The Lord of the Rings and the Lenten Journey

The Lord of the Rings and the Lenten Journey

Most journeys are in quest of something.

Indiana Jones, Christopher Columbus, and Peter Pan are all in classic journey stories. A journey story basically features a character who wants something and overcomes obstacles to get it. We travel with them and intersect our imaginations with theirs. This is what makes journey stories interesting.

My friend Phil Ryken, President of Wheaton College, wrote a paper reflecting on the journey of Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. He was comparing it to the tri-fold ministry of Jesus as prophet, priest, and king.

[Read more…]

Ash Wednesday Oddness

Ash Wednesday Oddness

Maybe it was the red-eye flight from Phoenix last night. Maybe it was going from 80 degree sunshine to 20 degree spitting snow. Or maybe it was a 1:00 am bedtime after the late flight, or the lack of enough caffeine to jump start the day. Or maybe it was the outcome in New Hampshire as the drama of the year moves south to the Carolinas. Or maybe it was reading Psalm 51 and having ashes smeared on my forehead in chapel this morning on this Ash Wednesday.

[Read more…]

Branded for Death: Reflections on Ash Wednesday and Lent

Branded for Death: Reflections on Ash Wednesday and Lent

I did not observe Ash Wednesday and Lent until later in life. There was only one Catholic Church in my hometown, and I actually do not recall knowing a Roman Catholic my age. Giving up something for Lent was more like the run-up to a punch line, or a silly comment made regarding a new diet. I was in my 30s before I saw a human with ashes smudged on their forehead.

My introduction to Lent started with the task of preaching. I’ve always preached series of sermons, mostly through a book of the Bible. And leading up to Easter, I normally selected one of the gospels to take us toward the resurrection. It began to be a pattern. The more I came to grasp what Lent meant, the more I understood the rhythm of the Christian calendar and the need for us to live into the Christian story.

[Read more…]

Faithful to the Promise

Faithful to the Promise

One of my favorite words in the Bible is the Hebrew word chesed. It is the term for covenant faithfulness, loyalty. I always talk about chesed at weddings. A relationship is beginning that will be severely tested. I want the couple to know that God is establishing chesed between them. It means that each of them has the right to expect certain behavior from the other in light of the promises they are making on this day.

[Read more…]