Jesus

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?

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?

How Praying the “O Antiphons” Can Bring You through the Wait of Advent

How Praying the “O Antiphons” Can Bring You through the Wait of Advent

We are coming up on the last push of Advent.

Now is the time when perhaps waiting seems most impossible. Indeed, for some families, gatherings with grandparents, cousins, great-uncles, etc. will begin in a matter of days. Church musicals and special services are whipping to a frenzy. And maybe our hearts are burning, just a little, with the strain of the wait.

Good. This is probably a safe indication that Advent is well at home with us, in our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Keeping Advent in this space is possible and worth it. This could be the time in which it matters the most.

See the Signs: An Invitation to Anticipation

See the Signs: An Invitation to Anticipation

Advent begins today with what could be a rather ominous gospel reading.

We hear Jesus talking about the apocalyptic coming of the Son of Humanity—his own glorified return at the end of this age. The End is always tinged in mysterious light; it has been a source of anxiety for Christians since the beginning. “When will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” (Luke 21:7). We worry about burning skies and brimstone, persecutions and purgatory—pretty much everything that is not found in this text.

In fact, the Teacher answers the anxiety of his disciples not with a series of warning signals, but a serious invitation to anticipation. To be clear, Jesus does not trivialize the disciples’ fears. He does not shame them for being confused or afraid. Indeed, the End could be scary for those not expecting it to come. But that is just it: Jesus gives us a heads up and a hand up—an invitation to anticipation.

Ascended, But Not Far Away

Ascended, But Not Far Away

Well, the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus is coming up, folks. Observance start tomorrow and in some places happens all day on Sunday.

It’s got me thinking.

To be completely honest, Jesus’ Ascension has always stirred up feelings of abandonment in me. Why did he have to go? What did it feel like to stand there on that mountain and watch your friend and savior disappear before your eyes, especially after the ultimate miracle of his resurrection? And why did he have to go so far away, all the way up to the “the right hand of God?”

The whole thing reminds me of that moment right after the goodbye while your love’s car rounds the corner out of sight.

And it doesn’t feel good. There’s an ache to it. It’s fine in the long run, really. Life goes on and there is work to be done. But, still. It hurts me to think of it--maybe especially because the separation my spouse and I had to endure so that I could finish seminary is still very fresh in my body.

I am bringing this to Christ’s Ascension; it’s all tied up.

The scripture today (find the whole list of daily lectionary readings here), however, upsets my despair. It disturbs this notion of an abandoning, far-away Jesus.

communicatio idiomatum

communicatio idiomatum

Over and over again these past few weeks in divinity school I have gotten a rush. It has happened in each of my classes, first in New Testament and then most recently in Christian Theology.

I feel excited. Pulled. Rooted. On fire. Extremely curious.

Most imminently, I feel like I am learning something that was meant to be mine all along.

I feel like a muggle’s kid at Hogwarts and it is amazing