Friday, October 9, 2009

My thoughts on B033 and D025

I know I'm alittle late on this. Only two months and some change.
This summer the Episcopal Church approved two resolutions regaurding its ministry to gay and lesbians. The church deceided to open up the floor to gay and lesbian priests to be ordained bishops, and gay and lesbian couples can have their marraiges blessed.
Now, as a gay male, I'm only partly pleased with the results. Of course, when the appointed time comes I can get my own relationship blessed, and if I'm ever ordained a priest in the church and if I do well, then I could possibly even get a pretty big promotion. Of course, I believe that the love of Christ is inclusive to all humans, and I believe the Episcopal Church is doing a good job for the most part in practicing the inclusion as a whole.
Now, in reguards to its relationship with its neighbors, the Episcopal Church is flunking. Just last month the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement that the USA branch of Anglicanism might face a reduced status in the Anglicanism.
The whole thing is a load of crock, if you ask me. I already know what second-class feels like in California, and I don't need that in Global Anglicanism. I think both parties are being selective.
First off, I know Rowan Williams has a lot on his plate. I wouldn't want the job, and if I did then some of the African bishops might be in trouble. But I don't think he is being fair. He would reduce the status of TEC and not the Church of England or Canada who have been progressing in a smiliar direction? He would favor the more conservative folk when GAFCON can ditch the Lambeth Conference for their own special gathering? I have heard more UnChristian statements out of Peter Akinola than any neo-Christian Episcopalian. You can support the death of practicing homosexuals and still be a practicing bishop? Its beyond me...
Second, TEC. Maybe its because I'm not getting married anytime soon, but I think the church should have waited at least two more General Conventions. Episcopalians should know that things move at glacier speed in this church. Gay rights in the church has only been going for forty years. And even in the secular world gay rights are only just now starting to catch on. Society is slowly catching up. And even though the Episcopal Church is a slow church, apparently it is also brash. And, if it really is a fully inclusive church, then provisions must be made for those who hold more traditional views on sexuality and marraige.
I could go on, but I just needed to get that out.

Sermon for 3rd week in Easter

Don’t tell Tim or Vern, but I got off fairly easy this Sunday. While I was preparing for this sermon, I was amazed at the broad list of things I could potentially speak on from the readings appointed for today. The readings all give the same message: God, love, Jesus, death, repentance, forgiveness. But it would be too easy to just leave it at that. And I can’t disappoint Tim and let you all off the hook that easy either.

The readings I want to focus on this morning are the lessons from Acts and the Gospel of Luke. Again, they both carry the same message and mirror each other quite well. That would be because Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts were originally written as companion volumes for a Gentile audience; they offer an account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and a history of the early church in relation to what was written in the Old Testament. Luke’s writings were split into two different books when the Ecumenical Councils decided to organize the canonized books of the Bible.

Luke is a great story teller. In fact, the Gospel reading is actually Luke’s account of Jesus’ appearance to the eleven disciples which we read in Johns Gospel last week. Mark had nothing to say on the matter. John does a little better, as we read last week. And all Matthew had to write was “Now the eleven went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matt 28:16-17). Luke was probably that annoying guy at work who likes to tell you how the clock was made. He likes detail. He likes to engage his reader and is an excellent narrator.

In Acts, the story picks up right after Peter heals a crippled man outside the Temple. You could almost confuse Peter for John with how many times he says the word “You” in reference to the Israelites and their leaders. And that’s exactly what I want to focus on. Not anti-Jewish comments. But the distinctions made in Luke’s writings.

First off, Peter makes the distinction between himself and Israelites. He distinguishes between those who wanted Jesus dead, and Pilate who wanted to release him. Between God, and those who wanted Jesus dead. He next differentiates the “Holy and Righteous One”-Jesus- to the murderer who was released instead. Then between Peter and John who as was with him at the Temple, to those who wanted Jesus dead. Alright Luke, we get the picture. Then to appeal to the Israelites to repent, he addresses them as “friends” or as the Greek has it. “brothers” instead of those darn Israelites who wanted Jesus dead as verse four started out.

