Supper and Salvation

Bread of the world in mercy broken,

Wine of the soul in mercy shed,

By whom the words of life were spoken,

And in whose death our sins are dead;

Look on the heart by sorrow broken,

Look on the tears by sinners shed;

And be Thy feast to us the token

That by Thy grace our souls are fed.  (Reginald Heber)

 

The Eucharist stands as a bulwark against reducing our participation in salvation to the exercise of devotional practices before God or being recruited to run errands for God.  It is hard to get through our heads, but the fact is that we are not in charge of salvation and we can add nothing to it.

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Justice in the Middle East

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For too long Christians from the West that have taken the time to visit what is romantically called “The Holy Land” have contributed to a terrible injustice.

They dream of walking where Jesus walked, but all the while, the clock ticks and the coach waits, whilst they, rather ironically, run where Jesus walked.  The Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem.  They go, they rush, they take plenty of pictures, they scurry back onto the bus, and head off to the next place of biblical significance!

When will the madness end?

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Counterfeit Happiness

 

People want counterfeit forms of “happiness” that do not involve us being confronted with or reformed out of our sins.

We do indeed want to reinvent God after our own image, as though God was indeed a subservient disengaged kindly spoiling senile uncle who both allowed us to continue in our sin, and yet instantly delivered us when this led us into trouble.

We don’t want God’s ethics, but we want a kind of “mob-ethics” or “chav-ethics” where everything centres on our not being stopped from realising our interpretation of our happiness.

Prophets, Peace and Truth

The task of a prophet is not to smooth things over but to make things right.  The function of religion is not to make people feel good but to make them good.  Love?  Yes, God loves us.  But his love is passionate and seeks faithful, committed love in return.  God does not want tame pets to fondle and feed; he wants mature, free people who will respond to him in authentic individuality.  For that to happen there must be honesty and truth.  The self must be toppled from its pedestal.  There must be pure hearts and clear intelligence, confession of sin and commitment in faith.

And peace?  Yes, God gives peace.  But it is not a peace that gets along with everyone by avoiding the hint of anything unpleasant.  It is not achieved by refusing to talk about painful subjects or touch sore spots.  It is a peace that is hard won by learning to pray.  There is evil to combat, apathy to defeat, dullness to challenge, ambition to confront.  There are persons all around us, children and parents, youth and adults, who are being trampled and violated, who are being hurt and despised.  Any preaching of peace that turns its back on these is a cruel farce….

…There are times when truth will receive a wide hearing and times when it will not.  Jesus had a congregation of five thousand one day and four women and two bored soldiers another.  His message was the same both days.  We must learn to live by the truth, not by our feelings, not by the world’s opinion, not by what the latest statistical survey tells us is the accepted morality, not by what the advertisers tell us is the most gratifying lifestyle.  We are trained in biblical faith to take lightly what the experts say, the scholars say, the pollsters say, the politicians say, the pastors say.  We are trained to listen to the Word of God, to test everything against what God reveals to us in Christ, to discover all meaning and worth by examining life in relation to God’s will.

Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses, 86-87

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