Resurrection Sunday

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Χριστός Ανέστη! – Ἀληθῶς Ανέστη!; Christós Anésti! – Alithós Anésti!; Christ is risen! – He Has Risen Indeed!

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οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε, ἠγέρθη γὰρ καθὼς εἶπεν· δεῦτε ἴδετε τὸν τόπον ὅπου ἔκειτο. καὶ ταχὺ πορευθεῖσαι εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ὅτι ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ἰδοὺ προάγει ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, ἐκεῖ αὐτὸν ὄψεσθε· ἰδοὺ εἶπον ὑμῖν. (Matthew 28:6-7)

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ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐταῖς· μὴ ἐκθαμβεῖσθε· Ἰησοῦν ζητεῖτε τὸν Ναζαρηνὸν τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον· ἠγέρθη, οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε· ἴδε ὁ τόπος ὅπου ἔθηκαν αὐτόν. (Mark 16:6)

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οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε, ἀλλ’ ἠγέρθη. μνήσθητε ὡς ἐλάλησεν ὑμῖν ἔτι ὢν ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ (Luke 24:6)

N.T. Wright on the meaning of Easter

Three collects or prayers from The Book of Common Prayer for Resurrection Sunday:

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

“So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 CEB)

Greek text from Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 28th Edition

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John Franke on ‘What is Missional Church?’

The word ‘missional’ is all abuzz these days and perhaps can be more than a bit ‘squishy’ (to use a technical theological term). What I mean by this is that much of the time missional comes to mean what me or my tribe can squeeze out of it. Of course this doesn’t just happen with the word missional. Language in general can be squishy and so we can (and do) have this same phenomena with ‘gospel’ and ‘evangelical’ as well – to name just a couple more examples. I often hear people say that a word like missional has become so diluted, overused, and misused that we should just give it up. I believe this would be a mistake and that we do well to theologically discipline our speech about church and mission instead of simply throwing the word out. Without such theological discipline we will simply repeat the same pattern with whatever new language we choose.

The squishiness of missional language occurs often I think when we begin with what we are doing for God instead of the missional character and activity of Father, Son, and Spirit in the world. The missional nature of the triune God issues forth into not simply a church with mission as a program or department or that is ‘missions minded’ (as the Baptist churches I grew up in liked to say) but a church that is itself the instrument of mission, a missional church. Similarly, the nature of theology will not simply be theology with a missional component or missional subdivision or missional box that can be simply checked off, but a truly missional theology. As the church increasingly faces the challenges of globalism and moves ever more into a culture where the nostalgia of Christendom is losing sway, we will do well to ‘thicken’ our descriptions of the missional nature of church and theology. Thus, the present ‘missional conversation’ is both timely and vital.

In the video below John Franke gives a good introduction and primer to missional theology and missional church grounded in the missional nature and activity of the triune God. For further discussions see Franke’s The Character of Theology: An Introduction to its Nature, Task, and Purpose – A Postconservative Evangelical Approach and Franke’s afterward in Stan Grenz’s Renewing the Center: Evangelical Theology in a Post-Theological Era entitled ‘An Agenda for the Future of Evangelical Theology.’

John Franke: What is Missional Church? from Allelon on Vimeo.

May This Be Our Prayer

Bapto-catholic…that was what the Catholic trauma chaplain at the hospital where I did my residency in Clinical Pastoral Education called me. He was intrigued that I made use of the lectionary, had an interest in and used liturgy, and made use of the prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. He told me I wasn’t like other Baptists he had ever met. I think his description of me is accurate and I think I was probably set up for it. Though I grew up in Baptist churches my whole life, until I went out to west Texas for college (at a Baptist university) I lived in a small Catholic community known as Lindsay. Lindsay was down the road from the slightly larger Catholic community known as Muenster (yes, these were German Catholics).

The result of this was that I grew up around Catholics my whole life, but at church I often heard about how Catholics weren’t really Christians. They were just caught up in religiosity in which they were trying to earn their way to heaven. There was no way that their faith was genuine. This may sound harsh (and it was) but this was the sort of thing that I heard from Baptist pastors, deacons, and church members alike. One deacon used to tell me that the phrase ‘vain repetitions’ was invented just for Catholics.

I am thankful for the few (like my mentor Donnie York) that did tell me that many Catholics actually were capable of genuine faith and it was probably about same percentage as Baptists – maybe a little more! As a chaplain/CPE resident I had ample opportunity to speak with Catholics as they faced traumas and many times death. I am grateful to these Christian brothers and sisters for teaching me about their deep faith in Christ during these times of deep grief and lament. Yes, we have theological differences, but this does/did not cancel out the depth of their faith in Jesus. I cringe whenever I hear fellow Baptists or other rather ‘conservative’ evangelicals say that Catholics can’t possibly be Christians.

In the sermon yesterday morning the pastor told a story about when Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto became Pope Pious X in 1903. Sarto apparently did not want to accept the position of pope initially but was encouraged to do so by his friend, Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val y de Zulueta (that’s quite the name!), who would become Pious X’s Secretary of State. Merry del Val gifted the new Pope with a prayer that would become known as the Litany of Humility, and one which del Val was said to have prayed every day after the Mass. The full text is below. Read it slowly and meditate on it.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, O Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Can I just say that I think that Baptist deacon was wrong? There is nothing ‘vain’ about this prayer. If you can pray this prayer and it falls under the category of ‘vain repetition’ … well, my friend, don’t blame the prayer because that’s not where the problem resides. Church father John Chrysostom said that the lack of humility and the search for ‘popular praise’ was (in a reference to the ancient Hydra slain by Hercules) an ‘invisible and savage monster’ that needed its many heads cut off, or better yet, to have prevented them from growing altogether. Those that are able to slay this monster of popular praise and esteem and the lack of humility will enjoy the ‘quiet heaven of rest’ while those that don’t will suffer ‘manifold struggles, personal confusion, deep dejection, and a host of other passions.’

We Protestants (of all flavors) can learn much from our Eastern Orthodox (represented here by the ancient wisdom of Chrysostom) and Catholic brethren. May we take Chrysostom’s advice and slay the monster of pride and the lack of humility. Oh that the Litany of Humility were prayed more often in ALL expressions of the ekklesia!

May it gradually shape and form us into the humble image of our Liberating King.

‘Deliver us, O Jesus’ … ‘Jesus, grant us the grace’ …  may this be our prayer!