Monthly Archives: October 2018

Eulogy for Saint John the Baptist

John the Baptizer
John who’d lept in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary came near
John who’d baptized by the River Jordan
John, who when seeing Jesus exclaimed
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”
The first Old Testament prophet in 400 years
Calling Israel to repentance
Calling them to look for Messiah
and like Elijah, calling out the sins of the King

John, baptizing Jesus at his insistence while exclaiming
“I need to be baptized by you”
John, who said “He must increase, I must decrease”
Who was thrown into Jail by Herod
John, who asked Jesus
“Are you the one-or do we seek another yet to come…”
John, who was put to death
because of a king’s debaucherous and drunken diversion

Of whom Jesus said
“What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes! And more than that…”

The powers of this world never understand the anointing of God.
To them they seem foolish, crazy, inconsequential…

Such was John:
Walking about in a rough shirt made of animal hair and eating locusts and honey
Yet the foolish things of God confound the wise
And that which seems insignificant to the world of influencers
is of great significance to the Kingdom of God.
John performed no miracles
Yet his calling to Israel for repentance was truly miraculous

John considered
A Pearl of Great Price
And sold everything to have it.
He considered the Treasure hidden in the field
And bought the farm to obtain it.

He was humble
He was God’s mule
Doing the work he’d been harnessed to do.
He was a dollar in God’s pocket to spend however God saw fit
And God spent him well.

At the same time
the world was not worthy of him as he wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves…
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
Make straight his paths
Every mountain will be brought low
And every valley filled
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.”

John was the forerunner of the kingdom
exclaiming that the messiah was coming!
A herald with a message

And in many ways
He is the example of what the church is to be today…

In a few weeks we’ll begin the season of Advent
We look back to Jesus’ 1st coming
The baby in a manger
Who for us and our salvation
Came down from heaven and became a man
By the power of the Holy Spirit
Born unto the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate
Was crucified, died, was buried
And on the 3rd day he rose again in accordance with scripture…

In Advent we remember Jesus’ 1st coming
But we also look forward to his second coming
As a victorious King of a Kingdom
Where every wrong is made right
And every tear is wiped away
And where God has made for himself a people
From every tribe and tongue and nation…

And like John
we live in between the times
Of what has been and what will be

And WE the church are like John the Baptist
We are a voice of one crying in the wilderness
“Prepare the way of the Lord”
Make straight a pathway to your heart!

Let’s Pray
Almighty God,
by your providence your servant John the Baptist
was wonderfully born,
and sent to prepare the way of our Lord
by the preaching of repentance:
lead us to repent according to his preaching
And example,
May your church be constant to speak the truth,
Even boldly when necessary, like John,
and patient to suffer for the truth’s sake when necessary;
And may we take joy in proclaiming the coming
Advent of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
Who will come again.
Keep your church
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Society of Rage & Saint Francis’ Other Way

Recently my college friend Ed Stetzer, who is at Wheaton College as Exec. Director of the Billy Graham Center, published a book titled Christians In The Age Of Outrage. I’m so glad Ed put this book together, it’s something I, and I’m sure others, have been thinking on and wrestling with for several years now as we watch our society become less and less civil in public discourse. The following is an article I wrote two years ago on the subject specifically exploring how we should conduct ourselves as Kingdom People in a turbulent world.

The Rule of Saint Francis for regular people belonging to a secular order, known as the 3rd order, was first penned in the early 13th century. Third Order Franciscans work their jobs, raise their kids, and live into the Franciscan ideas of generosity, love, and prayer while surround by, and participating in, the world around them.

I first read the rule, around 2005, as an oblate in The Company of Jesus, a blended Franciscan, Benedictine, and Celtic third order now associated with ACNA under the Diocese of the Great Lakes. As I read the rule it seemed foreign and antiquated to me in some places, but also oddly relevant and fresh in others. I felt I had discovered a long forgotten treasure that is vitally needed today.

In chapter 4 of The Rule of Saint Francis, The Way To Serve And Work, we find this:

Let the sisters and brothers be gentle, peaceful and unassuming, mild and humble, speaking respectfully to all in accord with their vocation. Wherever they are, or wherever they go throughout the world they should not be quarrelsome, contentious, or judgmental towards others. Rather, it should be obvious that they are “joyful, good-humoured,” and happy “in the Lord” as they ought to be (c.f. Philippians 4:4). And in greeting others, let them say, “The Lord give you peace.”

Speaking Peace to the World
In a day and age of rage that does not produce the righteousness of God, the Franciscan Rule challenges us to live life in a stark contrast to what we witness on TV, and in the news. Bad news brings good ratings, but good news brings life to those all around.

The spirit of Francis’ words challenge us to be gentle, peaceful, unassuming, mild and humble, being respectful to all. These things bring life and peace in society. To be quarrelsome, contentious, and judgmental can rob society of blessing, shows our own tendency toward hypocrisy, and reveal our own blindness to our unfairness and our sin. Francis admonishes us to speak peace over our world, but that we must be sure to first allow peace to have its place in our own hearts.

The Challenge of Peace
Francis says we should be joyful, good-humoured, and happy. We ought to be. When I remember and center myself on Jesus, and his love for me, I am happy and at peace. It is challenging to live this kind of life, but I know it is also the best way to live. It’s the best way to dismantle the atomic bomb of hatred, rage, anger, and un-peace so prevalent now in our culture.

It is completely counter-cultural in our context to be happy, kind, and nice. It was probably somewhat counter-cultural in Francis’ day too, or he would not have made such a point of it.

Real Power
I confess to you, sometimes I struggle to bless instead of curse the person who is inconsiderate, blindly opinionated, or who cuts me off in traffic. Am I the only one? My challenge is to have peace on my lips, and also in my heart towards that person, as much of the time as I can be mindful to do so.

How about you? This may not sound like real power to the conventional structures of our world, but it is power, first according to Christ, and also according to Saint Francis. It is great power, real power that heals and gives new life. “Pax et bonum!”, “Peace and all good!” is a traditional Franciscan greeting.

May the Lord give you peace as you go, and may you also spread peace to those around you, and to the world!

(originally published at Anglican Pastor dotcom in September 2016)

Despicable Beloved

Great insight from 17th century Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence:

“I regard myself as the most wretched of all men, stinking and covered with sores, and as one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Overcome by remorse, I confess all my wickedness to Him, ask His pardon and abandon myself entirely to Him to do with as He will. But this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite. He talks with me and is delighted with me in a thousand and one ways; He forgives me and relieves me of my principle bad habits without talking about them; I beg Him to make me according to His heart and always the more weak and despicable I see myself to be, the more beloved I am of God.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God