Bibliolatry and John 1

Reading the opening verses of John's gospel, I am reminded how incredible the incarnation is. That is just how amazing it is that in Jesus is what a life full of God looks like - Jesus is God incarnate.

As great as the Bible is, let us be very clear, the Bible is not the greatest revelation of God. John is very clear that the greatest way we know God is not through scriptures but through the Word made flesh (aka - Jesus).

The UMC has a tradition of holding the scriptures as one of the four corners of the quadrilateral. You may have heard it before that the UMC "does" theology using scripture, tradition, experience and reason. But again, for clarity sake, these four sources, even if they are combined, are not even close to being on par with the Word made flesh.

So while we read the Word, let us not be confused. John is not talking about the written words on a page. John is not talking about the Bible. John in not talking about any scripture at all. John is talking about Jesus Christ.

We do not worship the Bible. We worship Christ, whom we understand to be the Word made flesh.

In our efforts to better understand Jesus, let us not forget that the Bible is but a finger pointing to the moon that is Christ. Do not confuse the finger with the beauty and complexity of the moon.

Fort Worth Dish Out

A little project I have had the honor of working on is the Fort Worth Dish Out.  Which is not a huge thing in the world of micro-finance and micro-granting, but it is a huge thing in my little world.  

If you were not there, we had 162 people in attendance on a Sunday evening who each gave at least $20 to break bread, meet new people, share ideas, and participated by voting to support different mission/service projects/ministries in the Fort Worth community.  

People were there for 2 hours.  Which by most accounts, is 100% longer than most worship services.  

And not a single person said to me, "hey, this thing ran long".  

Not one.  In fact, the opposite was true.  People asked when could we do it again and even offered up their time and resources to help the FwDo in the future.  It really was remarkable.  

But more than that.  It was Church.  

Too often we think of Church as what we do in worship.  And while worship is important to Church, worship is just one expression of Church.
And the worship expression has become the dominate, and seemingly only acceptable expression, of Church.  

Recently I was asked by a respected clergy friend if there was any fall out from church members or from my bishop about putting on an expression of Church that had wine.  (The UMC has a stance that does not jibe with alcohol consumption.)

Frankly, while I respect my bishop and will do as I am asked to do I would have to respectfully disagree with him if he decided to take issue with the FwDo.  However, based upon a recent blog post he wrote, I do not think that will be a problem.  

Here is the last paragraph of the linked post which I think expresses an incarnational theology beautifully (emphasis added):

"Wesley took the commanding mission (and commission!) to spread the gospel through making disciples way beyond radical hospitality.  He went where the people were out of love of Christ and love of those who have no relationship with the living God as Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.  What is the equivalent of the New Room and field preaching for us this day?  I believe the same living Lord who called Wesley and early Methodists calls us today."

It seems to me that the UMC has at least one bishop who understands mission and service to a world in need and might be willing to support some ministries that move the Church into other expressions of Church that are not just worship.  

I am thankful that there were many people at the FwDo who also caught a glimpse of what Church can look like in addition to Sunday morning worship.  

Let us hope that vision does not fade in time.

By Parker Palmer

If the incarnation means anything, it means that the mind of Christ is a mind that mortals can take on. For the scandal of the Christian profession is that God took on mortality in order that mortals could take on God’s life. In every aspect of our lives, we are invited to become members of the body of Christ. Insofar as we do, we have the mind of Christ, for the mind directs the body. And in that mind, education is transformed from training in technique to a power of transformation for our knowledge, for our persons, and for our world.


I wanted to post this as a way of giving further language to the idea that Christianity is a religion built on paradox. God takes the mortal life so that mortals can take on God's life. If that does not make your head spin you might be a Bottisatva

The gifts of the wise men Re-imagined...

Benedictine nun and author Joan Chittister, when speaking to Krista Tippett, wanted to know why these three gifts were brought to Jesus on Epiphany: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. If these are just illusions to Jesus' death then why not other gifts used in the gospel such as palm branches, pomegranate and grapes? In her study she discovered that gold not only carries with it kingship but also generosity. And Frankincense was not used as a burial spice but as a spice as it is used today in essential oils for serenity and creating calm. Myrrh was used by several cultures as a element of healing the body. The gifts the wise men bring are more than just (if at all) illusions to the kingship and death and burial of Jesus. These gifts are symbols of the generosity of God (gold), the serenity of Christ (frankincense) and the healing that comes with Christ (myrrh). I had never heard of this before but it gives me a fuller understanding and new eyes to these gifts often overlooked in my understanding of the story of the incarnation.