Tag Archives: kingdom of God

An Incensed Pacifist and the story of the Chickens

Another guest post today from Tarah Van De Wiele, an amazing theologian and Biblical scholar living as an ex-pat in England.  You can read more about her and her adventures and her adventures living outside the U.S. at ever popular blog: 2 People, 2 Dogs & 10 Bags.

 I am a pacifist. But historically I am an incensed one.

This is why it has finally become dire that I expend the energy built up inside me from the endless culture wars that inform our language, plague our dinner tables, and crawl across the TV screen like some bug you can’t seem to swat away. Are you pro or anti? Red or blue? Straight or gay? Black or white? Male or female? Enough. Al. Ready.

Chickens

Chickens (Photo credit: Allie’s.Dad)

The latest culture war sparked by a certain chicken restaurant completely caught me off guard. I spent an entire day stalking the web for pictures of people fighting in the war. After a few hours I managed to succumb to the purest form of rage available to an incensed pacifist, and began to brainstorm what smart but highly insulting sign I would distribute, what post I would send viral, what boycott I would demand. And the only question by 4 in the afternoon was not if I should curse but HOW MUCH.

And then the chickens showed up. Continue reading

Loaves, Fishes, and Brisket at Flipside: Fear doesn’t have to drive our friendships or our economics.

In the story of the loaves and fishes, Jesus takes the little bit of food offered to him from a small boy and breaks it, blesses it and gives it to those who had been following him for days who had become hungry.   That small gift ends up feeding several thousand people to the point where there are several baskets full after everyone has eaten.   It is  another one of the miracles a lot of people love to reference to show Jesus’ supernatural powers.   But I spent some time with some friends this weekend that reminded me of another reading of that story.   It is one with less magic but one that might actually be a bigger miracle. Continue reading

End of the Story: Most of the truths we live by are things we cannot prove. Beauty is just one of them. (Faith for Reasons)

The Creation of Adam

The Creation of Adam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We live in a moment in history in which truth is only found in this fairly new thing we reinvented called a ‘fact.’    “This is a table,” we say.  It is a fact that the thing I just set my cup on is a “table.”   Ta-da!  End of story…    It is an idea that seems pretty hard to argue with until all of a sudden I take that same table  apart and plan to build a flower bed out of it.   Fairly quickly it becomes lumber.  So it is now not a table after all.   Er… right?  That is the case until I decide without making any changes to the pile, to burn it in a fire.  Without moving an inch, by mere planning in my head,  it becomes fuel.  This pile of wood is fuel for my fire, end of story.   …Or perhpas this is where the importance of ‘story’ just begins.  Continue reading

How my relationship with Jesus is, and is not, personal.

When I was young I would go to camp or a youth service where I was told that what I needed was a personal relationship with Jesus.  It made a kind of sense as a lot of things do for children because I was still relying on other people to teach me how to make sense of things. So I agreed, with no regrets.

Buddy Christ

Buddy Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, I happen to be the kind of person, and have been since childhood, to throw myself headlong into the task at hand whatever it may be.   So I was bound and determined to have the most personal relationship with Jesus a person could have. This is a dangerous prayer.  The trouble began when I took it so seriously it started to take my life in some surprising if not shocking directions that none of my youth pastors had anticipated. Continue reading

“No Wonder the Door Won’t Open, Silly. I am Already Inside.” -Three things about being a misfit in communities of grace that I keep having to re-learn.

Clearly I write from a position of someone who sits near the exit.  I love church, but sometimes I find it exhausting. I love my weirdo burner friends, and sometimes they can be a little harsh on my faith.   I long to be in Christian community, yet, depending on the community, I find myself itching to get out. I am finding that there are hidden moments of grace ready for the taking in all kinds of communities. And when I am willing to exercise a little humility and receive it, I find that that grace goes further than the edges of my life, and often finds its way into the open wild. Continue reading

The Impossible Will Take A Little While.

It is harder than it looks to know how to take Easter. On the one hand it feels like an easy home run, a touchdown, a triumphal entry.   But those were the kinds of thing we were celebrating last week. How then is this week different?   For one thing it amazes how few people  to whom Jesus appeared after the resurrection.

The first to arrive.

One would think he would be taking out billboards all over town that said, “I told you so!”  but he doesn’t.    The first to see Jesus would be the last we would expect.   It was not the disciples, not even his family, but one of the worst outcasts of all of his company: Mary Magdalene.

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“Unless our Hopes Fall to the Ground and Die” — We have some grieving to do, but not for Jesus.

The Gospel of Mark is my favorite.  I especifically  love the eighth chapter.   It is hysterical.  I still find myself being caught off guard and LOL-ing sometimes.
The disciples are dolts.  They have the hardest time learning the most obvious lessons.  Jesus goes and feeds several thousand, gets on a boat with them, and suddenly they are afraid Jesus will be mad because the didn’t pack a lunch.  Zheesh.  In that same chapter Jesus heals this man in a most unusual way and he has to do it twice.  Either Jesus is losing his touch or Mark is writing to try to be be obvious: We don’t see clearly yet.   The first time Jesus touches the blind man he sees part way. ” I see people, like trees walking around.”   I get that.  That makes sense to me.  If he is still half blind, then he is not wrong.  But there is more to be seen and it will be a shocker.   So don’t stop now…

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“How many hands does it take to wash two feet? All of ours”: One of the defining moments of my life.

John’s body was less like mine than anyone else’s in the room.  In that room full of people with some very unique bodies and abilities, that was saying a lot.   Everything in this particular prayer service was going to have a lot to do with what bodies can and cannot do, and how we live with that.  It was this night I found and answered a new question:, “How many bodies it take to wash two feet?”  Answer: All of ours. Continue reading

Stanley Hauerwas and Children and the Reign of God.

 “Jesus called to himself a child – the essence of one who is powerless, dependent, needy, little, and poor. He placed the child ‘in the midst of them,’ as a concrete, visible sacrament of how the Kingdom looks. Jesus’ act with the child is interesting. In many of our modern, sophisticated congregations, children are often viewed as distractions. We tolerate children only to the extent they promise to become “adults” like us. Adult members sometimes complain they cannot pay attention to the sermon, they cannot listen to the beautiful music, when fidgety children are beside them in the pews. “Send them away,” many adults say. Create “Children’s Church” so these distracting children can be removed in order that we adults can pay attention.

Interestingly, Jesus put a child in the centre of his disciples, “in the midst of them,” in order to help them pay attention. The child, in Jesus’ mind, was not an annoying distraction. The child was a last-ditch effort by God to help the disciples pay attention to the odd nature of God’s kingdom. Few acts of Jesus are more radical, countercultural, than his blessing of children.”

–Stanley Hauerwas

Ninja’s Teeth and the Relentless Love of God.

When I was just out of college I was pretty hell-bent on changing the world. Hopefully I still am but back then I was far less patient to see the results of my efforts. I had moved to the heart of Los Angeles to study a year of urban studies as well as fulfill an internship at the First Church of The Nazarene on Third & Vermont. I was ready for adventure, but not for the hard work of everyday care and concern for other who sometimes annoyed me.  Nevertheless something clicked at the county hospital one day when I tried to help “Ninja” get his teeth fixed.
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