Nov 26

How Christ Reigns



This morning we get a glimpse of the glory of the reign of Christ that is still to come: Christ the king, who gathers all people before his throne to judge them. The judgment is a sober, eternal affair: blessing and the kingdom for those the king judges well; cursing and eternal punishment for those the judge condemns. The eyes of all creation focus on the judgment; even the angels attend the dread day. This is how Christ reigns on that day, this is how Christ will judge between the blessed and the cursed: did you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, and visit the imprisoned? If yes, you are blessed; if no, then you will be cursed. Continue reading

Nov 13

Getting Ready to Wait



Once upon a time, two young women tried out for their college’s basketball team. At the tryouts the pair quickly discovered that, as good as they were, neither one was going to be the team’s star. Over a couple of weeks, cut after cut happened, and still the women found themselves on the list to return for the next workout. 60, 40, 30, 20: finally the time came to announce the final 15 who would make the team, and there they were—14th and 15th on the roster. They knew they had no chance of ever playing. The team had 5 excellent starters, 5 really good second-string players, and 5 benchwarmers. The two women were not going to run the court this season. Continue reading

Nov 06

Finding Ourselves Among the Saints



Two years ago Misty Copeland became the first black principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. At the time she told reporters, “I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level. At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.” In a world—and not just the dance world—where pictures of success are still often filled with white faces, Copeland has become a model of new possibilities for people of all races. To those, like her, who have faced difficult circumstances just because of the color of their skin, she demonstrates the virtue of persistence and destroys the lies of limitations imposed on them. To those who have not faced such difficulties, she embodies a new world that is not chained by past prejudices and expectations. Misty Copeland is a gift, someone whose accomplishments are not just to be celebrated for their own sake but also for the fact that they make the world around her a better place. Continue reading

Oct 30

The Reformation at 500: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God



“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred dwell together in unity.” Growing up, I heard these words often from my mother, who usually spoke them to me and my brother—I have a sister, too, but she almost never needed to hear these words—whenever we were fighting, or about to start fighting. “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in peace,” she would say, in the old King James version of Psalm 133. I never liked hearing those words, but I needed to hear them. I needed to be reminded that whatever state I was in with my brother—anger, frustration, disappointment, annoyance—there was something better for me, something good and pleasant for me to seek. Continue reading

Oct 22

The Reformation at 500: Made for Worship



We were created for worship. Yes—all of creation was made for worship. The psalmist cries out to creation: praise him! Angels, sun, moon, stars, sea monsters, snow, rain, fire, frost, cattle, birds, people of every age and status: praise him! Praise the Lord! You were made to worship the Lord. This is what you have been created for. One of the great legacies of the Reformation was the Westminster Catechism, a teaching book that John Wesley even adapted for Methodists. The very first question is, “What is the chief end”—that is, the main purpose or goal—of humankind? And the answer is, Our “chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” And what is true for humanity is true for each and every element of creation, from subatomic particles to galaxies, from the seen to the unseen. Worship is our common vocation. We are made for worship. Continue reading