Good Friday Sermon

Why did Jesus Have to Die to Save Us? Mark 15:33-41

Death brings an ending:

The first thing we notice about death is that it brings an ending. In our society we use the phrase “Dead End”. What do you think of when you hear this phrase? Do you see the street sign at the end of the road? Did you hear this phrase from a friend or co-working comment on a project or trying to solve a problem and they are frustrated because it feels like they are at a dead end? In the case of humans, death means the end of life on this plane and the old way of being. Death means you cease to exist in your current form. This person no longer works, plays music, or creates art. They no longer interact with their family members or neighbors or community.  When a person dies their participation in the community of life ends and with that end comes the end of their unique way of life.

When my father died it ended a unique time in his and my life. In my adult life my father was the family communicator. As my sister, brother, and I left home, dad was the one who kept us all up to date on each other’s lives and what was going on in his life and the life of the family. He organized all the holidays at his house and we all know what time to be there and what we were bringing.   He was also the communicator in his community. He organized the booth for street fairs and participated in community events.   When he died, his unique way of doing and being died with him.

Jesus had to die to end the cycle of sin that weighed on the world from the time of Adam till Jesus’s death. From the time of Moses, God was trying to repair the tear of sin. He established something called Atonement. In Lev 4:25-26 Moses lays out what is to be sacrificed and how the ritual is to go for atonement from sin. The sacrifice could be food, often wheat or flour, but usually they were animals, birds of some type or goats or calves. It was the latter sacrifices that were thought to bring the most relief from the guilt of sin and renewing a relationship with God.   When we read through the Old Testament we see the ineffectiveness of this type of sacrifice for the long term. Something had to change. Using animals as a means of Atonement was ultimately not working and never would. There needed to be a way to teach the people about God’s love and how to be God’s love. There needed to be a final ultimate death or sacrifice to end the weight of sin and reconcile God with his creation. Jesus is understood to be the ultimate sacrifice. It is through the concept of Atonement we see a line from the Old Testament to the New Testament, from Adam to Jesus.

Death brings an in between space

Death also has finality to it in a way that forces the space around the death to have to change. For those of us left behind, death forces us into what I refer to as “an in between space”. This is a space in which you feel and experience the full force of death as an end. It starts right after the death and lasts till the grieving begins. This in between space feels surreal and discombobulating. When you experience this, you are not sure what is real and what isn’t. Sometimes the in between space is momentarily paralyzing. It makes you feel like you are not sure what to do next. Sometimes you just have to be still for a moment to get your bearings before you can move to the next thing.

When my father died I knew about the in between space but I had never personally experienced it. I had seen people experience the in between space in my Hospice work. As I was with the loved ones of the patient, I noticed right after the death this sense of everything stopping for a moment. Sometimes this moment felt like forever and sometimes it moves by quickly. When my father died the moment felt like forever, it wasn’t till my husband put his hand on my shoulder that I felt some sense of grounding and awareness of what had just happened.

I can only imagine how the disciples and the women that tended Jesus felt as they entered this in between space. They must have felt sad, their hearts heavy and frighten. Some of the disciples must have wondered if they were going to die next. The woman may have wondered what would be come of them. How would they go on without their Rabbi? They walked away from their families, their lives, and everything they knew, to learn Jesus’s message of love. He taught them a new way to look at their lives and act out their laws. They did this because they knew this was the way to make a difference. Jesus’s mother, Mary, in her pain and sadness must have wondered if this is what Simone meant at the temple in Mark 2:35b when he said “…And a sword will pierce your soul as well.” For these people the in between space was not private; it was very public at the foot of the cross

Death creates a new beginning.

Death not only ends something and creates a in between space it also leaves room for new life, for a new beginning and a new understanding. Death allows for new possibilities with in the family and community at large. Death could bring a long needed ending to something or an exciting beginning.