Luke’s Gospel gets a bit more interesting and this time Jesus does more of the distinguishing. Prior to this in verse thirty, two of the disciples who had just broken bread with Jesus went to go tell the news to the other disciples that he was alive. Jesus now makes his third and last appearance in Luke’s Gospel before his ascension. Poor Jesus. I can’t think of a worse way to be welcomed back from the dead. Jesus greets his disciples as friends, “Peace be with you”. But they reply-probably as we would-with, “Ah! It’s a ghost!” Being taken as Casper the unfriendly ghost forces Jesus to explain his physical scars and body are that of a resurrected body. Casper does not have such a body. Even after seeing his hands and feet they are joyful, yet disbelieving. And Jesus, in his understanding that they are afraid and do not understand that he is really alive, eats with them to prove his physical body and perhaps bring reality that his is risen indeed and confirm he is not Casper the Holy Ghost.
All the things just mentioned could be interesting sermon topics. We could think about ghosts and the paranormal as it is a personal interest of mine. We could talk about atonement for sins through God’s grand clean up plan for the world and our mission to
evangelize. Or how Jesus is revealed to us as the risen Lord when we gather at the Altar for the bread and wine as he was revealed to the disciples when he broke bread and ate fish. Or we could ponder the possible significance between Jesus eating fish and Jesus breaking bread back in verse thirty. To stay in continuity with Vern’s sermon last week, I’ll stay with the doubting hearts and joy of the disciples.
It’s moments like this in scripture where I fully understand that God works through most mundane and odd things. At times, I’d really like to give the disciples a break and play the “we’re only human” card. Then, at other times I’d rather like to see humanity get a break from its own ignorance and stupidity. We can’t be that dumb to miss the risen Lord. Are we? I suppose we do have the advantage over the disciples in that we do believe without seeing. As Vern pointed out last week, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus. At least not until Jesus revealed himself to them and “opened their minds to understand the scriptures” as the Gospel states. Sure, they were human. But even more, they were willing and obedient to be appointed Jesus’ witnesses of his love and passion to all the nations. The Gospel doesn’t bluntly say that the disciples finally get it now. But when foot-in-the-mouth Peter testified that they were Jesus witnesses later in Acts and astonished the people with the healing of the crippled man, I’m pretty sure they do get it now.
One common theme which I feel link these two readings together is the reactions of the people who witnessed the healing at the temple and the disciples who saw Jesus resurrected. The “it’s too good to be true” complex. Doubt versus joy. Jesus poses the question to his disciples “Why do doubts rise in your hearts?” I’m sure we could give the answer, “Well, Jesus. It all has to do with this or that”. And I’m sure he would respond back to us, “Well, okay. Now, really…why do doubts rise in your hearts?” It’s easier to talk about doubt. One doesn’t have to look very hard to find it. However, one thing we can conclude from the lessons: in the mist of doubt, there is always joy. A good Anglo-Catholic friend of mine advised me once during my own doubtful months last year “We are meant to seek out joy in doubtful times. Its an advantage we have as spiritual beings”. Joy is more than simply making the best of it or faking it until you feel it. Joy happens in the moment where Jesus reveals himself to us. Joy is accepting that all the doubtful things which surround us can be used for something greater than we can imagine. It is an acceptance which transcends all doubt and assures us of God’s hand at work among us.
In all our individual experiences we have come to this point where Jesus has revealed himself to us in prayer, the breaking of bread, in service to others, in facing our own fears and doubts which set us back. We have our ghosts which haunt us, fingers that we point, doubts, fears, and joys. Jesus met the disciples as they are. As people who doubted, had fears, and were sometimes a little less than bright. And Jesus continues to meet us just as we are. As people who doubt, have fears, and who are sometimes a little less than bright. In our own journey, like the disciples, many of us in our past isolation from the Episcopal Church doubted that we would ever serve in such a faith community as Grace. In a world of uncertainty we have all lived in fear, leading us at times to run off course contrary to what would be best for us. Jesus continues to not only reveal himself to us, but also to assure us. And that assurance can transcend all doubts in us leading to joy. And of this we are certain. And we are ourselves are witnesses to this. Amen.

Sermon for 22nd Week after Pentecost year B

Pslam 8
Job 1
Hebrews 2

What is man that you are mindful of him? The Son of Man that you should seek him out? This question has been asked and answers have been sought out by many intelligent people through out history: Who are we? In Western thought where the emphasis is on the individual, we ask this question on a much more personal level: Who am I? And when we ask this question in the context of Psalm eight, who am I that God even cares? The question turns theological. When you look at humans who have a nice long history full of war, murder, violence and mistrust compared to a God who created “vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, and planets in their courses”, who are mortals that God should consider us or look at our direction? It seems that this is an occurrence in the Old Testament where there is actually a positive response to such a question. “You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor, subjecting all things under their feet”. But can this really be the full answer? Not that I can come up with a better answer than anyone else in the past thousand years, but sometimes I feel like my crowing with honor and glory might have gotten lost via Episcopal Postal Service. But, that might just be me.

