Our Very Lives – Thoughts from the Edge

The Thoughts from the Edge podcast returns. Jesus turns the tables and asks a question of his questioners. On its face it seems to have little connection with what he had been asked. What is Matthew up to when he locates these two incidents side by side? Is there space of Pirate Communities? How would a reference to Levinas open up an occasion to consider a connection with the Epistle passage in 1 Thessalonians?

What are your thoughts and suggestions?

The Color of Your Eyes – Thoughts from the Edge

Rather than write a completely new intro for this weeks, “Thoughts from the Edge,” I offer something from my weekly email to the community of faith I share life with here in the Tri-City area.

“Familiarity breeds contempt.” Or so goes the old maxim. Sometimes I wonder if there are times where we hear a passage of Scripture so frequently we tell it what to mean. There is little doubt I have expressed something like this before. But, this week one of our texts is that story of “Zacchaeus was a wee little man.” Children’s songs are catchy. And, like some of the adult songs we sing they stop short of the whole picture. Combine our memories of these little jingles and the repetition of the telling of the story and we are often left thinking we know the story too well. Luke intends to tell Theophilus the story of Jesus. He includes this story. Christian musical artist/theologian Michael Card considers Luke to always point out that the “people who should get Jesus don’t, and the people who shouldn’t get Jesus do.” Maybe he is on to something when we come to Zacchaeus.

Sometimes Sunday mornings require a certain sensibility. We do have “young ears” sitting with us. Many times I wonder if our interest not to have to explain what the “preacher” said keeps us from letting the reality of the stories sink deeply into our understanding of the love of God in Jesus the Christ. For instance, when we think of Tax Collectors it is a bit ambiguous for the pastor to ask you to consider who represents that “class” of person for you. It is unclear because we often do not think deeply enough about what this means. We are not talking about your most troublesome relationship. We are not talking about your ethnic phobias. We are talking about people who for you represent everything that is wrong with society. Read More

Peacemaking Kingdom – Thoughts from The Edge

There are a number of reasons for obesity. One is the desire to eat but not exercise. The same could be said for those who inhabit the “church.” There is a desire to be “fed” but little desire to be “active.” The call to follow Jesus is an active call that demonstrates something of a feeding on the go. Maybe these reflections I wrote for my weekly email to Snow Hill will spur your imagination to participate in the activity of God for the good of the world.

One of the texts for this coming Sunday is found in Jeremiah 29. Reading the “letter” Jeremiah writes those carried off into exile in Babylon reminded me of the theme often played during worship while I was growing up. “Sure can’t wait to get out of here.” “Here” meaning out of earth and into Heaven. Some of the favorite lines from hymns were, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” Or, “Some glad morning when this life is over.” It was not hard to get the idea that the good earth God created was a place to flee rather than to live in.

Now there are quite a few who have come and gone predicting the coming of Jesus. I remember in Seminary getting a book titled, “88 Reasons Why Jesus Is Coming Back in 1988.” Well, if he did, some of us missed it. Read More

Invisible Visible – Thoughts from the Edge

“I walked right by it and did not see it.” How many times has that been your experience? Sometimes I am in a hurry. Other times I am tuned into something else entirely. On a few occasions I need someone to help me see what I have missed. Scott Bader-Saye wrote a theological essay on Luke 16:19-31. I cannot stop thinking about his suggestion that we live within systems that often keep us from seeing the world the way Jesus did. Thereby we miss the very people Jesus described in Luke 4. In fact, it may be we have so positioned ourselves so we don’t have to see. What should be visible is invisible. We need the make the invisible visible.

The Rich Man in the parable could not see Lazarus. Oh, I know, it is a parable. But, as Jesus tells it one thing we know Lazarus sees Dives but Dives does not see Lazarus.

We live in an area where it is easy “not” to see those in need. Our busyness and the structure of our lives requires us to “look” for those in need. And, since we are busy and structured as we are we use thee excuse that we have not seen anyone in need. That is precisely what Paul addresses in the Timothy passage. Real life is taken hold of when our living does not turn on the quest for things that take all of our time and energy. In those moments of living we see what we have not seen before. Our “gifts” then become means to help – much more than with crumbs.

What are your thoughts about the intersection of the Luke 16 passage and the 1 Timothy passage?

Useless/Useful – Thoughts from The Edge

Could we ever bring ourselves to really believe some people are useless? There is little doubt you have been in a conversation at one time or another when just such an observation was made. Maybe you agreed. Could be you defended the person in question. I read Doug Pagitt’s reflection on two of the RCL texts for the week over at The Hardest Question. For me, this is the hardest question. How is it that we could ever consider someone useless? Followed quickly by the realization that God makes this assertion by implication in the story of the Potter and the Clay.

Now that you have ratcheted your jaw up to its before the floor drop position, consider the texts. The Songwriter expresses wonder at his human existence. He marvels at the unlikely being real as God created life from two becoming one. Jeremiah does not undermine that wonder does he? Have the “people of God” become useless in the purpose to bear the image of God to/with the nations? It would seem from the image the consequence of failing to embody the way of God in the world results in life that is useless. That is not to say people are useless, but the way of life fails to call attention to a reflective goodness in the world – that is the glory of God.

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