Dark Thoughts after Ash Wednesday on a Sunny Day in Maui

Exploring the dimensions of discipleship has been a constant theme in my sermons for the last several years. The emphasis has been on the idea that we are being, and have been, prepared to go out and do the work that God in Christ has given us to do. I have encouraged any who would listen to be like the sower in the parable who promiscuously tossed out valuable seed as if there was no end to the supply and without care as to where it landed. I would not say that I have had a lot of takers. There are many and complicated reasons for that, and among them is a truth that dawns slowly and grows brighter as one matures in discipleship as expressed through our Anglican traditions: our God and our Anglican ways do not make much sense, especially when the world and most lives appear out of control. So exactly how does one go about being a sower without looking stupid or end up imitating those bible thumpers we all detest? After all, what good is a God who will not correct the obvious problems in the world and in our lives, and who allows such horrible, tragic injustices to take place day after day? And what good is a religion whose rites do not result in any tangible change in our environment? What are we if not a bunch of wannabe wizards who flunked out of Hogwarts?

The idea that, in Christ, our humiliated human bodies and human condition will be conformed to the glory of Christ’s resurrection body (see Philippians 3) doesn’t have much currency in a world where decay, corruption and death rule. More helpful by far is a regimen of diet, exercise and the attentive care of a good cosmetic surgeon. The preposterous idea that we should “let go and let God” seems like the last desperate hope of a loser, which is precisely why it is the centerpiece of AA and other twelve step programs. As for the world at large, better to be a Machiavelli than a Gandhi or King, Jr. Why mess around seeking peace when it is a more sure bet to be safe and rich by making others weak and poor?

So I suspect that we, as Christian disciples in the Anglican tradition, will continue being a rather small group. With Habakkuk we will continue to foolishly rejoice in the light of God’s presence even amidst destruction and chaos. And I also believe, perhaps foolishly, that, in time, there will be many others who will see and wonder about the light we appear to walk in a light that seems to come from somewhere else and that reflects through us into the world about us and want to know how they can walk in that light too. It’s a sort of passive evangelism that would appall our conservative evangelical friends but I like it. In the meantime, I believe that we are also called to work tirelessly for the good of societies through policies that reflect the teachings of God in Christ, and for my thoughts on that you can check out my brief essays on judging candidates and platforms among the older posts on this site.

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