Connect with Allen…
- Launching a New Site
- Dalton Rushing on Infant Baptism
- A Lenten Reflection
- How Shall We Then Live
- Looking Forward
- Book Review: Right Questions for Church Leaders
- Testing Social Media Integration
- Time for Rebranding
- Testing BlogJet
- Test Post
- Disturbed By Statistics
- I’ve Been Hacked
- Identity Crisis
- For Your Critics
- Book Review: Radical by David Platt
- Pastor, I Need to Find God
- Book Review: The Pastor As Minor Poet
- Ordination Question 16
- Ordination Question 15
- Careful What You Say and How You Say It
Rev. Dalton Rushing’s article, “Why I Affirm Infant Baptism,” has me thinking this morning. I know, scary, isn’t it? I believe that infant baptism is a defining doctrine of The United Methodist Church. If we were to lose (God forbid!) infant baptism, we would cease to be Methodist. It is the core doctrine and practice that grounds all we do firmly in God’s grace and reminds each of us that “it’s not about me.” In our culture, where we have become slaves to individualism, it is a message that needs to be proclaimed as often as possible.
Rev. Rushing says…
Infant baptism reminds us that God’s power is much larger than a simple decision; salvation is much broader than a moment in time. When we see an infant baptized, we see the ultimate argument for the power of God’s grace: even in this child, who cannot feed herself, or clothe herself, or make her own decisions–even in this child–God is at work.
Our theology of Baptism proclaims with certainty that there is no limit to God’s amazing grace. What do we, as United Methodists, need to do to reclaim this central doctrine of our faith tradition?
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34
“Don’t let the vehicle fool you, my treasure is in heaven.” That was the pithy phrase on the bumper sticker on the back of the Hummer in front of me as I sat stuck in traffic after leaving Memphis Theological Seminary one rainy Tuesday afternoon. Having just come from a class on the Gospel According to Luke, I wondered what Luke would think of the idea that our accumulation of material possessions says nothing about our ultimate affections.
I began to try and visualize the type of church this individual must attend and the sermons he or she would hear. “It must be one of those ‘name it and claim it’ ministries,” I thought. It must be one of those with the large opulent sanctuaries, video screens projecting sermon outlines, and praise bands keeping the people entertained. But those thoughts didn’t last long. Instead they turned to my own Hummer.
No, I don’t actually own a Hummer, but I do have “things”. You know, things that cost too much or take up too much valuable time. Computers and mobile phones, TVs and iPods, mortgaged homes and financed education – none are necessities, so I could put a “Don’t let this thing fool ya” bumper sticker on any of them. And what would Luke say to me? I say “Luke,” because I am not real sure I want to have that conversation with Jesus.
I am sure a conversation with Jesus would include something about an ox in a well, salt and manure, or maybe even about a narrow door. Whatever he says, I am sure it will leave me examining the life I live and the choices I have made, wondering what to do now, and praying for the courage to make the changes that being a faithful follower require. These are important ideas to reflect on during the Lenten season.
We began our Lenten journey last month on Ash Wednesday and will continue until Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday. The season of Lent offers us a time to reflect on who we are as humans and why we so desperately need a savior. We look into our hearts and see the darkness that would quickly overwhelm us. We gaze out across the landscape of humanity and see the evil that would overtake use. The season of Lent could be one long miserable “Crucifixion Friday,” where the depths of human depravity threaten to suffocate the last breath of hope we have. But look, off in the distance, on the horizon of your night, is that the breaking dawn?
Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place
But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!”
From a sermon by S.M. Lockridge
Augustine, in The Trinity, says, “it is difficult to contemplate and fully know the substance of God.” I would go further and say that it is not just “difficult, it is impossible to “fully know the Substance of God.” However, it is in the journey – the questions, the searching, the quest to know the unknowable – that God makes Godself known to us.
God is beyond all that we as finite humans can possibly imagine, but God is knowable in an intimate way that goes beyond any human relationship we can have. As Christians, we should affirm the fundamental orthodox doctrines of the Christian church, but at the same time, we must recognize that these are limited ways of expressing what we have come to understand as the nature of God. We move between the opposite extremes of mystery and knowability as we seek to live out a faith based upon the affirmation that “God is truth”; all the while knowing that our apprehension of that “Truth” is limited at best.
