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Holy Saturday Reflection

In Peter Rollins’ book The Orthodox Heretic, there is a parable called “Being the Resurrection.” The parable describes a group of Jesus’ disciples who left Jerusalem after the crucifixion, before the resurrection, so they never knew of their Messiah’s resurrection and ascension. They travelled a great distance over many months until they found a place suitable to begin a community. A community, “where they vowed to keep the memory of Christ alive and live in simplicity, love, and forgiveness, just as he had taught them.” Over years, decades, and centuries, Rollins tells that, the community spent “their days reflecting on the life of Jesus and attempting to remain faithful to his ways. And all this despite the overwhelming sorrow in their heart, …despite the belief that death had defeated him and would one day defeat [them] also.”

One day, the communities’ isolation was broken when a group of missionaries reached the settlement. Rollins tells, “Without hesitation, the missionaries gathered together all the community members and recounted what had occurred after the imprisonment and bloody crucifixion of their Lord. That evening there was a great festival in the camp as people celebrated the news of the missionaries.”

During the evening’s celebration, a conversation occurred between a respected elder of the community and one of the missionaries. This elder was in sorrow, despite the great news that his Lord’s life had been vindicated through the resurrection and ascension. This elder, explaining his sorrow to the young missionary said, “Each day we have forsaken our very lives for him because we judged him wholly worthy of the sacrifice, wholly worthy of our being. But now, following your news, I am concerned that my children and my children’s children may follow him, not because of his radical life and supreme sacrifice, but selfishly, because his sacrifice will ensure their personal salvation and eternal life.”

This parable raises so many questions for reflection. Rollins says in his commentary on the parable, that in many ways the community, living their lives in a sort of extended Holy Saturday, described in the parable “affirmed the reality of the Resurrection in a more radical way than many of those who confess such a belief.” Too many Christians profess a belief in the resurrection, but their lives show no resemblance to the life of the Christ the resurrection was a vindication and justification of. How does the life you live reflect a belief in the resurrection of Christ? How are you living a life of resurrection? If Jesus’ life, as the Son of Man or the Human One, was lived as an example to show humanity its full potential, how is your life reflecting this potential as an image bearer, as part of the body of Christ, as someone who has been born again through water and spirit?

Use this Holy Saturday to reflect on the life Christ lived, and the sacrifice he made for us all. Finally reflect on how the example of his life and sacrificial death moves you towards a life of sacrifice, of taking up your own cross to follow him. Resurrection does not come to those who do not first die.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

A couple of years ago, I adapted a prayer, entitled Bounty, from a book containing a collection of Puritan prayers called The Valley of Vision. I’ve used this prayer at our Thanksgiving celebrations with family and friends ever since. I thought I would share my adaptation for those of you who may enjoy using it at your Thanksgiving celebrations as well.

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Creation – God, Lewis, Tolkien, & Gungor

I love the creation story from the Bible; Genesis 1 & 2, the introduction to John’s gospel. “In the Beginning…”

The biblical narratives are so poetic, so beautiful, so majestic. Whenever I come across how writers and artists have treated the story of creation in their works I’m always drawn back to the Bible. Two of my favorite depictions in literature of creation are C.S. Lewis’ and J.R.R. Tolkien’s. Each, in their epic tales (The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings), write the fictional universes as being created through singing and music; beautiful and fantastic imagery.

I’m not the only one who loves this imagery of creation through music. Page CXVI, a musical group created to breathe life into old hymns, draws it’s name from the page number Lewis’ description of the creation of Narnia is found in the book, The Magician’s Nephewwhere Aslan sings the universe and everything in it into existence. A band I recently discovered and have fallen in love with (Gungor), also depicts the universe as being created through music. In the first song off of their latest album Ghosts Upon the Earth, the opening lyrics pour out, “Darkness hovering, grasping everything it sees. Void. Empty. Absent life and absent dream. Let there be (Light).” Lovely.

All of these stories and descriptions, writers and musicians, have inspired me to create a mash-up of sorts. I’ve taken God’s words, Lewis’ words, Tolkien’s words, and Gungor’s music and have attempted to combine them into something new(ish). Below, you will find words from Genesis 1 and John 1, words from  the passages containing Tolkien’s creation of Middle Earth, and from Lewis’ creation of Narnia. Before you begin reading, scroll down to the bottom of this post and start the video, which will play Gungor’s song, “Let There Be.”

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Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael LewisA new book by Michael Lewis (author of great books such as Moneyball and The Blind Side) explores the West’s developing sovereign debt crisis. The book is called Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, and it is the most fantastic book I’ve read in recent memory.

Lewis explores the developing debt crisis in three countries: Iceland, Greece, and Ireland. He also takes a look at Germany and their unique position in the European crisis. To bring the point home to Americans he looks at debt issues in the state government of California and a city that declared bankruptcy and has recently emerged from the process, Vallejo, California. What Lewis found through his research and interviews with officials, is each of these governments have become indebted to such an extent that their balance sheets look a lot like those found in third world economies. Continue reading

WCAGLS: John Dickson – Humilitas

Humilitas, by John DicksonThe presentation by John Dickson at the WCAGLS was one of my favorites of the summit. The presentation was entitled “Humilitas,” and was based on his most recent book, which is titled Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership. Dickson is a writer and speaker, a Senior Research Fellow at Macquarie University, and Co-Director of the Centre for Public Christianity in Sydney, Australia. His presentation at the summit was geared towards leaders, obviously, so the thesis of his talk was, “Humility makes the great greater.” Dickson’s presentation set out to convince the audience of this thesis.

If we’re going to be convinced humility makes the great greater, we should all have a common understanding of exactly what is meant by the word. Humility is not the same thing as humiliation, even though the two words share a similar root (humilitas). The difference between humiliation and humility, which both involve being lowered, has to do with how a person is lowered. Humiliation involves a forcible lowering, as in being defeated in battle. Humility involves a person lowering him or herself. Dickson gave the following definition of the word: Humility is to hold your power in service of others.

So, now that we know what is meant by humility, why should a leader develop it in his or her life? Continue reading