Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Kingdom of God (page 1 of 3)

Book Review: Who Counts?

Who Counts? 100 Sheep, 10 Coins, and 2 Sons, Amy-Jill Levine & Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.

 Fred Craddock, a New Testament scholar, refers to the three “lost” parables in Luke 15 as “Three Parables of Joy.” He writes, “The three parables of chapter 15 are a trilogy in that all three speak of the joy of finding that which was lost.”

Amy-Jill Levine, a professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, a rabbi and Director of Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Bulter University and Christian Theological Seminary, give readers a fresh take on the familiar parables in Luke 15 in Who Counts? These stories of Jesus are retold in modern-day settings and with modern, diverse characters.

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Sermon: Citizens of Heaven

Here is the audio of my sermon from Sunday, March 6, 2016 at Peakland United Methodist Church. The text was Philippians 3:17-4:1. You can listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.

Palm Sunday Reflections

jesus_9085cI remember as a child gathering outside of my home church on the front lawn as the church service was beginning. We had our palm branches in hand and were already waving and running around as we waited. Then, at the appropriate time, one of our parents would open the doors to the church and we would proudly march, wave our branches high, and shout “Hosanna!”

It was the only time we could act this way in church. The parade like behavior on Palm Sunday was only reserved for Palm Sunday.

The limitations were removed on Palm Sunday. We did not have to be “just right and proper.”

While church is indeed a sacred place, too often limitations are placed on young people and the young at heart. Too often the limitations frown upon processing through the building making a joyful noise or the excited behavior little bodies show when they come to church. This kind of parade like behavior is not always welcomed. We like things to be “just right and proper.”

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A Vision of the Kingdom

washing_3262c-2Read Jeremiah 31:31-34.

The other night our youth group served a meal at Park View Community Mission. In Lynchburg 24% of the population lives in poverty.  Every Wednesday evening, Park View hosts volunteer groups like our youth group who serve a free meal to anyone who shows up during the serving times.

There were whites and African-Americans. There were young and old. There were homeless and working poor. There were those with disabilities and there were those without.

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Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters (1984) Original_2A quiet librarian, who is a tiny woman, gently returns books to their shelves. Around her, books are beginning to move . . . off the shelves and around the library. This is just one of what will become many psychic nuisances. Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) geek out in their own way as they investigate the nuisances. After losing their lab and research positions at the university, they branch out to start their own business.

An old, run-down firehouse is renovated to become the 24-7 headquarters for the Ghostbusters. It is here that they meet Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) for the first time. Dana comes to the Ghostbusters because there seems to be a strange glow and menacing monster inside her fridge. While, Ray and Egon take interest in the actual case, Peter takes more interest in Dana. This is the character that Bill Murray plays so well. He is intelligent, and cool-headed, making side comments whenever he can.

The movie, no doubt a classic summer blockbuster, combines two elements that, prior to this film, were never combined . . . well. It did well the special effects, which require painstakingly detailed work. The floating, green, slimy ghost, the horned beasts, and the other strange things that need ghost busting. On the other hand, it is comedic gold. The dialogue is quick and smart, and with the combined alumni from the schools of Second City/National Lampoon/”Saturday Night Live”, there is little doubt of its awesomeness. The comedy that Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis learned in these settings is the kind that requires spontaneity and improvisation. And these are some of the masters.

Theologically, what does Ghostbusters offer us? When Winston (Ernie Hudson) joins the team, he and Ray talk about the Biblical connections to the end of days kind of stuff that is happening around them. Winston didn’t believe in the supernatural when he started working for them, he just needed a job. But after seeing it, he believed, which for him makes the possibility of the Revelation-like end of the world even more believable.

A metaphorically reading of Revelation would leave us with various “beasts” that would bring destruction upon the earth. The message at the end of Revelation is that no amount of beasts or destruction will prevent the victory of Jesus Christ and the creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth. And yet, we as Christians play a significant role in the Kingdom of God. We are agents of that Kingdom, eliminating the beasts that roam the earth for the simple intention of destruction. Like the Ghostbusters, we seek out the dark creatures of our world to eliminate. We set out to put an end to poverty, racism, hate, bullying, oppression, marginalization, and neglect. We have a responsibility as people of God to do this justice work. And, like the Ghostbusters, people are going to think we are foolish and strange for doing so. But it is our calling. It is our vocation. It is our purpose. We are the ghostbusters for the Kingdom of God.

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