Another strength of this Reformation legacy is the notion of reform itself. There’s a Latin saying in church circles that expresses this; in English it’s “the church reformed, always reforming according to the Word of God.” We update our beliefs, in other words, with the help of the Spirit.
As much as we aspire to be God’s people of loving justice, we all have “Caesar in our pocket.” It’s a trap. The money in our 401ks; the carbon we burn; the racial, gender, sexual, abled privilege we rest upon; all of that has Caesar’s face stamped upon it. So what does one do? How do we express our allegiance to God? Give it back.
Because of how overwhelming the world can be right now, it’s so crucial that we re-center ourselves on true, lasting joy. We need a source of strength, we need some grounding to endure this journey. In that light, we turn to what the Apostle Paul, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have to say on the subject.
There’s a lot of guidance for us in this Book about how to follow a different path, with the help and the grace of God’s Spirit. There are alternatives to the violent cycles of the world within it: forgiveness, compassion, telling the truth with integrity. They’re painfully slow and they take a lifetime to practice, but they’re the only way out.
St. Mark’s, please do not underestimate the importance of your public witness of being a welcoming and affirming, More Light church. Thank you for sending overtures calling for ordination policy change and marriage equality…Thank you for connecting LGBT issues with all other social justice issues… While we appropriately honor this progress, the bending of the arc of history toward justice as Dr. King spoke of, we are also aware that in this time, being a Christian is complicated and problematic.
Maybe what Jesus is trying to teach Peter by replying with such an outlandishly large number is that mercy takes repetition in order to gather strength. In other words, forgiveness takes practice. Maybe it’s something we never “get right,” so we have to keep at it.
While they were in captivity in a foreign land, this is the story the Jewish people told about their history. Passover was foundational to their identity. This is how they were to remember the fundamental nature of who they were—God’s own people, a freed people. The Passover story prompts us to think about the various stories we tell.
There are people who, like John of Patmos, have such bold visions of hope in the midst of despairing circumstances. They catch a glimpse of the New Jerusalem and they share it with the rest of us, and it changes us forever. They see a hint of what the world will look like at the culmination of history, the redemption and renewal of all things.
These Four Horsemen and the destruction they unleash aren’t signs of the things to come to come as much as signs of what has always been and what currently is… The saints robed in white are the faithful who have endured the Four Horsemen and emerged victorious. They didn’t participate in the destruction, but they endured it.
The victory of the Lamb is a grand, sweeping, cosmic one, as John of Patmos illustrates, but it manifests in a million small moments when the Lamb’s people “from every tribe language, people, and nation” witness to that victory by choosing peace. That’s a posture that is needed now more than ever…