Posts Tagged: "Pope Francis"

Lent Day 29… Like A Toddler Driving A Tractor

“Sensible people, of course, should need only about thirty seconds of careful thought to realize that getting off scot-free is the only way any of us is going to get off at all. But if all we can think of is God as the Eternal Bookkeeper putting down black marks against sinners—or God as the Celestial Mother-in-Law giving a crystal vase as a present and then inspecting it for chips every time she comes for a visit… well, any serious doctrine of grace is going to scare the rockers right off our little theological hobbyhorses.” —Robert Farrar Capon

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One of the strangest things I’ve experienced as a pastor is when good Christian people want to meet with me in order to let me know they are concerned…

We believe in grace and all that, but we think people need to hear about judgment too.

We feel like we’re not hearing enough about sin.

These meetings leave me feeling like I’m in some kind of Christian Twilight Zone where things are bent, strange, confused, and freaky.

I don’t even know where to begin.

You believe in grace and all that, but…? Are you sure you want to put a “but” after grace?

You feel like you’re not hearing enough about sin…?  For the sake of clarification, are you most concerned for yourself—that you need to be called out for the sins you’re currently struggling with, or are you concerned for others in the church—who, in your opinion, need to be called out for the sins they’re struggling with?

The freaky-Twilight-Zone part of these meetings is that they’re always concerned with the sins of other people.

They’re never asking for sermons on spiritual pride. Or on being judgmental. Or on greed or gluttony or laziness…

Oh, the irony.

I have come to recognize that my reactions to the evil I see in the world are rarely in the proper proportion, are rarely aimed in the right direction. Too often, I wield my righteous indignation like a toddler driving a tractor that’s pulling a plow through a field ready for harvest, destroying the fruit and the weeds alike. I want to be less ruinous. I want to cultivate more. —Shawn Smucker

Pope Francis, in his book The Name of God is Mercy, says:

The church does not wait for the wounded to knock on her doors, she looks for them on the streets, she gathers them in, she embraces them, she takes care of them, she makes them feel loved.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke of this… “Mercy is in reality the Gospel message; it is the name of God himself, the face with which he revealed himself in the Old Testament and fully in Jesus Christ.”

Mercy is the divine attitude which embraces, it is God’s giving himself to us, accepting us, and bowing to forgive. Jesus said he came not for the healthy, who do not need the doctor, but for the sick. For this reason, we can say that mercy is God’s identity card. God of Mercy, merciful God.

The love of God exists even for those who are not disposed to receive it: that man, that woman, that boy, or that girl—they are all loved by God, they are all sought out by God, they are in need of blessing.

Be tender with these people. Do not push them away.

 God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger…

He came to put the world right again. —John 3.17

Lent Day 23… On Care For Our Common Home

This beautiful prayer is Pope Francis’ “Laudato si” (On Care For Our Common Home)…

 

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe

and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love,

that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live

as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,

help us to… Read More

A Few New Beatitudes For Today

Leonard Sweet shared the following…

While in Sweden for an All Saints Day mass, Pope Francis proposed Six New Beatitudes for the 21st century church.

These were meant not to replace the biblical ones, which he called the “identity card” of the saint, but to point to how the original beatitudes might be expanded and understood in light of our world today:

Blessed are those who remain… Read More

Saving Quotes

* pictured above: the town of Assisi, Italy —July 2013

I save quotes. In my phone. On my computer. Folders of them. Ever-growing, constantly adding.

And there are times when I need them. When all the world seems to be busting apart at the seams, all hell breaking loose. When my peace has run away like a dog terrified of the fireworks on the 4th of July.

I save quotes. But sometimes they save me.

I’d love to share some… saving quotes.

 

The Saint Francis Prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is… Read More

Tribalism: Seeing Others As Not Fully Human

- - Life With God, Uncategorized

Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for He is going to say, “I came as a guest, and you received me.” —Rule of St Benedict

I squirm whenever I hear someone talking about “The gays…” or “The Muslims…” or “The illegal immigrants…” or ”The Catholics…” or “The whatevers.” Sure, it probably has something to do with the sweeping generalizations, labeling, stereotyping. But I’m realizing it’s more than that.

When we speak about “The whatevers,” we are identifying “them” as separate from “us.” It’s tribalism, and tribalism is all about who’s in and and who’s out. According to Professor Richard Beck, “Ingroup members are considered to be fully human. Outgroup members are infrahumans” (less than fully human).

As the famous anthropologist Levi-Strauss said, “Humankind ceases at the border of the tribe.”

Belgium psychologist Jacques-Philippe Leyens first coined the term INFRAHUMANIZATION to describe the belief that one’s ingroup is more human than those outside it. A classic case of infrahumanization is found in the US Constitution (Article 1. Section 2. Paragraph 3) where… Read More

There’s No Healing In The Hidden

On March 28th, Pope Francis was at St Peter’s Basilica with 61 other priests – who had all gathered to hear confessions. When being directed to the confessional reserved for the Pope to hear confessions, he made a surprise move…

Pope Francis walked over to another confessional that already had a priest in it, and began confessing his own sins.

James 5.16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

I believe there is a healing that comes through confession.

Recently, I was listening to a program that… Read More

Catholics Aren’t Christian

Growing up in Pentecostal church, I picked up on this idea: Catholics aren’t Christians. The typical charges against them were things like praying to Mary, worshiping the Pope, praying to the saints, and elevating the teachings of saints and church leaders to the same level as Scripture. They also had cool necklaces – and I wanted to wear one.

And then there were the wild accusations from the end-times obsessed folks, claiming the current Pope is most definitely, 100% for sure, obviously THE Antichrist (these guys are still doing this too).

I was smart enough to detect the crazy on the doomsday prophets, but the underlying message “Catholics aren’t Christians” stuck with me. When you hear something enough times, you just begin to believe it.

So I believed Catholics aren’t Christians… Read More