maundy thursday // prayers & readings {2018)


Maundy Thursday: Jesus institutes his family meal, his disciples sleep in the garden, and he faces a mock trial; the rhythms of divine justice themselves are turned against God

Opening Prayer

O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!

-from Psalm 43.3-
 -silence-

Continue reading

I Am a Glutton


O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
~ Psalm 63.1-8

Protestants, Catholics, Communion–oh my! (Happy Corpus Christi!)


Today is a Christian Holy Day called “Corpus Christi” (Latin for “the body of Christ”). Today we meditate on the mystery of Communion/Eucharist/The Lord’s Supper.

I’ve mentioned some of my Communion views before and what I articulated is a synthesis and summary of the ideas of many theologians, both Protestant and Catholic. And so today, I want talk to all my fellow Protestant brothers and sisters out there.

In my opinion, the popular Evangelical idea of the Catholic view on the Eucharist is not really right or helpful (as is the popular conception of most of Catholic doctrine). Today I want to argue that Catholicism’s “Eucharist problem” is more historical and rhetorical than theological.

Some History

In the earliest decades and centuries of church history, people were able to simply maintain the simple doctrine that at Communion, they are receiving the true presence of Christ in the Bread and the Wine (source, albeit biased). In the middle ages, though, people starting asking themselves “Wait, what does that actually mean?” Differing answers started forming and a diversity of opinion about the Eucharist began taking place. The leaders of the Church tried to bring some commonality to this. In fact, the medieval Catholic church made a few “errant” teachers affirm these statements in 1078 and 1079:
Continue reading

John Calvin on Stupid Eucharist Theology (Happy Corpus Christi)


communionbreadwine-2

Yesterday was the Christian Church Holiday of Corpus Christi, where we celebrate that Jesus actually meets us in the Bread and Wine of Communion. It’s not merely a symbol to make us think of certain doctrinal ideas, but there are very real spiritual things happening in those elements. I’ve written elsewhere about this in detail.

Today, however, I want to offer you a funny little rant John Calvin goes on in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. In it, he is responding to those that accused the Reformed tradition of making the Eucharist way too heady and rationalistic of an idea, sapping all beauty and mystery out of it. Here was Calvin’s response, encouraging us all to embrace the beauty and awe of Communion: Continue reading

What is a Sacrament? (Happy Corpus Christi!)


eucharist-bw-wafer

Today is the Church Holy Day called Corpus Christi (Wiki), Latin for “the Body of Christ”, in which the Church takes a few moments to reflect and meditate upon the gift that is the Lord’s Supper (or Eucharist, or Communion). In honor of this, I thought I’d share a recent essay I wrote articulating what I believe is happening in the Sacraments. Let me know what you think!

A sacrament is any material thing that God uses to communicate himself within Creation. Yes, this is quite the broad definition for “sacrament” (little “s”). Every single way that God has ever revealed himself in this world has always been in a mediated sense. God has never been revealed in his full “Godness”. It is always through a material means, and mostly clearly in Jesus Christ.

In this sense, I can accept things like marriage and confirmation as sacraments; but I can also see a good beer, TV show, conversation, or even suffering (like the Cross) as a sacrament. Any material means by which God communicates any part of who he is a sacrament.  It has also been quite freeing for me to see all of life as inherently sacramental.

In this sense, sacramentalism becomes a primary filter through which to understand and describe reality as it is and the nature of the Creator/Creation distinction. This collapses the old unhelpfully-gnostic “transcendence/imminence” dichotomies.
Continue reading

The Body of Christ, Broken (a guest post for Restoration Living)


family-old-moustache

Yeah, that’s my family (I’m in the front left). This was one Easter Sunday in the 90’s in Dallas, Texas, at a time and place where (I promise) it was absolutely appropriate to dress like that for Easter (except the glasses, of course). I look at this picture a lot, and not just to chuckle. I find it so oddly and powerfully symbolic of what life in the Bible Belt was like.

