Over the past month I have been working on scanning all my old photos into a digital catalog. It has been a real journey of memories & discoveries of lost moments in time; most especially as I remember my mom. Looking at many of the old photos - some faded, some that I don’t remember, & some that seemed like they were from ancient times - I felt overwhelmed with the realization of how much wonder my mom instilled in my life.
“He was silent & gave no answer.” The description of Jesus as he stood before the judgement of the Temple Priests during his final week before crucifixion has remained transfixed within my thoughts. Why? With accusations that would surly lead to great suffering & catastrophic loss, how can Jesus just stand there & remain silent without even a whispered defence to his righteousness.
This past week has witnessed a great loss itself as many stood in shock of seeing the Notre Dame Cathedral in an inferno blaze as it became a ruin of history & iconic symbolism. It wasn’t long before…
I think my first memories of hearing stories from the bible come from my early childhood. My mother would read to me before bed each evening while taking out this old & very large pictured children’s bible to narrate the stories of Moses, Samson, David & Goliath, & of course, Jesus & his band of disciples. Thinking back on this, I’m sure it has shaped the way I see the scriptures today in many ways.
It was a week ago that a small group of us asked this very question, how do I read the bible? Whether you accept the bible as being authoritative or not, it’s hard to escape not knowing many of the stories told within it. Between thematic presentations in film & music to YouTube & TED Talk motivational speakers, the stories of the bible entwine themselves into our culture & daily lives. So what significances do these stories have to us & how are we to read them in an authenticated form?
Over the years, I’ve come to see three main practices as a way to approach the bible…
I have spent the majority of my life in a wheelchair following a car accident in 1994. It has been a journey that has both had me endure great hardships & revealed some incredible summits of success. I wouldn’t trade my life in for anything different. But, it was the words of my friend the other day that had me paralyzed with how to respond.
“Perhaps one day,” he stated, “I’ll be racing up & down these hallways with you.” For the past while, my friend has been struggling with progressive physical neurological challenges. I wasn’t sure how to respond. While on the one hand, I wanted to encourage him that physical challenges are never an end to the possibilities of success & the fullness of life. Yet on the other hand…
There we were again, sitting in the middle of our living room while signing into our Apple TV & Live Streaming our church onto our flat screen. It would be the 3rd week in a row that we would be joining our faith community in this way & I found myself struggling with the question of, “How do we belong?”
It’s not that we were being lazy. My wife, a C1/C2 incomplete quadriplegic, struggles daily with chronic pain from sciatica & the kyphosis in her back after years of being in a wheelchair. After spending the afternoon running around the city & completing our errands, she just couldn’t go to our church & manage to sit comfortably amidst the rest of the congregation. So, wanting still to be a part of the worship experience, we found solace in the beam of light coming from our TV.
Since I was young, I have always been drawn to movies & stories of redemption & deep spiritual rebirth. Films like ‘The Mission’, ‘Seven Years In Tibet’, ‘The Last Samurai’, & most recently, Scorsese’s masterpiece in ‘Silence’ ignite my imagination as I dream of what it would be like to live through similar experiences. I don’t know, maybe I have a bit of monastic calling in my DNA. Not a religious demand for institution but, a deep longing for a life dedicated to discovering meaning, purpose, beauty, & truth in all things; a complete submission of every breathing moment being founded in the essence of eternity working itself out within my soul & drawing it out to the rest of the world.
I’m sure that would look quite differently to others & I am equally sure that I’m not the only one that feels this way. But these internal longings are part…
Last Wednesday night I had the opportunity to sit in on a bible study taking place in my church. They were reading through Mark 1 & came upon the story where Jesus delivers a demon out of an unruly man in the synagogue.
Entering Capernaum upon the Sabbath, Jesus & his followers went to a synagogue where Jesus began teaching. While many were amazed by the authority & wisdom for which he spoke, one man became indignant, shouting & rebuking Jesus’ teaching saying…
A few weeks ago I read a fantastic post called ‘The Monk Manifesto’ that gave me new language to the practice of covenant living. For the last several years I have endeavoured to live within the relational practice of a covenant life but, when I’d invite others to join in the practice, most became squeamish or resistant to the idea. For the most part, the word “covenant” felt too ridged or final in expectations. Despite my efforts to emphasis the relational practice of a covenant life, no one really wanted to practice it with me.
The Monk Manifesto gives a different view to the lifestyle & practices of intentional living…
My eyes were fixed upon the news screen as police officers & tactical agents converged upon the Tree Of Life Synagogue. I didn’t really weep. I felt numb as I witnessed yet another story of a gunman entering a sanctuary, a place of hope, & committing senseless violence. It would be not even a week later & another gunman would enter a Californian nightclub & take the lives of twelve more innocent people.
What are we to do when violence pierces our society’s stories & place’s of hope? How are we suppose to respond to the events like the shootings at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Texas, the Tree Of Life Synagogue, or a Californian nightclub? With Christmas fast approaching, these were some of the questions I found myself pondering.
“They have no interest in even putting up a Nativity scene,” he exclaimed, “on stage or even in the atrium.” The comment was made as part of an email sent to me with what felt like an expectation that I was to feel as though Christmas had lost all its meaning. “Our church has a big stage and the words ‘love, joy, peace’ in 1’ letters at the front, plus an Advent candle. They also are having only coffee with cookies and games next Sunday instead of a regular service. Xmas eve is just going to be the lighting of the advent candle and singing.”
I honestly was not sure how to respond.