In short, Pentecost reminds us that we aren't in the world to be spectators. We aren't here to wring our hands and act as if we are helpless to make a difference. No! We have a holy imperative and the assurance of God's Spirit as authority for being ordinary people who boldly take on the extraordinary issues of sin and suffering in our time and places. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. This is what it means to be part of a congregation. This is what it means to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
God is appealing to us, imploring us, pleading with us. God calls us to come and receive from God what cannot be bought, sold, or stolen—restoration. We've been invited by God to a banquet although we have no way to pay the admission price. We've been invited to healing even though we have no health insurance or money to pay the healer. We've been invited. We've been invited. We've been invited.
God has prayerful changes for you and me also. There are places and spaces for us to enter, away from the routine noises and sounds of our living, where God will inspire us, reassure us, and prepare us to be divine instruments of righteousness, love, mercy, joy, hope, and peace. Let us turn aside to them.
Lent is a time of spiritual contemplation, preparation, and renewal when we voluntarily wrestle with the dynamics of living for God. Just as people voluntarily prepare academically before beginning the world of work, Lent is a time for preparing oneself for the work of discipleship. Remember, we always prepare for anything we do that we consider important!
Discipleship involves following Jesus in taking people alive for God so they become part of God's love, truth, peace, hope, and joy in the world. It means following Jesus in liberating people from oppressive forces and systems—including cultural, social, political, economic, and religious forces and systems—that trap and cripple them. Discipleship involves following Jesus in living as God's good news and work for freedom, healing, peace, love, justice, joy, and hope. This meaning of discipleship—following Jesus—in "people-catching living" gives the term "catch and release" an entirely new meaning.
Scripture that is alive warns that we will either fulfill God's radical and subversive mission of love, justice, and peace that the Gospels proclaim concerning Jesus or we will fulfill God's mission of judgment and condemnation on the idolatry of opportunism and self-centeredness.
Like Job, Jesus, Shady Hook parents and families, and the rest of the world, we wonder if God has forgotten or abandoned us when innocents suffer.
Advent season is about hoping and waiting for someone who will end the age of injustice and make things right in our lives. So despite the fact that Advent season contains none of the festive atmosphere of Christmastime, there is good news in it.
The Christian perspective affirms that God's messiah has been sent to deliver the entire universe ("cosmos") from the oppressive power of sin and death. We recognize Jesus Christ as God's designated Lord and King of the universe.
People are moved to sing by experiences that affect them at the deepest levels. Whether the experiences are profoundly pleasant and joyful or unpleasant and painful, across the ages humans have expressed their feelings about what we've gone through by songs.
Justice is the standard by which we are to measure every political and social system. Justice is the standard that defines whether a ruler is a success or failure.
What standard should we use to judge public policy? What factors should guide our decision-making?
So in God's name, let us challenge everyone we know to be "good and trustworthy" voters.
We hold as truth that the Spirit of the Lord is working on and with us. God has spoken to us. This isn't some casual undertaking we're about. We're on God's business! We're on a mission from God!
Frustrated faith isn't merely about feeling like God has put us on hold. It isn't about feeling like God has stepped out and left a message for us to use voice mail. It feels like we have called on God from the depth of our dark situations and experiences only to hear the phone ringing, ringing, and ringing!
By God's Spirit, let's love as Jesus loved, live as Jesus lived, welcome all as Jesus welcomed all, suffer for others as Jesus did, and be renewed people whose lives are overwhelming evidence of God's love, truth, joy, mercy, and peace for all.
May the Spirit of God that empowered Jesus work in and on us so that the "Gentiles" of our time and place experience the healing, liberating, and powerful love of God.
We must decide whether to live for God as prophets or for the Enterprise Empire as pawns.
Many people who say they are following Jesus reject the idea that "life" is defined by what is "spiritual," rather than what is material ("flesh").
God invites us into a "life forever" relationship with divine grace and truth that will challenge and change the world.
As followers of Jesus, you and I are messengers of this good news to people who face the dark side of life.
God calls us through Jesus Christ. Trust the grace. Enter the life.
Grace rises to confront the wind and waves of our overwhelming circumstances. Grace rises to speak peace to our trembling and frustrated spirits.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are confirmed as followers of Jesus Christ. By the presence of the Holy Spirit, we have confidence to act as agents of God's grace and truth in our time and place.
People who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender pose no threat to the institution of marriage. Marriages are threatened by hypocrisy, hatefulness, and self-centeredness.