Wednesday, December 27, 2006

God With Us or Us With God?

My title here is too important to give passing notice. You really must pause and read it. Now, which is it? Be careful...this is a trick question. The trick is to get all of us asking ourselves some hard and overdue questions.

The Christmas story teaches us that the angel told Joseph that his new son, Jesus, would be called, "Emmanuel". More than the most common name of a Lutheran church, this title tells us the depths of God's thoughts and character for what He intends to be an unbending reality of our faith. GOD.....with....US. However, in more ways than I care to count or discuss, we have unintentionally and intentionally distorted that most basic of all truths and have literally reversed it; Us....with God.

After all, we often tell people that the ultimate goal of going to the altar and "getting saved", being confirmed, "praying the sinner's prayer", finishing catechism classes, believing the 4 spiritual laws, receiving Jesus, etc. is that we "go to heaven when we die". Hence, "us with God" is the goal. If we are not careful, and I might add, we have not been careful, this ideal becomes "true north" on our spiritual compass. Hence, I believe that we have lost our way....pun fully intended.

Problem is, everything about Jesus, His life and teachings, was anchored in the prophetic power of the Emmanuel reality. God stepped into and became The Human. The human did not become a god. The human did not achieve divinity. Divinity, if you will, achieved humanity. God dignified the human condition and forever made a statement of His goals "down here". Even when we imply subtle changes to that order, we vary from the path like a car drifting over the yellow line or into the ditch.

God with us means transcendent realities are part of the everyday life of the folks with whom God IS. God with us means no more being afraid of "this old world"; in fact, in means "this old world" should be put on notice that world changers are on the scene. God with us means we can be carriers of an insuperable, irrepressible Presence. God with us means that Jesus meant every little Word of His prayer, "...ON EARTH, as it is in heaven...". And every word of His other prayer, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one". God with us means we can shred the barrier between us and "heaven" and expect heavenly realities breaking out in ever increasing measures in us and around us.

"GOD WITH US" changes everything, and NOTHING about that should be ANYTHING less than the "true north" on our compass.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hail Mary!

I love Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her story, her life, her spirit makes me want to shout out, "Hail, Mary!"

I heard a great man of God, David du Pluesis, say, "Catholics worship her, which is a mistake, but Protestants ignore her, which is an equal mistake". In other words, to make her a god is to miss the power of the reality that God wants to be mightily glorified in little, simple, normal human beings. But, to minimize her because some rigid religionist might accuse us of being too "catholic-y" (an accusation I have actually heard) is just as evil as making her the fourth member of the God-Head. The gospel of Luke says that her faith made her sing, "all generations will call me blessed and declare me happy and to be envied!" (Amplified Version of Luke 1:48)

Pretty heady stuff for a peasant girl living under the political boot of Roman blood-thirstiness. Not to mention the sheer spiritual audacity of her faith in the atmosphere of a stale and dead Jewish religion. The fact that the angel Gabriel came to her in a full material appearance should say more to us than we usually accredit to this kind of event. Angels don't appear with good news to folks who are not inclined to believe such an outrageous event. She is clearly a firebrand of faith prior to her visitation. Pretty heady stuff indeed!

Now, what about you and me? Are we inclined to believe that God is looking for more peasants to exalt in the face of political and material arrogance? Do we have any expectations of angelic visitations? Is there anyone out there walking in any kind of faith that is rocking any ships of state or status quo? How about some virgin spiritual soil ready for a Kingdom Word that will give birth to some transcendent supremacy on the earth AS IT IS in heaven?

We simply must stop reading the Bible like we're visiting a museum. It's a calling! It's a dare! It's a document, 1400 years in the making, of prophets, poets and warriors relating how God is fishing for people who are willing to risk everything for an evening stroll on stormy waters. Praying, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth AS IT IS in heaven..." is pure stupidity if we are not ready, eager and willing to make room for Gabriel to challenge our normal sensibilities about what can or cannot logically happen!! Heck, I'd settle for a chat with an angel named Snorklenose if it meant being chosen for making some Kingdom history!

Where are the Marys of 2006? If its you, let me be the first to shout out a "HAIL" in your direction. Let's pray and live some Kingdom disruption on earth AS IT IS in heaven.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Predictions

I am The Great Rann-Dee', or at least The Average Rann-Dee'. I see all, or at least I sort of see some things. I know all, or at least kind-0f know some stuff. Hear me as I make Christmas Predictions for 2006!

Christian Family Councils will urge you to to boycott stores who do not say, "Merry Christmas". Your friends and family will warn you about the political agendas of merchants who will not allow bell ringing in front of their doors. Nativity displays will be banned from public properties. Other holiday greetings will be mixed into our Christmas celebrations. The Up-tight, Up-Right, Intoleration Patrol will demand Holy Action! I know, I know. You are overwhelmed by my prowess...or at least by my mediocrity.

Let me now predict what discerning, wise spiritually alert people will do. They will re-read my last blog and apply that truth to the Christmas season. Instead of fighting the nasty evil liberal conspiracies of our day, they will channel their energies toward positive purposes. They will bless those who curse us, they will pray for those who abuse us, they will love their enemies, turn the other cheek, walk the second mile and practice other idealistic virtues taught by the Christ of our Christmas.

Wait....I'm getting another message from the Beyond, or maybe just the Book Shelf. Here it comes..."if your enemy is hungry, feed him and if he is thirsty, give him a not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good". There you have it...I must go now. I am so exhausted from the use of my mystical powers.