Important words for me today.
The other night CBS Evening News included a recitation of Maya Angelou’s poem “Caged Bird” as a part of their tribute to the acclaimed poet. Angelou’s words have been there when words could not be found. She provided a voice for the hurting, the abused, the neglected, and the oppressed. She sought for freedom in all the ways it is expressed and manifested. Here these words by one of the greatest, if not the greatest, poet and ponderer of our time.
From Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail:
In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson, and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being non-conformists.
From Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith:
Missional at its core means “sent.” It is the opposite of “come to us.” So many believers have selected their pet conecpt of the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations” but neglect the prerequisite instruction: “Go.” Going is the noble history of the Trinity. God sent Jesus to dwell among fallen humanity – not to visit, not to remain separated, not to rescue. Upon Jesus’ resurrection, God sent the Spirit from the heights of heaven to the heart of every believer, an indwelling.
It’s not that Christian influence is bad (well, not all bad), but followed exclusively it distorts our perception of real life and our role in it. We turn a blind eye to the customs, cultures, communities, and contexts where people live their lives with different preferences and worldviews right next door to us. The problem with Christian segregation is the idea that God asked us to be on mission with Him, sent us to some group of people somewhere, and wants us to minister to them in a way that meets their needs by speaking their language.
The Christian season of Lent is a forty-day period, excluding Sundays, in which Christ followers join Jesus on his forty-day fast, spiritually walking in his footsteps. Lent is a season of repentance and spiritual self-examination. It is a time to draw near to Christ, and a time when we recall our brokenness and mortality. This allows us to appreciate the blessings that come on Good Friday and Easter, when Christ dies for us and then is raised to life. (Adam Hamilton, The Way)
“Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4-5, Common English Bible)
Excerpts from Max Lucado’s God Came Near:
Have you caught a glimpse of His Majesty? A word is placed in a receptive crevice of your heart that causes you, ever so briefly, to see his face. You hear a verse read in a tone you’d never heard, or explained in a way you’d never thought and one more piece of the puzzle falls into place. Someone touches your painful spirit as only one sent from him could do . . . and there he is.
The man. The bronzed Galilean who spoke with such thunderous authority and loved with such childlike humility.
The God. The one who claimed to be older than time and greater than death.
Have you seen him?
Those who first did were never the same.
“My Lord and my God!” cried Thomas.
“I have seen the Lord,” exclaimed Mary Magdalene.
“We have seen his glory,” declared John.
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked?” rejoiced the two Emmaus-bound disciples.
But Peter said it best. “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
What greatness of Jesus have you seen? What majesty have you been an eyewitness of? How are you an eyewitness of the Christ?
This is one of my favorite hymns written by Charles Wesley. I use it often as a prayer.
Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set they people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope for all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
Born they people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.
from the United Methodist Hymnal, #196
Disciplined accountability in small groups has been a distinctly Methodist nuance of the understanding of ‘church,’ and the original stress of the Methodist Discipline was on this distinct form of accountable discipleship. (Ted Campbell)
This blessing was shared in a weekly email from my District Superintendent, Larry Davies.
Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be, And bless these gifts, Bestowed by Thee. And bless our loved ones everywhere, And keep them in Your loving care.