In the chaos of faith, rebellion and obedience

Archive for April, 2011

Beyond the Symbols

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 24, 2011

i love it when God rocks our worlds in the moments where we think that we are being most pious.

because my journey of faith has been a meandering one- one that i believe even started when i got dunked in the orthodox church as an infant- i carry along with me a rich tradition of faith from a variety of denominational perspectives.  in addition to my orthodox roots, my other grandmother took me to lutheran vacation bible school, i had a crazy faithful baptist aunt, evangelical christian friends in college- i’ve been a part of vineayard, baptist, pentacostal, jesus freak punk churches across the u.s. and germany…

around easter time however, i really like to relish in the orthodox traditions.  they have some of the most powerful imagery of the passion and resurrection.  they uphold Christ’s ultimate power and glory in a way that few other traditions have been able to capture in the history of the church.  so on ‘holy saturday’- i always attend the anastasi service around midnight, followed by the full divine liturgy of st. john chrysostom.  it has been a most meaningful night for me for as many years as i can remember.

so this year, i got to experience it in berlin.  it was a bit sad riding the subway alone to a church that i had never been to (wasn’t even sure if it still existed based on the random internet listing where i found it)  but nonetheless, i went, and it was good.  however, on the ride there, my mind began to wander a bit.  there i was, all dressed up, heading to church at 11:30 pm on holy saturday, my thoughts directed toward the final moments of Jesus, dead in a tomb, reflective… and wouldn’t you know- at that hour on a saturday, in berlin, i was not the only person using public transportation.

my 23 minute ride on the u and s-bahn was shared with a group of all kinds of different people.  mostly they were young- on their way to party, or already engaged in it.  and for a moment, i found myself thinking- ‘what irreverance…’ on such an evening-  i even thought, about how i too enjoy the berlin nightlife, but not on this night…

and then- i caught myself.  almost instantly.  i was crushed with something like the weight of a ton of pharisaical bricks-  really!?  how are these people supposed to hold something reverant that they have no category for?  and isn’t presenting them hope and grace and mercy, what the resurrection was all about?  and it was that good kind of  conviction.  not that my reflective mood, thinking about participating in a symbolic service representing the epic rise of Christ from the grave, was bad- but just that it is not more important than real life and real lives.  those kids on the train are more important than my participation in a contemplative church service.  how did that even for a moment, slip my mind?  i repented.

and that is the tricky part of devotion.  that is the thing that we as the church have to be most mindful of and most careful.  let us relish in our traditions and symbols.  let us celebrate our most sacred days of rememberance.   but in that, let us go beyond all the symbolism and make sure our hearts are really in tune with the mission we are surrounded by all day every day.  let us live the sacred message we hold so dear.  singing and praying and celebrating Christ’s victory on the cross and through the resurrection only have power, if that miracle of God and the power of the that victory and resurrection are alive and at work in our souls- bringing the light of Christ to the world around us.

so if on your to or  from celebrating on this easter day- you seem an irreverent child-  do not be dismayed- nor should you scoff.  instead, think about how you might be able to share the light and the hope of the risen Christ with them- so that that child- a child of God, might be reconciled back to their Creator and Father.



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Humility and Ultimate Power

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 17, 2011

this morning i got to hear a good ole fashioned palm sunday message.  the message came out of matthew 21– focusing on how Jesus, the King, Son of david, God Himself, came into the city of jerusalem on a donkey- and not only a donkey- a baby donkey. it could not have been done any lower than that…  the complete opposite way of doing things for people in positions of power.  it was the ultimate subversion of the way power was normally executed by men.  it was a new example of power through humility.  in essence it was power over evil, sin and death by way of lowliness and sacrifice.

and this was not the first time we saw Jesus do this-  it was the second major entrance that He made during His time on earth that was done in such a humble way-  as you may remember, He also came into the world in a similar fashion- being born in one of the lowliest of places.

His third entrance however, will not be like the first two.  His third entrance will indeed be quite different.  i have been reading through 1 and 2 thessalonians recently and yesterday came across this verse- which talks about what will happen when Jesus makes this long-awaited third apperance-  it’s been a while since i read this description and i find it quite incredible:

2 thessalonians 2:8
And thenthe lawless one (satan) will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesuswill kill withthe breath of his mouth and bring to nothing bythe appearance of his coming.

not sure the last time i heard that verse preached-
but in the end, it is one of many descriptions that show the power of Christ-  and that one day, all creation and existence will culminate in the full restoration of things to full righteousness.

so, although until now, Christ has arrived in a humble and simple way- He will one day truly reveal His ultimate power and authority.  until then, we live in the time of humility and grace- though these things are not diametrically opposed.  it is not as if Christ once did not have power and will regain it, rather, He did not act upon the right of power, as paul explains to us so beautifully in philippians 2:1-11

and that is the essence of our faith, as christians, and the example that we are to uphold.  not clinging to our rights as children of God, rather humbly laying our lives down for brothers, sisters, and enemies.  and we can then do this without reservation and with confidence, because we know that in the eventual eternal restoration of all things will be a prize of immeasurable value-

understanding power and humility- how these worked together in the life and the afterlife of Christ- and how it works within us, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is one of the great keys to unlocking the mystery of God- a mystery that is ultimately rooted in the omnipotent existence of Christ in the beginning and the end.


