I’ve spent the better part of the past two weeks nearly crippled with a persistent and tenacious attack by my old nemesis, gout. True, it’s given me a lot of time to lay around in bed and read, play mindless games on my iDevice, fart around on the interwebs, and have a reason to limp around with a pimp cane- plus I’m always grateful for some excuse or other to be anti-social but I’m really beginning to get a little fed up with the whole experience and am really frantically awaiting the day when I can once again easily walk up and down the stairs. Yeah, the pain and swelling are pretty bad, but for me the worst part is having to explain my condition to those well meaning individuals I seem to keep coming into contact with on my few hobbling escapades outside of my apartment. Nobody outside of a handful of Rheumatologists actually understand the causes of gout, and I’m beginning to suspect that they don’t really have much of a handle on it either. The medieval explanation of “perhaps a toad or small dwarf has taken up residence in your innards” sounds entirely plausible sometimes, and is certainly easier to explain than the more complex truth as it appears that most people already have it in their heads that I’ve obviously been eating too many rich foods and if I simply cut back on the Brie and Chateaux De Chatterley a bit I wouldn’t have to undergo my current trials. That’s the real trial for me, not judging people (myself included) for their personal misconceptions about the causes and nature of my rather debilitating disease, it’s so easy for me to fall into anger and respond sarcastically when I should be taking this unique opportunity to educate and explain. I am also in a wonderful position to show people a man who revels in the chance to share in sufferings of Christ, and be joyful despite my circumstances. Paul Miki, a martyr of Japan, said, “My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.” At First Self Righteous Church of the Hypocrite’s meeting tomorrow at 6 pm Monday October 24th at the Starbucks in League City (2800 Marina Bay Dr. League City, TX 775732957) we will wrestle with these concepts together, and perhaps enjoy a caramel macchiato together. Can’t hurt (or can it!?!?!)
Origen of Alexandria wrote, “Once the -people of God had surrounded the city Jericho, it had to be stormed. How then was Jericho stormed? No sword was drawn against it, no battering ram was aimed at it, no javelins were hurled. The priests merely sounded their trumpets, and the walls of Jericho collapsed. Jericho will fall, then; this world will perish. How will the world be brought to an end, and by what means will it be destroyed? The answer of Scripture is, by the sound of trumpets. If you ask what trumpets, then let Paul reveal the secret: The trumpet will sound, and the dead who are in Christ will rise incorruptible.”
Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could just put Jesus on autofollow, kick back, get out of the way, and let all the hard choices and temptations become victories? In some ways I guess that’s part of what the Holy Spirit does, He is the Father’s personal twitter feed ticking away in the foreground (or more regularly the background) of our conscious daily activities, and we have been granted the freedom to be able to listen in to those tiny bursts of divine advice or not- frequently to our peril. I wonder how many times I have ignored that still, small voice in my mind warning me of impending trouble, and yet ploughed headlong into some madness or other, recklessly abandoning whatever sound spiritual advice I was being served. But I suppose that’s the ultimate cost of freedom, to be given the choice to do things our way or Jesus’ way, thank God for the wisdom He imparts to know the difference, and the measure of grace extended to us when we fail.
I can’t sleep. It inevitably happens whenever I have something I have to be responsible for the next morning, and so it frequently happens on Friday and Saturday nights. Like some cruel joke played out time and time again, I find myself unable to doze off, and the mounting frustration does little to quell my thoughts. I know that by picking up a book, or hopping on the computer I’m being hopelessly irresponsible, and so I lay still in the dark and close my eyes, sometimes for 6 hours at a stretch. I know that if I was taking an algebra class I’d be able to doze right off, or if it was 9 am I’d crash out almost instantaneously. What would happen if, instead of persueing my regular habit of mentally beating my head against a wall I just spent this time in prayer? It’s a pretty simple solution really, either outcome would be pretty spectacular! Either I would find myself spending some 6 hours a week more in prayer than I do now (and God knows there are plenty of situations I could pray for, and worship through, and seek wisdom about) or else-like the disciples in the garden- I would falter within the hour and drift into sleep. Let’s see how long I can stay focused tonight- in the presence of the Lord, before the drooping lids finally overtake me and slumber flows Morpheus slow…
Saint Anthony once said that “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” and that got me thinking about the nature of justice as a concept and our part in it. What exactly is justice? Is it really just the quality of being fair and reasonable or is justice a more active virtue? I think about my own interactions with people who are regularly denied justice, the poor, orphans, the lonely, victims of various things and wonder at what I can do to bring a sense of justice to them, or is it my duty as a companion of Christ to merely love and try and minister to their needs individually? Supposedly, politically established law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, but when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills? We’ll discuss these things this week on Sunday October 2nd when we meet at Ca Phe Phin at 1:00, and spend some time in prayer that we can become more aware of how we may be conduits for justice through love as we sojourn through the world!
What would it look like to live in a country where Jesus was the king? Would it be a land of peace, a jeweled kingdom overflowing with milk and honey and a healing balm to her neighbors? Would her armies march out victorious, putting the heathen and the villain to the sword, divine judgement protecting the weak and poor? First Self Righteous is meeting tomorrow at 1:00 at Ca Phê Phín to talk about this and other matters of social and political consequence, see ya there hypocrites!
Teresa of Avila, a sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, wrote, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the world; yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; yours are the hands with which God is to bless -people now.”
Do you ever feel like you’ve gone beyond the point of no return with God? That you’ve just screwed up too much and destroyed your life to the point where there’s just no point in trying to go back at all? We all feel that way sometimes, and this week thats what we’re going to focus on when we get together on Sunday, for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Join the rest of us hypocrites at Ca phe Phin in Nassau Bay at 1 pm on Sunday September 18th while we mull over our individual inadequacies and failures.