracious dismissal policies, denominations not poaching off each other (sorry, that’s some of my bias peeking through)—all those kinds of things help.  But there’s no substitute for prayer.  Our Lord, ultimately, is the only one who sees us through this business of gracefully holding on.

So please, pray for us.  Pray for this congregation in pain.  Pray for our presbytery.  Pray for the church.  Because you know what?

“Hear the Good News!  Who is in a position to condemn?  Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us.  Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.  The old life has gone; a new life has begun.  Know that you are forgiven and be at peace.”

06 February 2017

device in motion

There’s something about the Great White North which seems to breed some really awesome rock.  One band demonstrating that is Motion Device, which started uploading videos to YouTube several years ago.  They are a metal and progressive rock group, and by the way, they are also a family.  There is vocalist Sara, sister and bassist / keyboardist Andrea, brother and drummer David, cousin and guitarist Josh—and friend and guitarist Alex, who left the band last year.  Oh, did I mention that Sara was 9 years old when they began this adventure?

If they started out as a gimmick with their young vocalist, such notions were quickly erased as they proved their musical ability which is mature beyond their years.  They’ve covered numerous bands and songs, going back decades, including Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave,” Rush’s “Closer to the Heart” (and I love how Andrea’s bass playing expands the song in a way that Geddy would have to admire!), and really going down the rabbit hole, they do Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

But they’ve been releasing their original material for a while now.  Last year’s Eternalize shows the growth of Sara’s voice and a growing level of musicianship.  (Here’s a link to their song, “Thick Skin.”)  A new album, Wide Awake, is planned.

Who knows what the future holds?  Maybe high school and college?  Somehow, I think they’ll be able to squeeze their music in, whatever may come.