My mother moved very far away some years ago, and so I rarely spend much time with her anymore. That’s really ok most of the time, we tend to get on each others nerves pretty quickly and tempers and words fly at the slightest provocation. She has been flying out a lot over the past two years to see her grandson, which works well for both of us- we get to put in some face time, say we love each other, and then part company quickly before enough time is passed in each others company to ignite our mutual short fuses. One major disadvantage to this otherwise idyllic arrangement is that if anything happens which requires our mutual and personal attention one of us needs to suddenly embark on a lengthy 900+ mile journey. This weekend has dealt me that card, with the sudden death of my mothers dogs I find my self-righteous butt uncomfortably settling into the plush clean-smelling seats of my Toyota Highlander and high-tailing it to central Florida to offer what comfort a sons presence may. Feel free to get together yourselves, you just won’t have mr. McStinky around to lead you through the Book of Common Prayer. Actually, that might be more incentive for you to revel in the communal bliss of mutual sojourners fellowship…
Well this will be our last meetup before Alicia and I split for the Pacific Rim, so it makes sense that we gather at our favorite meeting loaction (cà phê phin in Nassau Bay). I’m not certain what adventures await us in Thailand, but this latest venture has found me adopting a very relaxed outlook on the planning stages. In the past i’ve felt very conscious about making sure that everything is totally organized and all the plans are cemented- only to find that chaos and unpredictability tend to reign and run roughshod over my carefully constructed schemes. SO this time i’m just leaving things in the hand of Providence and allowing adventure to direct itself.
Desert father Abba Anthony said, “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’ ” If only desert father Anthony was with us in our 21st century world, he would possibly be pushing his shopping cart full of bedding up the busy urban sprawl and wondering at the sanity of so many ‘sane’ people.
I get asked a lot “why do you call your group ‘that’?” referring no doubt to our inglorious epitaph, and like so many other things which are beautiful and true the reasons are multi-layered and complex. On the face of it, I think I just wanted something that stood out, to everybody. Nearly every street corner and shopping center has a “Grace” or “Peace Community” or “Faith Word Assembly of Wah Wah” or whatever, and although those names can certainly be very uplifting I wanted something that would lodge in the conscience a bit more, something that would perhaps seem a little offensive or preposterous and sensational. Secondly there is truth in advertising, if a majority of people believe that christianity is made up almost exclusively of self-righteous hypocrites then why not take the liberty of applying a little bona fide candor and let the public know exactly who’s getting together when we meet. Sure sometimes each of us take ourselves a little too seriously, and we’ve all slipped up and been a bit legalistic in one area or another and then fallen all over ourselves-seccumbing to exactly the fault we saw so clearly in another. But mainly, I think that the term ‘hypocrite’ is probably most aptly applied to christians who, though struggling in their faith, are genuinely seeking after godliness. Why? The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis), which means “Jealous” “play-acting”, or “acting out”, and is associated with the Greek word ὑποκρίτης (hypokrites), the agentive noun meaning “judgment” »κριτική (kritiki), “critics”) presumably because the performance of a dramatic text by an actor was to involve a degree of interpretation, or assessment. These masked actors would take on a role, and disguise themselves-burying their own personalities under this fictitious persona, and for the christian this is especially true. When we are ‘in’ Christ we arent instantly whisked away to glory to revel in the clouds in the presence of the Most High, but we remain here in the corporeal world and withstand the constant fevers and trials of living in our flesh while yet we are occupied by the Holy Spirit. Desiring perfection and godliness, we continue to fall into sin after sin, capitulating to the tragic frailties which our bodies are heirs to. And yet, when the Father looks upon one of these crippled creatures, He no longer sees the broken mass of seething desire and avarice we were physically born to-but under the sheltering cloak of the blood of His Son he sees Jesus in all of His perfection and glory. What greater mask to wear that that of the Maker of the Universe, what greater role to play than the Redeemer and Sustainer of mankind? Not that we are pretending to be something that we don’t believe, but given time our very features may begin to resemble those of the perfect costume we have affected, and the ‘persona’ of Jesus will be evident in our lives through our love, peace, and grace.
Martin Luther wrote, “When it comes to faith, what a living, creative, active, powerful thing it is. It cannot do other than good at all times. It never waits to ask whether there is some good work to do, rather, before the question is raised, it has done the deed, and keeps on doing it.” What must a day in the life of a pre-reformation era monk have been like? find out here http://www.pbs.org/empires/martinluther/fla/ml_main.html On day three of 2012 its easy to kick back and enjoy fruits of a successful year thus far, but we have to remember that we don’t need to wait for December 31st to make a change, to have a “re-birth”. Every morning God’s mercies are new (or at noon, you know-whenever you wake up you slothful hypocrite) and every day should be a chance to have a do-over, physically and spiritually if we want it. So grab today, and make the decision to live it by faith and enjoy the ride! This Sunday, January 8th, we will be leading worship for Advent Lutheran Church’s contemporary service at 10:20 am, so FSRCOTH is taking a field trip to 5820 Pinemont Dr, Houston, TX 77092-2604, please resolve to join us-we may even be disposed to share some of our raw cauliflower with you afterwards!
Fourth-century poet Ephrem the Syrian wrote, “The word of God is a tree of life that offers us blessed fruit from each of its branches. It is like that rock which was struck open in the wilderness, from which all were offered spiritual drink. Be glad then that you are overwhelmed, and do not be saddened because he has overcome you. A thirsty person is happy when drinking, and not depressed, because the spring is inexhaustible. You can satisfy your thirst without exhausting the spring; then when you thirst again, you can drink from it once more.”
Well, we just went over to Ca Phé Phįn our friendly neighborhood coffee house for our weekly meeting, but I guess they’ve decided to take the day off, and GOOD FOR THEM! Here in the states I think we put too much emphasis on “hours of operation” in local businesses that we don’t find in other countries, so for today, the 4th of December 2011 we’re meeting at the corner of Saturn and Hercules in the Clear Lake Music Lessons building, they won’t mind AND I’ve already made coffee, come on by!
Twentieth-century mystic Simone Weil wrote, “Affliction compels us to recognize as real what we do not think possible.” my mind boggles at the popularity of the “Twilight” series of novels and films, although I am certainly not their target demographic, still I wonder at our ongoing fascination with vampires, werewolves, zombies and other “supernatural” monsters from the pages of history. Dwelling on this at length, I am inclined to believe that perhaps our modern enlightened age has stripped away so many of the things we used to fear in the dark recesses of our own unconscious minds, and our contemporary goddess “Reason” has left us all yearning for a simpler time with simpler monsters. Today, we look out of our comfortable ring of man-made firelight, the pitiful flickering barely illuminating our primative mud dwellings, and out in the darkness-but for the grace of God-there we ourselves lurk shambling in the night. Perhaps Edward the vampire is more comfortable than that after all…
“”Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye””