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Reminder

This is the day

that the Lord has made

Psalm 118:24

Really?

Really.

Even with the bad stuff that I know’s going on?

Really.

BONUS BLOG: Two Eclipse FAQs Your News Feed Might Have Left Out

It’s difficult to imagine that you don’t already know about this being Total Eclipse of The Sun Day in America.

That is not a political statement.

Details abound from every news media outlet and on every social media platform about today’s eclipse.

Important Warning: If you haven’t read the safety warnings, start here: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety

With all of that said, there are two questions frequently asked, silently or out loud, that your news feed might have left out —

1. HOW RARE IS THIS ECLIPSE?

Not very.

A total solar eclipse occurs somewhere on the face of Earth every 18 months,” writes Jeffrey Kluger. “But it usually plays out over water—which covers 70% of the planet’s surface—or over unpopulated land.” [http://time.com/4894416/solar-eclipse-2017-meaning/?xid=homepage]

 

2. WHAT SPIRITUAL SIGNFICANCE

DOES THIS ECLIPSE HAVE?

Depends.

I’ve read several sources over the past weeks saying today’s eclipse is a sure sign of The End Times.

Someone who knows more about that anybody else says, About that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor God the Son, but only God the Father. Jesus said that in Matthew 24:36.

And yet the aforementioned Kluger opens his piece this way: “Despite all the hype, the moon has nothing special planned for Aug. 21. It will continue doing what it’s done for more than 4 billion years—insensibly circling Earth, a dead rock at the end of a long gravitational tether. The sun has nothing special planned either. It will sit where it must sit and burn as it must burn to sustain the flock of planets and moons and asteroids and comets that have orbited it for so long. That’s how things go in the clockwork cosmos, and yet once in a while, there’s poetry in the machinery.”

After much examination of today’s eclipse and our anticipation of it, Kluger concludes his article with these words: “Might you also find order and even divinity in it? Yes.”

Putting together what Jeffrey Kluger and Christ Jesus say, I’m left with two things.

1st, I’m amazed. Speaking as a former junior high student who had the opportunity to take a Saturday morning class at what was then called The St. Louis Planetarium, I greatly appreciate the amazing “poetry in the machinery” of today’s eclipse. That’s good stuff.

2nd, I’m amazed again. Speaking as a Christian, I greatly appreciate the no one knows clarity…not even Christ Jesus himself knows the schedule for The End Times. Only God the Creator knows about The End Times. We live in the In Between Time, between the last page of The New Testament and the first page of The Next Testament. We are called to be fully alive, making a difference here and now. Again, that’s good stuff.

And then there’s the obvious illustration/lesson from the fact that the source of light will be temporarily covered by darkness, but only temporarily. The light will shine again. I leave it to you draw your own conclusions and applications.

So: where will you be during the eclipse?

Stay safe, my friends, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Learning?

What are you learning?

Not just the regular goofy, painful, maybe even embarrassing stuff Everyday Life hammers into us, but what are you learning intentionally?

Another way to ask that might be, where’s your growing edge?

But if we think we don’t even need to grow and learn: Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and let the one who understands obtain guidance, says Proverbs 1:5.

So take a moment and ask yourself exactly what are you learning today?

“Uneducated Preachers” in The Church

Picking up where we left off yesterday regarding John Wesley’s 52 Standard Sermons, let me get out of the way and let’s listen to Wesleyan scholar Ryan Danker —

The Sermons of John Wesley form an essential part of the Wesleyan Methodist theological corpus. Any person who would want to know “the way to heaven” according to Wesley would look to these sermons.

One will find in them the work of a true theologian, a theologian who, throughout his life, searched for the great truths of God and preached a message of responsible grace to the people of eighteenth century Britain which is still vital and contemporary for us today.

John Wesley himself must be understood in his own Anglican context. John Wesley never left the Anglican Church. He was an ordained priest in the Church of England and continually fought to keep the Methodist Connection within the Established Church. He was a mixture of evangelical and High Church tendencies.

