Category Archives: Voices

A God So Smitten

Today, I’m re-upping a quote from Kenda Creasy Dean. I don’t know about you, but I need the reminder.

“The Christian God-story emphasizes a God so smitten with creation that God chooses to enter creation with us, and stops at nothing—not even death—to win us back.” [1]

And according to scriptures like Romans 8.18-23, when God gets us back, all of creation will come with us. But what I like best about this statement is the use of the word smitten. I had never heard that word used to describe God’s love for us before. God’s love for us is so powerful, so profound, so vast and so everlasting that we’re always in danger of underestimating or understating it. I’m going to add smitten to the repository of words I use to describe the love that God has for us.

[1] Kenda Creasy. Dean, Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Voices: Augustine of Hippo on Riches

Below is the quote from the great theologian Augustine of Hippo. I find that I need to pray the closing prayer on a regular basis.

“Riches … are gained with toil and kept with fear. They are enjoyed with danger and lost with grief. It is hard to be saved if we have them; and impossible if we love them; and scarcely can we have them but we shall love them inordinately. Teach us, O Lord, this difficult lesson: to manage conscientiously the goods we possess.” — Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 133

I’ll simply say Amen.

Voices: Not Left to Our Own Devices

I read this long ago, but I just came across it again this week:

The cross is not a sign of the church’s quiet, suffering submission to the powers-that-be, but rather the church’s revolutionary participation in the victory of Christ over those powers. The cross is not a symbol for general human suffering and oppression. Rather, the cross is a sign of what happens when one takes God’s account of reality more seriously than Caesar’s. The cross stands as God’s (and our) eternal no to the powers of death, as well as God’s eternal yes to humanity, God’s remarkable determination not to leave us to our own devices. — Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon [1]

Whether I’m looking at the general human condition, or simply my own life, I’m thankful that we have a God who does not leave us to our own devices.

[1] Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, expanded ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2014), 47.

Voices: Seeing Blessings

Kate Morehead names complaining and lamenting how busy her job and her three small boys keep her as personal temptations. And then later she makes this point:

“If only I could see that my job and my children are blessings from God and not busyness to overcome, I could enjoy my life in deeper way.” — Kate Moorehead [1]

I need to remember that.

[1] Kate Moorehead, Get Over Yourself; God’s Here! (Wichita, Kansas: St. Mark’s Press, 2009), 10.

The Paschal Sermon of John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom (349-407) was a famous preacher, doctor of the church, and archbishop of Constantinople. His last name means “golden tongued/mouthed,” which referred to his preaching ability and not his lifestyle, which was ascetic. This sermon is still proclaimed in Orthodox Churches around the world every Easter.

If anyone is devout and a lover of God,
let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a grateful servant,
let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting,
let them now receive recompense.

If anyone has labored from the first hour,
let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour,
with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour,
let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour,
let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour,
let them not fear on account of tardiness. [Matthew 20:1-16]

For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first;
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
just as to him who has labored from the first.
He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first;
to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.
He both honors the work and praises the intention.

Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord,
and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!

You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!

Let all partake of the feast of faith.
Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!

He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted His flesh!
And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions”.

It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead,
has become the firstfruits of them that have slept.
To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.

Amen. [1]

[1] “Paschal Homily,” Wikipedia (Wikimedia Foundation, July 5, 2018), I’m sharing the Wikipedia version because it appears to be an accurate, yet inclusive translation of the ancient text and because it’s available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Voices: On the Seventh Day God Rested

This Holy Saturday, I want to share this poem by N. T. Wright:

On the seventh day God rested
in the darkness of the tomb;
Having finished on the sixth day
all his work of joy and doom.
Now the word had fallen silent,
and the water had run dry,
The bread had all been scattered,
and the light had left the sky.
The flock had lost its shepherd,
and the seed was sadly sown,
The courtiers had betrayed their king,
and nailed him to his throne.
O Sabbath rest by Calvary,
O calm of tomb below,
Where the grave-clothes and the spices
cradle him we did not know!
Rest you well, beloved Jesus,
Caesar’s Lord and Israel’s King,
In the brooding of the Spirit,
in the darkness of the spring.
— N. T. Wright [1]

[1] N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Easter (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2009), 33-34.

Voices: Conflict Can Be Good

Many of you joined me in using the Lenten Devotional book titled Get Over Yourself, God’s Here by Kate Moorhead. One of the passages I most needed to read was the one in which she was commenting on Jesus’ cleansing of the temple and wrote: “Conflict can be holy. Conflict is not bad; it is an agent of change.”

There is Freedom in the Dust

In a world that tells me to purchase products to try to avoid the inevitable outcome of death, #AshWednesday is a pause on those voices and gently whispers “You do not need to be afraid of death, dear. We are born of God, we return to God. There is freedom in the dust.” — Rev. Jes Kast [1]

Our Ash Wednesday Services are today (Wednesday, March 6, 2019) at 12:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. “There is freedom in the dust.”

[1] Jes Kast (@RevJesKast). Twitter post, March 6, 2019, 6:38 a.m.,

Voices: Who The Gospel Lets In

“The apostles remembered what many modern Christians tend to forget—that what makes the gospel offensive isn’t who it keeps out but who it lets in.” — Rachel Held Evans [1]

[1] Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), Kindle, 186.

It’s Not So Bad

“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad” — C. S. Lewis [1]

I would also add that it’s a place of rehabilitation and preparation for the life to come.

[1] C. S. Lewis, “Answers to Questions on Christianity,” essay, in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 52.