Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Spring is all about newness. After months of dormancy, the ground, the trees, and the sky begin to show signs of life. In recognition of this pattern, we decided to try something new ourselves. Two things actually. The first is a multi-cultural Bible study, done as a partnership between Foster Street Wesleyan Church, and Greater St. John Baptist. These two churches have developed somewhat of a sister church relationship over the past few years, and we felt that it was time to go deeper. As Pastor Kearns put it, “we have gathered around the frozen pond, and now it’s time to break the ice.” The 10-15 of us who will participate in this Bible study will try to do just that. Studying scripture with people of other backgrounds will expand our vision of what God is up to. It will also force us to face truths that we have mostly avoided thus far. Pray that God would grant us courage in this venture, and that he would use it to heal the hidden wounds of our division.

The second new thing is a community garden. Some kind friends have seen fit to lend us some space to grow some food. The space is located in front of the East Side Homes senior center, which is a perfect location for this project. A handful of our regular volunteers whom God has endowed with green thumbs will lead this work. The local young people will do most of the work, and reap most of the benefits. I’m honestly not sure which I’m more excited about, the prospect of studying God’s Word with a diverse group of Christians, or the looming prospect of fried squash. Please….don‘t make me choose

Thursday, March 3, 2011

the cross is all there is

Sorry this is so long, but I couldn't figure out how to break it up. Read it if you want to, and let me know if I'm a heretic.......

The cross of Christ is the central event of history, the core of all creation, and the sole reality holding the universe together. I don't mean this in a narrow way, or in an exclusive way. I mean this in a broad way, and in a way that takes into consideration the whole of existence. The life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not just an historic event that can be contained within a single measurement of time. It is at the center of all that what is, was, or will be.

Think of it this way....we say we can't believe in the Resurrection because we weren't there to see it. But we have seen it. We've seen a seed dropped into the ground, and vegetation spring up in the exact same spot. We've seen a tree shed its leaves and grow new ones. We've eaten the meat of an animal and gained strength and energy. We've seen one day fade, and a new one replace it. Death and rebirth is an eternal reality. Life born from the womb of death is an undeniable truth that all of us must face. Those events are all deeply and inextricably related to the event that we refer to as the Resurrection. They all teach us what we cannot escape, try as we may. They teach us that renewal only comes through sacrifice. The seed was buried so that a tree could be born. Christ laid himself down so that all creation-himself included- could be reborn. Those events are do not just constitute a loosely drawn analogy. They constitute two manifestations of a single truth.

Death and rebirth is all there is. All else is a denial of reality. It's always been there. It was there before sin was there. Brokenness preceded sin. We think of brokenness - a kind of death- as a tragic outgrowth of mans rebellion. Christ's brokenness is then seen as a sharing of our brokenness,done to undo our brokenness, and prevent any further brokenness. But in Genesis 1 and 2, brokenness is a constant reality. We see it before, during, and after Adam and Eve's initial rebellion. Creation itself is an act of self-giving. God had to lay down his life, not just to save his creation. He had to lay down his life just to make his creation. Maybe that's why the Old Testament speaks so clearly about the forthcoming Crucifixion of the Messiah. God saw it, not just because he's God, but because it had already happened. He died for us before we sinned against him.

If this is true, then the historical crucifixion of Jesus was actually a dramatic re-enactment of the creation event. It was the clearest display of an eternal reality. It was a more emphatic version of a flower growing in a garden:Different in scope, but not different in kind.

Christ doesn't give us the power to fix ourselves. He gives us the power to be broken without being sinful. Truly then, all sin is rooted in the avoidance of brokenness. Adam and Eve weren't broken by their sin. They sinned by trying to escape their brokenness. Brokenness means vulnerability and dependency. Pride is an attempt to transcend these natural borders, and all acts of self-righteousness are merely attempts to skirt the cross.

If you look at it this way, the cross is not just one aspect of true religion. It is the essence of all truth, and is readily apparent for anyone with eyes to see. I see the cross and the empty grave most clearly in The Sermon on the Mt. The heart of the message found in Matthew 5-7 is that we would be wise to lay down our lives for truth and leave the results in the hands of the Father. We must love our enemies. We must not seek revenge. We must be content with what we have. We must not pursue worldly pleasure. These things characterize a life of brokenness. It is a life where God fights our battles for us simply because we trust him to do it. The empty grave is proof that it actually works.