The first Sunday of Lent is the best time of the year to talk about sin.
Many people in the church, especially the mainline church, are stuck when
it comes to the overlap of sin and sensuality. No one really wants to be
the pastor who comes over all judgmental about sex.
If you've ever changed a diaper, you know that when the baby has a diaper removed, especially a cloth one, there's usually a rush of energy, often laughter, and a convulsion of kicking and rolling and sheer exultation in the freedom of having legs set free from the bondage of damp and sometimes soiled cloth. Babies have no problem with nakedness. It's a relief.
There isn't a tidy way to write about forgiveness. It's the whole gospel, for sure. But you've got to deal with the sin that preceded it and the damage that won't go away no matter how much reconciliation follows it. You've got to deal with the stop-start nature of relationships, the silence and paralysis of pain and shame, and the fact that we fail at least as much as we succeed.
Theology sits precariously between two precipices. On one side is a sharp drop called “Too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use.” On the other side is an equally sharp drop called “Speaking about humanity in a loud voice.”If these precipices endanger theology in general, they are particular hazards for the branch of theology known as anthropology. David Kelsey is sure at every step to avoid the second danger. His magisterial two-volume theological anthropology offers an exemplary approach to avoiding it.
Why is that man holding a sign, Daddy?” “He wants us to give him some money.” “Why does he want money, Daddy?” “Because he doesn’t have any and he’s hungry.” “Why aren’t you giving him any money, Daddy?” “Because I’m not sure he’s really going to spend it on food . . . errr . . .
It’s been widely assumed that a political ethic can be read in Jesus’ answer to “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” and that the social location of the conversation can be ignored or considered irrelevant. But only the most interiorized notion of discipleship can be indifferent to the social circumstances in which discipleship is embodied.
A theological engagement with the current global environmental crisis needs to do four things. It needs to show a thorough grasp of the scientific and historical context in which these questions are being discussed.
The opening in July 1998 of the 13th Lambeth Conference of 800 bishops of the Anglican Communion was an exuberant celebration of multiculturalism, a Eucharist of rejoicing in the many tongues and the crackling fire of a new Pentecost.
When I talk with Christians about their struggles in faith, the question of evil invariably surfaces early on. When I talk with those who have come to faith as adults, very often I hear stories of how God or one of God’s angels in human form has been very present to them in times of suffering.
Woody Allen famously pointed out that the problem is not that God doesn’t exist, but that he is an underachiever. The philosophical tendency for at least the past three centuries has been to assume that the human estimation of God is more significant than the divine estimation of humanity.
The writers of great hymns were deeply aware of the relationship between God and the forces of nature. “Time, like an ever rolling stream,/Rolls all its sons away.” The rolling stream has certainly rolled a few good sons away this week.
The last stage of the worship liturgy clothes the congregation in the practices of faith so that its members make the whole world a Eucharist. Making the whole world a Eucharist means bringing all the practices of worship into a regular pattern of discipleship. It means extending God’s invitation to all, bringing all to repentance and joining in creation’s praise.
All the elements of worship have led us here, to the Eucharist, or communion table. Now a reshaping of human society begins. Just as the bread and wine are offered, transformed and received, the congregation—and through it the whole creation—is offered, transformed and received by God.