So we have come not to practice our piety before others. Not to impress God or our neighbors. We have come to receive the wisdom of the cross, to be taught the number of our days. The wisdom of the cross that tells us that by nature we live to die, but in Christ we die in order to live. We have come to find our place in the cross-shaped story of Jesus.
The gospel truth of Advent—the mystery of the Incarnation—is that God doesn’t blow the door down from the outside. Rather, Christ dwells among us, in the prison with us, breaking open the prison door from the inside, confounding all worldly powers and leading us out into the light and life of freedom.
Well, it is here. My grandma is dying. I mean, we are all dying. But the day of her actual death seems to be near. It’s cliché to say, I know, but this woman seemed indestructible. Triple bypass. Cancer. Several heart attacks and stents. Knee replacements. Back surgery. She “beat” it all. She has a …
There is a beautiful passage near the beginning of one of Augustine’s great works, De Trinitate, in which Augustine writes: “Dear reader, whenever you are as certain about something as I am go forward with me; whenever you hesitate, seek with me; whenever you discover that you have gone wrong come back to me; or if I have gone wrong, call me back to you. In this way we will travel along the street of love together as we make our way toward him of whom it is said, ‘Seek his face always.’”
A friend of mine once said that friendship with God is the heart of the gospel. Strangers and enemies of God, we are made friends in Jesus. Strangers of one another, the baptized become a family adopted of God. I belong. You belong. We belong. We belong to God in Christ.
Coakley seeks to turn Freud “on his head” and make the case that it is not sex which is fundamental and our desire for God “ephemeral” but in fact, just the opposite. “[I]t is God who is basic, and ‘desire’ the precious clue that ever tugs at the heart, reminding the human soul—however dimly—of its created source.”² Coakley helps us to see that desire is more fundamental than sex. Her central theme woven throughout is that ascetic practices, namely that of prayer, reorders desire and the notion of selfhood in relation to the Trinity.
I don't remember how it started, but just a few blocks into the walk to our hotel the debate was on. Our conversation ranged wide—the scope and purpose of salvation, justification, sanctification, the sovereignty of God, the relationship of divine and human agency—never seeming to settle in on one thing. We argued as we walked one and a half miles of the city streets of Philadelphia, as we waited for lights to change at street crossings, as we took a wrong turn and had to retrace our steps; not even the check-in process at the hotel halted our conversation.
There is a danger inherent in pastoral ministry: the danger of assuming a competitive and/or violent “us against them” framework, thinking the congregation to be your antagonist with whom you must contend. Ezekiel lends itself to such a reading. One hard forehead set against another. One righteously called by God, the other living in rebellion under the judgment of God and the call to repentance.