The answer to “what is man that you are mindful of him?” may still be at least part of the answer given by the response of the Psalmist. You have made them “for a little while”, says the Psalmist, little lower than the angels. “For awhile”, possibly implying that our status as humans might be temporary. (Thanks be to God…)

In this transitory life we all know too well the moments where Jesus relates to our moments which are anything but honor and glory. Moments which are also only “for little awhile” but seem to last a lot longer. And of course, as it said, we can’t possibly know or feel what good and bad are if we don’t know them both. Nor can we can know glory without having experienced suffering on some level. In today’s reading from Hebrews the writer seems to suggest this. Jesus, who in verse nine, is “now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”. Now, since Jesus suffered doesn’t that mean the rest of us get a get out of jail free card? Not necessarily.
As the Buddha said, Life is suffering. Attachment to life causes suffering. Let’s boldly face it; we are collective individuals who suffer. Often it is the experience of our own suffering which aids us in making the mistakes we do, locking us in our patterns of behavior going around in circles as we try to find our identity. Other times, as wise man once said, Stuff happens. But suffering is indeed apart of our human identity and experience; which is exactly why Jesus had to suffer, it comes with the territory. It’s apart of the Incarnation. In becoming human, Jesus assumed every part of human identity; the good, bad, and ugly. And, by his grace, we in turn as Christians make the attempt to live out his nature given to us in baptism. When we read the Gospels, not only do we learn that Jesus assumed and experienced the same suffering that we experience, but he overcame his suffering by his identity. He suffered with his identity and suffered with purpose and reason. This is his glory and honor.
Now, what about us? Those who are sitting in the pews who are fully human but aren’t fully God? Job is a perfect example, a mere mortal whom God cared for. Though we just started the first chapter in the lectionary today, I’m sure I wouldn’t spoil the ending in telling you that Job either symbolically or literally went through more than what the average person should, and that it all worked out for him in the end. Job suffered, and though it would seem that his crowning with honor and glory came at the end of the book, I think Job would say different. He, like Jesus, set a prime example. Not necessarily that he never cursed God, but he was aware and secure in his identity not to curse God, and he accounted his glory and honor just in the fact that he was alive and breathing.
Even if it is “for awhile” the honor and glory we have as humans is the glory and honor which God has showed forth in our creation in blessing us with “memory, reason, and skill” and in making us caretakers of our planet. God gave us something which the heavenly bodies do not have: Identity. Identities which can love God back, and love each other on our own free will. This is why God looks past our faults despite the fact most of the time we know better.
If there is anything which can help us understand our individual identities here on Earth it might be this quote by French priest Teilhard de Chardin. “You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience." Keeping this in mind has helped me personally in those major and trivial moments where I’m not sure what the hell is going on. We have all had those moments where we ask on some level, “Why is this happening?” And most of the time we can’t find an answer. We might try to come up with answer and might succeed. But I think if we’re really honest with ourselves, we might have to admit that we came up short. But what else can you expect from spiritual beings trapped in limited human form?
In living our faith we must be mindful of our selves. If we are aware of our identities then we can be aware of Christ who dwells within us. We may not have the “why” of our long term eternal purpose and why God cares and loves us. But that almost doesn’t matter. We can know “what” and “who” which are equally important.
Imagine that your life on earth came to end, and finally you are in the next realm with Jesus, free from your mortal body and clothed in celestial brightness just as you were created. And Jesus asks you, “So, what did you learn”? You reflect back on your life and all that you had experienced and all whom you came across and loved. You search out your identity. And the answer to his question just might be the same answer to why God is mindful of us in the first place.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Who is my neighbor? We all have a good idea of what a neighborhood is. Who our neighbors are. Normally, we think of the people who live on the same street as us. The Brown’s down the way. The parents of our children’s friends. Our grocery store clerks that we see weekly, the Starbucks Barista that gets my Americano ready every morning before 6am Morning Prayer….
Anyway, even the Greek used for the word “neighbor” means “close by”, “near”, and “fellow”. We are needy people. Most people don’t recluse into being a hermit. We typically live together, share with one another the common bond which we all need: love. I’m sure there are some of you who remember the old kiddy show Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood. You know, “Won’tcha be my neighbor”. Right? Okay maybe not. But ask corny as it is, we like our communities, some at arm and shoulder, and others at arms length. Either way, we love the warming welcome from Mr. Rodgers to be close by, and near.
My home town as many as you know and I accept your condolences, is Bakersfield California. The biggest little town you could ever be in. We’ve talked about “Six Degress of Separation” in our Global Reconciliation Classes. The theory states that due to modern globalization, everyone in the world is only sex people away from each other. Well in Bakersfield, that degree shrinks down to about 3. That reminds me of funny dating situation. But I’ll save that for another sermon. I can remember countless times where my 01’ Ford Ranger needed a jump, or I ran out of gas. And it was never the case that I couldn’t find someone to help me out. Complete strangers. And I can also recall doing the same for others. I remember seeing people getting out of their cars to help someone push their car to a gas station. I might still gripe about that town, but in a lot of ways it had a nice community spirit to it. We were all neighbors.