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The preeminent Gospel

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 11, 2011

i love this version of the Gospel- which paul shares with us in colossians 1:15-23

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

there is certainly not much more that needs to be added to that- He was before all things, is all things and all things were made for Him.  what is left for us to do than to merely surrender our whole existence to Him…? and the crazy thing about it is, that even if we don’t- we eventually will.  the reality of this truth is that it is totally unaffected by whether or not we believe it or not.  it simply is.

so while apologetics and evangelism are vital and certainly a central part of our mission- in the end, we are merely discussing our human response to this reality- certainly not pleading a case for the actual truth.  the case has been, and is, opened and closed.

ps. i love the line “you were once- hostile in mind”  wow- amazing that something paul wrote over 1,000 years ago would be so fitting for our culture and society today.  let that line marinate for a while today- ‘hostile in mind’


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Holy are You God

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 10, 2011

throughout the years, i have sung the words, ‘my heart will sing’ or something along those lines… and to be honest, i didn’t always buy it.  now, i consider myself pretty well versed when it comes to poetry and metaphor- but for some reason, my heart singing, was always one of those things that i felt strange singing with integrity.  i mean, i get it and all, but still, it was often times difficult…

today however, was my day-  i spent most of it on public transportation traveling from one apartment showing to the next-  and if for no other good reason in the world, the ipod was definitely created for such days.  and since it was sunday, and there was no church service in sight for me, i spent most of those rides drenching my ears with worship music- trying to focus my thoughts on the Lord.

then, wouldn’t you know it, after a long day of life, right there on the berlin u-bahn, those words came once again- ‘my heart will sing…’  but this time, unlike the many times before, i indeed felt my heart singing.  and it is something you really can’t explain to someone in words-  it just is-  and it just happens.  there i was, my heart singing out (silently of course, with some mouth movements, as to not totally freak out the other passengers) and it was all based out of the lines quoted below-

“Holy are you God, Holy is Your Name, with everything I’ve got, my heart will sing, how i love You…”
joel houston

God is indeed Holy, and my heart certainly was recognizing it-  causing the aforementioned ‘singing.’


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April Pollen, I mean Showers

Posted by justicetabernacle on April 7, 2011

clearly april showers alone don’t bring may flowers, pollen plays it’s role as well.  actually it’s that stuff from the trees that really gets me… but actually i’m thankful that allergies seem to be a little dulled here in berlin compared to dc.

all that to say- it is quite unbelievable that i last posted on march 1st… what?  how did that happen?  have i not had anything to write about?  i mean there are all kinds of topics to post on, right?  i’m living in a foreign country-  flying by the seat of my pants and God’s grace when it comes to housing and project development.  i’ve had amazing visits from people from all over the world- gotten to visit switzerland, france (ok, just a walk over a bridge, but still) and denmark.  attended amazing alumni events with my alma mater valparaiso university and with the fulbright organization.  but somehow the pen (or keyboard) has failed me.

i was just saying the other day to someone, that when you are out here on your own for the most part, you have a gazillion thoughts daily (those of you who know me well, know that is not much of an exaggeration)…  and at some point you begin to forget what you say out loud and/or write down-  what you tell someone and what you thought you told someone.

and there are moments when that realization strikes panic in me.  i feel like i am really missing out on documenting my journey.  but like most things in my life, there is an ebb and flow.  i get into writing seasons, reading seasons, and the list goes on.  writing and documenting experiences however, have always been important to me.  there is a chronological effect of that- in that it’s just nice to be able to have a stack of journals to reread and remind you of all the crazy that you once thought, pursued and lived.

the bigger and more spiritual side of it however, is that it is a great log of God’s faithfulness.  whether you read about a time where you were doubting or in fear, or were in a fruitful season- it is important to have those things to look back upon and give God glory for it.  for the times He sparked a prayer- for the times He answered one or many-  for the times He saved you from your dumb self-  for the times He stood back and let you take steps on the journey…  all of these things are golden.  they belong to the story, both of your own life, and of the cumulative one of all creation.

so as the crazy pollen flies through the air and lands somewhere causing life to continue on- so i hope my words in some way can do the same.  we never really know.


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