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Spirit Fuel (posted on Monday, March 13)A Reflection on Jesus, The Final Days by Craig A. Evans and N.T. Wright
Should I be worried about moving from (just outside) the City of Brotherly Love to (just outside) the Motor City?
I know “love.” Love, is my career choice.
Motors? Not so much.
Ari (my wife) is the daughter of a heavy machinery mechanic and can identify the little knocks and smells that a bad motor makes. I am the guy that stands over the lawn mower with two gas cans in my hand. “Does this get the ‘gas-only’ or the ‘gas-and-oil’ mix?”
Which of these fuels makes this little motor go?
I am intrigued by how N.T. Wright is asking a similar question in his chapter of Jesus, The Final Days, the book we are studying as part of the Adult Lenten Series. Of course, he is not considering what makes a lawn mower 'go'—he is pondering the afterlife. That is, “What makes us ‘go’ after we die?”
The heart of his argument is that heaven is not a a disembodied place. Like with Jesus on the third day, we can look forward to a new and physical resurrection. The difference is that, here and now, we have “a physical body, that is animated by normal human energy.” But, in our resurrection, we get a “new body which will be animated by God’s Spirit.”1 So, for Wright, heaven is not a place in the clouds, it is the time when the Spirit is our fuel, it is when the Spirit ultimately and finally 'makes us go.'
Is this what Jesus meant when he announced, “The Kingdom of Heaven is near?” Did he mean that heaven is right here on earth whenever we find ourselves driven by the Spirit—instead of all of the many other 'physical' urges that drive us? Did he mean that eternal life is so close we can touch it? I think so.
Stand over your life. Stand over our church.
Consider the question, “Which fuel will make our little motor go?”
One will bring more of the same.
The other just might reveal a little piece of heaven right here on earth.
1 p. 88
A Season of Goodbyes (posted on Wednesday, February 22)
I was the kid that packed for summer camp in February.
The week I spent at Camp at the Eastward was always the highlight of my year. The friendships, songs, and memories are still burned into the core of my being.
Every year brought different counselors and cabin assignments, but some things were the same year-to-year. On Monday we learned the camp song, on Tuesday we played Capture the Flag, on Wednesday we went to Mt. Blue State Park, on Thursday we had a talent show, on Friday we had the camp dance, and on Saturday we packed up. And I cried. Every Saturday morning, I was that sniffling kid that wanted to stay another week.
“Can’t we just do two weeks this year?”
Some years the “goodbye” hurt so much that I wondered why I even went in the first place. If it was going to feel like this to say goodbye, maybe I should just take a “pass” on the whole thing next summer.
This is a season of goodbyes for all of us. I am saying goodbye to my congregation. Troy and Jess are saying goodbye to you—and you to them. For some that will mean tears. For others just a lump in the throat. Great smiles will appear when a meaningful memory pops up out of nowhere. Through all of this, I hope we will allow ourselves to feel as deeply as we can.
Henri Nouwen reminds us, “If we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving.” Which is probably why thirteen-year-old boys pack for camp in the middle of winter, pastors take new calls, and churches welcome new pastors. Something inside of us is willing to trust God with what comes next— remembering that, while nothing is perfect, we need each other and love is always worth it.