Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spong on Eternity

I just finished John Shelby Spong's newest (and he says last) book: Eternal Life: A New Vision. I found it to be a fascinating, if not difficult book. The first 3/4th of the book in which he lays out his issues with how "religion" has death with eternal issues was fascinating (and I believe right on!) It is in the last quarter of the book when he begins to talk in all kinds of circular language and lay out his thoughts of what happens when you die, that one really has to pay attention to his train of thought.

Overall, what Spong suggests is that "religion" has become a security blanket for most people to keep us from having to deal with the reality of our death. We have created this pie in the sky notion of heaven (with gold streets no less) to make it beyond wonderful -- if not beyond creditable. The idea of sitting on some cloud and strumming a harp all day sound like hell not heaven to me. And I think that the crazy attitudes that we have toward death and funerals are not healthy!

Until we can embrace the reality of death, it always hangs like a black cloud over our lives. Quoting Spong: "I, like St Francis before me can welcome death as my brother. I like in the appreciation that it is in the presence of death that actually makes my life precious, since it calls me to like each day fully, and it is by living fully that I center the timelessness of life." Or as St. Francis put it "It is in giving that we receive, it is in loving that we are loved, it is in forgiving that we are forgiven and ultimately it is in dying that we live."

I love life! But I think that I love it because I know that every day is precious, every moment is fleeting, and every opportunity is a once in a life time opportunity.

Thank you Bishop Spong for sharing your story.
To hear my take on death and dying (and thus ultimately living) listen to my sermon series that I just completed.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Wrestling with Steve

Three years ago I began writing this blog that I titled Wrestling With God. In my profile, I declared that I was a United Methodist Pastor who was frustrated with American Christianity. It has become an outlet for me to share my random thoughts about life and the Christian journey.

Today, I begin a new adventure. While I hope to keep writing in my blog I have decided to take on the challenge of writing a weekly email to the Ridge Church family. Each week I will share something about what I am doing (reading, preparing, etc) as well as highlight some upcoming events at Ridge Church.

I hope that you will join me on this journey. If you wish to receive these emails, just drop me a note and let me know and I will add you to the list.

For the next three weeks I will be preaching on a subject that most of us would rather ignore. If there is anything that I have learned in my 25 years as a pastor is that we want to do everything that we can to pretend that we are going to be the one who is going to outwit death.

The funny thing is, even the liturgy of the church does the same thing in our funeral service. Why are we so afraid of death? It is going to happen to each of us. I am convinced that we must embrace death if we fully want to live.

Sunday, I will begin this series looking at the reality of death, and how confronting it, can bring us comfort.I hope that you will join us this Sunday, and that you will invite a friend to join you as we wrestle with this important topic.