Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spiritual Junk Food versus Healthy Soul Food

Throughout my life I have experienced times of spiritual malnurishment. Like many who prefer junk food over the more nutritious, life giving foods, I have often sought nourishment from spiritual food that is toxic, but tastes good and does not require much effort to prepare. My soul, like my body, often gets use to the things which are not the best for me.

How can we know if we are eating spiritual junk food? Here are a few signs that I use to evaluate my spiritual health:

Interruption of Serenity: The first sign that I am eating spiritual junk food shows up in my attitude towards others. When I lose a sense of appreciation for others and begin to judge them, it is usually because I have consumed spiritual junk food that says I have a right to judge others. This is when the Peace of God which passes human understanding is replaced by the “peace which is no peace.”

Christian and Jewish teachers, both ancient and modern, have suggested that such negative feelings towards others usually come from eating a green fruit called ENVY (wishing to be someone else) and a bright red fruit called DOS (Desiring Others Stuff).

Spiritually Healthy Soul Food: How I see other people is a critical test of my spiritual life. If I find myself thinking critical thoughts about someone, I search my heart and mind for something about the person that has made me smile, laugh (not at them), feel gratitude for their presence in my life, or that reminds me of our common relationship to God. I call this soul food Grateful Grapes.

Reduced Capacity for Receiving and Giving Love and Forgiveness: If Grateful Grapes are not eaten as a remedy to my negative judgmental attitudes, I find myself starting to plot actions against the person(s) in question. When the plot thus thickens, I assume that I have been consuming a spiritual junk food known as the Grapes of Human Wrath and that it is starting to jeopardize my ability to receive the grace, love, and forgiveness that I need to live a healthy spiritual life.

This is a very serious state of soul health. Grapes of Human Wrath are intoxicating and often those under the influence of these grapes seek out others who have also been eating this fruit and together, they mount an attack upon an individual or group that seems incapable of defending themselves.

Spiritually Healthy Soul Food: The Bread of Heaven and The Cup of Salvation are my final choices for counteracting the effects of the Grapes of Wrath. If I take action against another human being based upon my lack of spiritual health, this meal that Jesus gives to us is really the only food and drink that will bring me back to health.

The Bread of Heaven has four ingredients: sorrow (contrition) for having become the sort of person who would treat someone else with contempt and intent to harm; the tears of those I have harmed; Jesus on the cross as the clear image of the evil that resulted in my actions; and the resurrected Jesus as the forgiving grace of God freely given.

Every time I am part of a community of faith that celebrates the Holy Eucharist, I hear these words and take them to heart:

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

Consider these words. Do they sound like much of the junk food spirituality that is being consumed in our culture today or is this truly Soul Food?

The Cup of Salvation is a rare blend of the Grapes of Human Wrath and the Grapes of Gratitude. On the cross, the Grapes of Human Wrath that humans cultivate, market, and consume were offered to Jesus. The crowd taunted him and challenged him to come down off the cross and to take revenge against those who had put him there. The Grapes of Human Wrath were blended with the Grapes of Gratitude that grow and thrive on the hills of God’s Country. Sweet fruit flowed from God’s heart and mixed with the anger and wrath of the human family. The Cup of Salvation was poured.

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

I invite us all to God’s Feast of Healthy Soul Food.

“The Gifts of God for the people of God.”

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Wind of God Blows Over Us: John 3

Here is a paraphrased expression of John 3 that was read at Christ Church on Sunday. I am posting it so that you can look at it; struggle with it; correct and improve it; or simply offer what this expression of the Gospel invites you to consider in your own spiritual life. Bob+
Nicodemus, one of the religious leaders of Israel, wanted to know more about Jesus, but he did not want any of his friends and other leaders of the Sanhedrin to know about it. He was afraid that if anyone found out that he was in a serious conversation with Jesus, it would damage his reputation and he would be ejected from the community that had given him his identity.