A few days after my father died I could feel changes welling up inside me. Three months after my father died during my prayer/meditation time, I heard God tell me I would no longer share his word through music. I thought, wait, what? Could that be true? I’ve been sharing your word through music for more than forty years. My father started me in church choir before I could read or write and now you want me to stop sharing through music? Yes, came the answer. I have a new why for you to share my word.   When I told the church Music Director what I heard and was thinking of doing he said I needed to follow God’s calling for me. I remember the last time I sang with my group, I went to my car and cried. I asked God of he was sure I needed to walk away from music and a gentle yes came through. One year after my father died I would discover God’s new beginning for me. It is a new beginning that has led me to this exact moment in time, here in front of you.   Standing here, in front of you is the new way God wants me to share is word and his love.   God has led me through seminary to prepare me for this new beginning, right here, starting now with this message to you.

Jesus had to die so there could be a once-and-for-end to sin. His death lifted the burden of guilt, shame, and sin for all those past, present, and future. He had to die so there would be an in between space for him to conquer evil, for the people at the cross, and for us today to reflect on death and dying and what it means to be a part of someone’s life and community. But most importantly, Jesus had to die so there could be a new way of being with our Creator, a new beginning filled with hope, love and grace. He had to die so we could cleansed and connected more deeply with our God. M.D. Baker and C.C. Le Bruyn writes in the Global Dictionary of Theology about Jesus death, “Christ’s death can be celebrated as meaningful and effective in life and in death: The Cross draws attention to factors and conditions that brought it about … It underlines the role Christ plays in the bond of the human community. It became the critical basis for the formation of a new community… There can be no church and no new community without the Cross of Christ”.   Here Baker and Le Bruyn point out we should be celebrating Jesus death instead of mourning it, for without his death there can be no end or in between space and no new beginning. Jesus had to die so the temple curtain would be torn and it would eventual come down to make space for a new way to worship God, from the inside out. Jesus had to die to make space for hope, the resurrection, and a new way of living.

Meditation:

I would like to take you to the cross. You can listen to my voice as I describe the scene of the cross, with your eyes opened or closed. Come with me now to the cross of Jesus.

Before we go to the cross it’s important to decide whose eyes you will look through to see what is happening. Will it be the disciple John, the Roman Soldiers, the bandits on the crosses next to Jesus, the people passing by taunting Jesus, the women on the hill or do you dare to be Jesus on the cross.

The Bible tells us that the day of Jesus death starts at nine in the morning. It is a hot Middle East desert morning very similar to our Santa Ana mornings, so hot and dry. You have followed Jesus with the crowds and you hear a loud thump as the cross lands in the whole in the ground. You hear a groan from Jesus and the bandits crucified with him.

You can hear the soldiers mocking and tormenting him. You see them drawing lots for his cloak as if this is some sort of game to them. You hear the people passing by yelling at him

‘He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the

King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.  He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Then you see Jesus talking but you cannot make out what he is saying. Someone runs over to tell you he offered forgiveness to one of the bandits and to the Roman soldiers. You cannot believe what you have just heard. You are shocked that he continues to forgive even as he is dying.

It is noon and you can hear the mumbling amongst the people about the dark clouds have come over the land and how unusual that is for this time of year. I imagine this would look and feel like a summer storm coming across the plains as the clouds roll over the sky going from light to cloudy and dark like a mid west storm rolling in. As you look at Jesus body slumping down the cross and his labored breathing you realize it will not be long before Jesus is dead. Then you see Jesus talking. Did he just tell John that Mary is not his mother and John her son?

It is three in the afternoon and you are wondering how much longer can Jesus take this when you hear him cry out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me!” Then you see his body go limp and his head fall down towards his chest and you know he is dead. You are now propelled into the in between space and you are momentarily paralyzed unsure what to do next. You see Jesus body sagging and his chin on his chest and you are still in disbelief of all that has happen to this point. You begin to wonder what will happen next. If you are the disciples, you may be wondering if you will be the next to die. If you are the women, you may be wondering where or if you will ever be safe. If you are the Roman soldier you may be wondering what have you just done as you are now convinced this was the Son of God.