Now, once again Jesus has a lawyer who has to use his wits to put Jesus in his place and question who can get away with in not calling a neighbor and still have eternal life. He already got the answer to the question he originally asked. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor as yourself (a phrase we Episcopalians are quite familiar with) and then he would have eternal life. But, like many of us when it comes to God’s inclusive love to all…we do try to find loop holes. The “Jesus love you, but I’m trying” attitude. And as Jesus did so well, he told a story.

So you’re going down to Jericho. You’re going to an oasis. Lots of shade, water abounding, rest, and in some Biblical cases, healing. Jericho’s nickname still is the “City of Palms”. Oh yes, it’s gonna be great! The only problem is, you are literally traveling down to one of the lowest point on Earth. You are traveling down from about two thousand feet above sea level, to about eight hundred feet below. Down a steep valley which may actually be “The” Valley of the Shadow of Death. This road had a reputation for bandits and the like! And of course, while your in the middle of Mojave going to Paradise you get robbed! Your car is jacked, they took your food, money, make-up, accessories, everything…they beat you up pretty bad and they leave you high and dry. So you’re half dead. And what do you see coming? The clergymen! The Priest and then Levite. You’re saved! Right? ERGH. Wrong. This wouldn’t be the friendly collared man or woman with their faithful lay Eucharistic minister trailing behind. The Priest had his duties in the temple to perform sacrifices and the Levite had to help him. So, even though God gave care of the world to Israel in Leviticus, they had obligations to keep clean and pure as outlined in the Torah. So okay. You’re screwed. You’re gonna die. Oh wait! You see someone coming. But, crap…it’s a Samaritan. And being a Jew, you don’t like Samaritans. They are half-Jews. They don’t like you anyway! But the Samaritan picks you up. Bandages your wounds. Takes you to the nearest Holiday Inn, and pays for your room and medical expenses and pays for people to take care of you. Now really, if this had happened to you wouldn’t you be so thankful and gracious. I’m sure we all have our own similar stories of someone we know (or may not know!) going out of their way for us. It was a good time for us to recognize that we were a neighbor.
Notice how Jesus didn’t ask the lawyer at the end of the parable, “So really, who’s your neighbor?” But he reworded the question, “So, out of these guys, who was a neighbor to the victim?” And the answer was the one who had mercy on him.
Who are our neighbors? Are they the protestors who are still trying to make same-sex marriage illegal? Our roommates who sing badly in the shower? The Nigerian Anglicans? We can’t pick and choose them as the lawyer wanted to. Think of the victim as us. Those who have been wounded by the world on our rocky journey. Everyone in life tends to be ignored, even by those are considered “Holy”. But in every of life’s situations God sends the Good Samaritan who took us, welcomed us, and had mercy on us, and gave us grace. The Inn, you could call the Church. The place were all are welcomed to rest of off the hot, rocky valley traveled.
We are called to see Christ in everyone. We are called to as seen through out the Gospels to bring in those far and near to our banquet table. In the faces those we love, and meet, near and far, is our Lord. And it is our responsibility to replicate God’s love for us through his son, by loving others as ourselves, as he loves us.
So, really…who is your neighbor?