Much has been said concerning the fact that John Wesley never wrote a “systematic theology”. Some have gone so far as to claim that he was not a theologian at all due to this fact. But from what we have seen within the context of Anglican theology, John Wesley is a classic Anglican divine (theologian). The Sermons of John Wesley would then be considered a major, and important, part of his theological writings.

Within Anglicanism the official theological documents were the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, and the Book of Homilies. These homilies (sermons) were to be read to the people of the Church of England and were considered a standard for religious orthodoxy. Thomas Cranmer, who also wrote the original BCP, compiled the first book of homilies. Cranmer was burned at the stake by “Bloody Mary” and today is considered an Anglican martyr. 

Wesley, as an Anglican, understood the importance of a standard set of sermons for the people. Richard Heitzenrater states in his book, Wesley and the People Called Methodists, “Wesley no doubt has the function of the Book of Homilies in mind as he designed these volumes – homiletical material that provided a solid doctrinal basis and boundary for homiletical proclamation by uneducated preachers” (Heitzenrater 177).

— I can’t answer for you, but I’m both humbled by our Wesleyan tradition and honored to be a part of it.

Mr. Wesley was of a profoundly inclusive “both/and” mindset rather than a spiteful “either/or” outlook.

Good stuff.

Hope to see you back here tomorrow.

 

“Not Being Methodist Enough” — Funny or Sad?

Randy Jones is a colleague who gave me his generous permission to share this with you —

I knew a pastor who decided to preach Wesley’s 52 sermons and was asked to move for not being Methodist enough. True.

— So…is that funny, or is that sad? You tell me.

Backstory: I’ve been given to believe that the small book titled John Wesley’s 52 Standard Sermons was a regular resource for early Methodist circuit riders and lay preachers.

Somewhere along the way I picked up the notion that if all one had were a Bible, a Hymnal, and John Wesley’s 52 Standard Sermons, one was good to go for a year. The joke went that after a year the Bishop and District Superintendent would move that pastor in a year anyway, so 52 sermons was all that were needed.

Always seemed to me that if a current copy of The United Methodist Book of Discipline, our ever-changing policy and polity guide, were added to make a pastoral library of four rather than three books, things might have gone smoother for that pastor facing a move every year. But what do I know? And I digress.

As Randy said, he knows a pastor who decided to preach Wesley’s 52 sermons and was asked to move for not being Methodist enough. True. Imagine that.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

And again, I ask you: is that funny or sad?

You tell me.

 

A Moveable Church

From The New York Times* —

Santu Mofokeng grew up under apartheid, coming to a love for photography in his teens. 

Over a few weeks in 1986, during his commute to and from work, he made a series of remarkable photographs on the Soweto-­Johannesburg train.

Whether the ride was in the early morning, late afternoon or evening, people congregated in the train’s coaches, turning them into spaces of prayer and religious song. The train became a movable church. 

A movable church arose out of necessity in this instance, but isn’t a church that’s moveable the idea all along?

And yes, moveable church is an image that works at couple of levels.

By the grace of God, may our churches indeed be moveable! 

Amen?

*https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/10/magazine/victory-in-the-shadows

 

 

 

Listen Louder Than You Play

[If you’re confused by today’s title, simply scroll down to my last several days’ blogs.]

“Listen Louder Than You Play!” is way more than a clever, even ironic, sign on the wall of an elementary school band room.

It’s a call to not just hear but to pay attention and actively listen.

It’s a reminder, as some older person in our lives told us when we were kids, that we have two ears and one mouth for a good reason.

It’s another way of telling us about the mechanics of interpersonal relationships.

It’s about healthy balance —

By the grace given me I say to every one of you,

do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. 

Romans 12:3

and yet Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said,

let your light shine before others,

that they may see your good deeds

and glorify your Father in heaven. 

Matthew 5:16

— There’s a time to you and me to listen, and there’s a time for us to play our parts.  It takes both for the song of life to be complete.

Thanks be unto God for the opportunity!