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Friday, April 21, 2017

The heartbeat.

As a protestant who grew up in denominations marked by the space they put between themselves and their Catholic forebears, i have never had a great trust of liturgy.  Liturgy becomes rote.  Rote is faith in the freezer.  Hard.  Inflexible.  Cold.  Dead.

As i seeped and simmered, i came to equate rote with religion.  i learned no matter who we are, no matter what we believe about God, we all have faith in something.  We all have a religion.  We are all worshiping something or someone.  We cannot help it.  It's how we're made.

Like a good protestant, i came to understand and say (with no small amount of smugness) it's not religion, it's relationship.  Faith is not in what i do, rote, it's in what HE's done.  i cherished my freedom from all forms of rigidity, i celebrated in a casual style of worship service.  Not quite hippie love-in or quaker meeting, we weren't deconstructionalists or anarchists, we were more libertarian, i guess.

A few more years in the crockpot however and i've come to understand that even as we all must worship, even as we all have faith in something, we all have liturgy.  No, maybe we don't follow a dictum laid down in edicts from Rome, and maybe we don't have a board at the front of the sanctuary telling us what number hymns we will sing in what order and a bulletin that we don't even really need to look at anymore because we know the order of worship by heart, can recite it in unison (a term here meaning that dead, flat, monotone we all speak in during a service as if we were reading the fine print on a legal document instead of the Living Word) but we all follow patterns.  We all have systems.  We all make plans.

We were made for Rhythm.

Even someone like me, as painfully Northern Occidental and genetically, environmentally rhythmically-impaired as i am, have and live and was made for rhythms.  i wake up at a certain time, i eat at certain times, i work at designated times.  Lives, like songs, have frameworks.  Sometimes the beat is fast, driving, energetic.  Other days have a more languid tempo, relaxed, slow, contemplative.  Some days are speed metal, some days are dirges, others yet are reggae, polkas, waltzes, dubstep, hip-hop, country, ballads, blues and even jazz but each day, each year, each life, has a rhythm.  As if there is some outrageously hip angel of God in dark glasses, a pipe hanging from his lips, a soft hat cocked on his bobbing head and the mother of all upright basses in his long, steady fingers, tap, tap, tapping out the sound that was the first sound we became conscious of in the womb.  Life has rhythm.

And so does faith.  God built us for rhythms.  Seasons.  Tempos.  Beats.  Spiritual disciplines, creeds, liturgies are training.  Like soldiers, warriors, drilling certain steps into ourselves until our bodies can react correctly in times of stress and fear and chaos without prompting or conscious thought.  Like sages, we are so deep in Scripture we have the Word for every season, situation and praise.  So our days are not idle, our minds not bored, our worship not empty, our prayers not prattle, our hearts not tempted by desires unfit for our natures as Priests and Kings and Sons of the Living God.  For in our hearts and heads we hear the drums and basses and cymbals and guitars pounding out the steady rhythm to which the kingdom of the God of All Rhythms marches and dances.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

What is the church? Resurrected!

What is the church according to this Day?

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, live in him, firmly rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding with thankfulness. Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ, because in him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you are filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority, in whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hands, by the removal of the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which also you were raised together with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And although you were dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having destroyed the certificate of indebtedness in ordinances against us, which was hostile to us, and removed it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. When he had disarmed the rulers and the authorities, he made a display of them in public, triumphing over them by it."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

What is the church in the time between? Working, watching and waiting...

What is the church in the time between?

"“A little while and you will see me no more, and again a little while and you will see me. So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going away to the Father’?” So they kept on saying, “What is this that he is saying, ‘A little while’? We do not understand what he is speaking about!”
Jesus knew that they were wanting to ask him, and he said to them, “Are you deliberating with one another about this—that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will change to joy. A woman, when she gives birth, experiences pain because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the affliction, on account of the joy that a human being has been born into the world. So you also are experiencing sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy from you."  John 16


You must be prepared for action and your lamps burning. And you, be like people who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that when he comes back and knocks, they can open the door for him immediately. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he returns! Truly I say to you that he will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table and will come by and serve them. Even if he should come back in the second or in the third watch of the night and find them like this, blessed are they! But understand this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not think he will come.”
And Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us, or also for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful wise manager whom the master will put in charge over his servants to give them their food allowance at the right time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find so doing when he comes back. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions."  Luke 12

Friday, April 14, 2017

What is the church according to the Truth?

