Snakes on a pole or The Rut That I Love (John 3:13-21)

And 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.

“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 condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:14–18 NRSV)

This morning I want to address the question: what is salvation? How are we to think about this work, especially in the context of what this famous little passage is saying?

Three images: * Healing * Connection and * Light

Healing

First, let’s begin this message about salvation and the love of God with something that seems unrelated: a snake on a pole.

[Read John 3:14–15]

This is connected to an obscure Old Testament reference – that I assume you all have memorized – where Moses is told by God to:

“Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.” (Numbers 21:8–9) Continue reading Snakes on a pole or The Rut That I Love (John 3:13-21)

Reflecting on Grief and Pastoral Care

I am a monthly contributor to the blog Antioch Session. Antioch Session is a collective blog run by Zach Hoag and Scott Emergy and hosts a number of great writers all who are writing as a means to advance what they consider to be “creative Christianity” around three key areas: Liturgical, Missional and the cultural.

For this month’s contribution, I wrote an article about some of my experiences of walking with others who are grieving. It’s a follow-up post from my May article on Antioch Session about the death of my friend and Quaker pastor Stan Thornburg, as well as my article in Friends Journal about the suicide of my step-father. I wanted to reflect on what I’m learning through all of this from a pastoral care perspective. What does it mean to walk with another who is grieving?

Here is an excerpt:

But I am learning that in order to genuinely care for others, I must work at how I carry and tend to my own pain. Doing the grief work around my step-dad’s death has opened up new ways of connecting with others in their pain. I have to remind myself that is okay to admit that I need care too. A “wounded healer,” as Nouwen calls it, must learn how to descend that staircase into those buried wounds, even though we are afraid. In doing so, our own pain can become a source of a healing for others and our sensitivity can, like a diving rod, guide us in toward where the true woundedness resides in others.

Continue reading by following this link: In the Deep End With Grief: Thoughts on Pastoral Care With Those Hurting Most.

Cornel West – Hope on a Tightrope

 

“The vocation of the intellectual is to turn easy answers into critical questions and to put those critical questions to people with power.”

“The quest for truth, the quest for the good, the quest for the beautiful, all require us to let suffering speak, let victims be visible, and demand that social misery be put on the agenda of those with power. So to me, pursuing the life of the mind is inextricably linked with he struggle of those on the margins of society who have been dehumanized.” –Dr. Cornel West in Hope on a Tightrope

You can find more quotes from the book on this blog.

Howard Thurman, The Inward Journey

“In the long way that we take in, in our growing up, in the vicissitudes of life by which we are led into its meaning and mystery, there are established for us, for each one of us, certain landmarks. They represent discoveries sometimes symbolizing the moment when we became aware of the purpose of our lives; they may establish for us our membership in the human frailty; they may be certain words that were spoken into a stillness within us the sound thereof singing forever through all the corridors of our being as landmarks; yes, each one of us has our own…”

Waking Up To The Gifts

There is another way to think about Zacchaeus’ story and that is it is a call to wake up to the gifts that are before us (see part one here).

Jesus helps to restore Zacchaeus to the community of the people of God, yes he humanizes him, and yes, he gives him back his dignity by showing that Zacchaeus is a far more complex and beautiful individual than any single-story can maintain.

But Jesus also accepts the gifts that Zacchaeus has been giving. Continue reading Waking Up To The Gifts