Christianity has been hard to bottle from the very beginning

“Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest.”

Jesus – Matthew 11:28-29
– Lent contemplation…

During “Lent”, this contemplative time of the church calendar leading up toward Holy Week and Easter, I often find myself a little more focused and reflective regarding the “Christian Faith.”

I think about the details, the layers of meaning, the interpretations and understandings that have come and gone during 2,000 years of history, the vast libraries of books that have been written.

Complicating the message:

– so much written….

Christianity has been hard to bottle from the very beginning. People listen, people read the ancient scriptures, people agree to accept the authority of certain texts, people pray, people witness the living testimony of others who claim to follow Jesus, people observe history, people talk and debate and learn and live.

Every major creed, catechism and confession (from The Apostles Creed to the Westminster Confession to the Barmen Declaration) has sought to clarify orthodoxy. And, since the advent of Gutenberg’s printing press in 15th Century, our ability to “communicate” has multiplied exponentially. However, rather than increasing the level of clarity, the proliferation of media seems to have given voice to even more contradictory and idiosyncratic doctrinal twists.

The simple fact of Jesus:

Yet, from the heart of the gospel, the winsome voice of Jesus always rises to the forefront. In a sense, all of the insistence on “we have this right” and “these people have it wrong” and “this is the only true doctrine” serves to bring the simple fact of Jesus into increasingly clear focus.

The older I get – and I seem to be aging at a dizzying pace – the more three simple facts emerge with timeless truth:

  1. We – humanity – are hopelessly lost, and we must turn to God if there is to be any possibility of finding our way home.
  2. I know and understand Jesus with greater clarity and in simpler terms, and I find myself saying – with increasing conviction – that “Jesus is God’s invitation home.”
  3. If I am going to err (and I do, all the time) then, increasingly, I am going to err in the direction of Grace.

My (Presbyterian) church home:

– “You’re wrong!”

The Christian Religion has been organized and reorganized a thousand different times since Jesus defeated darkness and cleared the way back to God for us.

Personally, I find the Presbyterian Church to be a wonderfully helpful framework as I worship and follow Jesus in the context of an encouraging community.

Also, I believe my church is an open and affirming space, where the broad and complex diversity of humanity can fell welcomed, and respond to God’s invitation in Jesus and learn to join in with The Creator’s (salvific) initiatives of love, grace, healing, mercy, justice, reconciliation, light, hope, promise.

My challenge to each one of us during this time of Lent is to consider our faith and to ask God to help us to sort between the complexities of religious dogma and the simple essentials of God’s love as presented by Jesus.

Strip away not only what holds us in thrall to human constructs, but also holds others back from knowing the invitational love of Jesus.

Because love is God’s great invitation – DEREK

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