The Gospel in Chairs…….

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Given that I haven’t posted all week….I thought I would share this with you! 🙂

Ever wondered what all this talk about Jesus dying for our sins is all about??? There are two systems of thought….One being the juridical model of St. Anselm, and the other the Christus Victor (restorative) model, outlined most fully by the Cappadocian Fathers

This video outlines both systems in a very effective and accessible skit 🙂

While I don’t think that the two theories of atonement are diametrically opposed to one another, this presentation helps to highlight the main difference between mainline Roman Catholic and Protestant thinking, and that of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The first view places a strong emphasis on God’s sense of justice, the second on God’s undying, radical love for humanity.

As with anything, I think there is a balance between the two…..a valid concern to correct injustice…..but at the same time…… an open admission that our Lord’s grace and mercy overflows beyond our comprehension and there is never a place where God is not. 🙂

Thanks be to God for the miracle of the Incarnation and the gift of resurrection and faith. Always confronting us, restoring us and making us new!+

An Evening of Nostalgia: Part 2-“Remember Who You Are…..”

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Given the fact that I have seen the Lion King so many times…..even memorized it…….it came as a shock last night when I saw certain scenes, and heard certain lines in a completely different way then when I was 12.

The Lion King is a fairly deep movie….with a lot of intricate themes. While it is not an overtly Christian movie…..like say, The Matrix Trilogy ……it does strike me that the story of Simba is one of redemption and anamnesis.

These two major themes are set up by the main crisis of the film: Simba’s overwhelming sense of guilt and shame over Mufasa’s death.

Through Scar’s emotional manipulation, the young cub comes to view himself as a horrible person.

If developmental psychology has taught us anything, it’s that a child around Simba’s age would be highly susceptible to that kind of thinking…especially in their quest for acceptance within the family unit and by others.

This skewed sense-of-self, and Simba’s earnest desire to forget his identity as the crown-prince of Pride Rock affects the way he grows up and perceives himself.

Don’t believe me???..Check out his thoughts, body language and facial expressions while at the river with Nala (1:05)

Simba’s guilt is so pervasive, that he feels unworthy of being loved and embraced. Up until now, he has been able to forget himself, and is further convinced that the problems of the world don’t have to involve him. He acknowledges that the past can’t be changed…..but he doesn’t think there is anything beyond it…or at least anything worth holding on to….

Hakuna Matata, right????

Enter Rafiki. Through this encounter, Simba learns that–as much as he may try to escape it–the past is a part of his being…..and he must remember the way in which it has shaped him….otherwise the guilt will never go away……

What struck me the most though is Mufasa’s message: Look inside yourself…..You are more than what you have become….Remember who you are! You are my son and the one true king. Remember who you are! Remember……Remember…..Remember…..

In Christian understanding…..anamnesis…..the act of remembering……is never a one way street…..It not only entails who God is….what He has done and how He has shaped us and made us….but remembering who we are .

While we still have the propensity to sin and make mistakes…..we are more than what we have become….While the past may haunt us and be filled with horrible things, they are not the whole of who we are.

Unlike Simba, we are not the True King… BUT we do bear his image. We–like Christ–are called to be priest, prophet and yes… even kings and queens :D.

The notion of faith bringing us a crown of glory is not foreign to the Christian tradition. Check out Rev 4:10 or the words of Emily Dickinson writing in the Puritan miluex of the 19th century:

Too little could I care for Pearls
Who own the ample sea—
Or Brooches—when the Emperor—
With Rubies—pelteth me—

Or Gold—who am the Prince of Mines—
Or Diamonds—when have I
A Diadem to fit a Dome—
Continual upon me—

In the end, the Lion King comes to accept that the past is an integral part of who he is. While he is not defined by it….and while it still causes him intense pain…there is something beyond it. We can learn from our past……and add on to it….finding our way back home…..and claiming our rightful place in life.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again……I ❤ this movie! Thanks be to God for movies that can make us feel like children again and that can still speak to us even after 17 years! 🙂 +

Evening Prayer: Eve of Pentecost

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Psalm:33
Old Testament: Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20
New Testament: 1 Peter 2:4-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Pet 2:9)

Sometimes I think Christians take their claim of holiness and priesthood a little too seriously….or rather not, seriously enough. In the zeal to evangelize, and to bring Christ to the masses, Western culture (Canadians included)…has found it tough to avoid an “us vs. them” mentality.

We are the ones who have the Gospel, right???? We are the smart ones…we know the Truth. We are the one’s saddled with responsibility and The White Man’s Burden laying heavy across our shoulders.

In taking such an approach, we have justified the destruction of First Nations people, sanctioned exclusivity on part of the Church, and condemned people to hellfire and damnation :P.

All because we didn’t pay attention to Peter’s next verse:

Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy. (1 Pet 2:10)

Read that verse, and the whole context changes. Now we cannot perceive ourselves as great….or as superior..but as a people who have been lifted up from the dust. Not as masters who can decide the fate of others, but of slaves given freedom and new life.

We are called not to judge each other……but to build one another up. Not to lament our brokenness, but celebrate in the collective joy we find in Christ Jesus…Not to look down on others, but encourage one another living in the Spirit.

I pray that on this birthday of the Church, we can not only celebrate the Spirit in our midst…but give Her the space to transform our hearts, our minds, and the way we each live in this world. 😀 +

Morning Prayer: April 2nd

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Psalms: 87, 90
Old Testament: Jeremiah 13:1-11
New Testament: Romans 6:12-23

The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

A large portion of Romans is dedicated to the question: “Now that we are saved, how do we act?” Paul wants to dissuade new Christians from continuing in sin and immoral behaviour, and–above all–he wants to avoid the idea that people can continue living lives of debauchery, while being given eternal life.

For Paul, the internal state of grace and thanksgiving was to be reflected in outward behaviour, and in the sanctification of the body.

In last night’s post, I talked about the idea of redemption……of being bought back from the devil. One of the implications of that outlook is that our bodies are now longer our own. We are, literally, the property of Christ.

This is a difficult concept in a culture which points so much emphasis on individual freedom…..but it can also give a picture of ourselves which provides hope. If God is indeed directing our bodies through the power of the Holy Spirit, why would we want to go astray??? If we are living into our baptismal covenant, there is reason to believe that God will change the world in and through us.

Slowly but surely, through faith and hard work, the Kingdom will be brought to fruition, and all of creation will rejoice in peace, unity, and concord. +

Evening Prayer: April 1st

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Psalms: 91, 92
Gospel: John 8:33-47
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Moral Reflections on Job by St. Gregory the Great

Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)

Over the past few years, I have come to realize that our redemption in Jesus Christ is exactly that, a redeeming. In the true sense of the word, to redeem something is to buy it back…..to get full value out of something….to bring it out of one state of being into another. That is what Jesus is talking about here.

Jesus’ death and resurrection was not simply an act of substitution for sins….it was an active plan on the part of God to gain back the sons and daughters he had lost during the Fall, to pay full price for us, and to claim us as his own.

This is one of the reasons why in recent years, I have come to preach and teach the Christus Victor model of Atonement

In defeating the devil and “buying us” back with his Blood…..God made a profound statement to the world. Human beings no longer needed to be slaves to their own human nature…..but are now free to pursue the good, and to seek union with God.

More than that, God made it clear that there is nothing he will withold from us in order that we might come to love with our whole heart, and to live into our full potential; as stewards of Creation, as a community of faith, and as a people called to love without exception. A people whose transgressions and shortcomings have been utterly forgotten and put away :). +

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