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Tuesday, January 17 2012
I have a friend who recently moved to Africa. One day before she departed she shared with me how worried she was about her mother's corner cupboard; the packers were not doing a very good job of getting it ready for shipping. "Your mother's cupboard" I replied, "your really taking that?" "Yes" she said "I want it with me." At first I was thinking, if it is so precious why would you risk it? But after giving it some thought I think I know the answer.

Taking her mother's cupboard to Africa is her way of staying rooted in the United States. The antique cherry corner cupboard sitting in her new Moroccan apartment is her way of planting her flag on foreign soil. As if to say we may be here in Africa but the heart of this home; the corner cupboard, is still in Ohio. It is the same thing as Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander thinking of his ship the HMS Surprise as his little piece of England, even though it be on the far side of the world.

It got me to thinking about how I would fill in the blank: My Mother's ________. Immediately my mother's Haviland china came to mind. My grandmother gave the "old china" from the farm to my mother when she was first married, and because my father was a career military man the china saw more than its fair share of cardboard shipping barrels. Once or twice a year on the holidays the Haviland would appear on our dining room table. We could be living in a small tract house in Southern California but the Haviland would take my mother back to another time and another life. The beauty it created acted like a portal in which something of a golden happier past could now be reflected in and on.

The military life of a combat Marine officer was not easy and my mother soon descended into the depths of alcoholism that claimed her life at an early age. When I was twenty years old my mother died in a fire. She had one too many drinks, passed out with a cigarette and that was it. I had to go in and clean out that apartment and the one treasure that survived besides my Christmas stocking was the Haviland china. And yes, I have carted it around with me through 42 years of married life and brought it out annually as I was taught to do so many years ago. It roots me in a few memories of beauty amidst great darkness and the good intentions of a woman whom I called Mommy.

We all need to be rooted in time and place, in history and creation. What roots us in God? We have all left the garden and gone to the far side of the world; what do we take with us to remind us of whom we are and more importantly to whom we belong? I think God knows that we need something tangible like a piece of earth or better yet a person of the earth; a human being. And so at just the right moment in time He entered in and The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Rooting us in him required descending into the darkness of the grave, of going deep into the earth and in a mysterious work we will never plumb the depth of, breaking forever the power of being uprooted; separated; cut off from God. The cross of Jesus Christ reclaims the whole creation for God the Father; and in our hearts He has deposited the Holy Spirit. "If any man be in creation" (2Corinthians 5:17).

Whether you realize it or not if you are "in Christ" you now become the earthen vessel that is to be a portal to reflect the glory and beauty of God. You are a living flag planted in the Old Creation proclaiming that the New Creation has arrived. No wonder the King of all creation said "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven" ( Matthew 5:16).

The cupboard and the dishes are ordinary are we. They passed through ocean water and fiery death have we. Yet in their unique and humble ways they tell and proclaim a much Larger may we.
Posted by: AT 06:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Wednesday, January 11 2012

Oh Tim Tebow what are we to do with you? You just won't stop making those incredible passes or ending the game with kneeling prayer will you? At least this is what the secular world is thinking and asking. He really brings out the division in the world doesn't he? The secular world certainly wants him to stop the kneeling prayer. "You just can't do that in our can't bring your private religious expressions into the public arena especially the one of NFL football. It is secular...don't you get it?" The other part of the divided world, the sacred realm especially the right wing Evangelical Christian slice of that realm like to make him their champion. "Yeah, at least we have someone to cheer for and not be embarrassed by. Go Tim!" But is it that simple? Is that really what all the fuss about Tim Tebow is; a divided world, one side decrying while the other side cheers?

I don't really think so. I think what makes Tebow unique ( other than his God given athletic gift) is that he is a man of the "Old West". No not the Cowboy and Indian old west. The Old West men like C.S.Lewis referred to: Western Civilization before the Sacred Secular Split, the Christocentric world of the Middle Ages.( Sorry Tim if this makes you a Medieval Man...better that than a Renaissance Man, but that is another story.)

