Monday, January 14, 2013

Links that lift up Christian hope in the midst of suffering

I am putting together several excellent links for Monday reading.

Before all our Christmas thoughts are totally forgotten here is a link to theologian Ben Witherington’s bog and his thoughts about Christmas of 2012 after losing his daughter just a few weeks after Christmas of 2011. His loss lifts up a Christian’s grief, yet is filled with the hope and faith that truly belongs to the ones who belong to Jesus Christ. The title is: “Seeing Christmas with new eyes.” After explaining that his daughter had died and that he was looking at Christmas through different eyes he writes:

Our Christy girl will be celebrating Christmas with the saints above this year. My father got there before she did, and my grand parents long before that. They know far better than I do that the primary family is the family of faith, the everlasting family of which Christ is the head. Any other kind of family is temporal and temporary. So I have resolved to see Christmas this year as not a revisiting of family affairs of the Witheringtons but rather a celebration of family affairs which began in a manger in Bethlehem.

The Christian celebration of Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with paganism, or the feast of the winter solstice on December 21 (wrong day anyway) or Saturnalia. It has to do with the celebration of the coming of the Christ child into this world sometime between 2-6 B.C. to form a forever family of followers. And I am thankful to be a part of that number. The name which I bear that matters most and is everlasting is Christian, not Witherington, however much I may be proud to be a Witherington.

Jared Wilson at The Gospel Driven Church wrote a posting which I think is golden in its approach, As It Gets Worse, It Cannot Get Desperate. Although Wilson does not say so directly I believe he was urged on by the event of Louie Giglio being pushed aside after being picked by the president to pray at his inauguration. Here is one of his exceptional lines, “But cheer up. The worst thing they can do is kill us (Matthew 10:28). And we all know what Jesus does with dead stuff.”

Another great section is:
Christ the Lord sustains the universe by his powerful word, he declares the end from the beginning, he laughs kings to scorn, he walks on the storms, he stirs the mighty seas, he makes the mountains his footstool, he brims with sovereign glory from everlasting to everlasting. He is God.And so:
 Will we bear the derision and disgrace? Yes, and count it wealth (Hebrews 11:26). Will we suffer the plundering of our property? Yes, and count it joy (Hebrews 10:34). Will we suffer division in our families and communities? Yes, and count it worthiness of Christ (Matthew 10:37).
 Last but not least, I discovered a Catholic blog, "God and the Machine," written by Thomas L. McDonald, who writes of himself:

 I’m a Catholic revert, catechist, theologian-in-training, tech reporter, religion reporter, author, editor, gamer, husband, father, traditional conservative, Distributist, medievalist, Ratzingerian, Augustinian, chicken-owner, newt-fancier, and some other things I forget at the moment.

So there is a lot of technical information on his blog but how I discovered him is through his interest in poetry. He has a posting on Adelaide Procter a Catholic and Victorian poet who was a friend of Charles Dickens. He has two poems by her and notes that one will do well for today. I will place it here:

by Adelaide Procter

OH, mighty Mother, hearken! for thy foes
Gather around thee, and exulting cry
That thine old strength is gone and thou must die,
Pointing with fierce rejoicing to thy woes.
And is it so? The raging whirlwind blows
No stronger now than it has done of yore:
Rebellion, strife, and sin have been before;
The same companions whom thy Master chose.
We too rejoice: we know thy might is more
When to the world thy glory seemeth dim;
Nor can Hell’s gates prevail to conquer Thee,
Who hearest over all the voice of Him
Who chose thy first and greatest Prince should be
A fisher on the Lake of Galilee.

Of course with the last part I thought not of Peter but of Christ the Carpenter (He is both the Lord and prince of the church). But for me the important part is that God choose all his church from those who are sinful and often trembling. But in faith, we look beyond this day knowing Christ's redemption, promises and coming.

Picture by Ron Andersen

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