Hearing the Music

A Little Less Lost

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A number of years ago I ran across this quote from the sunglassed Irishman,  and frontman for the band U2, Bono, that struck me:

          Your nature is a hard thing to change; it takes time…. I have heard of people who have life-changing, miraculous turnarounds, people set free from addiction after a single prayer, relationships saved where both parties "let go, and let God." But it was not like that for me. For all that "I was lost, I am found," it is probably more accurate to say, "I was really lost. I'm a little less so at the moment." And then a little less and a little less again. That to me is the spiritual life. The slow reworking and rebooting the computer at regular intervals, reading the small print of the service manual. It has slowly rebuilt me in a better image. It has taken years, though, and it is not over yet.
(U2 (with Neil McCormick), U2 by U2 (HarperCollins, 2006), p. 7)

I think a lot about what it means to follow Jesus, both for myself and as it concerns us together at Christ Church. There are couple things that I think this quote highlights well.  First, it is process; a long process, a slow process.  There are no short cuts. There is no warp speed. It is simply day by day looking to Jesus, day by day scouring His Word. It is the day by day rubbing shoulders with other followers of Jesus, rubbing off our sharp edges and anxieties. It is the weekly coming together for word and sacrament, worship and prayer. As Bono collaborator, Eugene Peterson, said discipleship is a “long obedience in the same direction”.   

The second thing that stands out with this quote is the idea of being a little less lost. If we take this to mean that we are getting more and more saved as we go, we will have missed the meaning and stumbled into a form of moralism. However, if by "a little less lost" Bono means, and we mean, that we more quickly orient ourselves back to True North when we stray, then we are talking true discipleship. To be a disciple of Jesus means we come back to Him; over and over and over. We mark our growth as Jesus’ followers not by how frequently (or infrequently) we stray, but rather by how quickly we abandon our forays and return to Jesus. This is how I read the little less lost. If you like more traditional language, we could also call it a life of repentance (turning from) and faith (turning to).

So I look forward to opening Luke 5 with you again this week (vv. 17-26). I look forward to prayers spoken and sung. I look forward to rubbing shoulders, shaking hands, and coming together around the Lord’s Table. Most of all I look forward to seeing Jesus yet again, having him imprinted on my whole being, so that I can go through my weeks a little less lost.

 

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Seek First the Kingdom

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What a week it was in our country. We started off with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Our week proceeded with a March for Life in Washington on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. All of this against the backdrop of a Presidential impeachment trial. Together, they remind us how divided we are as a country, as one’s political sympathies largely determine how we think about each of these events.

Yet this is not to be! Rather our thinking about issues of life, diversity, truth, justice, foreign policy, etc…are all to be shaped by the central truths of the scriptures and our allegiance to our true King, Jesus Christ. These truths cut across the political parties and have as little to do with making America great again as they do with individual rights and inclusivity as defined by our current climate.

I love the following prayer by one of our denomination’s senior statesmen, Scotty Smith, reflecting on the beginning of the impeachment trial. It is a great reminder to seek first, and seek above all, the Kingdom of heaven, and even more importantly, to seek the KING!

     "Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so." (Joshua 5:13-15)

     "Lord Jesus, for we Americans, it’s not a happy day in our country’s capital and nation’s history. A presidential impeachment trial begins today in the American senate. Lord have mercy on us all.
     The temptation will be for differing 'political tribes' to invoke your name, claim your allegiance, and assume they’re doing your bidding. But seeking to politicize and domesticate the Kingdom of God has never gone well in the history of mankind.
     As in Joshua’s day, so in ours, may we fall facedown before you in reverent submission and silent hush—no matter our political affiliation. Lord Jesus, you are the ultimate 'commander of the LORD’s army.' In fact, you are the LORD. We don’t just take off our sandals before you, but also our agendas, pretense, anger, fears, and idols.
     In the coming hours and days, may we seek first your Kingdom and your righteousness, Lord Jesus. May we speak the truth in love, wait upon you in hope, and pray without ceasing in the Spirit.
     This isn’t an hour for 'us versus them' political drama and gamesmanship. It’s an hour to humble ourselves before you, lament that it has come to this, and greatly long for the fullness of your Kingdom to come. Until that Day, help us live, love, and labor to your glory, Lord Jesus. So very Amen we pray, in your merciful and mighty name.
"

 

Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash

in wisdom

Teach Us to Number Our Days

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Throughout our life together we remember the passing of loved ones. Often these passings come at the end of a long life lived in the presence of the Good Shepherd. In these cases we resonate with the psalmist, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (Psalm 116:15). Other times, the passing is not so clean. We grieve lives cut short by disease or tragedy. We feel the loss more acutely because we can’t be certain about the state of the soul of the deceased. It is at these times that we remember that death is an enemy, an intruder into our world.

The psalmist of Psalm 90 (Moses) wrestles with the reality of our days this way:

"For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?" (v. 9-11) 

After wrestling such, what is his conclusion? He asks the Lord to, "teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (v. 12).”  We are all moving toward the day of our death; it is one of the sure things that we all share. The psalmist invites reflection as we look ahead in order that the days of our lives might be marked by wisdom. The psalmist goes on to turn our eyes toward true Wisdom which can only be found in Christ when he says, "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days (v. 14)". Can you think of two more beautiful concepts as markers of your life than wisdom and satisfaction? Wisdom and satisfaction seem so beautiful and at times so unattainable, yet they are clearly held out to us as we look to Jesus and surrender to him.  

 

Photo by Adam Tinworth on Unsplash

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