Posts Tagged ‘truth’

LET’S ADMIT IT. WE MAINLINE PROTESTANTS GET DOWNRIGHT SQUEAMISH WHEN ASK US IF WE’RE BAPTIZED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT OR FIRE! We tend to leave that kind of Spirit and fire business to our peppy Pentecostal siblings and their speaking in tongues, or to our quirky Charismatic cousins and their rolling in the aisles. No siree Bob Jones! A baptism of Spirit and fire just isn’t a part of our party line.

Baptism for us mainliners tends to be all about water. We have peace like river, joy like fountain, and love like an ocean but that Spirit and fire talk has been a bit of stumbling block for us forward thinking, Princeton University founding, academic loving, progressive Presbyterians and mainline Protestants.

Well listen up! That locust-breath, desert-dwelling prophet John the Baptist says baptism with Spirit and fire is what Jesus brings. “I baptize you with water,” says John,  “but one who is more powerful than I is coming . . . He will baptize you” en pnuemati agio kai puri – “with the Holy Spirit and purifying fire.”

Baptism with Spirit and fire is for even us Presbyterians, Methodists and the like, too. Perhaps there’s a way for God’s frozen chosen to get thawed out by God’s fiery Spirit but we just have to think about it in a new way.

Walter Brueggemann, one of the foremost biblical scholars of our times says that being baptized by fire means that “we may be visited by a spirit of openness, generosity, that “the force” may come over us, carry us to do obedient things we have not yet done, kingdom things we did not think we had in us, neighborly things from which we cringe.” Being baptized in Spirit and fire inspires a belief that “God may act in us, through us, beyond us” and in greater ways “than we imagined.”

In other words, being baptized by Spirit and fire means that we live with a certain confidence, a holy hope, because even though we can’t imagine a brighter future, or better outcome, or even a distinct possibility,  we know that our very good God can. God holds out more than we ever imagined! It’s like that old hymn says, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow!”

Baptism with Spirit and fire takes us beyond the limits of our own imaginations and opens us to the limitlessness of God’s. Baptism with Spirit and fire is the very essence of our faith that allows us to live with less fear and more trust, more courage, and more hope. More. Baptism with Spirit and fire allows us to get up off the couch and go up against the odds to work for peace and justice even in a world as divided, broken, and unjust as our own.

Next time you hear a voice from a closed mind – whether it belongs to someone else or even yourself, say, “Hey, sounds really nice, but somehow I just can’t imagine it ever happening!” You just tell that voice, “That’s okay, God can!”

Blessings of Peace and Love,
Mark

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One of the first lessons of faith is also the hardest for me: There is a God, and I’m not it! Whether my heart is heavy with worry or sadness, or I’m burned out from the day-to-day grind, that’s when I have to remember this important rule more than ever. I’m not God, and not every load is mine to carry, at least not by myself. God is there to help me!

Come to me, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
– Jesus (Matthew 11:28-29)

What burdens are you shouldering right now? What’s weighing heavily on your heart or mind? Are you able to let it go or hand it over to God? Be still. Breathe deeply. And ask God to take it from here. Remember: God’s got this!

Love,
Mark

 

ARE YOU USING YOUR GOD GIVEN GIFTS AND TALENTS? Never be ashamed to share the gifts that God has given to you. They are unique to you. And they are yours and yours alone to offer. Remember, God has a divine purpose for them. That’s where joy is rooted!

Be the joyful blessing this year and always!
– Mark

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What’s your favorite time of day on the Camino de Santiago? For me, there is no contest; it’s early morning.

I feel great having my boots laced, my pack on my back, and my body moving forward just as the sun is starting to rise behind me in the east. My heart is starting to pump and my blood is beginning to flow. Most importantly, I know that I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing: walking. (more…)

In a world of bigotry, hate, and white nationalist marches, the story of David and Goliath has great impact. Not only did David defeat his nine and a half foot giant, Goliath, he disclosed Goliath’s weaknesses, and the foolishness of false powers.

I preached part one of Conquering Giants on August 20, 2017 after the tragedy of Charlottesville and the anti-hate marches of Boston and around the country the following week. I pray that you find some hope and empowerment in watching it, as we all pray for healing and peace in America today.

– RMG

LINK: Conquering Giants Part One – Video

Happy Fourth Day of Easter!

“The meaning of Easter slips easily from our grasp. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child. No problem, there! Who can’t get behind a birthday celebration? But at Easter we have to accept that almost two thousand years ago a dead man was raised from the dead. That takes a lot of theological acrobatics to comprehend. As a young person, I spent many summers and other holidays at my grandparent’s funeral home. As a pastor, I’ve been burying the dead for two and a half decades; I’ve never seen anyone sit up in their casket and say, ‘Hi everybody! I’m back!’ But maybe Easter isn’t supposed to be grasped, at least not the way we get hold of a math problem or solve a puzzle. Maybe Easter is just the way God wants us to live, trusting that there is something much bigger and much better beyond the end of our temporal noses. After all, when you live as if Easter is real, even if you are just faking it – working for justice, making peace instead of war, sharing out your abundance, believing that there is a future brighter than the darkness of the present, even if the present includes death, that’s when the staggering truth of Easter starts to sink-in: in God we are abundantly and eternally free!”

– R. Mark Giuliano, The Old Stone Church

 

He is risen, indeed!