Jesus is the highest revelation of divine love but he is also -- we neglect this -- human love made perfect. He invites us, as his human brothers and sisters, to participate by grace in the perfections of his singular brand of self-sacrificial love.
Nicodemus's night visit to Jesus is not exactly empathic, but there is an intimacy to the setting. It is a tête-à-tête: Not a Sermon on the Mount, not a raising of Lazarus, but a private conversation between people who have studied God.
But what if God had other intentions for the Bible? What if God didn't intend for it to be the unquestioned final authority on everything that we've turned it into? What if, dare I say it, God doesn't care about the Bible as much as we do?
A recent sermon at St. Bart's by Buddy Stallings spoke eloquently to me about spiritual pride and how it's holding all of us back. It's called "A Simple Story Hits Home" and is essentially a lesson in how to live without looking down on anyone else.
Contemporizing biblical figures is not the end of the story. It's the starting point of a gross misunderstanding. Contemporizing -- and fashioning in your own image -- is one thing, but erasing identities is another matter, a serious matter with serious consequences.
Happy Feast Day of the Ass! No kidding. Animals get short shrift in religious beliefs and practice (apart from the Hindu cow, and sacrifice, of course), so I found it quite wonderful to stumble on an old tradition celebrating the biblical donkey.
To live as ourselves, to celebrate God's creativity and love in making us as we are, is NOT sin but FAITH. To call the creative and loving work of God "evil" is sin. To deny its full expression in Godly covenant within the community of the faithful (marriage equality) is sin.
He lives in a Vatican guest house rather than the ornate Apostolic Palace. He gets around in a Ford Focus. In his recent, startling critique of capitalism, he called on the free world's most powerful organizations to have a conscience.
Prophet? I don't know. What I do know is that he grew up in a world increasingly economically and politically strangled by foreigners for hundreds of years and by, in his day, the most routinely brutal regime in western history before the Nazis.
The more my focus is on another person and what their merits and deficits are, the less likely I am to see myself clearly. Moreover, the less we are inclined to compare ourselves with others and judge others, the more likely we are to partake of genuine gratitude.
He was a working man, a ragged carpenter, with neither a roof above his head nor a pillow beneath it, sleeping under the stars or in borrowed beds, His robe a blanket, His moon a nightlight. His hands were callused, but his heart was tender.
The job of a personal Savior is as unique as the DNA of the person that Savior is transforming. So it stands to reason that at any point in the process, the Savior performing spiritual alchemy in me may not appear to be anything like the Savior at work in you, and vice versa.
Wait. Mary and Joseph have picked up baby Jesus and are stepping over the piles of presents. They are leaving the spotlights and the microphones and the piles of presents. Where on earth are they going? What is wrong with them?