So, he slipped out of his home late one night when darkness was so dark, that he could not be seen as he made his way through the streets. He was looking for some light in the darkness of his spiritual life.

Nicodemus was a polite seeker after religious truth, but was not prepared for what he heard from Jesus. Nicodemus opened his conversation with Jesus by complimenting him as a true rabbi or teacher sent by God, saying that no one could do the signs that Jesus performed unless he came from God.

Perhaps what Nicodemus really meant to say was that no one had better change water into wine using jars that were set aside for purifying unclean people unless he had a clear order from God.

But the last sign Jesus had performed was very troubling. He had dared to make a huge scene by chasing sheep and cows out of the Temple by swinging a cord in his hand; setting birds free to fly away from their captivity and date with death; and then to pitch the coins of the money changers up in the air to fall un-spent. This sign without God’s ordering it, was a very serious crime.

For a person to do such things would be either trickery and deceit or scandalous and outrageous behavior if God were not directing Jesus. For most of the religious leaders, God would never have sanctioned Jesus’ actions, so there was no reason to seek or consider further information. But Nicodemus was desired more. Something deep inside of him or outside of him, drove him to seek out Jesus.

Before Nicodemus could continue his questioning, Jesus spoke to him, heart to heart, and told him that no one could possibly enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless they were born again. This startled and confused Nicodemus.

He asked: “How can an old man like me enter again into my dead mother’s womb to be born all over again?”

Jesus told Nicodemus that the second birth he was talking about was unlike his first birth. Nicodemus had been born of flesh and he had come to understand the way the world works as a human being following other human beings and trying to be a good religious Jew amidst the conflicts and confusions of life. This often seemed like sheep without a shepherd, following one another and getting lost together.

Jesus challenged Nicodemus to follow God as his Father and Jesus as the shepherd who leads his people to the green pastures and still waters. To follow God as Father and Jesus as the good shepherd meant that Nicodemus had to leave behind the certainties of his parents and his community for life in the Spirit.

Jesus said: “The wind blows wherever it wishes to blow.” The wind cannot be controlled by human beings, their institutions or other systems organized without God. The wind is free and so is the Spirit of God. For Nicodemus, such a challenge to follow the windy Holy Spirit instead of his tried and true ways was overwhelming.”
That is when Jesus said to him: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Jesus came from the heart and mind of God. The Holy Spirit had blown him into the world and offered him to all of those whose first birth seemed to lead only to self-righteousness and self-protective passions which played out in the world as violence inflicted, violence suffered, or violence avoided at someone else’s expense.

Jesus said again: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life.”

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to do what human beings are already doing to one another. We condemn one another without mercy and we create a world of judgment and wrath.

Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world from such harsh judgments and self-destruction. It was by following Jesus that such a salvation of mercy and forgiveness was coming into the world.

Those who are born into the new life of the Spirit by water, Word, and the breath of God leave behind their old ways of self-righteousness, judgment, and condemnation of others and are therefore saved from such self-condemning and crucifying ways;

But those who cling to their first birth and the ways of self-righteousness, judgment, and condemnation of others are already suffering the condemnation and wrath that is the darkness in which we have all lived. They have chosen to live according to the ways of the world. The love letter sent from God is written in Jesus’ flesh. When this love came to us, rather than accepting God’s love and forgiveness, we required that the letter be written in the blood of his Son.

Do you want to know what the judgment is? Here it is then: The light of God’s love and forgiving mercy has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because the light of God exposed that the way they were treating one another was evil.

People preferred what they knew and had always done. We did not like to have it shown for the evil that it is. The great cover up continues for those who are lost and perishing in the darkness, while those who are true to their Father in heaven follow Jesus in leaving judgment and condemning others to the charity of God. The wind blows and brings others into the community of Jesus. The light shines in the darkness.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What is Killing Me?


What is Killing Me?

If someone asked you to draw a picture of what is killing you physically, emotionally, or spiritually, could you do it?

