“Whether it’s white supremacists marching with torches in Charlottesville or world leaders playing chicken with nuclear weaponry, you can almost understand their logic: ‘If we could just get rid of the people in our way, we could breathe easier. We could move on with life. We could find some measure of peace.’ But here’s the problem: Peace by subtraction, peace by disposal, peace by elimination, is never the peace of God.”
Jesus became the burning bush:
burning but not consumed;
blazing with the light of the great I Am;
the faceless Father shining
through the face of our Lord and friend.
If we want to know God,
then we must know God
And if we want to know ourselves,
then we must know ourselves
as givers, too.
God is always the most interesting part of the story,
and that much is certainly true today.
But let’s not ever make the mistake
of confusing “interesting”
for “simple,” or “predictable,” or “tame.”
Yes, our God is different from all other gods.
He is compassionate, not capricious.
He is merciful, not mercurial.
He is relenting, not ruthless.
But even still . . .
he is God.
“We belong to God,
but God does not belong to us.”
You know what?
Jesus is right:
at the end of the day,
his love is better
than any other family,
any other relationship,
any other political leanings,
any other identity,
any other club,
any other tribe
that I will ever be a part of.
His love cuts like a sword through it all,
and without reservation or condition,
declares to my hurting, selfish heart:
“YOU . . . ARE . . . MINE.”
On this day of Pentecost,
which was once about the giving of God’s Law
to just a select group of people,
who made up only one nation . . .
God turned everything upside down
and made it about
the giving of God’s Grace
to all people,
to every nation,
If all Stephen had—if all we have—is the Jesus kerygma, then what we have is a dead man who died years ago, hanging on a tree. That would mean that today is just another weekly funeral liturgy where we come together to eulogize this man Jesus, to remember his teachings, and to try our best to be like he was. But brothers and sisters, we have so much more.
To this day,
they still call me “Doubting Thomas,”
and fine . . .
I’ll own that.
But who here doesn’t doubt?
Who here doesn’t sometimes wonder
if they’re really on the outside looking in?
If maybe God doesn’t really love them
the way they thought he did?
Who here isn’t envious of those
who always seem to get it right,
who have a special connection to God,
who walk through life
like they’ve just had an encounter
with the Risen Christ,
while you sit there thinking,
“But what about me?
What about me, O Lord?”
Like all the saints
through all the ages,
we who are baptized
have gone under the water.
We have gone into the grave.
“We have been buried with Christ in his death,
and just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too can walk in newness of life.”