Thoughts on the death of Christ (originally written Good Friday '08

For the longest time, I never understood how the death of Christ works and atones for our sins. I always believed, of course, that Jesus died for our sins and rose again from the dead. Even C.S. Lewis said that just as man has always eaten his meals knowing it is good for him no matter what science supports, so is the believing in the Mystery of our Salvation no matter if it makes sense or not, we know it works. As I reflected on the Good Friday lessons and looked at the cross that Christ died on and prayed, I thought about the death of Christ. What it is, what it means, and how it makes sense in the big picture in out salvation.Death is essential in life and unavoidable. It marks the end of a life and recalls the beginning and all the time spend between. It is perhaps the largest event in life in which all mortal men will face. It is a universal symbol in all cultures which marks the twisted idea that in death, there is rebirth and new life. The earliest excavations of the dead being buried have traces of flowers in their graves, and the hands and feet of the dead were bound up. Whether it being reincarnation, or a life in the world to come, we as humans are deeply impacted by the ending of life in a very sacramental way.In most cultures and religions, the spilling of blood is what often makes death transform into new life. Rituals which emphasize this are some of earliest man has practiced and are nearly universal. What can explain this phenomenon? Did our early primitive ancestors come up with the idea and it spread across the worlds and across the seas and lands by coincidence? I think not. Rather than being an ancient religious trend which survived today, it is a part of which is imbedded in all human behavior and endeavor. A very large and extended serendipity moment. Just like the practice and idea of religion itself, we know in our sixth senses and third eyes that the death and spilling of blood is essential for new life.After the God of the Hebrews delivered Moses and the Hebrews out of Egypt he established a covenant where YHWH would be their God and they would be his chosen people and would follow the laws set before them. And once a year a high priest would stand before God in the temple and sacrifice an unblemished and perfect lamb on the behalf the of the people that theirs sins of being unable to keep the law would atone for.The entire Old Testament, in a nutshell, is a number of stories how the chosen people would not keep God’s Laws and would call them to repent. A number of times God would not accept their sacrifices due to their resistance to him. And thus they remained in their sins.Though God how wrathful he may be in delivering his people to their enemies is also shown through out scripture God to be slow to anger, quick to forgive, and full of mercy and love. God knew that Israel, let along the whole population of the world, was not capable of keeping his law. God eventually aloud Israel to be exiled from the Holy Land. And The Prophets were sent by God to urge Israel to repent of her sins, and foretell the promise of the messiah.God knowing this, Incarnated himself into the Virgin Mary that he would be born a mortal. Fully man, yet fully God. Jesus as God’s begotten knew why he was sent. To yet again repeat the words of the prophets of repentance and to bring back those who had broken Gods law. The only differences, God was preaching to his own people face to face and the message of the law was summarized: to love.In animal sacrifice, the means are temporal and profane. The affects they had only changed the soul insomuch till Israel sinned again. God in his love knew he would have to do it himself. Just as the highest and most perfect priest would represent the people and sacrifice a lamb to God for the forgiveness of sins, so did Jesus represent the whole population of the earth and sacrifice himself as a lamb for the reconciliation between the profane and the cosmos.The word “sacred” means that something is “set apart”. Jesus, being fully man, and yet fully God was desecrated in the worst way possible at the time. Being whipped by leather lashes with pieces of sharp rocks and glass in them, and having hands and feet nail to a piece of unstable wood, pulling on his pierced limbs in order to breath. In the death of the absolute Sacred, God himself; came new life, and the sacrifice was perfect and complete. God alone knows how and why this law and pattern of the spilling of blood works.

Of course, if Jesus had just died and that was the end of the story; then we would have no idea if his death was actually worth anything and if mankind was really reconciled unto God. It would be a normal death and shedding of blood which brought forth the means of nothing. However, the death of Christ the Sacred brought forth the new life in his resurrection from the dead, the ultimate miracle of miracles as a sign that the sacrifice was complete and our sins no longer kept us from God’s presence.
In Jewish thought, the current profane world we live in is seen as broken and in need of fixing. I propose in this writing that this is one of the many Laws of the Cosmos: the world is broken. And the only means of fixing it is by means of sacramental ways. Ways which are paradoxes Paradoxed ways by which the profane is used to make something holy. For example, the using of death to bring life. Or, the profaning of the most Holy person ever seen. Religion does not make sense outside of its own context. A lot of people think that the idea of death for life is primitive, ancient, non-practical, and absurd. And they are most right. It is absurd. It can't be proven with means of modern methods of science and the results can't necessarily be seen. But, so is all of religion in general. A person can't simply take an idea out of its context and expect it to make sense. The picture painted by modern religion makes God like Santa. Someone way high north who sees and keeps track of all we do and will reward or punish us. It is absurd. Praying aloud alone looks like a person is talking to themselves. But when viewing spirituality this way, the point of religion is lost. The purpose of extending yourself to something which is utterly beyond you is lost. Religion isn’t God. It’s a framework used to understanding God. Spirituality isn’t God. It’s a tool to practice God in a person’s life. The purpose of religion and spirituality is not to bring full understanding and full enlightenment on the ways of God; but to help us start the long journey towards the cosmos and bring partial enlightenment to the numerous things which we will never understand

