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From Your Pastor
May 2018

 

In the upside-down kingdom inaugurated by the death and resurrection of Jesus, paradox prevails. Last is first, and first is last. Poor is rich, and rich is poor. Death is life and life is death.

Martin Luther taught that the work of God is sub contrario – Latin for “(hidden) under the opposite.” For example, God’s most glorious work is seen in the redemption that God accomplishes through the suffering Savior on the cross – an eternal triumph that doesn’t really look at all like a victory.

Eastertide – this entire fifty-day church year excursion in the resurrection of Jesus – moves the attentive disciple away from expecting to see Jesus in plausible “proof” toward instead experiencing Jesus fully alive in the “hidden” presence he promised.

Maybe it’s only on the sub contrario bus that we can best view the bright upside-down vista of the Ascension.

If we imagine ourselves “right-side-up,” then the ascension of Jesus looks like an evacuation into a safe-haven heaven, and an escape from this sullied earth. Either way, it becomes essentially an assessment that Jesus is gone.

It reminds me of a story by another master of parabolic storytelling: Dr. Seuss. In Horton Hears a Who, an elephant – let those who have ears, hear – hears an entire city, a realm that nobody else can see or hear.

As with Whoville, the first step toward discerning an upside-down kingdom is to believe that it’s there. Isn’t it interesting that so many of the Gospel readings throughout Easter focus NOT on resurrection appearances, but on remembering and rehearsing the cryptic things Jesus said BEFORE his death and resurrection.

Listen and behold. Christ is here!



– Pastor Mark Boorsma
mboorsma@smig.net

A Special Message from Bishop Steven Delzer
February 26, 2018

In my spiritual direction group, after the spiritual director has read a passage from scripture or another devotional source, we sit in silence for several minutes reflecting on what “shimmered” for each of us, what word or phrase or thought captivated the mind and heart in each of us.

Over the past several days as I have observed the reactions to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, especially as I have listened to the reactions of the students, the phrase that has captured my mind and heart is “a little child shall lead them” from Isaiah 11:6. I believe this is the time in our history when we need to listen deeply to our children, trusting that through them the Spirit will lead us to see more clearly God’s dream for our world.

Why do I think this? The context of that message is one of a peaceful kingdom, a world in which (Isaiah 11:6,9):

The world shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them…
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

I think this is what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”
(Matthew 18:3)

I once heard someone describe the four L’s for pastors: they should listen to their people, learn from their people, love their people, and then lead their people. In reflecting on the response of students to this latest shooting, I sense this is a time in which all of us, especially parents and grandparents, need to listen to our children, learn from our children, love our children, and then let our children lead us more deeply into the world id God’s dream, a world in which we actually “beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4)

This does not mean that I think we should do away with the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. However, it does seem reasonable to clearly define which arms we have a right to bear and which arms we do not have a right to bear (such as military style automatic weapons). I truly believe that the majority of gun owners are are responsible gun owners. I still recall that one of the most touching descriptions of the beauty of creation came from a father on a hunting trip with his daughter. I trust that many gun owners are just as disturbed by gun violence as those of us who are not gun owners. My hope is that together we can have honest conversations about how we move toward a less violent society, a more peaceful nation, one guided more by love than by fear.

I will admit that I wrestle with all of this. At times I am filed with hope. And at other times as I see how divisive this conversation about guns can be. I am filled with despair, wondering why bother, this is just too hard. But then the Spirit brings to mind the words of my favorite scripture passage (Isaiah 43:1-5).

But now thus says the lord, who created you.
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,
When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God, your Savior.
You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.
Do not fear, for I am with you.

As we walk through the raging rivers of gun violence and the fearful flames of heated conversations, may we know and trust that God walks with us, maybe most lovingly in our children. May we carefully listen to our children, learn from our children, love our children, and let our children lead us into the world of which God dreams.

Peace and Joy in Christ
Steve Delzer
Bishop