Monday, March 16, 2015

Writing and Such: Two New Books

So, as you might remember, when the power went out after Sandy I created Read, Reflect, Pray.
Well... it's been a long winter.
This winter I took it upon myself to collect and edit a series of sermons from my classmates, Nine Sermons from the Lutheran Theological Seminary Class of 2011.
Additionally, I participated in National Novel Writing Month... though I confess my version of a "month" ran into the New Year.
Well, after leaving the novel I produced fallow for 6 weeks, and then editing it, I intend to release Silicon Soul on March 27th.
So, watch my author's page.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gospel, in three minutes

If you read our 2 year vision plan in the last Newsletter, you’ll know that we are posting all the Sunday sermons online on Youtube… one of the interesting things I am able to do,
being the account’s administrator,
is look at the statistics about how people watch the sermons online.
          With a few exceptions the average person watches one of my sermons for a little over 3 minutes. I initially felt kinda bad about that… but then I remembered just how badly the American attention span suffers
—the average person as of 2012 can only keep focused on one thing for 8 seconds
—a whole one second less than a goldfish
—and the three minutes and fifteen seconds I get from a viewer on Youtube is a whopping 33 seconds more than the average youtube video gets.
          So, with those three minutes in mind—I’d like to try something a little different today—I’d like to do a sort of Machine Gun sermon—the Gospel in three minutes or less, four times.
          Let us pray
          Look at us, raising a generation on our complaints about God and God’s people. We keep claiming things used to be great
—we point to God’s acts in the past so often we’ve in fact pushed God there for good.
By ushering God into the past, we’ve destroyed our children’s future relationship with God. We’ve poisoned our community with our nostalgia—we’ve ensured we’ll be the last generation of God’s people.
          But look, God doesn’t leave us here, wailing in the wilderness
—we complain of no food, yet we eat God’s manna.
Then we complain of no good food, and God offers us quail.
We complain of no water, yet from the very Rock of God our thirst is quenched. We are brought low, humbled, by a poison that parallels our own poisonous, venomous words
—snake venom for our snake tongues.       
          And then, like someone going through the steps, at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, we are forced to look up and face the poisonous creature.
We name the elephant in the room, we look our troubles in the face.
We survive, wounded but aware and alive
—facing the world as it is
--facing our own culpability and treachery,
facing the fact that it is God alone who has brought us this far.

          Look at us. We who are scattered, so far away from what can be called home—so far away too from one another. We’re strangers here.
          Yet God grabs us up, and brings us home, holding our hand as we travel to safety. God also searches far and wide to gather us in, that we might be together again. We are no longer immigrants, no longer strangers, but brothers and sisters reunited, together again with those who we love.
          Look at us. We who are sick, so low and oppressed by the power of death, that simply putting water to our lips, or food in our bellies, is impossible. Truly we’re ill.
          Yet God is the Good Physician. God saves us from distress, with His Word, so often spoken by a sister or brother in the faith, He heals. His steadfast love is balm and a Band-Aid, it is prescription and ointment—recovery and release, healing and wholeness.
He is with us through the whole process, steadfast and never abandoning, unceasing in His care.

          My God! We are dead and disobedient.
We are an uncomfortable point…
A metaphor and a truth that no one wants to speak—but here it is,
we’re controlled by death and captured by powers which defy God.
          We’re hardwired with habits and inclinations that hurt us and those around us. There is this rut running through the world
—catching our tires and pulling us along
—a rut that runs into a ditch that is Death.
          But, My God! Our God! God, loved us even when we were dead, and God raised us up.
          God saved us from our disobedience and has taught us a new way
—has walked a different path,
one that leads us out of the ditch,
one that raises us out of that rut,
and runs right into our neighbor’s lives.
Right to places that have been placed before us so that we might live for, and with, each other.
          This new way is nothing short of re-learning how to live.
          It’s one big turn around,
one big ongoing U-turn
A turn we’ve biff on often enough,
but still we are called to follow.
          So often we think of the trajectory of our life as this: “We live, and then we die. Point A is life, and point B, sooner or later, is death.
          But that’s not the path we’re on
—that’s not the path we Christian are on.
We can say, in truth, we were dead, but now we are alive.
Point A was death, and point B, sooner or later, is life!
          You were dead and damned in Sin.
          Because of Christ, you are alive and saved.
          I sometimes wonder why we worry about eternal punishment.
Why do we look to the future for a sorting out of all things?
Why do we wait for judgment to be upon us? Look at how we live now. Look how we treat one another, how we choose to act and to live.
Our condemnation is right here—no not in total,
but consider all those things we hide from one another
—sometimes we even hide them from ourselves
consider all that is done in darkness. Consider those things we think to turn a blind eye to, those things in ourselves and in our neighborhoods and in the larger world, that we would rather pretend don’t exist.
          When the Light of Christ is shined there
—shined here
—shined on us
—those things we are not proud of skitter away, like Cockroaches running under a fridge when the light comes on.
The hidden, is revealed.
This brings both pain and healing—because often you are only as sick as your secrets.
          When the Light of Christ shines here…
When the light of Christ shines, it shimmers with those precious words,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life.”
A light that shines like the sun after a long winter—
melting away the dirtied snow,
revealing the good God intended for His creation and his children.
Like the sun, giving good growth to long dormant seeds, and fresh leaves to trees long dead in winter’s grasp.