April 9, 2008

Who Is My Shepherd?

Filed under: Faith Matters — Pastor Tim @ 11:06 am

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  Psalm 23:1

To live in a community (flock) that knows and follows God as shepherd is to know the satisfaction of abundant gifts.  But most of us do not live in such flocks, at least not most of the time.  A number of years ago, I wrote the “Consumer Capitalism Version” of the 23rd Psalm:

  • The Free-Market Economy is my shepherd, 
  • I shall always want more.
  • It maketh my cities sprawl across green pastures,
  • It leadeth my factories to pollute still waters.
  • It restoreth my greed.
  • It leadeth me down longer grocery store aisles for the sake of corporate profits.
  • Yea, though I walk on the brink of bankruptcy,
  • I fear no new debts.
  • For thou sendest another credit card offer to me;
  • Thy free gifts and thy temporary low interest rate, they comfort me.
  • Thou preparest a computer screen before me with Internet access to my creditors.
  • Thou floodest my e-mail Inbox with spam.
  • My e-mail capacity runneth over.
  • Surely bills and a credit rating shall follow me all the days of my life,
  • And I shall have job security until the next corporate merger.

How different would life be, if our true Shepherd were at the center of all we did?

April 4, 2008

In the Breaking of the Bread

Filed under: Faith Matters — Pastor Tim @ 10:30 am

“When he was at table, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.”  Luke 24:30-31a

Two of Jesus’ followers were walking to some now unfamiliar location, Emmaus.  Its obscurity leads us to trust that the risen Christ can appear on the road to anywhere.

But the risen Christ’s presence, and the recognition of his presence are two different things.  Upon reflection, those followers of Jesus remembered their hearts burning within them as they encountered this stranger.  Upon reflection, they remembered his discussion of the Bible as one which reopened their world after it had been slammed shut by Jesus’ death.  Upon reflection, they could see how the divine presence had been alive with them on their journey.

Recognition happened later, however, as they broke bread with a stranger, and as he took over and became host of the meal.  As he had done at the feeding of the 5000, and again at the Last Supper, he “took, blessed, broke, and gave” the bread.  This particular sequence with the bread reflects the birth, the baptism, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus (according to Henri Nouwen).  Thus the resurrected Jesus was “made known to [those followers] in the breaking of the bread” [Luke 24:35].

Thus we encounter the body of Christ in these actions at the Communion Table.  The table provides an opportunity to reflect upon our lives, upon whatever road to Emmaus we are traveling, and upon how divine presence has been alive on our journey.

What encounter with a stranger has left you surprisingly blessed?  Which stories of faith have been told in ways that have opened up parts of life that had otherwise seemed to be dead ends?  When has your heart “burned within you,” with enthusiasm and joy?