What is the church according to the Truth and the Creator of all things who conquered sin and death by his faithfulness?

“This is what the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation, says: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! Thus, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth! Because you are saying, “I am rich, and have become rich, and I have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire, in order that you may become rich, and white clothing, in order that you may be clothed and the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed, and eye salve to smear on your eyes, in order that you may see. As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. Be zealous, therefore, and repent! Behold, I stand at the door and knock! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, indeed I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also have conquered and have sat down with my Father on his throne. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What is the church according to the one who has the Key of David?

What is the church according to the one, the only, holy gatekeeper?

“This is what the holy one, the true one, the one who has the key of David, the one who opens and no one can shut, and who shuts and no one can open, says: ‘I know your works (behold, I have put before you an opened door that no one is able to shut) that you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and did not deny my name. Behold, I am causing those of the synagogue of Satan, the ones who call themselves Jews and are not, but are lying—behold, I will make them come and kneel down before your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of my patient endurance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come upon the whole inhabited world, to put to the test those who live on the earth. I am coming quickly! Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take away your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go outside again, and I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God, and my new name. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

"On that day I will call to my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah,
    and I will clothe him with your tunic,
and I will bind your sash firmly about him,
    and I will put your authority into his hand,
and he shall be like a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem
    and to the house of Judah.
And I will put the key of the house of David on his shoulder,
    and he shall open and no one will be able to shut;
    and he shall shut and no one will be able to open.
And I will drive him in like a peg into a secure place,
    and he will become like a throne of glory to the house of his father.
And they will hang all of the heaviness of his father’s house on him,
    the offspring and the offshoot,
all of the small vessels,
    from the bowls to the jars."  Isaiah 22


“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened....Enter through the narrow gate, because broad is the gate and spacious is the road that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it, because narrow is the gate and constricted is the road that leads to life, and there are few who find it!"  Matt 7

"Then Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All those who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep do not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and will go out and will find pasture."  John 10

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What is the church according to the Boss?

What is the church according to the one who owns it?

“This is what the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, and you are dead. Be on the alert and strengthen the remaining things that are about to die, for I have not found your works completed before my God. Therefore remember how you have received and heard, and observe it, and repent. If therefore you are not on the alert, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come against you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not defiled their clothing, and they will walk with me in white, because they are worthy. The one who conquers in this way will be dressed in white clothing, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, and I will declare his name before my Father and before his angels. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

How many of our churches are so in name only?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What is the church according to the one with the fiery eyes and bronze feet?

What is the church according to the one who sees all, knows all, and judges in complete, inexorable justice and righteousness?

“This is what the Son of God says, the one who has his eyes like a fiery flame and his feet like fine bronze: ‘I know your works, and your love, and faith, and service, and patient endurance—and your last works are greater than the first. But I have against you that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, the one who calls herself a prophetess, and teaches and deceives my slaves to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. And I have given her time in order to repent, and she did not want to repent from her sexual immorality. Behold, I am throwing her into a sickbed and those who committed adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent from her deeds. And I will kill her children with deadly disease, and all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, to the rest who are in Thyatira, all those who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they say, I do not put upon you any other burden. Nevertheless, hold fast to what you have until I come. And the one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him authority over the nations, and “he will shepherd them with an iron rod; he will break them in pieces like jars made of clay,” as I also have received from my Father, and I will give him the morning star. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

The church is not without false teachers.  The tree shall be known by its fruit.  Which is why we all have a duty to know God's Word, so we may accurately discern what is right teaching from what is wrong. 

"
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
You are from God, little children, and have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world and the world listens to them. We are from God. The one who knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit." 1 John 4