THE NATURE OF OUR DISBELIEF

Psalm 46
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

To Believe

To Believe

You read the title and you think,
“What does he mean?
I believe!
I have faith!
Hey, I’m in church today,
and if I wasn’t a Christian
I’d be somewhere else!”
Calling oneself a Christian and being in church
is not the kind of faith
of which I am writing.
There is the kind of faith
that speaks for the spiritual path you follow—
Buddhist, Judaism, Hindi, Islam, Christian, Atheist.
That’s your faith system.
Your faith-language, so to speak.
The kind of faith of which I am writing
is about our stance as Christians
before the exigencies
of our lives
and before God.
I assume we,
here in this congregation,
because we have chosen to
follow the Way of Jesus,
are Christians.
This kind of faith is
more akin to having
trust, certitude, assuredness, expectation, anticipation
of God’s help
in our tough situations.
This faith is us standing
“fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,”
awaiting God’s saving actions
in our times of
extreme, and
not-so-extreme troubles.
So when I title this,
“The Nature of Our Disbelief,”
I assume
that most of us,
to some degree or another,
pull back from this kind of faith.
We can measure
the nature of our disbelief by
the level of fear we
feel when things are going bad for us.
In the early 1970s
I sat on the edge of a 1,000 foot cliff
with my legs dangling over the edge.
I heard a strange sound
and looked around,
then down
to see an airplane flying below me.
The pilot waved up at me,
and I pulled back my legs
and scooched back
to a safer place to sit.
I could have believed in,
had faith in,
the rock of the cliff,
but I didn’t,
and that was the nature of my disbelief.
What’s yours?

BLESSING AND NAMING

A Place to Wrestle with God

A Place to Wrestle with God

Genesis 32:22-32
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

To wrestle with God and win.
Then Jacob, a name that means,
heel-grabber, or supplanter,
gets renamed, Israel, or God-Wrestler.
The place gets named,
Peniel, or God’s Face,
The new Israel gets a dislocated hip,
a permanent limp,
and the Israelites
never again eat hip muscle.
Names, names, names.
It makes me wonder
just how powerful are our names?
Not our given names,
but the actual naming we do.
We call ourselves names.
We call others names.
We are rarely complimentary with
the names we call ourselves—
DUMMY, IDIOT, FOOL, NITWIT—
and these are the nice ones.
It seems, though,
that names have power,
and the act of naming
has the power to change
the character of someone.
Jacob was a thief.
He stole Esau’s blessing.
Jacob became Israel.
One who wrestled with God.
What power
do we give to negative outcome,
and what power
do we actually unleash
in the naming we do?
I wonder
if we could actually
change the quality of our lives
if we began
renaming ourselves
in positive terms and adjectives.
What do you think?
What will yo do?

WE ALL WANT THE HEALING

John 5:1-9
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

We All Want the Healing

We All Want the Healing

We all want the healing.
Some of us are proactive
and do what it takes to get it.
Some of us dream about it.
Many of us lounge around
but never quite do anything about it.
We want magic.
We dream of miracles.
We hope for some outside force.
We convince ourselves
it probably isn’t for us after all,
because we either
just don’t want to do the work,
or we can’t actually believe it could happen.
Many of us claim to believe
when we actually don’t.
I’ve heard it said,
“Don’t pray for what you are
unwilling to do the work
to make happen.”
There are many who would
quit praying
if they thought it meant
that they had to get involved—
dirty their hands.
How about you?
Is there something that inhibits healing for you?
What then will you do about it?

LOVE, SEX, BOOZE

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

For the Feast

For the Feast

Love, sex. booze.
You are thinking–
HUH? In a sermon?
A man living with his father’s wife…
Conjugal rights,
rules about marriage…
Lawsuits and fraud among believers…
Starvation at the communion table…
Drunkenness during the Lord’s Supper…
And a long disquisition
concerning the nature of love…
WHEW, Paul, WOW!!!
Paul has moments of insight
and then it seems,
he sometimes goes off the rails.
Paul wants order in his churches.
He wants he considers to be
Christian behavior and decorum.
Paul wants a lot of things he is not getting.
It seems what Paul does a lot is
something we 21st Century-ers do often, ourselves—
confuse emotional comfort
and social mores with
the rules of Christianity
and what Jesus actually wants.
We’ll discover that a lot as we read Paul.
Paul seems to confuse
his way
with the
Way of Jesus.
And it is up to us
to sort out his rants
the discover what is
actually germane for our own time,
There are some things
in his rants
to which we need to pay attention.
For instance about the Rule of Love.
This is, for Paul,
the guideline,
the watermark,
for how we are to treat each other—
in and out of church.
Much of what he carries on
about make sense
after we understand
that the special kind of love
he presents IS the rule.
I should point out that
it is as dangerous
to try and force Paul
into our present ideologies
as it is to try and force
our ideologies into Paul’s
notions of correctitude.
This is why the Rule of Love
he presents is so important.
Not only because it is always
the time and place for the love
of which Paul writes,
and this love does indeed,
win,
but the love he is describing
is actually a metaphor
for Jesus.
The one
to whom Paul had
dedicated the rest of his life.