He Holds Us

Christ the Redeemer, Rio De Janiero, Brazil

Photo: Sean Vivek Crasto

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross (through him), whether those on earth or those in heaven. —1 Colossians 1:15-19 (NAB)

I have never struggled with the supposed contradiction between the Scriptural account of Creation presented in Genesis 1 and the overwhelming evidence for evolution. Perhaps it’s because, like St. Augustine, I always saw the Genesis story as allegorical. And perhaps it’s because, like St. Francis, I picture God continuously willing the whole universe into being as an act of infinite, divine love.

He isn’t Newton’s Absent Watchmaker, who built the machine, pressed start, and walked away. Neither is he Calvin’s Divine Puppeteer who wrote the script and pulls all the strings. He loves us, and everything else, into existence, and he sustains us, and everything else, by a constant, intentional, and ongoing act of love.

He who is Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity holds us. He who became like us so that we may become like him died for us. He who made us and all things reconciles us and all things in him.

The visible Son who is the Image of the invisible Father holds us through the power of the Spirit.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One God who is Love.

Amen.

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Bloggerhood Etc. 9/15/14

Sad Tony Romo

The saddest Sad Romo of them all (Image: Jon Bois/SB Nation)

It’s halfway through the month of September. Fall is coming, but you can’t tell in Oregon because it’s still 90° here! At least we’ve got Duck football (and Beaver football for my daughter). Anyway, here’s the best of the week …

Best Schadenfreude. “Breaking Madden: Tony Romo’s Week in Quarterback Hell” by Jon Bois at SB Nation.

Best Dad Post.Dear Kids … A Letter About Ray Rice” by Carl Wilke at Big Cheese Dad.

Best Guest PostThe Other Lie” by Lisa Sharon Harper at Rachel Held Evans’ blog.

Best Advice.Singled Out: How Churches Can Embrace Unmarried Adults” by Cristena Cleveland.

Best List.7 Toys That Are Not Played With as the Designer Intended” by Darrel Milton at Modern Father Online.

Best Commentary.Solidarity is Our Word: My Humanity is Bound up in Yours” by Meghan Clark at National Catholic Reporter.

Best Profile.Acosia Red Elk: Young Swan Rising From the Water” by John Mounts at 1859.

Best Reflection.Our Selves Drift Away” by Ryan Dueck at Christian Century.

Most Evocative Title. Dodging Farts on Mount Vesuvius” by Jason Greene at One Good Dad.

Best Hagiography. The Real Francis: How One Saint’s Ancient Insights are Transforming Today’s Church” at America.

Best Micro-Post.What Your Selfie Really Says About You” by Tamara Lunardo at A Deeper Story.

Best Path to Recovery.So … you left an abusive church? 5 Tips to Start Healing NOW” by Elizabeth Esther.

Most Honest.The 3 Toddler Words I Need to Stop Saying. Like, Right Now.” by Chris Routly at Daddy Doctrines.

Best Special Needs Post. What it Means to be Independent” by Laurie Wallin at Support for Special Needs.

Best Article. The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Church” by Craig Welch at Seattle Times.

Best Interview.Dispatch from Zambia: An Interview with Claire Albrecht of Kasama Micro Grants” by

Best Video. Cute Character Blog” by Glove and Boots (via YouTube).

And I don’t like piña coladas either.

Gallery

Anna’s Grotto Gallery

A reproduction of Michelangelo's Pieta in the Meditation Chapel

A reproduction of Michelangelo’s Pieta in the Meditation Chapel.

Each day, I’m posting pictures and stories from our vacation. Today I share a few of Anna’s photos from The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother (aka “The Grotto”) in Portland along with some short prayers.

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Five for Francis

Pope Francis bows before the people.

Photo: Associated Press

Here are five thoughts on the new pope.

1) First! The Media has taken to calling him Francis I, which is technically incorrect. While he is the first pope named Francis, the number is normally not added after a regnal name until it is duplicated. For example Queen Elizabeth I of England was simply known as Elizabeth until Elizabeth II became Queen of the United Kingdom in 1952. But the confusion is understandable. The short reigning John Paul I took an ordinal number as part of his name, and after his untimely death was followed a little over a month later by his namesake, the far better known John Paul II. In addition, we’re not used to original pope names. Before John Paul I, the last undisputed “first” was Pope Saint Nicholas I (858-67), while the last pope with a unique name was Lando (913-14). Given his short and forgettable reign it’s doubtful there will be another.

But though technically incorrect, Pope Francis is “The First” in many ways. First Jesuit pope, first “New World Pope,” and first Pope named for St. Francis (or any Francis for that matter).  However, he is not the first non-European pope. By tradition, that distinction goes to the first pope, a Galilean fisherman known to the world as St. Peter. But he is the first non-European since Pope St. Gregory III (731-41) who was Syrian.

2) His Name. Like millions of Catholics around the world, I sat staring at a set of curtains on TV for an hour waiting to find out who the new pope would be (and set a personal record for curtain-staring). Then came the announcement (and the translation):

I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The most eminent and most reverend Lord,
Lord Jorge Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Bergoglio,
Who takes for himself the name of Francis.

I wrote on this blog last month how Benedict XVI’s retirement was a great statement of humility. Then as the conclave began on Tuesday, I wrote in a guest post that I was praying for the next pope to follow his example. When I heard the name Francis, I felt my prayers had been answered. St. Francis is, after the Blessed Virgin, the most beloved of all saints, in large part because of his humble simplicity. All the saints are icons of Christ, but St. Francis just might be the most Christlike of them all.

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Call It a Poem, if You Must

Ruined Church, Cottam from geograph.org.uk Wikimedia Commons

Photo: J. Thomas (CC BY_SA 2.0)

I wrote this short text a little over four years ago, after a bad church experience. I stumbled across it while revising my manuscript, and incorporated it in a more prosodic form.

I post the original here in part to share something I’d forgotten about, and in part because I’m too hot to think of anything new to write. Call it a poem, if you must—I’d rather call in a short verse—but please don’t call me a poet (or throw fruit at me—this isn’t my usual gig):

The Opposite of Apathy

Most people think
That the opposite of faith is doubt,
The opposite of hope is despair,
And the opposite of love is hate,

But most people are wrong;

The opposite of faith is apathy,
The opposite of hope is apathy,
The opposite of love is apathy,
And the opposite of apathy

Is the Kingdom of God.

Along the Mormon Bike Trail

Name tags of two LDS Church Missionaries. Created by Saaby.

Photo: Saaby (CC BY-SA 2.5)

I saw a couple of cyclists riding down River Road today as I drove back home from our favorite farm market. That wasn’t unusual: Eugene is a bike-friendly town with lots of well-marked bike lanes, paths, and trails. And it’s a perfect day for a bike ride: warm, sunny, but not too hot. What was unusual was their identical choice of clothes: white dress shirts, ties, and slacks. Their strict dress code identified them as Mormon missionaries.

Seeing them today got me thinking about how my own churches—the Episcopal Church I was raised in and the Catholic Church I joined last year—do evangelism. Compared to the Mormons, we stink at it.

A quick story:

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