What can help us as we move toward a meaningful relationship with God and God’s creation? I can find nothing better than the affirmation from First John that says, “God is love.” I understand that the love of God takes many forms and sometimes it may be a form we don’t like – correction for example – but nevertheless, the pursuit of a life consumed by God’s love is, for me, the only answer to the often difficult question of “how should we then live.” In Abandonment to Divine Providence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade writes…
For those who abandon themselves to it, God’s love contains every good thing, and if you long for it with all your heart and soul it will be yours. All God asks for is love, and if you search for this kingdom where God alone rules, you can be quite sure you will find it.
Every day, I am reminded that my “understanding” of God is limited at best and my ability to communicate that limited understanding will always be flawed. However, in a miraculous way, when we love people, God speaks. In that moment, God is revealed in a way that we could never hope to explain using words alone. It is the expression of faith through loving others that I have come to see as the truest representation of who I believe God to be.
So for me, as important as it may be to have a proper theological understanding of who God is, it is equally if not more important to love as God has loved me. My experience of God leads me to the conclusion that either through me or in-spite of me, God will be true to all that God has promised.
The Holiday Season is behind us and, if you are like most people, you enter the New Year with a huge sigh of relief. You settle into your easy chair, kick off your shoes, and thank Your Maker for a much-deserved rest. I know, you probably enjoyed the holidays; decorating, cooking, entertaining, visiting, eating, buying, wrapping, giving, getting, unwrapping, cleaning, singing, worshiping, and everything else, that I’m just too tired to remember. How did we make time for it all?
Yes, you deserve a rest, or at least the chance to slow down just a little. However, just as we begin to make ourselves comfortable, the cares and concerns of our everyday life come knocking at the door and rouse us from or resting place. Back to school, back to work, manage the household, pay the bills, clean the kitchen, wash the car, wash the kids, wash the dog… you get the picture. Our days are filled with the seemingly mundane tasks that are necessary just to make it from one day to the next; tasks that, while sometimes necessary, leave little time for physical, emotional, and spiritual renewal. So we trade the busyness of the holiday season, for the grind-it-out, day-to-day, living that leaves us empty and yearning for something better.
We look to the new year as a time of new possibilities (resolutions anyone?), yet we carry with us many of the same responsibilities, attitudes, and habits. We want to look forward, hoping that this year will be better than the last, but a glance over our shoulder reminds us that we’ve been wrong before. There is a simple answer to our dilemma. In Matthew chapter eleven, Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” And it really is just that simple.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those who say, “If you just have enough faith, everything will be alright.” It’s a complex world we live in and being a person of faith doesn’t negate the challenges we face, but faith is our connection to the one in whom we place our trust. And through that connection comes a “peace that passes understanding,” because…
“We always see through a glass darkly, and that is what faith is about. So I will live by the best I can discern today. Tomorrow I may find out I was wrong. Since I do not live by being right, I am not destroyed by being wrong. The God revealed in Jesus whom I call the Christ is a God whose forgiveness goes ahead of me, and whose love sustains me and the whole created world.” – Verna Dozier
May God bless you this year as you purpose in your heart to know Jesus in a meaningful way.
Blessings on you and yours
I just finished reading Lovett H. Weems’ book, Right Questions for Church Leaders: 2012 Collection. This book is exactly what the name implies: a collection of questions church leaders should be asking. It is a short book, only thirty-nine pages, but it is extremely helpful. Often, ones inability to lead effectively stems from false assumptions. Effective leadership requires asking the right questions and having the foresight and courage to journey where the answers lead. Weems provides here an excellent list of questions along with brief reasons why they should be asked.
Over the next several days you will see some major changes to my blog. I’m going to be completely overhaul the site. One of my primary concerns will be content. When I chose the name MethodistCorner, I wasn’t considering what would happen if my writing went in another direction. I am a United Methodist, and should God allow, I always will be, but the content of this blog has always been very eclectic. So, do I keep the name or change it? It’s actually pretty funny how much the name means to me. I guess it has become a metaphor for who I am. I feel that I am at an eternal crossroads, always pulled between the possibilities. Even if I choose a direction and begin walking and take a thousand steps, I will always be at the crossroads of life and faith. This is the MethodistCorner: where God’s amazing grace meets our human effort.
I am in the process of evaluating different desktop blogging applications. What program do you use to update your blog?
“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.” — Albert Einstein
This is just a test post.