Thursday, January 21, 2010

Earthquake response

The seismic waves that emanate from the capitol city of Haiti are unrelenting. The headlines will not leave the front page. The aftershocks appear not only under the ground but in our dreams and nightmares. It’s overwhelming – and we’re not even on the island! What do you do in the face of such monstrous need?
It takes me back to the story of Jesus and the disciples facing the hunger of the 5000. Scripture says that that number was just the men. So count three or four times and that was the human need that surrounded Jesus and the twelve. In the face of this earthquake of hunger the disciples cried to Jesus, “Send them away! The crowd is too big!” But Jesus’ response is, “You give them something to eat.” So they scrounged up what they and others had: five loaves and two fish. They gave it to Jesus and scripture says that Jesus blessed it and handed it out. Somehow everybody got fed.
What’s the takeaway? In light of what we see on the news – what’s the teaching for us?
The earthquake in Haiti awakens us to the needs of the whole world and the needs of the whole world are enormous. But for Jesus the issue is never “How big is the need?” The issue is, “What are you willing to give?” In other words, don’t let the enormity of the issue paralyze you. Just give what time you have, what talent you have and what treasure you have to Jesus and let him bless it. He’ll take care of the rest.
Need surrounds us in Sarasota too. Everyday people are hit with the earthquakes of unemployment, foreclosure, bankruptcy, loneliness, sickness … you name it. We might be tempted to just “send them away”. But our Lord seeks to equip us by saying – “You give them something.” Our surrender to Jesus’ hands of whatever we’ve got – though as little as some loaves and fish – is all it might take the feed the world.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


A friend of mine asked me the other day what goals I have for the New Year. I rattled off a few -- most of them having to do with leading the church. I went as far down the list with my friend as what seemed sufficient to justify myself. The more goals I had the more reason I had to exist.
It's a bad way to live. In fact, it's impossible. The last I checked justification is in God's hands and it's already been taken care of. That happened on the cross. The real issue is becoming now more like Christ. I'm justified, now what remains is to be sanctified.
Jesus said, "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." That's enough to keep me busy for a whole lot of New Years.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The scandal of particularity

One of the things that contributes to us quickly wandering off the path of Christian spiritual growth is the concreteness of the one we are called to follow. It's Jesus who is leading us down the path and it is Jesus' path that we are called to traverse. Sometimes we find other paths more interesting, less treacherous. Some trails appear to have more convenient places to rest and better views. Some guides seem more relevant. So off we go.
But it's Jesus we've agreed who knows the territory -- the whole territory. Others have momentary glimpses, but Jesus knows the entire terrain.
In this post-modern age some call it the scandal of particularity -- that we would claim that God reveals himself fully in one person and no other. But we post-moderns don't like our choices limited. We want to follow many gods. And before we know it we're lost in the journey because many paths lead nowhere in particular.
To follow Jesus is to go somewhere and that somewhere is what we call communion. "Further up and further in," is what Aslan says in The Last Battle. This is our goal.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

The newspaper this morning identified ten people to "watch for". They bring, evidently, expectancy. People are waiting to see what they will do and how successful they'll be. What will we see at the year end when we look back at what they've done?
I'm not sure it's a good or bad thing to be a person who is being "watched". That's a lot of pressure. But the truth is we're all being watched. We each bring to life some expectancy. Someone is watching -- child, parent, coach, teacher, friend, competitor. But what's the criterion? Success? And what does success mean?
How about faithfulness?
The book of Hebrews tells us that we are "surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses". Apparently, heaven is watching as well. On a day of resolutions it might be important to ask not what are my resolutions -- but what are heaven's resolutions? Great expectation comes from above!
And I suppose that faithfulness to heaven will mean success for everyone else.
Happy New Year.