just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Prayer for Lent...

Lord and Master of my life,
Take away from me the will to be lazy and sad,
The desire to get ahead of other people,
And to boast and brag.
Give me instead a pure and humble spirit,
The will to be patient with other people,
And to love them.
Grant, Lord, that I may see my own sins,
And keep me from judging the things other people do.
For you are holy, now and forever,
And to the ages of ages. Amen.
--St. Ephraim the Syrian, "the harp of the Holy Spirit"


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Amazing Grace...

Went to see Amazing Grace this afternoon on a date with Heather. It is well done. I highly recommend it. Inspiring! A clear witness for Christ his Kingdom breaking in.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I have been consumed with the process of writing for the last week and a half or so (and it is not yet completed!!). Working on the paper that will be presented for the Mennonite/Orthodox Dialogue on March 3. I think the paper is starting to come together. Looking at interpreting Scripture and the relationship of tradition and praxis as loci of authority in the community of interpretation (church). Also looking at how the community of interpretation (ecclesiology) is understood. I'm swimming in deep waters, hopefully I will be able to keep my head above the surface.

The writing of this paper has also been an experiment in that it has involved a group writing process. I have been relying upon the historical and theological acumen of Brinton, Rodney and Karl.

Been sick yesterday and today. I am blaming it on Magnolia. Last week everyone was sick in our household with the exception of Hollyn and I. Well, Saturday night I'm totally spent (due in no small part to four straight days of shovelling that heavy glacier of sleet and snow) and ready to call it a day. Magnolia decides for some strange reason (she has settled quite nicely into the routine we expect of her) to bark and whine incessantly. Climbing out from the nice warm covers I stomp down the stairs, bang on her crate and tell her to go to sleep. This happens another time. Finally, about an hour after I first went to bed, the light bulb goes on that she must be barking for some reason...so I go down and take her outside. It is like 6 degrees outside. She does her business, I put her back in her cage, and after a short reprise of the barking routine, she settles down for the night. I think it was this hour of sleep deprivation, stress, and exposure to the cold that pushed me over the edge.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The people of God and human history...

One is either a good German or a good Christian. It is impossible to be both at the same time.
--Adolf Hitler

Here is more medicine from Mere Discipleship, Lee Camp.

It is not nation-states that run the world or determine the real meaning and purpose of history, but God.

The Christ remains in the midst of our rebellious world, for he is in the church--and he continues to suffer. John's Revelation proclaims that the continuity of the church's witness in martyrdom, in participation in the blood of the Lamb, leads to victory (12:11). Just as Jesus was victorious through sacrificial death (5:6), so shall the saints be (7:4-14)

The church must first and foremost be a community of disciples of Jesus, and the primary agenda of the New Testament is calling us to be such a people.

An ekklesia, the Greek word for "church," is an assembly that gathers together to discern how their common life ought to be ordered.

The love of Christ is no idealism, but an active love concretely exhibited in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, being present to the oppressed.

"For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles." 1 Corinthians 1:22-23

Followers of Jesus must be willing to follow him to the cross, to be crucified with him. The cross--foolishness to the principalities and powers, to the rulers of this age--is actually the wisdom of God, and the way of the church (1 Corinthians 2:1-13).

It is through the way of the cross--the way of weakness, suffering, and marginalization--that the Christian community is to reenvision all things, and to interpret the meaning of its existence.

"The world" schools us in self-preservation, self-maximization, and self-realization; "the world" trains us to live and die, to kill and wage war for the "American way of life."

There is, even now, a new creation, a new world, a new humanity that proclaims a new way of life--and thank God for it, because the old, "the world," has been crucified. It's on its way out, and the new is already on the way in.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Worshipping the Slaughtered Lamb...

Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break the seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne.

Revelation 5:1-7

The Word of the Lord

I have been reading Mere Discipleship again, by Lee Camp. Been reflecting on the way of faithfulness to Jesus in a messed up world. Thought about my post from May 30 of last year and the victory speech of President Bush on May 2, 2003 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

The following are excerpts from Mere Discipleship (Brazos Press, 2003):

Worship is a matter of allegiance: whom shall we deem worthy of glory honor, and dominion?

Worship is inseparably linked to ethics. Worship leads us to become a particular kind of people, a people who reflect the ways of the God we worship.

The New Testament celebrates not merely that God has won in Christ, but that God has won in the crucified Christ.

To ascribe honor to a slaughtered Lamb--unless it be mere lip service--necessarily leads us to obedience to the way of the Lamb. God has conquered, and we praise him. And because he is worthy of our praise, he is worthy--and authoritative--to reveal how faithful followers are to participate in the triumph of God's purposes in human history. Because he has conquered, he is worthy to reveal how the church shall conquer.

