Un-Hymns #4

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Song: This Is Absolution
Artist: Killswitch Engage
Album: As Daylight Dies

This Is Absolution

We will not die this way
In unification
They cannot break
These chains of faith

Let them do their worst
Never slaves to
Iniquity

We will not die this way
This is absolution
Death claims us no more
Do not grieve
End the suffering
We will live
Live eternal

Will you take this stance
Among the dead?
Bury your fear
And hold fast to life?

We will not die this way
This is absolution
Death claims us no more
Do not grieve
End the suffering
We will live
Live eternal

Anchor yourself
To the foundation
Of everything you are
Believe
You have just begun
To live

Don’t let the world deceive you
Don’t let their words betray you
Don’t let their lies deceive you
Let them do their worst

We will not die this way
This is absolution
Death claims us no more
Do not grieve
End the suffering
We will live
Live eternal

©2006 Killswitch Engage

This Is Absolution – Music Video

I’ll be perfectly blunt.  This song doesn’t have what some might typically consider critical to a discussion of soteriology, or salvation as effected by and through Jesus Christ.  No explicit cross, no explicit Jesus, but through my established Christian lens and filter, this song speaks salvation.  In spite of lies, deceits, iniquities and betrayals, we have eternal life.  Death has been overcome and holds no power over us any longer.  From my seminary days in systematic theology class when this was first discussed, this particular song was the first thing that came to mind.  As I’ve continued to mull it over, I stand by my choice.

Aside from the chorus of the song, the most sure words are, “Anchor yourself to the foundation of everything you are.”  For me, that foundation is Christ.  After all, if Christ is not the foundation, then I have no business labeling myself as a Christian.  Additionally, as we proclaim salvation is by Christ alone, without Christ there would not exist salvation.  I find it interesting that salvation can be defined as “the act of saving from harm, risk or destruction” or as “deliverance from the power and penalty of sin” and that absolution is defined as the “declaration or assurance of divine forgiveness.”  Absolution, then, equals salvation.

This song speaks not of the hope of salvation, but rather of its surety.  Salvation is not in question.  Out of that surety, we are able to stand among the dead.  It may not be the best manner or hold the critical elements of soteriology, but I believe it has the capacity to, at least, open a discussion.  “Do not grieve.  We will live eternal.”

The Name

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Happy New Year!

Back from an unexpectedly long hiatus during which much real life stuff has happened.  While I’m a bit under the weather today, it seemed like a good time to drop something “new,” although not entirely a blog post.

I currently serve as a hospital chaplain, having resigned from my role as a congregational pastor in May, 2016.  The hospital work takes a great deal of time and energy, but I found myself missing leading worship and sermon preparation.

The pastor of the congregation of which I am currently a member, a good friend and colleague, invited me to preach and preside on Jan. 1, 2017, and I accepted.  The provided link is to the archive of audio sermons.  Of course, given the above information, the one to which I would direct you is:  Eighth Day of Christmas.  We took the optional liturgical calendar suggestion to celebrate/commemorate “The Name of Jesus.”

If you’re curious to hear my particular approach, then…listen away!

May peace, hope and joy be discovered and/or renewed in and for you this new calendar year!

 

Lutheran Church of the Cross – Audio Sermon Archive

Forty-six & 2

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My shadow’s
shedding skin and
I’ve been picking
Scabs again.
I’m down
Digging through
My old muscles
Looking for a clue.

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been.
I’ve been wallowing in my own confused
And insecure delusions
For a piece to cross me over
Or a word to guide me in.
I wanna feel the changes coming down.
I wanna know what I’ve been hiding in

My shadow.
Change is coming through my shadow.
My shadow’s shedding skin
I’ve been picking
My scabs again.

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been.
I’ve been wallowing in my own chaotic
And insecure delusions.

I wanna feel the change consume me,
Feel the outside turning in.
I wanna feel the metamorphosis and
Cleansing I’ve endured within

My shadow
Change is coming.
Now is my time.
Listen to my muscle memory.
Contemplate what I’ve been clinging to.
Forty-six and two ahead of me.