. Having all this in mind makes me appreciate the coming Easter. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Will come again. Our sins are forgiven. Alleluia!

Luke 22:24 (originall written in December)

Today’s Gospel reading seems out of place for Advent. After all, Advent is the season of symbolic waiting. Symbolically, we wait and yearn for the coming of the Messiah as the Jews did for four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. And parallel to waiting for the Messiah to come, we who are Christians wait for our Messiah to come again. During Advent we look forward to birth of Jesus. So while our churches are flocked with blue and wreathes, our reading today calls to mind the Season of Lent where we prepare for the Resurrection of Jesus by learning about his death a few months from now.

If you notice in the Lectionary for Daily Readings, The readings started over with Jesus entering into the Jerusalem during Passover. Palm Sunday, right? However the reason for this odd combination of season and scripture is because as we read about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, we also symbolically await his coming into the world, Christmas.

Our readings have thus brought up to this point on the Mount of Olives. Here Jesus knowing what is to pass, prays.

In life, we wait. Waiting for Joyous occasions such as the birth of children, or children waiting to make their first trip to Disney Land. Or daily trivial events; waiting in the lines are grocery stores or the bank. Or less fortunate events when we are just “waiting for IT” to happen; foreclosure, divorce, even death. If I had to guess, this was probably Jesus’ version of waiting.

In these types of waiting, we don’t typically want them to happen. They aren’t fun. They are periods of anxiety where we may know what is coming, we may not know what to expect.

Here in his own agony and anxiety of waiting, Jesus returns one final time to his favorite retreat spot, and prays. In his prayer he asked if God was willing that this cup would be removed from him. But either way God’s will be done. Typically in scripture, Angels are sent to be messengers. If I were in Jesus situation, I would probably be absolutely stoked to see an angel, with perhaps hope of God removing “this cup”. But instead, the angel offers words of encouragement, only making the reality of God’s will, all too solid.

Jesus probably prayed a lot more that what is recorded in the Gospel. But the writer chose to note these words in his gospel. In this short prayer is the ultimate character of Christ: Obedience to the will of God. And particularly, obedience unto death. The will of God in his prayer is symbolized as a cup. Just a few verses before we see Jesus blessing the Passover wine as the blood of the New Covenant. A cup from which liturgical Christians remember and rejoice in every Sunday. Why a cup? A cup is something which holds something, and we take its contents in. In Holy Communion, we take the cup of salvation which holds the blood of Christ, and we take in the newness of life which came from Jesus death. In Jesus’ case on the Mount of Olives, the cup is the will of God for Jesus, and it holds the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering for which he is about to endure. This is the point of no return for Jesus. Its Jesus’ had been waiting for since day one; Christmas.

Jesus was human. We are human. In his Incarnation is assumed all of humanity. All humans suffer and experience shortcomings in our lives, some darker than others. We all know too well the pain of emotional agony in our minds which in turn causes anguish on our bodies. We all know too well the pains of being mortal humans. So did Jesus.

In this season, we reflect on what we do most in life: wait. No matter what is waited for, it is important to see that in waiting we are not to just sit, wait, and do nothing. We act. Jesus acted by praying. Not only was he waiting for that which was to come, but he was preparing and getting ready. It’s easy to sit idle in dark times. It often seems that there is just simply nothing left to do. It’s all too easy to forget that depressing story about the death of an innocent man doesn’t end here. It was also God’s will that Jesus should overcome death.

Jesus was a man of action. From turning tables over riding on a donkey. Jesus kept pretty busy. So ought we. I’m not saying that God will take all our problems away and change his will for us just in one prayer. But if we discern what the will of God is in our lives and accept his cup, then we can always know that we will resurrect from our darkness and demons into something better. This is the hardest part of Christian Spirituality, knowing that as Julian of Norwich said, “In the manner of all things, all shall be well” will always be true.

