In preparation for class this evening, I have revisited and been wrestling with Soren Kierkegaard, the erasable but brilliant 19th Century Danish philosopher and theologian. Sounds like fun, I know…
Yet his is a prophetic voice worth hearing and heeding. One phrase in particular grabbed my attention. Kierkegaard writes “In relationship to God one can not involve himself to a certain degree. God is precisely the contradiction to all that is ‘to a certain degree’.”
Kierkegaard is right, of course. Our God stands in opposition to being loved and followed ‘to a certain degree’. God wants all of us – all our heart and allegiance, all our effort and desire, all that we are and ever hope to be. “How I wish that you were either hot or cold, but you are neither, you are lukewarm” says the Spirit of God through John (Revelation 3:15-16).
The contradiction lies within us. We are the ones who desire God and the ways of God ‘to a certain degree’. Especially now, there is so much else demanding our attention and allegiance, so much that stands in the way of God having all of us. What are we to do?
In short, I think we can “do Lent”. Lent is a penitential time, a season of taking stock of ourselves and the fickleness of our faith. Yet penitence in Lent is not an end in itself. On the other end of our faulty faith is the mercy of God, the One who knows we are but dust and loves us anyway.
Lent brings us face to face with the steely good news that God dares to love us to the end and not just to ‘a certain degree’. Henri Nouwen called it God’s First Love “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19) and God’s First Love knows no bounds.
I always and invariably love and involve myself with God only to ‘a certain degree’. I deceive myself in pretending otherwise. It is all I have to give, and there is too much else that I love besides… Lent gives me a focused time to acknowledge and admit the shallowness and shakiness of my faith. Lent bids me to let go of all that I hold on to that is not of Him, and to throw myself upon the mercy and grace of God. It is only in doing this, and in doing it again and again, that I am freed to love and live in Him more and more – even to a greater and greater degree.
If at First…
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” Google tells me the proverb can be attributed to William Edward Hickson, fwiw. This past week I have heard from several people who told me they invited others to join us for the Fat Tuesday Party but were turned down. I say “Well done” and “Don’t give up!”
The Fat Tuesday Party was a first foray and attempt at getting us comfortable with the idea of inviting others to join us. There will be other opportunities, and we know that most people need several invitations before responding. It is up to you determine when the time is right to ask and invite again. Don’t give up!
That said, there is an obvious opportunity right around the corner. It’s called Easter! Research tells us Easter is a time when people who don’t normally attend church are looking for a place to go! That means they might be open to accepting an invitation to join us at CTR. We are planning on having special little gift baskets to give to our first time visitors this Easter.
If at first you don’t succeed… And Easter is coming, a perfect opportunity to try again. Don’t give up! Look for Easter Invitation Cards at church starting this Sunday.
Much Ado About Nothing
That’s Shakespeare, of course. I also predict that is what is coming Saturday night/Sunday morning. The “S” word, snow, is in the forecast Saturday night into Sunday morning, and people around here tend to freak out, especially in March… I predict right now it will amount to nothing. Even if we get snow, the ground has been much too warm for it to stick.
I can be proven wrong, of course. But until then, church is on for Sunday morning. Look for updates coming to you through MemberHub, provided an update is needed!
See you Sunday!