I choose to live and to
Grow, take and give and to
Move, learn and love and to
Cry, kill and die and to
Be paranoid and to
Lie, hate and fear and to
Do what it takes to move through.

I choose to live and to
Lie, kill and give and to
Die, learn and love and to
Do what it takes to step through.

See my shadow changing,
Stretching up and over me.
Soften this old armor.
Hoping I can clear the way
By stepping through my shadow,
Coming out the other side.
Step into the shadow.
Forty six and two are just ahead of me.

Lyrics (c) 1997 Tool Continue reading

“I am a…C, I am a C-H…

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“I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.”

Perhaps you recognize the beginning of this little ditty.  Maybe it stirs memories of Sunday School or Church School, or Church Camp, or Vacation Bible School, or…whatever.  I don’t believe I had ever heard it before being introduced to it a couple of years ago.  Here, it simply serves as a pseudo-clever way to introduce today’s blog post. Continue reading

Tree City Rolling Tour, v.2016

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A Confession of Sorts

I had been preparing for this ride, building up to it.  Some might call it training, but I’m not usually consistent or well-thought-out enough in my approach to cycling for it constitute “training.”  Basically, I had been striving to ride longer distances once each week, with a (hopefully) better pace than before.  In short, the work payed off.  I finished the 33-mile ride in approximately 2hrs, 36 min., with an average speed of 12.8 mph (excluding time spent at two rest/SAG stops).

This was the second year I’ve participated in this ride (check the short Archive list for last year’s notes), and it was, again, one of the best organized cycling rides.  The course is just fantastic and, although no one has any control over it, so was the weather.  The ride was scheduled earlier in the Summer than the previous year (or years, I’m not sure of their history) which may have helped with the weather.

It was also coordinated to sync with the first ever “Pork Tenderloin Throwdown” event.tenderlointhrowdown

Apparently, the Pork Tenderloin sandwich is the “Official Sandwich of the State of Indiana.”  Really?  Who knew that was a thing?  But, I digress…

As good as all the individual elements were that day, it was somewhat personally overshadowed by the realization that I’m a bit of a jerk, at least as far as cycling/riding companions go.  Y’see, my friend and usual ride partner CheapCyclist, had climbed into the bike saddle for this ride, as well (and he brought extra friends, too! Something I couldn’t pull off), despite having some setbacks and frustration with his own cycling training/preparedness.  I knew this.  He had even publicly posted about it here.  This is the guy who is/was the encourager/motivator that got me and the Lazarus bike out of retirement.  And yet…

When the ride started, off we rolled like the Four Cyclists of the Apocalypse.  Since it is NOT a race (y’hear that Paul!?), there is not a large, group start.  As long as you begin the course by a certain time, you’re good to go at your own pace.  Now, CheapCyclist is fond of quoting from one of his favorite cycling bloggers, “If there is more than one bike, its a race.”  While we weren’t racing in any sort of technical sense, we only clung together as a quartet, for oh, I don’t know the first few miles?

I felt like I was riding strong, but trying to not be the front runner.  At one point early on, I was big-gear speeding through a nice downhill when I tried to gear down for an approaching uphill…and got my chain wedged between the chain ring and guard.  I didn’t fall, but it certainly took a few moments to 1) realize what happened, 2) safely stop and get off the bike, 3)get my gloves and fingers incredibly grease-covered while yanking the chain free, and 4) finally getting back on the bike to continue.

Later, after the lunch stop at the Lake Santee Sea Shack, I got a serious leg/muscle cramp in my right thigh/quad that I thought would wreck me for sure.  Thankfully, I was able to soft-pedal my way through it, it ceased being a major concern, and I finished the ride.

Anyway, without any pictures whatsoever of the course to distract you, and for brevity’s sake, I’ll get to the main point.

CheapCyclist was riding conservatively for his own well-being and was resolutely following his plan to not overextend his pace beyond what he was comfortable with that day.  Again, I knew this.  My chagrin and regret is that I did absolutely NOTHING to encourage, support or assist him in his efforts.