To claim Christ as Lord flies in the face of a constitutional theory that makes "religion" both "private and subordinate (to the nation-state)."

The way of Jesus certainly would have us "believe the right things." But this is not "mere belief"--Jesus instead called his disciples to see the world aright, to envision the world in light of the coming reign of God.

Whether one views history from the perspective of heaven or earth results in profoundly different conclusions: viewed from the perspective of the throne room of God, the way of the slaughtered Lamb leads to victory. Viewed from the throne rooms and Oval Offices of this world, such a way is foolish, unrealistic, impractical, irrelevant: and so, better to keep such notions "private," a matter of "mere belief."

All extant Christian writings prior to the fourth century reject the practice of Christians killing in warfare. They rejected killing in warfare, in short, because it violated the way and teachings of Christ.

Tertullian: "If we are enjoined to love our enemies, whom have we to hate? If injured we are forbidden to retaliate. Who then can suffer injury at our hands?"

Clement of Alexandria: "If you enroll as one of God's people, heaven is your country and God your lawgiver. And what are his laws?...Thou shalt not kill.... Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. To him that strikes thee on the one cheek, turn also the other."

Cyprian: "And what more--that you should not curse; that you should not seek again your goods when taken from you; when buffeted you should turn the other cheek; and forgive not seven times but seventy times seven.... That you should love your enemies and pray for your adversaries and persecutors?"

Justin: "If you love merely those that love you, what do you that is new?"

Our worship is why we don't kill our enemies. The Lamb of God, through suffering and death, has inaugurated the new aeon, in which offenses are forgiven, sins remitted, and war is learned no more.

Christian nonviolence is not rooted merely in a few proof texts from the Sermon on the Mount or other Gospel accounts of the teaching of Jesus. Much more, Christian nonviolence flows out of the entire narrative of redemption and follows immediately from worshipping the God revealed in the slaughtered Lamb.

Unless our lives embody that good news, our worship is in vain.

Surely, so the reasoning goes, loving our enemies cannot be an effective social or political policy. To "love our enemies," many have concluded, must mean that we have a loving attitude, but little more. In the "real world" the way of Jesus cannot be taken seriously.

But doesn't God desire justice on the earth? So what about the "just war theory?"

In this tradition, certain criteria determine when it is acceptable to use violence against an aggressor: (1) Is there legitimate authority? (2) Is there a just cause, a real offense against innocents? (3) Is the war fought with the right intention? (4) Is the war fought only after all honest attempts have been made to resolve the situation without employing violence? (5) Is the war winnable? (6) Are innocent civilians protected in the waging of war?
Some theologians and leaders have raised their voice in opposition of the religious overtones applied to policy decisions justifying war. They have exposed the false narrative of redemptive violence on the grounds of GOOD exorcising EVIL through the mechanisms of a righteous war conducted by nation-state.

In the final analysis...the just war tradition cannot worship a crucified Lamb.

But the just war tradition can also be critiqued historically. Particularly in our modern era, seldom has the just war tradition worked in practice. Few "just war Christians" have ever used the criteria to actually decide whether they would or would not fight in a particular war.
A lazy use of the just war tradition most often provides a rationalization for Christians killing their alleged enemies. When governments tell Christians to wage war, Christians wage war.
Moral laziness does not take the criteria of the just war tradition seriously. And that moral laziness gives way to nationalism, to blind obedience to the nation-state, to bowing to the idols erected by the fallen principalities and powers. We worship the wrong god.

When will the myth of bringing justice through redemptive violence be exposed?

When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth."


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Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Softly, gently in the secret night,
Down from the North came the quiet white.
Drifting, sifting, silent flight,
Softly, gently, in the secret night.

White snow, bright snow, smooth and deep.
Light snow, night snow, quiet as sleep.
Down, down, without a sound;
Down, down, to the frozen ground.

Covering roads and hiding fences,
Sifting in cracks and filling up trenches.
Millions of snowflakes, tiny and light,
Softly, gently, in the secret night.

From White Snow, Bright Snow
by Alvin Tresselt

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Girl on a Tractor...

I knew the names of all the cows before
I knew my alphabet, but no matter the
subject; I had mastery of it, and when
it came time to help in the fields, I
learned to drive a tractor at just the right
speed, so that two men, walking
on either side of the moving wagon
could each lift a bale, walk towards
the steadily arriving platform and
simultaneously hoist the hay onto
the rack, walk to the next bale, lift,
turn, and find me there, exactly where
I should be, my hand on the throttle,
carefully measuring out the pace.
Joyce Sutphen

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Canon in D...

This is amazing!