Posts Tagged: "Frederick Buechner"

What A Wonderful World

For the past 8 weeks, our church has been in a sermon series called “Unchained Joy” – looking at the book of Philippians, half a chapter  each Sunday. The most cheerful book of the Bible was written from a first-century prison cell—and it reminds us that despite our difficulties, there is a joy that runs deep.

We have God’s joy in our blood. —Frederick Buechner

The series has come at a particularly “good” time for me personally (good, not in the sense that all is well, but in the sense that the timing is good because all is not well). While walking through some difficult things—betrayals of friendship and painful losses—the “Unchained Joy” series has allowed me to preach to myself as I am sharing with the church.

The most helpful discovery of today has been that right in the midst of my sorrows there is always room for joy. Joy and sorrow are sisters; they live in the same house. —Macrina Wiederkehr

We often create what we call… Read More

Advent Day 7: Advent Isn’t A Guilt Trip But It Is A Journey Into Compassion

*Pictured above: Kahal, a homeless man I met this past Spring. He’s worked a number of jobs—in kitchens, landscaping, Uber driver… but has recently fallen on hard times. He doesn’t have an address right now, or a computer, and this makes applying for jobs a challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Kahal. He was pleasant, intelligent, and kind. He was quick to smile and laugh.

Those who cannot see Christ in the poor are atheists indeed. —Dorothy Day

Advent, the season of anticipating and waiting and reflecting on the arrival of Christ, is a journey that leads us into compassion. We can’t think about Christ’s coming without remembering the humble, low, and socially unacceptable truths of this story…

—a young unmarried minority girl who is pregnant

—no friends or family to call on for help, no place to go for shelter

—needing to squat where it was allowed—in the animal barn of the local inn

How would this story sound if it had played out in 21st century America?

Perhaps Jesús would have been born in the early morning hours at a downtown homeless shelter.

At the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, he spoke of the final judgment and those who would be… Read More

Laughter And The Bible

- - Life With God, Uncategorized

Frederick Buechner, in his book Peculiar Treasures, writes:

Quantitatively speaking, you don’t find all that much laughter in the Bible, but, qualitatively, there’s nothing quite like it to be found anywhere else. There are a couple of chapters in the book of Genesis that positively shake with it. Sarah was never going to see ninety again, and Abraham had already hit one hundred, and when the angel told them that the stork was on its way at last, they both of them almost collapsed. Abraham laughed “till he fell on his face” (Genesis 17:17), and Sarah stood cackling behind the tent door so the angel wouldn’t think she was being rude as the tears streamed down her cheeks.

When the baby finally came, they even called him “Laughter”—which is what Isaac means in Hebrew—because obviously no other name would do.

Laughter gets mixed up with all sorts of things in the Bible and in the world too, things like sneering, irony, making fun of, and beating the competition hollow. It also gets mixed up with things like comedians and slipping on banana peels and having the soles of your feet tickled. There are times when you laugh to keep from crying, like when the old wino staggers home in a party hat, or even in the midst of crying, like when Charlie Chaplin boils his shoe for supper because he’s starving to death. But 100 percent, bonded, aged-in-the-wood laughter is something else again.

It’s the crazy parrot squawks that issue out of David as he spins like a top in… Read More

It Doesn’t Look As If There’s A Hero Among Them

*photo above: guys who live in the local group recovery home—helping build 300 bicycles for our Bike Give last month

We are currently in a series on the Beatitudes of Jesus at church… it’s called “Dance to the Beat.” The following is Frederick Buechner’s thoughts on the Beatitudes from his book Whistling in the Dark:

If we didn’t already know but were asked to guess the kind of people Jesus would pick out for special commendation, we might be tempted to guess one sort or another of spiritual hero—men and women of impeccable credentials morally, spiritually, humanly, and every which way. If so, we would be wrong. Maybe those aren’t the ones he picked out because he felt they didn’t need the shot in the arm his commendation would give them. Maybe they’re not the ones he picked out because he didn’t happen to know any.

Be that as it may, it’s worth noting the ones he did pick out.

Not the spiritual giants, but the “poor in spirit;” as he called them, the ones who, spiritually speaking, have absolutely nothing to give and absolutely everything to receive, like the Prodigal telling his father “I am not worthy to be called thy son,” only to discover for the first time all he had in having a father.

Not the champions of faith who can rejoice even in the midst of suffering, but the ones who… Read More

Have We Lost Our Imagination?

I recently said, “I think compassion is a muscle and the church has atrophy. Time to build some muscle.”

Another muscle withering away due to neglect is imagination.

We have lost our imagination.

I think this happens because we are so easily tempted to mimic, copy, follow, and accept status quo as reasonable and good enough.

In the church it happens like this: we look to another church in some other part of the state or country that is considered successful because of one or more of the “B’s” – buildings, budgets, and butts-in-seats. We esteem these other churches as having or being something that we also should have or be. We podcast them. We fly over to them and scribble notes about everything we see and hear. We meet with their leaders to get their secret recipes. And then we bring it home to our state, city, neighborhood.

This whole thing reeks of a lack of imagination.

What ever happened to… Read More

Do You Remember Who You Are?

Do you remember who you are?

I mean, the real you – deep down inside. The you created in God’s image and likeness. The you who is God’s masterpiece. The uniquely gifted you. The one and only you, free from all the comparisons and advertising and marketing and demands and peer pressure and…

Do you remember who you are?

The essence of you. The you that only you can be. The you that God saw necessary to… Read More

Considering Who Is In Those Pews

In Frederick Buechner‘s book Telling The Truth – The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, he briefly describes a few people sitting in those pews on a Sunday morning…

“In the front pews the old ladies turn up their hearing aids, and a young lady slips her six year old a Lifesaver and a Magic Marker. A college sophomore home for vacation, who is there because he was dragged there, slumps forward with his chin in his hand. The vice-president of a bank who twice that week has seriously contemplated suicide places his hymnal in the rack.

A pregnant girl feels the life stir inside her.

A high-school math teacher, who for twenty years has managed to keep his homosexuality a secret… Read More