CheapCyclist rode the course essentially alone, the highs, the lows, the thrown chain, all of it. (with the exception of an unknown cyclist sidling up to him near the end, not that I was around to witness it, though).

Near the end of the ride, my conscience TRIED to overtake me by suggesting I stop and wait so we could at least finish together.  But selfishness in the guise of shade and a non-bike place to sit kicked my altruism to the curb (somewhat literally).

As glad as I was with the ride overall, this reminder of my self-centered pettiness made it a less enjoyable experience than last year.  I permitted my own task/goal-oriented character to cast a shadow on what should have been another great, shared ride with a friend.

To @CheapCyclist, I extend an OVERDUE apology.  I’m sorry for being a jerk.

 

 

 

Faith Seeking Understanding, Ep. 5

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Christian faith asks questions, seeks understanding, both because God is always greater than our ideas of God, and because the public world that faith inhabits confronts it with challenges and contradictions that cannot be ignored. It is my hope to offer some information and insights in response to questions about God, the Bible and faith, that will add to the conversation without offering set, absolute answers. Please feel free to communicate any additional questions or your own experiences, comments, responses and insights as they relate to the questions taken up here.

Why do some people seem to have all without God?

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So many words; so many voices

Completely overwhelmed.  That’s how I feel.  So much in life, in the news, that cries out to be addressed, yet here I sit staring at a mostly blank screen, with too many colliding thoughts and an anxious atrophy in my ability to coalesce those thoughts and feelings into typewritten words.  And the whole time I sit here trying to figure it out?  Lots of other people have done what I seem unable, and with more efficiency, depth and beauty than I can ever imagine generating on my own.

From election politics to violence of every sort to individual rights and freedoms to what it really means to be a person of faith…there are so many other writers who have their voices and their words at the ready, able to respond, comfort, debate, challenge, empathize.  I can’t even keep up with them.  It seems it would be a full-time occupation (typically an unpaid one, at that) just to try and stay “on top” of things.  There is SO. MUCH. that I don’t even feel like I have the capacity to “listen” to any of it.  It all has a stultifying effect on me.  I’d prefer to sink back into my own cone of silence and anonymity.

Yet, here I am, in my personally reserved little corner of the interweb.  For all the good intentions I had during this period of transition and “down time,” I just can’t seem to focus enough creative energy to do more than write this brief entry (which, no doubt seems kinda whiny).  There are STILL (11) incomplete drafts, and the recycled material is nearly used up.  So, I’m going to have to do something.

At least there is a potential cycling ride report forthcoming as I have committed to participating in the Tree City Rolling Tour ride for the second consecutive year.

I’ve also had an opportunity to “rediscover” some long-ignored music from my music archives.  That has been fun, in its own way.

I hope wherever you are today, whatever you are doing, that it will bring someone else joy and comfort, and for you contentment.

Faith Seeking Understanding, Ep. 4

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Christian faith asks questions, seeks understanding, both because God is always greater than our ideas of God, and because the public world that faith inhabits confronts it with challenges and contradictions that cannot be ignored. It is my hope to offer some information and insights in response to questions about God, the Bible and faith, that will add to the conversation without offering set, absolute answers. Please feel free to communicate any additional questions or your own experiences, comments, responses and insights as they relate to the questions taken up here.

How does God talk to us?”

“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2a, NRSV)

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Catching Up

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Once again, I have to confess a level of inferior commitment to this space.  It’s not like “nothing” has been happening.  As I look over the screen, it shows I have (11) draft-posts, various thoughts in a wide array of completeness.  Yet, this blog has not lived fully up to its much-touted (by me, in the very first post) name.  It has recently contained no pedaling/cycling stories or info, no metal/music-related observations, and, if it weren’t for the re-use of previously written material, the “pastor” part would even be questionable.

This particular post, yes, this one right here before your eyes, will serve the task of drawing me back in, at least a little.

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