My freshman year of college I took Health Education 101 and we studied all of the many diseases that afflict human beings. Just like when I took Psychology 101, I found myself feeling the symptoms of almost every disease or psychological affliction I read about. This, of course, amused the professors, when most of the class either publicly or privately confessed to feeling symptoms.

There were pictures in the text books that allowed you to see the germs and viruses on the attack and then a list of unsettling symptoms for each one. Was one of these maladies the face of what was killing me? Amazingly, as soon as we moved out of the disease segments of the classes, we all began to suddenly feel much better and our symptoms began to disappear. I was glad that I was not a pre-med student on the way to medical school.

When I entered seminary, I studied many of the spiritual ailments that kill the human soul. At first, the approach was rather academic, meaning that there did not seem to be any real practical application to the information we were studying. We all pretty much understood that sin was a disease of the human soul.

We understood that it was a universal condition. Sinful behavior included the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, anger, greed, gluttony, lust, envy, and sloth, but like some of our more deadly and silent physical diseases that go undetected until treatment is impossible, sin is often covered up by the very symptoms that might reveal to us our critical state of soul health.

Sin is such a “cunning, powerful, and baffling” condition that we actually believe that it is on our side in life and it sometimes poses most deceptively as something sacred. I would imagine that those who were responsible for crucifying Jesus were totally unaware of how deeply in trouble they were. He was clearly the problem and the only sane and responsible thing to do was to eliminate him.

Can you remember a time when you were totally in the wrong, but in the moment, you felt perfectly justified in your wrong behavior? Our pride sometimes disables our immune response to the sickness of sin in our behavior and unleashes a self-righteous anger on those whom we feel have offended us.

As a seminarian who was older, I had already experienced sin as a devastating disease of the soul. Unlike my experience in Health Education and Psychology, I did not imagine the symptoms of the disease. They were real enough and active enough in my life to know I was in need of healing and continuous cure of my soul.

The cross became for me, both the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual disease of sin and the outward and visible sign of God’s healing of the human soul. In the cross, I can see what is killing me and robbing me of life and love and relationships. When Nicodemus, whose name means “victory of the people,” came to Jesus in the dead of night because he may have begun to feel the terminal condition of his soul, he was hoping that Jesus could somehow “fix” him.

During the course of their conversation, Jesus said: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” Jesus had already told Nicodemus that he had to be born again in order to become Jesus’ message and now Jesus was talking about serpents. What was going on?

Nicodemus surely knew the story of Moses and the serpents that attacked the people of Israel. The people of Israel had abandoned their newly found relationship with Yahweh and were returning to the religion of Egypt. The result was a disaster. The serpents always had been in the wilderness, living with them, but now the serpents seemed to be biting and killing them more. Having come out of a nation where punishment was a sign of God’s presence and displeasure, the children of Israel drew the same conclusion.

They believed and told the story that the serpents were sent from God as punishment for their abandonment of Yahweh. Their idolatry was complete, attributing qualities to Yahweh that were more accurately descriptive of their experience of the gods and rulers of Egypt and of their own slave mentality.

The serpent formed out of bronze, placed on a poll, and raised for all to see was God’s solution to the idolatry that saw him as just like the gods of Egypt. To believe Yahweh was like the Egyptian deities was to condemn Israel to a wrath-filled darkness out of which they continually struggled to find light.

The dead and gone serpent on the pole represented the true character of the god they were fashioning Yahweh to be. When human beings become creators of gods, these gods normally are punishing bullies who bolster the powerful over against the weak. Such a god, Yahweh was not. The serpent was Yahweh making an idol out of the god the Israelites were trying to make him out to be.

And so, Jesus said that the Son of Man (a term he used to describe himself), like the serpent, must be lifted up so that all who saw him on the cross would not perish, but have eternal life. What in the world do you make of such a statement?

How is Jesus like the serpent?

