Monday, July 28, 2014

why worship? carrot or stick?

My last Sunday morning on sabbatical was spent with my parents and aunt at Bethlehem Lutheran in Minneapolis yesterday. (Altar and font pictured). One of the lessons read during the service was from Colossians 1, where St. Paul gives his eloquent creedal statement: "[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers - all things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. . ." As I heard that read I suddenly knew with clarity why we worship; it is because all this is true! Christ really is the image of the invisible God. All things in heaven and earth truly were created through him and for him.Truly all things do hold together in him. We worship simply because Christ is who he is, and that makes him worthy of our worship.

This summer I have had more than one conversation with persons who wonder why I worship when I "don't have to be there." They wonder if I do it because I'm afraid of God being angry with me if I don't, or if I do it because I receive some grand gifts that they didn't know about when I worship. In other words, they wonder if it is "the carrot or the stick" that get me to worship every Sunday, even on sabbatical. I'd say now that it's neither.  I worship because of who Christ is. All things hold together in Christ.  All things were created through and for Christ. Without Christ I have no life.  That's why I worship. What would you say?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Looking for a good word from on high?

If you aren't a baseball fan you may not have seen the above picture that was taken during the Home Run Derby last night at Target Field, Minneapolis, during the All-Star Game festivities.  The picture looks unreal, like it's from some fantasy baseball movie, but no, this rainbow actually came forth during Brian Dozier's at-bats during the derby.  It made it's way onto the front page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune's sports section.

Interestingly there was quite a bit of media chatter about this rainbow in the sky.  Why is that?  I suppose one explanation is that human beings are naturally superstititous - esp. baseball players, some say.  I have another hunch. I think there is a natural longing in all of us to hear a word from on high - especially a word of promise.  We long to know that the Creator of us all is blessing us and granting us favor.  It goes back to that promise to Noah when, following the Great Flood, God says:  "I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth." (Gen. 9:13)  Is the rainbow a word of gospel from on high?  I think it is something we long to believe.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Connected to Who

We just spent a week up north at a resort with our extended family and pictured above are a number of my great nieces and nephews.  As I think about this picture I am reminded that being connected to one another is a priceless treasure.  There is no substitute for deep relationships.  I sometimes wonder about people who say they have no connection with God.  What is that like?  I know what it's like to be confused about God, or doubt God is listening or caring, or wonder where God is in the midst of the world's tragedies, but to acknowledge no connection whatsoever with God, not even anger, that baffles me.  It seems to me that Augustine was right when he said that we are restless until we find our rest in God.  I'm sure others will disagree.  For me a real word of Gospel is when Jesus says, "I call you friends."  Thoughts?