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Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom of God’

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

  • And of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord.

  • He was begotten, not made and is of one essence with the Father.
  • Through him all things were made.
  • Who for us and for our salvation he came down from heaven.
  • He was made incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
  • He suffered under Pontius Pilate.
  • He was crucified, died, and was buried.
  • He descended into the place of the dead.
  • He rose from the dead on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
  • He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
  • He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.
  • His kingdom shall have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit.

  • Who is the Lord, the Giver of Life.
  • Who spoke through the Prophets.
  • Who with the Father and the Son, is worshipped and glorified.

I believe in one holy Church.

  • Which is universal, and for all peoples.
  • Which is the Communion of Saints.
  • It is timeless and beyond the reach of mortal death.

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.

I look for the resurrection of the dead, and life everlasting.

  • Which is a bodily resurrection.
  • The righteous shall enter the world which is to come.
  • The righteous shall not taste of death again.

Amen.

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I remember the first time I was introduced to Christian Pacifism. It made literally, no sense to me whatsoever. As an eighteen year old kid (saying that as a twenty-six year old kid), the thought of Christian Pacifism was anathema. The very idea made me sick to my stomach. Pacifism wasn’t Christian in my eyes, it stood in direct contrast to everything I had been taught to believe by my culture.

My parents didn’t raise someone who was so easily turned away from differing viewpoints, however. The more the idea of pacifism disgusted me, the greater I wanted to delve into it and see why someone would commit to such lunacy. It also required me to confront head-on passages of Scripture that not only went against my worldview, but against the very god I believed in.

Having a crisis of faith is never fun. People don’t do this for kicks and giggles. The very bedrock of your faith is shaken to its core, because it was built on something that you’re not sure will withstand the test of time. Jesus gives a parable about this in the Scriptures. Everyone who builds the foundation of their faith upon the teachings and actions of Jesus will be able to withstand all the winds and rains and storms that may come. But those who do not build their faith upon the example of Jesus, will be like a man who builds his house on sand, and the first storm that comes will knock it down. And great will be its fall. (Matthew 7 & Luke 6)

The more I dug into Scripture, and the more I read the words of Jesus, the more my foundation began to crumble. My faith, my house, was built on sand. And the fall was great indeed. I became confronted with the very same question that plagued C.S. Lewis during his own crisis of faith. Either Jesus was a madman, or he was the Son of God.

Fortunately beneath my sand, was a bit of bedrock. That happens sometimes. My house fell, but I was able to clear away the sand, and begin building anew. It took some time, but I knew the foundation was firm (although I do still find granules here and there). My neighbors and friends and family laughed at me. I probably felt a bit like Noah, my faith being mocked. Yet I knew that somehow everything would be alright, because my new faith was built upon a Gospel that was solid. A Gospel of Love.

There have been some bumps along the way. Faith journeys are never easy. And there have been storms, Lord have there been storms. I’ve had hurricane winds blow against my heart and soul, and there have been times when it was all I could do to not give in. But our God is a mighty fortress, and happy are those who put their trust in Him.

The journey isn’t over yet. I still have a long road ahead of me. I’m still learning this path of love and peace, trying to show mercy and grace. (It’s been eight years since I started on this road, and you’d be surprised how little you actually learn in that time). A little something that helps me along in this regard is a quote by Stanley Hauerwas: “I say I’m a pacifist because I am a violent son of a bitch. I’m a Texan. I can feel it in every bone I’ve got. And I hate the language of pacifism because it’s too passive. But by avowing it, I create expectations in others that hopefully will help me live faithfully to what is true. But that I have no confidence in my own ability to live it at all.”

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My dear friend,
So often I fail with words.
Therefore let this,
Serve as a suitable replacement.

My heart aches for you,
Whom I cherish sincerely.
Your hurt,
Is my hurt.
Believe me when I say,
I know your pain.
For I have been
There before.

But please my dear,
Do not harden your heart.
Let your emotions run
Free.

