The disciples that Jesus had assembled started drifting away at the Passover. By the time we get to the crucifixion of Jesus only a few women and John, the beloved disciple, remain clearly visible. Each of the original disciples abandoned Jesus in one way or another. They all deserted Jesus and fled away in fear. Jesus’ last words on the cross were, “It is finished!” After uttering those last words, he died. His death, while predicted and announced by Jesus himself, left his disciples in a state of disarray and panic. The followers of Jesus were broken, defeated, and most of them, as echoed by the two pilgrims on the Emmaus road, experienced a state of unparalleled hopelessness. How did this ragtag group of frightened followers experience both personal and corporate renewal and transformation? Their transformation was so powerful and effective that they were eventually noted for “turning the world upside down.” What happened?
The forty days of Lenten observance are designed to end with the joyful celebration of the triumphant Christ. Jesus has been victorious and has promised that his successful conquest will yield a harvest of righteousness within those committed to following him. Lent is often observed with extended periods for fasting and repentance because sometimes we fall short of the standard Christ requires.
There is no perfect security in this world. We could each construct for ourselves a Howard Hughes bubble against every conceivable threat. We would still be vulnerable, and we ourselves would become the ultimate victims of our isolation. The world is a complicated place, and answers to its problems are typically complicated. The desire for easy answers usually produces bad answers. Acting out of undifferentiated fear is one of the worst. We can do better. Indeed, as believers we are commanded to do so.
Scouting Sunday intersects with a tragic event in the life of a friend, prompting reflection on the importance of small groups in the life of the Christian community.
We Christians sometimes seem to imply to each other that we will experience no fear whatsoever if we have enough faith, perhaps implying that our fears are evidence of a lack of faith. Fear and faith are not polar opposites. To have faith means to choose to act in spite of one’s feelings of fear. Faith means acting in spite of!
At the root of Christian faith is the confidence that in God’s world, we need not live in fear. And this does not come as smooth words of comfort in easy times. These words are delivered when people are up against it, when times are hard, and reasons to fear are, well, reasonable. But we believe that regardless of the circumstances, love overcomes. It is the claim of this faith throughout the ages. “Fear not.” We are given a spirit that is “powerful, loving, and self-controlled.”
For most people, back pain resolves, but for a small percentage, low back pain becomes a chronic condition. The key to avoiding such pain is to prevent it. Staying in good physical condition with back strengthening exercises as part of your routine may help. Learning how to lift correctly and maintaining good posture also will be helpful. The way you do normal, everyday activities could determine whether you aggravate your back or keep it pain-free.
People may have their own talking mirrors inside. When we look into the mirror, maybe we are looking towards the depths of the unconscious. When you see your mirror each morning, what kind of reflection do you see? When you think of your flaws and blemishes in your life, what kind of voice do you hear?
"Being self-compassionate means that you are open to your suffering and you offer support and understanding toward yourself,” Kristin Neff says. “It can help people take responsibility for setbacks of failures, acknowledge the setback without judgment, and recognize that everyone makes mistakes and that you can learn from these experiences."
Problems arise when General Conference makes behavioral rules intended to apply to the entire denomination. We have a lengthy history of such frustrating and failed attempts at “one-size-fits-all” legislation, i.e., bans against the use of tobacco or alcoholic beverages or remarriage of divorced persons. The General Conference doesn’t have the power or machinery for enforcement of such rules because that prerogative belongs to the annual conference and therein to a body of one’s peers. Perhaps, then, we should leave this to the annual conferences. It could be argued that that is where it is already. I have occasionally wondered what would happen if a presiding bishop at General Conference declared such a proposed rule out of order. What would the Judicial Council do with it?