For Tebow there is only one world, it is not divided. It belongs to it's Creator the Trinitarian God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit as revealed by the Word of God. He lives in a world under his Lord and Savior and makes no apology for it because it is the real world, the true world. He plays football with an intense passion yes, but what makes him so unique and so disliked is that he gives all the glory to God. He does not do this in a half hearted sort of apologetic way that so many who have accepted the notion of a divided world do as they try not to offend anyone.

Tebow is unique because he is not a divided man, he does not hail from either side of the sacred secular split world. He is a Christian in the truest sense of the word...he follows Christ. Well you say, you can certainly agree he doesn't come from the secular world but how does he not come from the religious right wing of Protestant Evangelicalism? The answer may surprise you.

There are many in the Protestant Evangelical world of today that have accepted the man made idea of a world divided into sacred and secular realms. They drank the Kool Aid. They go into their religious compartment for things like Sunday worship, Bible studies, prayer meetings, mission trips, and then they go right out into the "secular" realm for everything else. They compartmentalize not only their outer life but their inner life as well. There is a huge discrepancy between what they "know" and what they actually "do". I have dwelt long in the Protestant Evangelical world and can understand why the secular realm so dislikes us ( read the book Unchristian by David Kinnaman for more detail). Too often the pursuit of self, wealth, and power all the "stuff" of the world is covered over by a veneer of religiosity that goes about proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior.

How do I know Tim Tebow is not like that? Well my guess ( and that's what it is) is because even those who do not like or agree with his "Tebowing" do not disparage the man. They like him. They admire him. They like his humility, his passion, his fierceness, his compassion, his genuineness, his virtue. Oh now there is an "Old West" term; virtue. His discipline in body and soul has produced a virtue which everyone, secular and sacred can literally see, and everyone is drawn to whether they like it or not.
"The glory of God is the human being fully alive and the life of the human consists in beholding God", wrote the great Christian Saint Irenaeus.

Tim Tebow is living fully alive reflecting the glory of God and every time he drops down in deep gratitude on that now famous knee he is beholding his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Posted by: AT 01:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 05 2012
This fall while I was teaching Crossing the Threshold I taught a lesson on Sacred Time, so it was natural for me to really consider the time Christians call Advent.  I didn't decide to just practice Advent or do something holy and spiritual. It was more like going on a journey and entering a new land where everything was strange including the way time passed. A good description of this might be like Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away; he stepped out of chronos time and into kairos time which forced him to live in a very different reality.

What I discovered in this new landscape called Advent was that the Lord really did come, in some amazing and very personal ways. I received gifts from him that were truly life changing and of course the greatest gift was himself...more of Jesus!

I also found that I was different in this place. Beauty replaced my busyness. People replaced the presents. I spent hours perhaps, gazing at my tree caught up in its beauty and remembering people and places associated  with the ornaments, then offering up prayers for all those who came across the threshold of my memory. There was a deep sense of gratitude that took hold of my heart and replaced the usual worry over what I needed to be doing or getting. No grasping in other words, just a time of receiving.

When I did venture out to go shopping that time was radically altered too. I purchased fewer gifts but they were much more intentionally chosen. The Lord even seemed to come and help me find what I needed. After my only trip to our very large mall I did something I have never done before...I took myself out to dinner at a restaurant in the mall and sat and just enjoyed the beauty and people there!.

By the time Christmas actually arrived I could look back and see that my time in Advent had not only been good for me it had changed me. Like Tom Hanks coming off his island ....he could no longer go back to his FedEx frantic ways; he took kairos with him and lived on that "kind" of time. I knew that this had happened to me when I started quite unconsciously referring to 2012 as the Year of Our Lord. It just flowed when I wrote or spoke or thought about the new year. In the year of our Lord was the most natural thing I could say.
What a beautiful way to start a new year. To know that it is His year, His time, and because I know how good He is it will be a good blessed year....The Year of Our Lord.
Posted by: AT 09:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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