Covid

It’s hard to avoid talking about Covid in an update when you recently had the virus. 

I recently sick and after three or four days of being sick with fevers and chills and lying in bed most of the day, I suspected it might be Covid. I went to a local hospital to get a test, which was a little uncomfortable, but quick. I got results the next day and was surprised it came back negative. However, I had begun to experience some pain in my chest and had shortness of breath, which made me doubt the accuracy of the test. I also had headaches, fatigue, and strangely, sensitive teeth. So for now I’m assuming it really was Covid.

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Rules and Religion

The religions of the world have at least one thing in common – rules. Rules, laws, and regulations all provide a neat system of things we ought to do and things we ought to avoid. They help keep everybody on the same page and moving towards a shared goal. A common rule fosters unity. And when we speak of improving our lives and becoming better people, it is easiest to follow a set of rules. So often we want to boil it down to identifying exactly where the line is that we must not cross. When it comes to religion, rules are king. 

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The Testimony of John the Baptist

John the Baptist was a herald. He was designated to run ahead and proclaim the One who was coming. Most obviously, John accomplished his task by preaching about repentance and baptizing people. And when Jesus stepped onto the stage, John stepped up to the crowd, pointed to Jesus, and announced his presence. Yet, even in his death, John was a herald of the kind of death that Jesus would die. 

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Forget Not His Benefits

I feel like I’m writing a lot about thankfulness in these updates. Maybe it’s because if I don’t count the blessings, all the Covid-related negativity will take over. Whatever the reason, I’m looking back at the last month and feeling grateful. 

At the turn of the new year, a lot of us were quite happy to be done with 2020, and with good reason. But so far 2021 is not shaping up to be much better. The future remains quite uncertain and it is not a feeling we particularly enjoy. We are used to the freedom of being able to hop on a plane and travel anywhere in the world. Now, we are being told not to cross the street to visit our own family. And when will it end? Who knows. 

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Death in the Face of Life

When I was in my mid-teens I heard a sermon on the story of Jesus healing the demon-possessed man in the region of the Gerasenes. I think I remember two or three sermons from that time in my life, so it is striking that this sermon stuck with me. I do not know exactly what it was about the sermon that made it so memorable, but I think it had something to do with the way it captured my imagination. If I am correct, the sermon was titled “D-Day at the Decapolis” and the preacher drew parallels between the Allied forces invading the beaches of Normandy and Jesus invading the beaches of the Decapolis. 

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The Parable of the Seed

We are familiar with the parable of the sower, which is in fact about the soil, but Jesus also told a parable about the seed. In Mark’s gospel we read:

 “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:26-29
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The Year That Was

Here we are once again at the end of one year and standing on the precipice of the next. This transition from what has been to what will be, gives us the opportunity for reflection – to look back on the year that was and try to make some sense of it. Where has God been at work? What have we learned that we can carry with us into the coming year?

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At the Sinners Table

The teachers of the law couldn’t believe it. As they were passing by Levi’s house, they noticed a crowd had gathered inside and were sharing a meal together. It was a crowd of “those people” – tax collectors, thieves, prostitutes and the like. Habitual sinners who had abandoned loyalty to the nation of Israel and were ignorant of the religious laws. The teachers of the law shook their heads in disapproval and were about to continue on their way when they noticed some of Jesus’ disciples mixed in among those crowded around Levi’s table. When they did a double take, they caught sight of Jesus himself, sitting next to the tax collector. Their eyes grew as wide as dinner plates and they looked at one another in disbelief. What was Rabbi Jesus doing in the company of sinners? Didn’t he care about his reputation? Didn’t he realize these people were spiritually unclean?

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