The Mission of Confession: the World needs the Church to Confess


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And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!
Genesis 4.10

I was taking another look at the verses I wrote about earlier this week, and was struck by a few more thoughts I wanted to share. As I said then, the passage is structured liturgically. The story of Cain and Abel follows the flow of liturgy that God’s people have used for the duration of their existence. (It’s usually something like this: Call to Worship–>Call to Confession–>Passing the Peace–>Word–>Sacrament–>Benediction)

I pointed out that the blood-soaked soil “crying out” was the first instance of lament in the Bible, and it appears in the “Call to Confession” section of this odd liturgy-story, and it shows us how the world bears the weight of our own sin. Looking at it again, though, I see it means much more than just that.

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“Strong like Lemonade….and sweet.” [Guatemala, Day 3]


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Tonight is my last night in Guatemala. By the time this is posted and most of you read this, I will be on a plane (or, more likely, waiting in an airport), on my way back home.

The past couple of posts this week have been a little intense. The way I received and processed those first few days was definitely through the filter of brokenness and pain. And this was definitely appropriate. There were so many stories of poverty, violence, abuse, economic exploitation, injustice, paedophilia, and rape that I simply could not tell.

We have to see the need for hope before we can feel its presence.
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As We Lay Dying [Guatemala, Day 2]


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Since God’s children share in flesh and blood, Jesus himself likewise partook of the same things

Today began with a meeting of the microenterprise crew–the staff and several of the women who have benefited from small loans to help start small businesses in the area.

Lemonade International is insistent that this is merely a solution to help some of those that are gifted in this way. Lemonade International partakes of the flesh and blood of these people, weak as they are, and sees how they can serve them as individuals with individuals needs.

I leave encouraged. Continue reading

Chasing Grace [Guatemala, Day 1]


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Last night. She sat in the corner of the bed-couch in the corner of the room. One leg tucked under the other, face still red from the laughter she has both given and received over dinner. In one turn, though, the tone becomes serious as a question rises above the crowd, asking for her story. The story that has brought us here.

A nurse to burn victims, Tita began making home visits to a severely injured gang member, not knowing that her feet were walking upon the holy ground of poverty, violence, and death.

She eventually realized that she was in the neighborhood of La Limonada, nestled in the valley of the shadow of Guatemala City, considered a trash heap by those outside; both the people and the items are considered its waste.

And yet she continued going. And serving. And loving. Continue reading

Advent & the Connecticut Shooting: Ross Douthat’s “The Loss of the Innocents”


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In the same spirit as today’s earlier post by Austin Ricketts, I wanted to share with everyone this incredible piece by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat (one of my favorite writers), entitled “The Loss of the Innocents”. It’s a beautiful and haunting reflection on the human condition and the theological senselessness inherent in events like last week’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown Connecticut. He then concludes with these beautiful words of Advent hope in the midst of such darkness:

In the same way, the only thing that my religious tradition has to offer to the bereaved of Newtown today — besides an appropriately respectful witness to their awful sorrow — is a version of that story, and the realism about suffering that it contains.

That realism may be hard to see at Christmastime, when the sentimental side of faith owns the cultural stage. But the Christmas story isn’t just the manger and the shepherds and the baby Jesus, meek and mild.

The rage of Herod is there as well, and the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, and the myrrh that prepares bodies for the grave. The cross looms behind the stable — the shadow of violence, agony and death.

In the leafless hills of western Connecticut, this is the only Christmas spirit that could possibly matter now.

Read the full piece here.

A Shout-Out to My Mennonite Pacifists Out There…


Being in Pennsylvania, I meet lots of people that either consider themselves Mennonite, or at least were raised that way. One of the most well-known aspects of Mennonite belief is their unwavering commitment to pacifism (or, as a commenter corrected me below, the Mennonite “doctrine of nonresistance”). Hanging out with one of my new raised-Mennonite friends the other evening, she showed me (with pride) the above picture that has hung in one of their family’s houses for a long time. It struck me as beautiful as well, especially the second quote. Here it is, nicely typed out for optimal readability and convenience:

“It is our fixed principle rather than take up Arms to defend our King, our Country, or our Selves, to suffer all that is dear to be rent from us, even Life itself, and this we think not out of Contempt to Authority, but that herein we act agreeable to what we think is the Mind and Will of our Lord Jesus.”

–Thirteen Mennonite Ministers of Pennsylvania, May 15, 1755

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