February 2009


A Perfect Lead-In to what Lent is all about  (watch the videogreenspan Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the powerful Federal Reserve Board 1987-2006, was interviewed lately about the housing/banking debacle. After patiently explaining all the complex factors that were involved he ended the interview (or at least the part that was shown) by summarizing it all by saying in essence it couldn’t be avoided because of  “a basic flaw in human nature“!

I believe that the Apostle Paul would say that’s exactly what we should be focused on in our Lenten meditations. And I also believe that is the area, this basic flaw in human nature, where the Apostle makes his greatest contribution to the christian foundations. So here is the schedule I’ve devised for reading a chapter a day from his writings as I meditate with him on the meaning behind Lent.

First Week

Wednesday- Romans 1       – The Bad News in the Gospel

Thursday- I Corinthians 1    – The Gospel of the Cross

Friday- Romans 7          – The Human Predicament

Saturday- Galatians 3      – God’s way of Redemption

Sunday- Colossians 2     – Putting away the Body of Death

Monday- Ephesians 2   –  God’s New Man

Tuesday- Galatians 4    – Children of God’s Promise

Just a careful reading of these chapters with an open mind and a  reverent spirit will put us in a position to understand what Saint Paul is trying to tell us about the relationship between the basic flaw in human nature and what happened at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, according to God’s purpose,” which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

Consider what Lent Observance Means to so many

If you come from a faith tradition that is non-liturgical, one that does not follow the christian calendar for example, do yourself a favor. Take a peek at what the observance of Lent- the 40 days that begins on Ash Wednesday and leads up to the Easter celebration- means to the different faith traditions that practice the christian faith in this way. Follow the LENT ‘tag’ on WordPress to the wonderful diversity manifested in our unity of One Faith and One Lord.lentMy wife is reading through a book of meditations on the atonement-The Passion of Christ, by John Piper- I think this will make the third year she has used those meditations along with Scripture to great benefit. Me, I was thinking of choosing 40 chapters from the Apostle Paul’s letters to reflect upon his unique interpretation of the ‘flesh’ and our need to be rid of it in order to live the new life in Christ.

Here is the begining of my list, not in any order yet, but definitely ones I want to meditate on: Galatians 3,4,5; I Corinthians 1,2,3; II Corinthians 3,4,5,6; and Ephesians 2,3,4,5; Romans 1,2,5,6,7,8. I haven’t listed any from Hebrews or the Pastoral letters. I don’t think I’m going to have any trouble in finding 40 worthy chapters, do you?

yearofpaul

I’ve been having a great time posting on the “Year of St.Paul” and responding to the invitation of Pope Benedict to study afresh with the Catholic Church the contribution this Apostle makes to Christianity.

I have learned many things not only from the Biblical texts but have also learned of the Apostle’s influence on the Catholic renewal that has been going on for some time and is especially seen in the council known as Vatican II. But June 29 is coming around soon and I am hoping to choose another theme that will keep me busy.

EDINBURGH 1910-2010  appears to be a very good candidate. Click here to see the intended outcomes.

In 1910 the first world conference on Protestant Missions was held and this remarkable event led to much of the activity in the 20th century churches not only for world-wide expansion but for the related emphasis on the Biblical theme of UNITY. In fact this conference led directly to the eventual founding of the World Council of Churches. It was a very significant event coming as it did as the build-up for World War I was already underway by many of the same countries that the delegates came from. There is much to review about the first conference and what has happened in Protestant mission since.

Preparations for the Cenntenial celebrations are already far along with four major conferences planned around the world. The excitement is building among the churches and it has caught me in its wave. If you want to inform yourself of some of the things we will have to blog about check-out EDINBURGH 2010:Remembering the past, redefining the future.

As Presented by Eckhart Tolle

I was astonished Sunday evening as I watched 60 Minutes on CBS. There on national television was something that sounded very familiar: the center of all the problems we are facing in life is due to the EGO. For Oprah and in particular this author and his theory that all we have to do to break free is to learn how to get rid of ego, has been met with eager acceptance. oprahFrom the comments in the program and from those available on her website, I think it is fair to say that this has been embraced in Oprah’s version of christianity.

There is something very basic in this version that I believe Saint Paul himself lived and taught involving humanity under the bondage of sin. He used various ways to designate this human tragedy and what God has done in Christ to heal it- the old man, the flesh, Adamic humanity.

Yet in Paul’s christianity this problem of ego is first and foremost a problem of rebellion against our Creator and the solution begins with His own provision of the Savior, Jesus Christ. So getting rid of the ego/self life begins with being reconciled to God’s broken law and that Paul says happened at a definite time in the history of humankind at the cross of his Son. Here in Paul’s own words is God’s secret-

Justified by Faith  (letter to the Galatians)

2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified [1] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness [2] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

A New Earth                                                                                                     There is no doubt that there is a great spiritual hunger in our society for Tolle’s thesis and his books to find such success in the marketplace. On the otherhand, my own sense is that this is exactly where the churches with their version of the Gospel are not boldly speaking into that same society. I would even go further and suggest that the great majority of christians in America do not even know Paul’s secret of dealing with the ego- the part about what it means to be “crucified with Christ” in order to live free of the broken law. This is not just a theory, it is a way of living, and yes, it is about experiencing God’s new creation on earth. For Paul, this is included in what he called “living by faith” and “walking in the Spirit”.

Happy birthday to my oldest son, Philip!