A Model to Follow

John 13:1-15

The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet.

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

Period.

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Walking the Jesus Walk

St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

I began the Spiritual Exercises today and while I’m fearful of the unknown, I’m drawn by poetic prayers like this. They cut right to my core and say something beautiful and profound. Serving Christ as He deserves is to carry the cross with him. To give of oneself without condition or reservation. This is a very dangerous theology. It rebukes the pragmatism and cynicism and nihilism in this world. No wonder Ignatius was arrested by the Spanish Inquisition!

I’m excited about the journey.

Why I am a Christian

Because I love Jesus.

That is the only real answer. The End…and The Beginning as well. Alpha and Omega.

Continue reading

Putting the Discipline in Discipleship

This Sunday my pastor gave a great homily on the Scripture readings entitled “Where’s the Fruit?” in homage to the classic “Where’s the Beef” commercial.  It struck me how Jesus could be militant about being un-militant.  We begin with the parable of the Tree that Did Not Bear Fruit:

And [Jesus] told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.’”

Ouch!  The penalty is steep for not bearing fruit.  It seemed like another toned down hellfire and brimstone kind of message, until Father brought up some apropos Scripture in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians Chapter 5:

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

So we, as Christians, should bear this fruit: we should be loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.  Otherwise, we get cut down.  Wow.  That’s a stark image.  It seems to paint God as harsh and judging, and indeed Jesus was definitely in the “Repent! The judgment of God is at hand” mode.  But think on this.  I’ve always found God to be in the rules, “the laws,” of our universe, i.e. 2 + 2 = 4 or F = ma or opposite charges attract.  So what would be the destiny of a people who are hateful, joyless, war-like, impatient, unkind, miserly, deceitful, violent, and unruly?

Spiritual Re-up

This week my father and I went on retreat to rest and refresh our souls this weekend. It was my second time and I invited my father to come along this time. Our retreat group’s focus is on building spiritual lives of men, esp. fathers and sons. My father and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience together of taking time to stop, look, and listen. To give you a good sense of what we try to stop, look, and listen to, see the “Imperatives of Jesus” from the Handbook of Spiritual Exercises. They are good questions to consider. Continue reading

Back to Life

A friend asked me if I believed in the resurrection.  I’ve been uncomfortable with saying “Yes” because I’m skeptical of the somewhat weak explanations I’ve heard.  I’m also uncomfortable with saying “No” because I’ve always believed in my heart of hearts that there is something to it.  In other words, I believe in the Resurrection but have not the words to describe it in a way that I feel is honest. Continue reading

Why I’m not into Elephants

Are African-Americans ready to embrace the GOP? Part 2

Jeff Booker, who is currently on the Gloucester Township GOP committee and previously served as the Executive Director of Camden County GOP (2002-04) stated, “I believe that the GOP is the party that exemplifies responsibility, small government, liberty, and self-determination. Younger blacks are becoming Republican because they see the negative affect of a large out of control government can be. As you get older, people start to change their views. We are starting to see suspicion in the local Democratic Party. However, our party has not done a good job of recruiting people of color and I am apart [sic] of the effort to do better.”

via Examiner.com.

First let me say Jeff is a good friend and I respect him and his choice to be a Republican.  Even more I applaud his efforts to recruit better.  I have long been suspicious of the party because of it’s deplorable track record regarding race and it’s loud and showy “Christianity” that is short on the values that Jesus taught.  Having said that, GOP ideology when reduced to core principles that can flexibly be expressed in policy are compatible with mine which are generally center left.  If a GOP candidate focused on the following, which generally deals with how the GOP could handle race and religion, I wouldn’t rule out voting for them.  (Hey, after the 2008 campaign where Palinites were shouting, “KILL HIM!” that’s the best I can do.)

  1. You Can Be Tough on Crime…Equally – By the DOJ’s own statistics, blacks in the system face a stacked deck from drug war laws that give poor, lower level criminals longer sentences than the kingpins who supply them to the unequal sentencing of the death penalty to police brutality and murder and racial profiling.
  2. You Have to Have a Job to Have Your Taxes to Cut – It has been scientifically proven that a black man with a clean job history has less of a chance of getting hired than a white ex-con…in New York City.  And that’s in a blue, blue, blue state.  Imagine the red states where the GOP dominates.  You don’t have to be for Affirmative Action.  Craft a policy such as class based affirmative action, that you can prove benefits poor black folks and that your ideology can support.  Bougie Negroes like Jeff and I might not benefit, but so what?  AA wasn’t supposed to be for us anyway!
  3. Come Clean about a Racist Past and THEN Move On (no pun intended) – Ever since Nixon first employed the infamous Southern Strategy, the GOP has used the racial fears and racism in white voters to win elections from Willie Horton to Barack “HUSSEIN” Obama.  And despite Ken Mehlman’s apology to the NAACP, I have not seen any serious attempt to change this.  Painting Obama as an Arab/Muslim was a clear example of this.  Stop providing joy and comfort to racists.  And be public about it.  We don’t trust you otherwise.  It’s that simple.
  4. Know What Christian Values Are and Live Them– Jesus was very specific on being anti-death penalty (John 8:2-11), lending without expectation of repayment (Luke 6:35), giving generously to the poor and uplifting them (Luke 6:20, 18:22), turning the other cheek (Luke 6:29), blessing our enemies (Luke 6:28), providing care to the sick (Matthew 25:34-40), praying in private (Matthew 6:5-6), and visiting prisoners (Matthew 25:34-40).  The party really needs to reconsider it’s pro-war, pro-death penalty, pro-prison, public prayer, anti-poor, anti-healthcare policies before you can claim a lock on Christian values (Matthew 25:41-46).  I mean, really!  (Luke 6:46-49)

So if the party can produce a candidate that seriously deals with the four points above, I don’t see why plenty of black people wouldn’t consider the party myself included.