What power is unleashed in our viewing of the crucified Jesus?

What is the medicine of the cross that can heal our sin sick souls and bring us to a life of forgiveness, love, mercy, and a new creation?

Does the cross allow us to see what is killing us and what can heal us?


Drop me an email, if you have any thoughts, questions, or comments. I can tell you that I truly appreciate the emails that have been coming in during the past few weeks. Your insights and questions are a real gift to me. Gospel Reflection Blog allows you to make comments anonymously. Email to
rwcornner@aol.com comes directly to me. Thank you and have a blessed weekend as we prepare to worship this Sunday.

God’s Peace in the Midst of Wilderness and Snakes,
Bob

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Are The Ten Commandments “Non-Religious?”






In a feature column that appeared in Newsweek a year ago, Gersh Kuntzman raised the question of the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments in government offices and spaces.

“Last week (March 11, 2005) the Supreme Court finally heard the case, along with a suit against two Kentucky counties that have been displaying the (Ten)Commandments. During the oral arguments, the Bush administration and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott argued that the Ten Commandments is such a fundamental part of our national culture and heritage that they are, effectively, non-religious.”

Newsweek, March 18, 2005 Gersh Kuntzman, Just How Many Commandments Are there Anyway


Last week I offered some observations on The Ten Commandments entitled, The Ten Commandments, Desire, and Violence in which I suggested that the great gift of the Holy Spirit of these Ten Commandments represents a watershed in the restoration and transformation of human beings into the “image and likeness of God.” In fact, the very nature of God is seen in these commandments that govern human relationships.

For this reason, I would not agree that the Ten Commandments are “non-religious.” Actually Mr. Kuntzman did some personal research by asking people which of the Commandments they remembered. Here are some of his findings.

He wrote: "I found that pretty much everyone thinks the Ten Commandments are a non-religious series of commonsense rules that should be posted everywhere.

I also found that nobody knows all 10 of the Ten Commandments. "Honor your parents, don't covet your neighbor's wife, don't lie, don't kill, don't steal, um, um, how many is that" said Kristen, a woman from Brooklyn.

"Don't steal, don't bear false witness, don't kill, don't commit adultery, and honor your parents," said Olga, who was smoking a cigarette outside her office.

"Don't kill, don't commit adultery, don't covet thy neighbor's stuff, don't steal, and honor your parents," said Dan, who rents out a six-seat "party bike" in Times Square."


When asked about those “other Commandments,” the average person in the street could not remember them. Is this true of most of us? Do we know all ten of the Commandments or just the ones about honoring parents, not bearing false witness, stealing, killing, committing adultery, and coveting?

Here are the first four Commandments with a preface that clearly indicates the relationship between the giver and the receivers of the Commandments.

And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
1. You shall have no other gods before me.

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


As a Christian most of my life, I have never really seen the Ten Commandments as “non-religious.” The first through fourth Commandments are not speaking of a generic sort of God who happens to rubber stamp our own personal and cultural biases. This God is clearly identified as the One who brought Israel “out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” When we are baptized we are asked if we will follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior and by so doing we join ourselves to Israel. For us, the Ten Commandments or Decalogue are not “non-religious.” Indeed, The word religion comes from the Latin for “to be bound together.”

In our baptism we are bound together with our Jewish brothers and sisters as a particular and peculiar people who are in a particular and intimate relationship with a God who came to our rescue. This is the God who liberates Israel from the old ways of Egypt and calls them to carry and to live the message of freedom from the idolatry of power, control, and collateral damage in the name of a greater good. This God, whose name is Yahweh, continues to call upon them to follow these commandments as a way to avoid being driven by the envy and shame that leads to violence.

