Monthly Archives: May 2012

These bones can live! (Pentecost, Year B, 27 May 2012)

 

Readings
Ezekiel 37.1-14
Acts 2.1-21
Romans 8.22-27

 

Can these bones live?

It was ‘only’ a vision, but still Ezekiel felt uncomfortable. He was standing in a valley of dry old bones. And God was asking him a very silly question.

Mortal, can these bones live?

What to say? Standing in a pile of bones bleached white by the sun was not inspiring Ezekiel’s confidence. If he said No they’re dead and dusted, he could be accused of doubting God’s power. But if he said Yes Lord of course, he might have to say how on earth that could possibly happen.

So he takes the cautious path:

O Lord God, you know.

Ezekiel tosses the ball right back into God’s court. But God has been around the block a few times more than Ezekiel and the ball is tossed right back at him:

Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel prophesies, and the bones become a mighty people. No one is more surprised than Ezekiel.

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Nadia Bolz-Weber: Entering the stream of the faithful | Faith & Leadership

I’m reading about this idea of ‘Traditioned Innovation’. It seems to me to have resonances with what we’re trying to do liturgically in following the path of ‘ordered liberty’, as well as echoing Robert Webber’s ‘Ancient-Future’ scheme.

Besides all that, Nadia Bolz-Weber consistently has a great message. Do yourself a favour, read it:

Nadia Bolz-Weber: Entering the stream of the faithful | Faith & Leadership.

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No partiality (Easter 6, Year B, 13 May 2012)

Readings
Acts 10.44-48
John 15.9-17

Pentecost is coming in two weeks’ time. The name ‘Pentecost’ comes from the Greek word meaning fifty; the Day of Pentecost comes on the fiftieth day after Easter. It’s the end of the Easter Season and the climax of Eastertide—God raised Jesus from the dead and then sent the Spirit of the Risen Christ upon all believers.

Pentecost is a big day; we often call it ‘the birthday of the Church’. We’ll hear the story then, and we know it well already: the believers are gathered together, the Spirit comes upon them as wind and fire, and they speak in other languages. And some lucky reader gets to say delicious words like Phrygia and Pamphylia.

The Pentecost story shows how much we—the Church of Jesus Christ—depend upon the Spirit as we go out into the world on God’s mission. It also shows that the Spirit continues to grow more and more of the risen life of Jesus Christ within his people and among us.

I’ve mentioned an author called John V Taylor several times. In a book first published in 1972 called The Go-Between God, Bishop Taylor spoke of the Spirit and the Mission. He said:

The chief actor in the historic mission of the Christian church is the Holy Spirit. [The Spirit] is the director of the whole enterprise. The mission consists of the things that [the Spirit] is doing in the world.

The mission of God consists of the things the Spirit is doing in the world—especially the light that the Spirit is focussing on the risen Lord Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus leads, we follow. The Spirit raises us to renewed life with Jesus.

But the people of God don’t always welcome the way the Holy Spirit works. In fact, the Spirit caught the Church off-guard right back in the time of the Book of Acts. The Spirit was raising all sorts of people to new life. The Holy Spirit was intent on tearing barriers down, pulling down walls of separation, bringing people together as one in the name of the Risen Lord.

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God is love (Easter 5, Year B, 6 May 2012)

Readings
Acts 8.26-40
1 John 4.7-21
John 15.1-8

Back in 1967, The Beatles sang

All you need is love.

And they were right. Love is all you need.

Many of us spend our whole lives trying to find that love. We look for it everywhere, convinced it’s ‘out there’, somewhere. We look for it in romantic attachments, in our children, in friends, in sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

Sometimes we find enough of it to meet our aching need. Sometimes we find it only to lose it again, or to realise that the ‘love’ we found wasn’t love at all.

The Bible talks a lot about love, and no more so than in 1 John. Let’s refresh our memory:

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

In fact, John goes further than that. He says,

God is love.

What does that mean? How do we see God’s love for us? John answers this question too:

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

John is saying that God loves the unlovely. God loves those who put his only Son on the cross, where he died for them. Can we believe that? It’s not necessarily easy for every believer to believe that. It’s not easy because either

  • we think we’re deep down unloveable and don’t deserve God’s love; or,
  • we think we’re better than most and God is lucky to have us on his team.

Both are dead wrong.

The fact is that God loves each one of us absolutely and unconditionally and for ever.

Of course, the love we’re used to is deeply conditional. We love others as long as they do the right thing. But if they do something to hurt us or our family, then we criticise and turn against them.

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