In his Incarnation he was made fully man. Everyone one of us will face death. It is important to always remember that though our death clock seems to always be ticking, it is what we do in our “dead time” which will have everlasting impacts.

John 1:5

John 1:5

Light and darkness. Day and night. Left or right. Black or white. The polar opposites of light and dark has always been a reoccurring theme in how mankind understands the world about him. Typically, as seen in the Star Wars epic; light is good, and dark is bad. They are set a great distance from each other in mans logic. Well, after all; when do most crimes occur? In the darkness of night. When does a person rise and greet the world and go about their daily business? In the day. We warn our children not to go into the dark for danger lurks at every corner. At death, and sometimes in spoofs and parodies, we encourage the soul to go “into the light”.
So many stories have come about from our dichotomy of light versus dark. As mentioned, Star Wars. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Light, and dark. We like our labels. We like telling which jar should go on which self. Hell, human history has even based the color of one skin to tell the difference if they are “good or bad”. Chalk on up for humanity.

I tend not to be a morning person. I really am not the type of person to jump up and open the curtains and greet the morning sun. Because honestly, after eight hours of darkness, the light kind of burns

I could go on light and dark differences, but I think you get the point.

However, in John’s Gospel, John does not have the notions which we do on the matter.

Light and darkness transcends even written human history. The very early creation story recalls it as one of the first acts of God by differentiating day and night. However; yet again, not with the same understanding as we tend to have it.

John begins his Gospel with this beautiful prologue about the incarnation of Jesus being the “word made flesh”. In this prologue, Jesus is described as the “true light” which comes from God. As Simeon prophesized, “a light to enlighten the nations”.

Even though we see that this light has come down from the Cosmos into our world. We still see darkness. Better yet, we still live in darkness. The times of our recessing economy, the war in the middle east where men use women and children as shields in battle. Our world and our lives constantly change. And we look in a mirror to see a reflection of what we really look like as a human race, and hope the mirror is cracked.

Darkness still lives among us. But, there I go again, making distinctions.

What is light anyway? We use it to our advantage. We grow our food by it. Cook by it. Read, study, work by it. It’s a rather large necessity. What about the “true light” which John speaks of?

John’s Prologue parallels the creation story in Genesis. Let’s go back there and take a look. Not long after God created light, God created man. And though man lived with the day and night which God created, God’s light was always there. Then humanity fell from Eden, thus darkening our minds and separating humanity from God’s love. And this is the state of the world we see today.

Back to John.

Jesus comes into a dark world. The world around us. Where sin and separation prevail. Here; light and dark truly meet for the first time. The text says that the “darkness did not overcome it”. Sounds hopeful, right? Well, actually the Greek reads “darkness did not comprehend it”. Big difference.

But, it sounds about right.

How often do we not comprehend the light? The choices we make, the things we do, which aren’t very enlightening or light-full. We get in these messy situations were our internal light bulb clicks in after the fact and we think, “oh, yeah, duh”. Even Paul, maybe with or with out the help of psychology, made the amazing observation in Romans that we do the things we don’t want to do, and don’t do the things we should.

But there I go again, duality at its best. Light, and darkness.

You see. If we didn’t live in darkness, we would be ignorant of what the light is. If we lived in only the light, we would be ignorant of the darkness that lies in our world.

I think referring to light and darkness as “states of light or darkness” at this point would be more appropriate.

Imagine with me a sunrise. Perhaps in an open area such as a desert or a meadow. In that moment the night is put away by the sun and darkness is gone. All good, right? Well, unless you happen to be invisible, in the light, we still cast shadows. Shadows which follow us where ever we go. And ironically, those shadows cease to exist when darkness returns.

Christ is the true light from God which this world has had a difficult time understanding. Our broken and darkened world cannot comprehend that light can enter. That it already has. That light does its purpose. You can’t see in the dark. But when there is light, you can understand better which you see. I don’t think it’s the darkness understanding light which should be our concern. But those of in the light ought also make sure we understand our darkness from which we came. Then, will we be able make our shadow imitate us as we do good with the light which has incarnated itself into our world.

In Christ, the light and the darkness are reconciled and can co-exist together. To God (as spoken by the Psalms), there is no difference.