SpiritWalkers

Devotions for Thinking Christians
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Crucifixion painting by Anthony van Dyck circa 1622

As I wrote my new book, Introducing the New Testament, one thing became increasingly clear to me.   As I wrote about Jesus the man, Jesus the Jewish rabbi, and Jesus the Christ I realized that although we Christians revere Jesus as the Christ and learn to live our lives through the teaching of Jesus the rabbi, we sing songs like "Oh, How I Love Jesus" because of Jesus the man.  And that emotion is thoroughly rooted in Good Friday.

While Good Friday church attendance makes clear that most people would like to avoid the dark and horror of crucifixion and go straight to the Hallelujah's of Easter morning, we don't, in the end, love Jesus becaues he was resurrected.  We love Jesus because he died. 

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Cardinal Sean O'Malley and Rev. Anne Robertson (George Martell/Pilot New Media)

THE HISTORY

Fifty years ago, as Vatican II was sending the ecumenical spirit soaring, Cardinal Richard Cushing was invited to speak at the Sudbury United Methodist Church.  In that new spirit of Protestants and Catholics getting along, he accepted the invitation and gave the gathered congregation of Protestants and Catholics about 90 minutes of his best stuff.

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Pitcher of clear water becoming wine in a glass.

Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water."  And they filled them up to the brim.  He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward."  So they took it.  When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk.  But you have kept the good wine until now."   &nb

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Minuteman Statue in Lexington, Mass.

In the poem entitled "Concord Hymn," Ralph Waldo Emerson called the first shot of the American Revolution the "shot heard 'round the world."  That shot was fired in Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 and Emerson's grandfather, a local minister, was the first man to show up, gun in hand, after the alarm was sounded.  Seventy-six other men joined him.  By the time they reached Concord, Mass. they were 400 strong.  By day's end, there were 3800 colonists engaged in the battle for freedom. It is this first battle of the war that is commemorated in Massachusetts on Patriots' Day.

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"Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did not do for me."                     --Matthew 25:45

In case you missed it, there was a dining incident in St. Louis that has gone viral.  A St. Louis pastor went to Applebee's as part of a large group that ran up a tab of over $200.  When the bill came, an 18% gratuity had been added to the total--a practice very common in the restaurant industry.  The pastor balked, and wrote a note on the bill saying, "I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?"  She then crossed out the $6.29 gratuity and put a big, fat 0 in its place.

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"Then Job replied:

 “I have heard many things like these;
    you are miserable comforters, all of you!
 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
    What ails you that you keep on arguing?
 I also could speak like you,
    if you were in my place;
 I could make fine speeches against you
    and shake my head at you.
 But my mouth would encourage you;
    comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

Job 16:1-5

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Yes

"God is love"  1 John 4:8b

He came to the church tonight because the sign out front said there was a Taize service.  There wasn't.  It had been moved to last week and no one changed the sign.  The man was angry.  His father died last week, which is why he was in Boston, trying to help his 94-year-old mother cope with losing her partner of 72 years. He needed the solace of the service.  The pastor of the church apologized and invited him to stay for supper and the Bible study I was leading.  It took about 20 minutes of convincing and calming, but the man stayed.

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Statue of Liberty

A long-time friend of mine wrote on my Facebook page, "Somewhere in New York it says, 'Give me your tired, your poor.'  Well people are tired and people are poor. What are we to tell them?"

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Sacrifice of Jepthah's Daughter

"It is a snare for one to say rashly, 'It is holy,' and begin to reflect only after making a vow." Proverbs 20:25

 

As businesses, economists, and foreign governments look on with disbelief, the political talk in Washington has somehow become all about vows.  Suddenly there seem to be all these vows that politicians are being asked to sign, from vows about opposing same-sex marriage to vows to avoid tax increases no matter what.

 

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Picture of Caylee Anthony

"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."  Mark 2:27
 

Like millions of others in America this week, I watched the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial being handed down.  Like just a handful of others, however, I was not surprised at her acquittal.  Yes, I think she's guilty of killing her young daughter and I would bet most every juror thinks so, too.  But I have realized for some time now that, with just a few exceptions, we no longer have a justice system.  We have a legal system.
 

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