The record of Israel’s struggle to be true to their call is very much like our own personal, cultural, and national record. We seem to want the freedom that offers “peace which passes all understanding,” but we continue to cling to our old ways. The Ten Commandments require more than a simple following of a set of rules. The Commandments can only be understood rightly as a gift from a merciful and loving God, who is preparing those who will make the journey out of slavery into freedom, to follow a new Moses named Jesus. Jesus is the reality that the Law seeks to express.

Laws cut off from the Giver of the Law will always become, as St. Paul said, “an instrument of sin and death.” That is, the law will become an excuse for the very violence it seeks to curb, if the God of grace is not listened to or followed. That is why the first Commandments forbid putting anything in the place of God, including the Law. The wisdom and grace of the Ten Commandments is summarized by Jesus in these words:

Jesus said, "The first commandments is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord your God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31


In this week’s Gospel reading, Jesus goes into the Temple and removes all of those who are involved in the trade of forgiving sins through the sacrificial deaths of animals and the sprinkling of their blood. This must have been a very frightening scene for Jesus’ disciples as they watched him wade through the Court of the Gentiles swinging a whip of cords as he went. He released the sacrificial animals from their cages and turned over the money changers’ table. Coins flew everywhere.

Such an action could not be ignored by those in charge and so, Jesus was asked by what sign of authority he acted. Jesus’ answer takes us from the beginning of John’s Gospel to the ending. He said to them:

"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

The men who had asked for a sign thought that Jesus was saying, that if the Temple were destroyed, he could, in three days time, rebuild the sacrificial center and practices of Israel that had taken over four decades to build. But the Gospel writer tells us that Jesus was speaking of his own body. Jesus is the replacement for the sacrificial religion of Israel. Jesus death and resurrection signal an end to the human institutions of sacred and sacrificial violence. He pulls the covers on this sacred violence and in his own body communicates the folly and vanity of sacrificing animals or human beings to the God he knows as Father.

The new Temple, like the Law, is Jesus who “On the third day…rose again in accordance with the Scriptures…” The Body of Christ, the Church, is the new Temple and Jesus declares that it is a “house of prayer for all people.” Jesus reveals God as never truly supporting sacred and sacrificial violence and his death on the cross is intended to be the final sacrifice performed in the name of God. Forgiveness, after all, flows freely from the heart of God and has never been for sale or dependent upon the death of anyone.

To be sure, there still remain secular forms of this sacred religion of violence. These forms of idolatry seek to replace the God of Jesus with all sorts of powerful and alluring idols. As in times past, even particular interpretations of the Holy Scriptures have been used to justify all manner of violence against other religions or groups of people on planet Earth. Nations from the City of Cain, to Rome, and up until the nation states of our present day have sought to enshrine themselves as the final expression of God’s will. St. Paul calls this folly.

So, we come back to the question of whether the Ten Commandments is a “non-religious” document. What do you think?

As to whether the Ten Commandments should be placed in government places and spaces, I can only offer the words of the writer of the letter to the Hebrews:

"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them"
(Heb. 10:16).


The prophet Jeremiah who spoke on behalf of God in an earlier time said:

“After those days, I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people…And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the Lord for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer. 31:33-34)

Where should the Ten Commandments be displayed? I would suggest that when they are finally written in our hearts and our minds, they will not need to be displayed in any public place. Instead, those who receive the grace of the Commandments will become the One who continues to lovingly give the Commandments.

God’s Peace in our Hearts and Minds,
Bob

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Ten Commandments, Desire, and Violence


I took this photograph one afternoon as I was walking my dog. The cross is one I wear during Lent. It symbolizes the Trinity at work and present on the cross. I hung it from a rough barked tree to remind me of the cross of wood on which Jesus expressed the wisdom, love, and power of God.



In two weeks our readings on Sunday will include the giving of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20. These God-breathed gifts were given to the people of Israel to move them away from the ancient and venerated ways we use to avoid violence spiraling out of control. The Ten Commandments continue to identify and address the basic reasons for human violence, but the Gospel takes us to a new way of becoming a more peaceful and loving community.

