I'm not a graduate of Penn State, not a native of State College, nor even a true fan of the football team. I'm just a boy from Tennessee who now lives in State College. But the death of Joe Paterno has been a big deal to me.
This work by Luther on the Galatians is something I continually go back over and over and over again. Like Luther said, beat this into your head!
At RUF we talk a lot about the the corrupting power and presence of sin. While sin might easily be taken seriously in the moment of a sermon, it is rarely considered in the normalcy of our regular lives...until something blows up. This week, our campus exploded, and though some of us may not call it this, we can clearly see the pain and horror of sin.
There is an old saying that says "those who are heavenly minded are of no earthly good." Some Christians even think the sound of heavenly-mindedness sounds a bit extreme. For many, the idea of heaven seems nice and all, but it’s a concept that seems out of touch with reality.
It's stubborn denial to diminish the significance of Christmas in our world. Even the Cynic is moved to to acknowledge that there is something significant about Christmas that is unique. We even have books about it (see the famous story by Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol") that reveal the foolishness of cynic towards Christmas. But here is the question: What is the significance? What is Christmas about?
For some reason I always experience a small bit of loneliness around Christmas. It's decreased drastically over the years, namely because of the companionship of my wife and the joy of my kids. I think it was highest in high school and early college when I would have a moment where I missed my friends or a certain family member or even had the deep insecurity that there was some great Christmas party somewhere where everyone was, and I was missing out.
What is Christmas? So often in books or movies (I'm thinking particularly here about the children's movie "the Polar Express", which I loved) we hear this vague statement "the spirit of christmas". It sounds neat and all, but I can't find anyone who knows what that means. The only answer to that undefined statement really lies in what it means to you. But that search will only lead so far as Clark Griswold standing on a street curb, confusing the visible sewer treatment for "the spirit of Christmas" and saying to yourself "now I know what it means to me." But will you?
I think I was a bit unclear last week at RUF. Here is a more simplified version of what I was saying:
In Luke 17-18, Jesus is teaching about faith, and what he has to say about it is unique to our instincts. We often think having faith is a sign of personal strength. Faith reveals how strong you are amidst difficult situations, its what you turn to when things get hard.
Woody Allen once said that he couldn't stand two things: personally watching his own movies, and the thought that no one watched his movies. He stayed away from watching the final product because it was just unbearable to observe all the mistakes he had failed to correct. Yet, there was the hope that if he never saw them, they may not actually be there. But, what plagued him even more was the worry that no one would watch his work, or if they did, they would find each mistake he made and criticize them.