You see, my family was deeply wounded by “Church folk” throughout my childhood. Just as in the picture, people in the Church would live their Christian lives dressed up and looking good, all while wearing masks, disguising who they really were. When things were hard at home, people at church had no categories to process it. After all, to be a Christian is to be cleansed by Jesus and walk in new life, right? Failures, sins, and brokenness were seen as signs of some disobedience – some place where you weren’t “okay.”

_______________

And so begins a guest post I wrote for a wonderful site that should be on all of your radars, Restoration Living. Read the rest of the post here.

A Sacrament Primer (and some questions I still have)


infant-baptism-water-7

For my worship and liturgy class, we had to write up a little thing explaining how we would explain the Sacraments to an everyday person. We were also supposed to throw up some questions that we might still have about them. Here are is mine.

In the beginning of the Bible, we see God create what amounts to a “temple-world”. He wants to dwell in this temple, with his people, and make it his home. He ordains priests to care for it but they fail. So God puts in motion a plan and story to rebuild this world and re-prepare it for his dwelling.

The focal point of this story and our entire faith is Jesus Christ. He is God among us having come dressed in humanity. The Gospel of John says he literally “templed” among us, using our created humanity as something he was pleased to dwell in.

This is the Gospel; it is our life and strength as Christians.
Continue reading

The Best Communion Prayer my Church has ever had


eucharist-bw-waferFather, your table proclaims to us your undying love for us. This table tells us that you do not simply endure our presence. This table tells us that you delight in being with us. You have invited us to feast in your presence.

So we have come to eat and drink deeply of your love for us. May we interpret our lives through this table. May we understand that we are a people with whom you are well pleased. May this reality energize us as we move into our world. May we live out our lives as your deeply loved, anointed children. Fill us with joy as’we labor for you in this world. Amen.

Liberti Church, 10/20/13

A Brief History of Liturgy (for those interested)


emergent-tree-house-churchYesterday, I posted some brief thoughts on liturgy and how it shapes us.  Those words were primarily taken from a document I wrote up a few years ago to train those leading liturgy. Today, I wanted to post another little section from that piece, going through an extremely brief history of liturgy in the Bible and how it developed in the early church.

Liturgy in the Bible

We see fairly early on that God intends for there to be a definite pattern or shape to worship among his people. He spends chapter after chapter talking about both the space and structure of the worship of the Israelite people in both the Tabernacle and the Temple. This continues in the Jewish community even today.

But at this point in the story of the Bible, the fullness of all that God will do to bring about our worship is incomplete, and so this worship is merely anticipatory of something that is to come. But throughout the Bible we get glimpses of a definite pattern to how God relates to his people–to how this story will eventually look in it fullness. This story–this pattern–is what forms the structure of our liturgy even today.

Throughout the Bible, repetition of form and phrases is used to shape the people of God. In the Psalms, the same phrases are used over and over again in the music. In the Old Testament, verses from other parts of it are meditated upon and repeated for worship.
Continue reading

Holy Day Apathy & Holy Years to Come


I found myself sitting in our joint Maundy Thursday service alongside the other congregation from which we rent space, frustrated. I was a little distracted because I had arrived late and my adrenaline was still going, making my senses heightened and my self-diagnosed ADD kick-in. I was also mad at myself for my own liturgical snobbiness, which had taken note that the service was technically a Good Friday liturgy that they were using on Thursday.

Now, I know I can go too far in chasing mystical and intense dynamics in my relating to God. But still, I was so wanting to feel God on this night, and I sat there in this service confused and saddened at my failure in finding it.

Continue reading

Maundy Thursday, Narrative & Sacrament | Lent {9}



Today is Maundy Thursday which is the time in the Christian Church calendar where we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper; it also initiates the three Holy Days of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

I was raised as a Southern Baptist in Dallas, Texas. Liturgy, Church calendars, Holy Days, and Prayer books were as foreign to me as R-rated films, alcohol, and dancing. Now, though, as I’m looking for a Church to go to for a Good Friday service, even the Presbyterian church service all my friends are going to doesn’t feel liturgical and structured enough for me. What happened?