SING: Where you there when they crucified my Lord? Where you there when they crucified my Lord? Whoa, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Where you there when they crucified my Lord?

My prayer for you this Good Friday is that you feel the death of Jesus as it propels you into the in between space we call the Easter Vigil and during this vigil you allow Jesus to tear down the temple curtain and walls that are in your heart to make space for the new beginning of Easter. Amen.

The Blessing

It’s Friday morning and I’m in my favorite place, the Spiritual Care office of the hospital in which I am a volunteer Chaplain. Fridays are my Baby Blessing day and I “round” on the LD and OB floors of the Woman’s Center. The office is full when I arrive and I’m offered warm greetings and a few moments to catch up with everyone. After a few minutes I grabbed the Women’s Center census and headed off to bless babies.

The Spiritual Care office is at the end of narrow hallway with administrative offices along the way. The entrance to the hallway is off the main path from the front doors of the hospital to the elevators and is very busy. I am about to enter the main hallway when a fellow Chaplain rounded the corner. We are both lost in thought and run into each other, we hug as if this was what we meant to do all along. “You are off to offer blessings?” he said. “Yep, my favorite thing to do.” I responded. “Bless me!” he says and bowed his beautiful older bald head to me. With only a moment of hesitation, I made the sign of the cross on his head and blessed him in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I thanked God for all the special gifts this man has and uses in service to others. I thanked the Chaplain for having the courage to accept his gifts and use them in God’s service. Then I looked at him with eyes of expectation and hope and he smiled and blessed me with similar words with his wonderful Latin accent. When we were done we hugged and heard a voice from the office to the left say “Awww, Chaplains blessing each other!” It made us laugh and we were both on our way to doing our chaplain business.

All this happened in a very unexpected and ordinary way. But it felt extraordinary. As I walked through the hospital towards the Women’s Center I felt like I was floating and I could feel tingling on my head where he had placed his hand to bless me. I noticed people were looking at me and smiling, it’s then I realized I had a smile on my face from ear to ear. The blessing was not only blessing me but those around me. I felt as if waves of happiness and love were flowing out of me and traveling everywhere like fog machines at a concert.

As I reflected on our blessing I felt somewhat unworthy yet honored to bless and be blessed by this man, so much older and wiser than I, so much more ministry experience and so humble. In the spur of the moment he offered a newly graduated seminarian a connection of love and worthiness. It was a moment in which I have a new and experiential understanding of humility and blessing, a moment in which he taught me the act of blessing and being blessed.

The Collar

I am a one month seminary graduate when I received a call asking if I am available to assist in worship one Sunday in August and September. God has taken me to many surprising places in my life but none so much as worship leader. Now this might seem strange since I mentioned seminary graduation but I graduated as a Chaplain. Chaplain training focuses more on holding space with people in their hour of need than ministry leadership.

After agreeing to help it occurs to me that I will be with the Sr. Pastor who will be in a robe and stole. Since I am not ordained, I will not have these things. Now what? When I am telling my best friend about this, who happens to be the Sr. pastor’s wife, she tells me to talk to him about it.  So I call him and he says, “Wear the collar”. Wait, what, I can wear a collar?   But we don’t do that in Presbyterian land. Sometimes we do, he explains, to  hospitals and some public events. It’s optional for us. I’m feeling very uneasy about this, however I know that the pastor would never make me look foolish in public and he has mentored me through seminary so. . . ok, I’ll do it.

Then I realize, I have no idea how to get the collar and in a panic I put up a post on RevGalBlogPals, a web site and blog group dedicated to women pastors from all around the world. They come to my rescue directing me to a tab on the website and making suggestions and giving me tips about the style and brands and send me a pattern to convert my favorite blouse to the collared blouse. Who knew there were so many choices?

When the collar arrives I am actually nervous as I open the package. I am staring at the blouse and tab laying on the bed. Should I do this? Can I do this? What gives me the right to do this? I send a up a prayer, help me do this!  I am so busy fumbling with the tab that I have not even noticed my reflection. Then I see myself in the mirror and I can’t believe that seminary has led to this, me in the collar. When I walk into the living room, to my expectant husband, a slow smile creeps across his face and I hear “You look awesome.” He is way more excited then I am and so proud of me he takes a head shot picture to post on Facebook.

Sunday roles around and I am nervous for many reasons but mostly because this will be the first time I’m in public in the collar. I pray for peace and whatever God can send me to move to this next step in my love for him and his people. We get to church very early.   The music groups are rehearsing and service preparations are in full swing. I am arranging chairs and getting water for the Sr. Pastor when I hear from the music group, “Wow, you look great what do we call you now?” These are my friends, some of us have known each other for fifteen years and they have eagerly supported me through seminary. I hear the music leader say, “Call her Chaplain Dawn.” They all come over to me and hug me, say how proud they are of me and they want to touch the collar. I feel a sudden sense of peace and I shoot up prayer of thanks for these people who have loved and supported me and were an answer to my prayers at that moment.

When the Sr. Pastor sees me he has a big smile on his face and he is happy  I am wearing the collar. After we mic-up and he puts on his robe, we have a moment to sit in the back and collect our thoughts before we go up front.  He has his arm around me and says, “What are you thinking?” For the last several moments all I hear in my head is “Here I am Lord, send me.” He ends our pre-service prayer with “Here we are Lord, send us.” Just before we walk down the isle together we pause, I take a deep breath look at him and see a big smile. As we walk down the isle I see my husband in the choir loft beaming pride. When we sit down up front I see friends and family beaming love and support.

As my spiritual adviser and I reflected on that day he asks me, “What does the collar mean to you?” I realize the collar was more for me than for anyone else. Wearing the collar reminds me that God has called me to be more than the person who has been sitting in the pew all these years loving people and sharing her faith. The collar is a visual reminder that God called me to step it up and move from the pew to the front into leadership. I accepted that call when I went to seminary. The collar is a reminder that seminary is not enough. Now it is time to step into that call and my pastoral authority. Not the kind authority that lords over, but that kind of authority that says I am here to be a servant leader and to assist you in a deeper relationship with God, if you so choose.  Wearing the collar is my answer to Isaiah 6:8, “Whom shall I send?” “Here I am Lord, send me.”

A Message to the Church, Don’t be Afraid

I’ve been reading and enjoying a book called Grounded by Diana Butler Bass. The idea of the book is that people are turning away from religion and identifying themselves as spiritual but not religious. She talks about how this group of people is finding God outside the church and connecting with this God. When I was at work today, I ordered a book for a faculty member title The Invention of God by Thomas Römer when it suddenly hit me that there is a shift in the questions those that believe in God are asking.   We use to ask who is God now I feel there is a shift to asking where is God. This is an important shift and one of the reasons I believe people are leaving the church.

Old methods of talking about God are not working as we work to find and redefine our view of God. What we see needs more than just sitting in pews listen only. As part of new definition we what to act our faith and we want a more personal God that allows for more than a denominational or non-denominational God full of shoulds and should nots. Not because we don’t believe in following God’s Word but because we see that Word in a different way. It is more than the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount. We don’t want to just know words in our head, we want to live those words in our heart and in our actions.

We are not just seeing God in the church but we are seeing God everywhere. We are acknowledging that God is outside the walls of the church. Jesus told the Pharisees that God was not in the temple but in our world and in us. We see God in our neighborhoods and in our neighbor; n our work place and in our coworkers; in our homes and in our family members and we see God in the tragedies of this world. We are looking for words to express what we are seeing and feeling when we see God in these new places of our world and our relationships.

The words we use now describe God are created from thinking language that became insider language. Now as God appears in new places in our world these words feel awkward and old. They are thinking words and we are discoing a God of our hearts. A God that is relational and compassionate, a God that is loving and wants us to love above all else. He wants us to love even when loving doesn’t seem fair or right or just by the world’s standards.

This new awareness leaves us struggling to find heart words to describe what we are feeling.   Many Churches have not caught onto this new awareness of their people. They are stuck in the old thinking language. I encourage the Church to take time to hear your people, to really listen to them and hear what they are saying. If you do this, I believe you will discover that we all believe the same thing we are expressing it different ways. Don’t be afraid Church to hear your people and work with them to find feeling language for what the people are seeing. If you do, I believe they will not only stay but, return to worship together with you in community and love.

Spiritual Not Religious

How many times have I heard that phrase?  Too many to count.  It is not that these people do not believe in God.  They do, in a meaningful and experiential way. They feel God in their midst, at home, work, school; in the neighborhood, community centers and in the places they volunteer.  The spiritual God is everywhere, with us, in us and among us.  This God is not in some far off heaven where we might go someday, but right here with us. Talking to us, guiding us, growing us, loving us.

People are fed up with religious institutions that preach a God that is so far away. They are tired of the hypocrisy of the church.  They are tired of being told that God is only in “these” walls or you have to say these words or have to be in church every Sunday or some how God will think less of you.  They are tired of being told that the goal is to go to some far off place when you die.  They are tire of what Diana Butler Bass, in her book “Grounded” calls an elevator religion in which the church is the broker of who gets on the elevator and who does not.

So here is my secret:  I am spiritual not religious.  I have been this since I was a child.  I have always felt God’s presence within, and around me. But wait, how could you be that, haven’t you always gone to church and didn’t you just graduate seminary?  Yes, all of that is true.  For the record, I believe there is a God. I call myself a Christian, Jesus is my Rabbi and I am his follower.  I hear/feel/see God through the Holy Spirit. But my relationship with God has been almost mystical.  I have visions, feel and sense God, I hear God talk to me and I have spirit guides and angles I deal with on a regular basis to be God’s love and light in the world.

But I have been a bit subversive with this religion/church thing.  I have never believed that God is somewhere far away or that God is only in the church or if I say or don’t say the right things God will smite me or judge me or some how not love me.  On many occasions I have suggested to people that it does not matter if you go or not go to church God will find you and you can find God where ever you are.

You do not need a religion to find God.  God is everywhere, in nature, in art ,in homes, in the face of your coworkers, family and friends. I use Christianity to explain my God.  I study and read the words of Jesus to better understand my God, myself and my neighbor.  I listen to the Holy Spirit to hear God’s call in my life each day.

Religion is suppose to give us words to understand God but it is difficult to use words alone to explain something so much more than words could explain. You can use anything you want to explain God, poetry, art, music,math, science or religion. You can find God by calling out his name, asking him to reveal himself to you and you will see/feel/sense him.

If you are discouraged with the church I suggest you find other places to connect or reconnect with God.  Be assured he has not left you.  One suggestion is to sit in your yard, or patio or balcony take a deep breath and say, “I am here God and awaiting your presence.”  They listen with your heart and hear God. Hear him with your whole being not just your heart ears.  You will know he is there. I pray that you will find him, feel him and know him in a deep and spiritual way.

Waiting on the Lord

“I’m waiting on the Lord,” we Christians say.  I have heard this phrase often.  We sometimes use it when we don’t know what else to say or how to explain why we are not doing something we and others thing we should be doing.  We sometimes also use the phrase when we are not sure what to say or do next.

I have just graduated from seminary and I am in this very place of waiting on the Lord.  I am not using this phrase not as a clique or familiar throw-away phrase but because it actually feels like what I am doing/being right now.

I have the unusual position of already having a job so I don’t need to rush around and find work.  The downside of this is that it is not a ministry position so there is no direct link from seminary to a Chaplain calling.  Then there’s the internship which often leads to a job but not mine. I did my CPE at a hospital and they don’t have Chaplain positions because they are a teaching hospital.

In a world in which so many things must or are expected to be done and received with immediacy, waiting is not something I do well.  I believe that we as a society do not wait well.  Waiting feels slow, useless and unproductive.  God fore bid we be any of those things.  I’m trying not to feel anxious while waiting on the Lord but each day that I feel there is no direction, I feel like my anxiety level goes up.

I’m sure adding to the anxiety level is the not know what is next for me, my co-workers and my family.  My coworkers keeping asking if I’m leaving right away or how soon I’m leaving.  Actually, it’s sweet because they want me to succeed but they don’t want me to leave, we’ve been together for 14 years.  My family is excited and proud of me an can’t wait for me to step into my calling.  I feel anxious about my student loans and would feel more justified about these if I was “at least working in my field”.  My life is often out lined a year at a time because of my work.  I’ve been expecting a new outline since finishing seminary and it is no where to be found. There are possible outlines but none of these feels right yet.

When I pray to God and communicate with my spirit guides and angels, I still hear the word “WAIT”.  Each time I ask the word gets louder.  Now almost two months after graduation (really not a long time) I still hear “WAIT”.  My guides are directing me to books and people and encouraging me to ask practical “how to”questions about the different aspects of Chaplaincy.  I thought about volunteering as a chaplain or returning to my hospice volunteering but I am even told to wait on this.

“Rest” is the other word I hear and feeling I get.  Resting, like waiting, is also something I do not do well.  Going to seminary often felt like I was a camel being pulled through the eye of a needle so I do feel the need to rest but this is also hard.  Resting for me has been a month long road trip with my husband in the RV and reconnecting with my family during the summer time when schedules are a little more flexible and fun.  It has also meant reading some books and connecting with friends.

So now I wait on the Lord with an open heart and complete confidence that she will lead me to the next place that will grow my soul.  Her plans will help me to be her loving hands and feet in the world.  Lord, I pray for all those who are waiting on the you.  Help use to trust fully in you with complete faith and knowledge that you have plans for us to prosper not to harm us and hope for our futures in you (Jer 29:11).  When we feel anxious while waiting, remind us to turn our face towards you and not down ward into our hands with worry and fear.  Thank you, Lord for your grace and love poured onto us.  Amen.

A Truth about Truth

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This graphic was designed by “Coffee Party Movement” and appeared on my Facebbook feed.  The graphic says a lot about perspective.  I sat an looked at it for a while and I wondered what it means to have on object or reality with so many truths.

As I look around in the world I note there seems to be the idea that there can only be one truth about a thing, subject or idea.  Much of the worlds views on truth is either/or.  I recall the “old/young lady” pictures from my psychology 101 courses.  It was not either an old lady or a young lady it was both.  I wonder what it would look like for humanity look at truths with the lens of both/and?

What would it look like if our response to a truth that is not  the same as ours was to question it with curiosity?  What if we could have a conversation about a truth that is not the same as ours, in a way that helps us understand it?  To be clear there is a difference between conversing to understand and conversing to try to change someone’s truth to be our truth.  If we converse to understand, it does not mean that we will accept that truth as our own or even a universal truth. It means we are seeking to understand this new truth and it’s meaning and how the truth functions. This is true for the other side of the conversation as well, if we are conversing about a truth and are on the side of explaining that truth, is it possible to do it in a way that we are not trying to get the other person to accept that truth but to understand it?

In my Chaplain world I encounter many different kinds of religious truth.  It is part of the Chaplain calling to honor those truths while holding my own different truth in my heart.  Being a Chaplain has taught me that I can have my truths and others can have theirs and we can still be respectful, understanding and support of each other.  It may also help that often when I am with others there is a more universal truth that has brought us together.  Sometimes that truth is illness, dying, death, marriage, or baptism. it is the focus on the universal truth that allows me to hold my truth in my heart even when the others truth is different. It is also my genuine curiosity about “why” that allows me to be in a space with others whose truth is different from mine.  I love to know why people think, act or don’t act the way they do. I try to listen to an others truth with genuineness and understanding.

This graphic reminds me that there are different truths to all my encounters and truths can be both/and.  I encourage you to take a breath when you encounter a new truth and look at it with wonder and understanding.