From earliest recorded history, the fear of internal violence, violence within the community, has been addressed in several ways. The Gentile world out of which the Jewish identity emerged practiced a sacrificial religion that was bolstered by taboos and prohibitions against certain behaviors that seemed to spark rivalry and violence.

In contrast to such safe guards, Israel sought to follow a new path. The Ten Commandments given to them at Sinai while they journeyed in the wilderness between the slavery of Egypt and the Promised Land sought to limit violence by forbidding the violent acts of killing, stealing, bearing false witness against one’s neighbor, and finally the desiring of what belongs to one’s neighbor. The Ten Commandments contain wisdom and grace that far surpass even our most modern taboos and prohibitions for avoiding human violence.

Human desire seems to be mimetic, that is, we desire what others desire. What has value (what is desirable) is driven by its popularity. If others have product X in sufficient numbers, then more people will want to have what seems to be gaining popularity. Advertising uses all sorts of cues to encourage us to buy this or that product.

While at Lloyde High School, I watched kids from poor families walk into school wearing $150 shoes just so that they could be part of the “in crowd.” I also saw kids wearing such shoes get “jacked” (slang for robbed) by other kids who wanted to wear their shoes.

Competition to have what others have and to be who others are, is a continual driving force in the ebb and flow between the peace for which we hope and the conflict and violence that flows from desiring what belongs to others.

Just in my life time, I have seen the end of the last World War; the erection and destruction of the Berlin Wall; the ascendancy and break up of the Soviet Union as a world rival and threat; the Cuban Missile Crisis that brought us to the brink of thermonuclear war; drop and cover drills in school; the Korean and Viet Nam Wars; terrorist attacks around the world; and now two wars in the Middle East.

I have seen the struggle for human rights in our country for people of color, women, and now people of varying sexual orientations. I have seen us divided into citizens of the First, Second, and Third Worlds based upon who controls the wealth of the planet.

In a real sense all of these observed historical events and realities of our day represent our best efforts to maintain peace and reduce conflict and violence. It is our best thinking that is held captive by our desiring to have what others have. As long as our desire is focused on and formed by what others have, conflict and violence will continue to run a course between the fear of weapons of mass destruction being unleashed and the hope for peace at someone else’s expense.

Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, was clear about our best thinking:

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. As it is written,
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

Where is the one who is wise?
Where is the scribe?
Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.


As I prepare for next week's Gospel Reflection and Sermon, I invite you to participate by responding to any or all of the questions posed below and sending them to me at rwcornner@aol.com or by posting them on this blog.
God's Peace in Reflection, Bob+

What are some of our modern day methods of reducing out of control violence within the box of human desire that is fixated on having what others have?

Do you find the Ten Commandments, understood as a new way of limiting violence, more or less contemporary and relevant?

Is God completely opposed to our ways of reducing violence through our own best thinking?

Do you think God understands how difficult it is to try to live in a world of desiring that is always focused on what is owned by others?

Why does Paul say that the cross is “God’s wisdom and power” to save us from the way we desire?

Is desire the problem in our world or is the focus of our desiring the problem?

What makes the way we desire so lethal and violence producing?

As you think back over your life time, can you cite examples of times you have really wanted something (desire) just because others had it? What prevented you from using violence to get what the other person had?

Paul says that the cross “saves” us. If our salvation is about being delivered from the idolatrous desiring of what others have that produces a violent world, then salvation is not just an individual matter. If we desire what God desires, how would that change the world in which we live? If what God desires is not just a carbon copy of what we desire as individuals or a nation, how can we live “in this world” without being “of this world?”





Saturday, March 04, 2006

Trinity Cross on Red

The red doors of Christ Church on a sunny day in February offer us a view of God in shadows and light. I invite you to describe what you see in this very simple image. I will be posting my own thoughts and reflections later, but for now, this is your opportunity to see and say. God's Peace in the shadows that are cast, Bob+