Some excellent thoughts from C.S. Lewis on the place of faith, miracles and nature, related to Joseph and the Virgin Birth of Christ. Love this highlight:
“When St. Joseph finally accepted the view that his fiancée’s pregnancy was due not to unchastity but to a miracle, he accepted the miracle as something contrary to the known order of nature… as evidence of supernatural power… Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary. Belief in miracles, far from depending on an ignorance of the laws of nature, is only possible in so far as those laws are known…” - C.S. Lewis, Miracles
This is a fascinating read on why women are out-performing men in today’s economy.
As I read it, I couldn’t help being a pastor, researcher and communicator that there might also be connections to why the Christian Church has historically tended to grow the most when it was in a position of least influence. Perhaps there really is something to being “strangers in a strange land,” or to use biblical phrasing, “aliens and exiles.”
I am an avid reader of Seth Godin (books, blogs, anything really). I love his ability to crystalize and disseminate wisdom that can be applied to creative (writers, artists) and organizational leaders (marketers, managers, etc.). In this short blog, he writes on the importance of “less is more” and the danger of following after the masses.
Came across this quote while doing some research work this week and thought it
Courtesy of Jonathan Grassmick
worthwhile to share.
“The God who remained apparently silent on Good Friday is having the last word. He is answering the unspoken questions of Jesus’ followers, and the spoken question of Jesus himself on the cross. And what God is doing is not just an extraordinary miracle, a display of supernatural power for its own sake, or a special favour to Jesus. What God is doing is starting something new, beginning the new world promised long ago, sending the disciples to Galilee in the first place but then, as we shall see, on to the ends of the earth and the close of the age with the news of what has happened. A whole new world was opening up in front of them.”
I had the privilege the other week of assisting with a friend’s wedding in a Catholic wedding service. One of the many surprises and joys of that experience was meeting and serving alongside Father Pablo Migone. He is a great guy. I’ve enjoyed following some of his blog posts and found this one in particular to be very illuminating (Link to the whole article below).
On the nature of being surprised by God:
“I am convinced that God loves surprises…Unfortunately we oftentimes dislike surprises because they tend to destabilize things. We want everything to be under control. We get flustered and aggravated when things do not go exactly according to plan. Yet consider this, had the Virgin Mary not been open to surprise and had she wanted to retain control over her life, she probably would have said “no” to the archangel. The more open we become to the presence of God in our lives, the more He will surprise us through ordinary and extraordinary events. The more we trust Jesus Christ has truly overcome the world, the more moldable we will become, gladly allowing His surprises to mold our will according to His own.
Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I wonder what would happen in my life, and the life of those in the church, if we really believed that God knows everything about us and our sins, and still loved us enough to send His Son to die for those sins? And what if He really did love us enough after that to also send us His Spirit to be free to struggle with those sins, and gave us the gift of community to help us bear up under that struggle without having to fake, hide or pretend we’re anything other than redeemed men and women?
Saw this posing by a friend on Facebook (HT: Jeff Kerr) and thought it worth re-posting here for further discussion:
In a discussion elsewhere on the interwebs, I saw this statement. I think this gets directly to the heart of why most Christians in most contexts are afraid of confessing anything beyond “disorganization” and the like:
“I visited a Mom’s Bible study at a friend’s church years ago. When it was time for prayer requests, all the other moms said, “better time management” and “get organized”. This was met with understanding clucks and nods from the other moms. When it was my turn I said, “I yell at my kids.” I got a lecture about how wrong and damaging yelling was and how concerned the leader was that I would start “hurting my kids.” There was a moralistic lecture because there was no possibility of repentence and forgiveness.
Here’s what I’ve thought since then: Since grace is so cheap these days, our sin isn’t allowed to be very bad. That leads to confessing things like disorganization. Jesus’ blood can cover that one. But REALLY bad things? There’s no cure for them, so let’s not bring them up.”
My friend Daniel Siedell has written another excellent article over at Patheos discussing the intersection of faith, grace and life through art (see below). It is well worth your time to read what might be the best perspective I’ve heard on Serrano’s Piss Christ. And his thoughts on what it means to be a Cultural Theologian are even better.
I remember my first exposure into both topics – Piss Christ and being a Cultural Theologian – came from my dad. He is an artist, and I have benefited greatly from growing up in a home where art was celebrated and questions were asked that forced us to think, not just regurgitate or rearrange preconceived prejudices. When I fist came to know Christ, I remember one such question my dad asked: “What would you do if you saw a picture of Jesus in a toilet [or jar or urine] as a work of art?”
My answer then was somewhat astute for someone my age and maturity in Christ. I answered, “Well, Jesus was crucified in a trash heap which was the equivalent of a toilet back in his day. Whether the artist meant it or not, I think it’s an excellent picture of the beauty and grace of God in the midst of the crap of life.”
My response has not changed to this day, and thanks to Daniel, I know now that I was on to something back then.
Addendum: To learn more about how to see and perceive art with eyes of faith, and not through culture-war jargon, I highly recommend Daniel Siedell’s book God in the Gallery(Kindle edition here) Also, for something philosophically similar but addressing cinema and movies, I would encourage Brian Godawa’s Hollywood Worldviews(Kindle edition here).
It is interesting to note what items get media play and attention, and what do not. If the “sides” had been reversed, but the story ended up the same (heroic security guard, taking a bullet and saving lives), would we have seen/heard about this more in the news?
I confess that I can struggle with this. I wonder though how this also applies to Pastors and “books”. I am all for redeeming the time and making the most of every opportunity, but digital devices and/or reading material of any kind, even if it’s sermon prep, can achieve this same catastrophic end.