The “Jesus asleep in the boat during a terrible storm” story has always seemed unfair to me. I feel for the disciples when they wake him; they are understandably angry that he doesn’t seem to care that they are about to die. I’d be just as angry at Jesus for appearing so calm in the midst of real danger.
The disciples are uncomfortable that Jesus is not acting according to the category of “concerned friend,” much less “messiah”—so they kind of yell at him. And when it comes down to it, who hasn’t yelled at God during the storms of life?
Recently I was talking with a colleague about the nature of God and how sometimes we lean too exclusively toward the transcendence of God—God is mighty and distant and all powerful, concerned only with judging us.
Recently I was telling a pastoral colleague that I have no idea how people become preachers without having first been stand-up comics. In the early 1990s when I was getting clean and sober, I worked for a few years as a stand-up comic; getting paid to be caustic on stage was cheaper than paying for therapy and had much the same result.
In the incarnation, life,
death and resurrection of Christ we see that God is so for us and with us that
we can no longer be defined according to death, a religion-based worthiness
system or even the categories of late-stage capitalism.
When I meet strangers and am asked what I do, and I say I’m a Lutheran pastor, there are exactly two possible reactions. Either my new acquaintances look at my fully tattooed arms and my nose ring and say nothing while their faces ask, “Are you joking?
I write this from a retreat center in Washington State. I'm on vacation,
supposedly. In reality I am still writing, worrying about my church
community and even instant messaging parishioners to ask how church
went. It's almost impossible for me to disengage.
The Gospel is always proclaimed by flawed mortals—otherwise it would never be proclaimed at all. The Gospel is also always heard
by flawed mortals—otherwise it would never be heard. Hence there is a
beautiful and incarnational link between the two pericopes that make up
this week's Gospel lesson.
Dynamics of Faith
The Cross in Our Context: Jesus and the Suffering World
Douglas John Hall
Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion
Kneeling in Bethlehem
Kneeling in Jerusalem
Thoughts Matter: The Practice of the Spiritual Life
Mary Margaret Funk, O.S.B.
Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake-Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia
The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith
Marcus J. Borg
Beyond Doubt: Faith-Building Devotions on Questions Christians Ask
What book would you recommend to someone eager to learn more about Christianity, someone who is just coming alive to the faith and to the power of the community of faith—the church—and who is full of questions about these matters?
Both the gospel and the epistle for this week include passages that are
almost annoyingly familiar. There's John 3:16, memory verse par
excellence, and Ephesians 2:8-9, the battle cry of the Reformation: