Good News: The Chaff's Gonna Burn

Good News: The Chaff's Gonna Burn

I laughed when I read the gospel in the lectionary last week.

John the Baptist often has that kind of effect on me, which may be the point. I don’t laugh out of ridicule or mockery. Rather, John wakes me to the unexpected and absurd nature of good news.

The laughter was specifically centered on a verse actually skipped by the lectionary, a non-important juncture, so it would seem, in the flow of the story of our Lord’s baptism.

I read it anyway.

Right after telling us about chaff burning with unquenchable fire, John the Baptizer’s narrator says: “So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people” (Luke 3:18).

Is that not hilarious? I could not contain myself.

Oh yeah, One is coming, John said, who will baptize us with Spirit and fire—sounds pretty cool—and then, smackdown, this Coming One will separate chaff from the grain and BURN IT WITH FIRE.

Which is good news, Luke says.

What the heck about burning anything with unquenchable fire is supposed to be good news? When is unquenchable fire EVER good news?

9 Less-Waste Goals for 2019

9 Less-Waste Goals for 2019

“Waste” is an anomaly. There is no away in creation; humans are the only species to think up such a thing.

Going zero-waste is an overarching direction in the Coyle-Carr household. We have been working toward sending less to the landfill and decreasing our need for recycling for several years, learning all sorts of creative skills, tips, and crafts along the way.

But as I explored in a recent post, a life that makes “zero” waste in the society in which I live is impossible, which can be disappointing and discouraging if individualistic perfection is what we are after. In the journey toward ecological well-being I have found that perfection is not helpful. Further, it ain’t even the goal.

I want to make less waste and more life!

The goal is to love. And love is the long labor of a lifetime.

Here are some specific ways I hope to press on in love this year.

"Zero" Waste?

"Zero" Waste?

I am shifting away from using the phrase “zero-waste” exclusively because the more I venture toward a holistically integrated life of love the more I realize how “zero” waste is impossible.

Zero-Waste as a movement is a powerful instrument of good. The movement invites and challenges folks to reconsider mainline consumerism as the only way of living. Specifically, Zero-Wasters want to empower folks to put down the fiscally cheap, but environmentally costly plastic and invest in the well-being of the whole earth community. Instead of only Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, we want to live into the truth as nature tells it: there is no away.

Creation in its natural state does not make waste—every single molecule of matter is, rather, transformed from one useful state to the next in order create and sustain more diverse and varied forms of life.

Poop, for instance, is not a toxic problem in nature. Instead it is a biofuel and a fertilizer. Notice the language there—what first-world people have been conditioned to consider the epitome of “waste,” nature sees and names Nourishment and Fertility.

How We'll Christmas the 12 Days Through

How We'll Christmas the 12 Days Through

I woke up this morning in a bit of a funk. I felt aimless and overwhelmed at the same time. It’s still Christmas, but the “big stuff” is over.

Our big Carolina Christmas tour de family wrapped up on Christmas Eve, our church sang Joy to the World to the top of its lungs to welcome the holiday that night, and then we got to host the Carr Family Christmas for the very first time in our home on Christmas Day.

All the shopping, wrapping, prepping, and planning is done.

And yet Christmas is here. Christmas is still here, and as I type there are 10 more days of it stretching out in front of me.

How do we celebrate and revel in this holy hootenanny of a festival when the world’s moved on? I believe there is more to Christmas than opening presents and feeling nostalgic, but how do I live that out?

Well, I’ve been thinking and here’s where I’m at.

Mighty Stirring: Not the Salvation We Choose

Mighty Stirring: Not the Salvation We Choose

Stir Up Sunday should be featured on an episode of The Great British Baking Show: Masterclass (please tell me you’ve seen these; Aaron and I are obsessed).

On the last Sunday of the church year traditional liturgy rises in a cognate with Psalm 80:2: “Excita, quæsumus, Domine…,” “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord…” While hailing the divine, this liturgical invocation has also summoned many a British homemaker, cook, and baker to stir up their Christmas pudding so that it has time to mature before the big day.

I find the tradition charming and have embraced the fun injunction this Advent season through Sunday bakeathons.

But that phrase, excita , has stuck with me. Three out of the four Advent Sundays also begin with excita, calling congregations deep into the active wait for Christ.

When the invitation is made to God, however, as it is in today’s psalm, the question haunts me. What does it mean to say, “Stir up thy might, O God”?

What does God’s might look like? What am I really asking?