To “wear” Jesus

Today I was reading my daily devotional by Sarah Young entitled Jesus Calling: Enjoying the Presence of His Peace.  The theme for this day is “putting on Jesus” or “wearing Jesus”.  It means to have the Mind of Jesus and be connected enough to him to hear his thoughts for you.

As soon as I read this I had a vision of me standing and waiting for a bright “cloth” to fall upon me.  First I raised my arms as if a shirt was about to be put on me then I lowered them as a I felt this cloth like light engulf me.  I was breathing slowly and deeply as this light engulfed me.  It was bright and warm and I felt such peace as it surrounded me.  I continued to breath deeply and when I looked at my body I saw a beautiful white light “clothing” me.

Cleansing tears fell from my eyes as I released the last of my stress and strife. I felt a sense of relief.  I felt as though Jesus was saying to me, “I have never left you even though you could not hear me”.  It felt so good to feel Jesus again. To sense that familiar presence.  And yet i could detect a change in that presence, not in a bad way but in a way that felt like we are preparing for what is yet to come.

In my last semester in seminary I have not felt the presence of Jesus.  I kept asking where are you? Why have you left me?  There was silence after each question and I felt on edge without it. Today I felt his return and he let me know that he has never left me.  We needed “radio silence” while I wrestled with how I feel about Jesus and what he means to me.

After wrestling with these questions I have a deeper sense of how Jesus has played a roll in my life.  I also feel he was giving me space to make a decision to allow him into my heart and what that will look like going forward.

Toady I opened my heart to allow him in to let him “gaze upon me” and for us to love each other deeply.  It feels good, warm and peaceful.  I am looking forward to how Jesus and I will grow together in this new phase of our relationship.

Adualtry?

I am writing a topics paper for my Christian Social Ethics class (Religion and Bioethics) and I came across this question.  Can Artificial Insemination, with donor sperm, be considered adultery?  I posted this question on my Facebook page and asked for comments.  Boy did I get them.  Most people had the same initial reaction that I had, Really?!?! how is this even a question?  My medical friends went straight to NO it’s a medical procedure.  Most people could not get past their idea of the absurdity of the question.

I decided this was a valid question and took some time to sit with it.  As I understand the common Christian interpretation of this word/concept, I would have to say no.  The bible speaks of adultery in terms of relationships, first with God and then between a couple.  I would hope that both parties in the relationship receiving AI are on board with this procedure and all that it implies.  I would also hope that if the sperm donor has been in a long term relationship or is married that he would have had a discussion with spouse/partner to discuss what he is doing.  This last thought comes from a friend of mine who said those exact words.  To which my response was Wait!! What? The sperm donor could be married.  I had never thought about that before. In my mind the AI recipients were always a couple and the sperm donors are always single.  Nothing like having your bias so clearly revealed. Ouch.

Everyone’s response was no it is not adultery.  It sure was fun to talk about though. I enjoyed everyone’s responses.  I also enjoyed the many in person conversations I had with people about this question. 

Where have the Ten Commandments Gone?

I recently wrote a paper for one of my seminary classes in which I put out the question, where have the Ten Commandments gone? The idea behind this question is that I believe that the Commandments are still valid today. That said I have been wondering why we do not hear about them or see them in the church or from the pulpit anymore. In this paper I challenged the Church leadership to start preaching these again.

While I make this challenge, I also want to encourage this same group of people to do this with discernment, grace and humility. One thing we do not need is to hear these preached in a way that feels like a ruler being slapped over our knuckles. We have had that version already and may be that is why they went away.

It is important to preach these in away that people feel they can use them to make ethical and moral decisions. Each generation looks at these Commandments and tries to make them their own. We need to help this generation see how helpful they can be.

I would suggest a sermon series in the fall on the Commandments followed by a sermon series in the Spring on the Sermon on the Mount. This would help religious communities to feel informed, empowered and equipped to face the fast paced world we live in.