“I Am the one you seek”

This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. Historically, the last Sunday of the preaching year. Next Sunday’s Advent season begins a new year of faith observance. But today is about Christ the King.

I have timed the last sermon series, Jesus’ “I Am” sayings found in John, to serve as denouement for my personal focus as pastor in 2012.  Jesus’ last statements in John 18 summarize not only the series itself, not only the preaching year itself, but my entire outlook of faith. For me, the entire crux of living by faith is found in the personal relationship afforded to me by God himself. “I Am the one you seek.”

I am not anywhere near the obedient servant that I should be. The church isn’t half as holy as it ought to be. And the whole world has plenty of problems over which there seems little hope. But the story of Jesus in the garden, sweating great drops of blood, gives me an indication that the most difficult challenge is navigating the darkness before the dawn. Victory is coming and it will break forth.

God is doing what no human or civilization can do. He is conquering evil. Extricating evil from the dna of humanity is a tricky enterprise. Our position as the apple of his eye makes eradicating our lower nature an act of mystery. When we live by faith, we do so as people believing in his sovereignty and in his providence.  Truth and Love working together.

Happy Holydays everyone.

Glory Fills My Soul

“I am the vine, you are the branches….” John 15

Yak-kwee Tan acknowledges that as a scholar, her biblical literacy is influenced by no less than three competing currents. As a former Confucian converted to Christianity, she has been influenced by the western schools where she received her education. As a woman, the global influence of feminism has infiltrated her cultural background of the classic Chinese female. Her Chinese cultural and familial lens continues to impact her close reading of classic biblical texts. This, I think, is an honest way to look at how we read texts, especially religious texts.

Tan points out that acknowledging the currents of influence in our reading and understanding is essential when we attempt to break the code of biblical texts. As such, in keeping with the portrait of Jesus as a person who intended to bring the essential politics of heaven into and alongside the politics and poetics of the kingdom of earth, this passage is intended to help J’s disciples understand their role as living in two worlds.

Since Jesus has already represented himself as the Son who came to bridge the gap between heaven and earth, it is only sensible to extend his invitation to his followers to do the same.  No longer does a structural temple, a political structure or a dogma suffice for bringing heaven to earth.  It clearly is intended for followers to exemplify and exude the quality of heaven, that is love.

Love brought the Son to this physical existence. Love compelled Jesus to conquer death. Love infused the earth with life.  It remains our place to carry on this vital, essential blend of human stewardship and godly sacrifice.

Heaven Came Down

Frank McCourt’s memoir, “Angela’s Ashes” rocked me to my very core. A selection of memories about growing up in Depression-era Ireland, the book was almost too candid for me. If it weren’t for the beautifully lyrical storytelling style, I might never have finished it.

The great poignant moment in the book, however, was when Frankie got a job as a messenger boy. Riding his bike throughout the county delivering telegrams, he found his way to the wealthy spinster who controlled most of the fortune of the region. To Frankie’s surprise his arrival to her house on the beachfront promontory coincided with her passing away. Before anyone else had been alerted, Frankie stood in the room with the deceased spinster.

It was a well known fact that the spinster was the unofficial “loan shark” of the area and next to the woman’s body rested a wooden chest that contained all of the loan slips from every poor family in the village. Frankie picked the box up and took it to the rocky promontory and proceeded to dump all the evidence of past debts into the sea.

When Jesus makes the statement that he is the “way, truth, and life” in John 14, He is taking the position of progenitor in the new Passover. He, in effect, is showing how God intends to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. How the course of history will be irrevocably altered. And how each person can receive the benefit of God conquering the biggest enemy, death itself.