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For the Love of God

For those in the search of love, to read John 15 is to strike gold. John Calvin, the 16th century French-Swiss thinker that Presbyterians claim as their mentor, loved this chapter and I can see why. Unlike the John I listened to in the 1960s who sang, “All you need is love,” this John does not leave us longing for love; he points us to love that is staring us right in the face. For John, Jesus is God’s love in flesh and bone, God’s love gone from abstract theory to feet-on-the-floor reality. To love, for John, is to hang close to Jesus, not the Mr. Magic Jesus of pop theology who came to dish out divine favors, but the crazy-in-love for us Jesus who keeps walking toward Jerusalem even though

Songcatchers

A favorite, somewhat obscure, occasionally reshown late at night film of mine is Songcatcher. It tells the story of an Ivy League musicologist at the turn of the 20th century who leaves the comfort of her city life and academic environs to live in the harsh and not-always-inviting Appalachian Mountains. In this remote and rugged area, she stumbles upon a surprising community of songcatchers. Some songcatchers are sitting by the bank of a creek playing the mandolin, while others are plowing rocky fields while singing a heartrending ballad. Some sit in rocking chairs on front porches singing lullabies to their nursing babies. What soon shocks this sophisticated Northeastern musicologist is tha

Can I Get A Witness?

At the end of Luke’s Gospel, the Risen Jesus pays a visit to his old friends. All are dressed in their Sunday-go-to-mourning clothes. They are huddled together trying to figure out what to do now that the funeral is over, what to believe now that the one in whom they have believed has ended up being a devastating disappointment. For a day or so, they have heard wild stories about Jesus being alive, but they know better. They watched him die on a cross. Once again, Rome has won. Once again, death has won. And, yet, at the end of Luke’s Gospel, the Risen Jesus stands before them. They are aghast, not knowing what to believe, so Jesus says, “I’m hungry. Pass the fish.” No one asks: “Jesus, how

Almost Easter

Easter is the day when Christians shout from the rooftops: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.” Most other Sundays we tend to be more circumspect, more ponderous about what we proclaim as truth, but not today. Today is a shouting day, a timpani day, a horn section today. It is an Amen, Hallelujah Chorus day: For Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Well, tell that to Mark. His Easter story is quiet and subdued. It has no timpani, no horns, no Hallelujah. Grieving women bring their spices to the anoint the dead body of Jesus, find the stone from the entrance has been rolled away, and meet a young man sitting in the tomb. He announces that Jesus is risen and is waiting for his disciples in

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