The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Lent 3 :: He knows when you’ve been sleeping…

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John 4.5-42

"Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!”

I gotta tell ya: I ain’t so sure I like this. One. Little. Bit. Look, I know it’s true that God sees into the hearts of people. God knows our thoughts, sees our actions [even when we are alone!], discerns our intentions [even if we are unsure of them!]. In short, there’s absolutely nothing about any aspect of our lives that is hidden from the Great Seer of all.

Right.

But don’t talk about it Jesus. Don’t tell me that you know everything. I mean, it’s embarrassing. I know what I’ve done, what I’ve thought, and most of what my intentions are. And I know that you know these things. But can’t you just keep quiet about it? Do you have to remind me? Life is so much easier when you just let me go about my merry way. Don’t muck it all up by bringing up my past.

Lent 2 :: Rainbow Wigs?

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John 3.1-17

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” [John 3.17]

Have you seen any rainbow wig wearing characters hoisting up a sign that reads “John 3.17” lately? I thought not. Of course we used to see such people carrying signs saying “John 3.16” at most major sporting events a decade or more ago. But never anyone telling us to look at the following verse.

Who doesn’t love that earlier verse? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." Sounds nice, huh? Knowing that God doesn’t want those who believe in Jesus to perish? Who wouldn’t like that? Oh yeah. Those who may not believe. Hmm. Does that mean they are doomed? Does God not love them? Did God not send God’s Son to them as well?

Lent 1 :: Barren is the Desert

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Matthew 4.1-11

Barren. Lonely. Dead. In scripture the desert is not a hospitable place. It is the place of monsters and nightmares. It is where the demons roam, ceaselessly searching for hosts to claim as their own. The desert, too, is the place of temptation and challenge. Hungry for sustenance, deprived of power, and eager to grasp at anything which promises relief, those who wander the desert wasteland seek to fill the void of their lives by any means possible. The story of Israel is one of a people thrust into desert wanderings for forty long years, grumbling at their leaders, cursing God, and seeking ways to return to bondage in Egypt which, at least, was what they knew. That was far better than the unknown which the desert wilderness offered.

Last Sunday after Epiphany :: Transfiguration

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Matthew 17.1-9

“Every once and so often, something so touching, so incandescent, so alive transfigures the human face that it’s almost beyond bearing.” (Frederich Buechner, Whistling in the Dark)

How well I remember that Christmas Midnight Mass those many years ago. The chorus of voices packed into the small church intoned familiar carols that spread warmth through that frigid December evening. The candles of Silent Night illuminated the grateful faces of worshippers reflecting the joy of wonderment. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement. Ruth was joyfully dancing to the tune accompanied by the guitarist sitting near her. She wasn’t singing, at least not the kind of singing we would associate as singing. Even at thirteen years, Ruth wouldn’t have been able to read, much less sing, and the words she fairly shouted wouldn’t have been discernible anyway. Ruth was a special needs child. Her dance and voice that night was the gift of Heaven. The look on her face revealed an awareness of God’s Spirit to which only a few are privy. For but a moment — all too brief in her otherwise deeply difficult life — her entire being was transformed by God’s presence. And in that moment those of us privileged to be there were transformed as well — by her.

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