When they told you that holding them
Would make you strong –
They lied.

For just like every
Other muscle,
The heart must be torn,
Before it can become strong.
Often many times in a row.

Life has dealt you a cruel hand,
But just as a phoenix rises
From the ashes,
So too shall you.

I see the innocence,
In your eyes.
And the pain that
You use to mask
It.

But the pain is
Temporary.

And behind them both,
I see your
Strength.

But as you suffer,
Through this pain,
Do not lose hope.
Do not believe the lies
You have been told.

You are worth more than words.
Do not forget that.
You are more beautiful
Than the stars.

Our Father in heaven,
Has made you in His image.
He has bestowed upon you,
His likeness,
O daughter of Eve!

As tears from my cheek,
Stain this pad
Where I write
These words,
Know you are loved.

Loved
For just being who,
God has made you.

He has crafted the heavens,
And the stars.
Yet you are more important
Than all else in creation.

Let that fill you.
For it is felt
In the embrace of a friend.
Or in the laughter
Of a joke.
Or in a rambling
Line of prose.

Someday perhaps
You shall find someone.
Perhaps not.
Either is fully acceptable,
And up to you.

But never settle
For a life without love.

Embrace the day,
And keep your heart open.
Because people will fail you,
All of us.

But there is One
Who does not fail.
And how great
Is His love for us.

And His love for you.

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A Collect for Memorial Day

O God of Heaven, hear our prayers and our lament.
Hear us O Lord.

For those who have fallen in uniform;
Lord hear our prayer.

For those who have lost their life in service to their cause;
Lord hear our prayer.

For those who have come home, crippled and maimed;
Lord hear our prayer.

For those who have suffered psychological trauma due to violence;
Lord hear our prayer.

When shall morning come?
We wait for the Lord.

Lord hear our prayers;
Hear our lament.

For the casualties of war, both sinner and sinless;
Christ have mercy.

For the widows and orphans;
Christ have mercy.

For the destruction of communities;
Christ have mercy.

You Lord, are our refuge.
We cry out to you, O Lord.

Lord hear our prayers;
Hear our lament.

Almighty God, we are guilty of heinous sins against your Holy Name. We have murdered our brethren, sought retribution, and more.
Have mercy, O Lord.

We have defiled your Sacraments, and have forgotten all love for our enemies. In our grief we have forsaken the way of the Cross.
Have mercy, O Lord.

Lord do not be angry with us, for we are heartily sorry for our actions against You.
Have mercy, O Lord.

+Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.

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The life of a Christian is a cycle. Every day we must strive to live in accordance with the ways and teachings of Jesus, the Christ. This is something that I am sure we each find extremely trying and difficult. Yet we proceed ever onwards, trusting that the Lord would see us through each day.

In the Scriptures, Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God, that we may withstand the advances of the enemy. That when those dark spiritual forces come against us, we may fend them off. But there is more to being a Christian than fending off your heart and mind against evil thoughts and spirits. The Christian is called to be an active force in the world in which he or she lives. Though we be but travelers in it.

In the Greek Scriptures, we are taught that we are to advance the Kingdom of God. This is singularly the most frequent theme to be found in the New Testament. The idea of this spiritual utopia. It is not a place to be visited nor a goal to be reached. It is a frame of mind. The Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come, for they did not understand. The Kingdom of God is neither here nor there. The Kingdom of God, Christ taught, is within us. It is among us.

The Kingdom of God is how Christians ought to live their lives. When we live active lives that speak to our faith, we are advancing the Kingdom of God. For it is only advanced by involving others in it. We live the Kingdom of God by how we treat other people. It is advanced in how we care for the poor and the sick, the widowed and the orphaned, the imprisoned and the downcast. It is impossible to advance the Kingdom when living a solitary pious life, for you are cut off from community. As prominent Christian sociologist and author Tony Campolo puts it, ‘The Kingdom of God is a party’.

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