In the last few years between going to seminary (and dropping out) and changing churches, I have fallen in love with both liturgy and Sacrament.

Continue reading

Lent: a silly Catholic ritual you should do [GUEST POST]


[Today’s guest post is written by one of my dearest friends and biggest theological influences, Austin Ricketts (pictured above). I’m trying to talk him into letting me post more of his stuff here. We’ll see. I hope you enjoy what he has on tap for us today.]

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil.
(Joel 2:12-13)

For many (probably most) Protestants in America, Ash Wednesday is just a silly Catholic ritual.  I would rather not start a debate about the historical fact that, without the silly Catholic ritual of the Eucharist or the silly Catholic ritual of Baptism, Protestants would not have the Bible that they have, nor the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and Christ.
Continue reading

HAPPY ADVENT!! {10}


Well, it’s here. The day we’ve been building up to and meditating upon. This is the day we joyfully celebrate the King who broke into our reality and ushered in His Kingdom and our salvation by coming in the form of a little child.

Even though this time can be tough for some (my grandfather died a year ago tomorrow), I do hope and pray that we are all able to have at least one good laugh this year and see the smile of at least one person we love and that we know loves us. And eat good food. And drink good drink. And listen to bad, cheesy music. (On a side-note: the picture above is a picture of the wall-hanging that went up in my house every year as I grew up. And now I have it. I love it.)

Don’t worry, this isn’t really a whole other post. This Advent season has been an especially fruitful time for my writing (as my Facebook Wall obviously shows). I want to thank everyone that has been telling me how helpful these posts were–or even those that just told me they were reading them in the first place!. I can’t tell you how much it affects me, sticks with me, and encourages me. But anyway, I just wanted to write this post so I could put up all these posts in one place for you easy reading pleasure, should you so desire. Happy Advent!
Continue reading

Catholics Aren’t Crazy: an Advent & Communion Theological P.S. (for those who care) | Advent {7a}


After my previous post on how Communion is no more a “symbol” than Advent itself, I can already hear some people right now thinking: “Wait. Isn’t this the Catholic idea of communion?” (As if that would be the worst thing.) I’ve mentioned some of my Communion views before in this ongoing series, and what I articulated is a synthesis and summary of the ideas of many theologians, both Protestant and Catholic. The pop idea of the Catholic view on the Eucharist is not really right or helpful (as is the pop conception of most of Catholic doctrine). Catholicism’s “Eucharist problem” is more historical and rhetorical than theological.

In the earliest decades and centuries of church history, people were able to simply maintain the simple doctrine that at Communion, they are receiving the true presence of Christ in the Bread and the Wine (source, albeit biased). In the middle ages, though, people starting asking themselves “Wait, what does that actually mean?” Differing answers started forming and a diversity of opinion about the Eucharist began taking place. The leaders of the Church tried to bring some commonality to this. In fact, the medieval Catholic church made a few “errant” teachers affirm these statements in 1078 and 1079:
Continue reading

The Holy Sacrament of Advent {7}


There is an abiding idea and assumption that plagues us humans. It has come up at various times in various worldviews with various names. It’s found in the implications of what Zoroastrians called the conflict between “Asha” and “Druj”, what Plato called “Dualism”, Diogenes called “Cynicism”, first-century heretics called “Gnosticism”, Descartes: “Rationalism”, Kant: “Idealism”, Bacon: “Empiricism”, French Enlightenment-ers: “Materialism”, Modernists: “Realism”, Postmodernists: “Pragmatism” and “Constructivism”, so on and so forth through the ages.

The thing all of these ideas have in common is a separation between the material and the immaterial; the abstract and the physical; the temporal and eternal; the objective and subjective; the spiritual and the human. Further, they tend to elevate one over the other.

We can’t really escape this (I’ve written about this before).

One of the basic obvious tenets of finitude is that we can’t be in two places at once, neither physically nor intellectually. To perfectly hold the delicate balance between these poles of the seen and unseen is difficult, if not impossible.

But Advent can help us.

Continue reading