I have used In-Formatio on and off for a few years. Now that I have a number of other projects in process, this blog is going on hiatus.
Feel free to keep reading the posts, but some of my newer work is at:
I happened across a mention that today on the Roman Catholic calendar that today is the remembrance for the 26 Martyrs of Japan.
I spent five years serving the church in Japan, and one of my most memorable trips was my pilgrimage to Nagasaki one December. I had been to Hiroshima a couple of times prior to that but wanted to visit the other city of WWII infamy. I learned more than I expected on that trip.
To this day, Nagasaki has a large population of Christian citizens and is full of churches, and museums of its Christian past. The most touching part of my trip to Nagasaki was visiting the site where 26 men and boys were martyred in 1597. Their story is quite compelling.
They were captured near Kyoto, marched through Kobe (where I lived) and over 600 miles to Nagasaki where they were hung on crucifixes. Their deaths were witnessed by a large Catholic communion in that city. Those killings were the beginning of a period of persecution of Christians that lasted until the late 1860?s in Japan. The church went under ground for nearly 300 years, and when missionaries reurned, they found elements of the faith still alive.
A couple of readings-
O God our Father, who art the source of strength to all thy saints, and who didst bring the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith that we profess, even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Can you remember when your life was transformed?
Not all of us have the conversion story of Paul. Most were not struck down blind, and most did not turn from despicable lives to the narrow way. Many of us have white-bread stories that we are almost embarrassed about when confronted by our more evangelical neighbors.
But transformation and conversion happen…even if they don’t come in bright and sparkly packages. I can point to the lawyer whose life turned around because of her work with orphans. Or, the young executive who had never studied the Bible until he was nearly 40 (though he had attended church all of his life). The secular woman who grew up in a Buddhist country that decided Jesus had something important to say to her life.
I can point to dozens of people who discovered that the poor in their community are to be loved and cherished. I know people who have showed up in church, taken the bread and cup fir the first time, and knew that they wanted to do this the rest of their life.
Every day, people meet Jesus on the Road to Damascus, but to them it looks more like Elm Street.
We are all blessed by their experiences.
Conversion of Paul (my post from last year)
We are now in the season after the Epiphany on the liturgical calendar. It began following January 6th and will continue until Ash Wednesday (February 13). It is a short season, since Easter comes earlier this year, but the season never fails to bring up interesting topics in the lectionary and never fails to focus our thoughts on what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Next Sunday (January 13th) is known as Baptism of the Lord Sunday, and we get to meet John the Baptizer again (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22). We will get to contemplate what our baptism means to us, and to reconsider the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
The next Sunday (January 20th), the Gospel Lesson is John 2:1-11, the first miracle of Jesus. If Jesus can turn water into wine, what do you think he can do with us?
And on the last Sunday of January (January 27th) the Gospel Lesson is of Jesus preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:14-21). His sermon is short, he lets the reading from Isaiah speak for itself. And that is generally enough to stir up a congregation. Read on in that chapter and his hometown folks are ready to kill him.
May the light of Christ lead you through the days ahead. May Christ’s revelation to the world, be more revealed to you, and in you…
There are plenty of resources for Watch Night in the Methodist tradition. Over the years as a pastor, I have used the Covenant Service on several occasions, on New Year’s Eve, the first Sunday of the New Year, on other special occasions. My favorite services were those on New Year’s. It is that countercultural element to being in worship on the brink of a New Year that makes sense to me.
Below is a version of the Covenant portion of the service to reflect upon as we enter 2013:
Sisters and brothers in Christ,
let us again accept our place within this
covenant which God has made with us and with all
who are called to be Christ’s disciples.
This means that, by the help of the Holy
Spirit, we accept God’s purpose for us,
and the call to love and serve God
in all our life and work.
Christ has many services to be done:
some are easy, others are difficult;
some bring honour, others bring reproach;
some are suitable to our natural inclinations
and material interests,
others are contrary to both;
in some we may please Christ and please
ourselves; in others we cannot please Christ except by
Yet the power to do all these things is given
to us in Christ, who strengthens us.
Therefore let us make this covenant of God
our own. Let us give ourselves to him,
trusting in his promises and relying on his
in your faithful and enduring love
you call us to share in your gracious
covenant in Jesus Christ.
In obedience we hear and accept your
in love we seek to do your perfect will;
with joy we offer ourselves anew to you.
We are no longer our own but yours.
I am no longer my own but yours.
Your will, not mine, be done in all things,
wherever you may place me,
in all that I do
and in all that I may endure;
when there is work for me
and when there is none;
when I am troubled
and when I am at peace.
Your will be done
when I am valued
and when I am disregarded;
when I find fulfilment
and when it is lacking;
when I have all things,
and when I have nothing.
I willingly offer
all I have and am
to serve you,
as and where you choose.
Glorious and blessèd God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
May it be so for ever.
Let this covenant now made on earth
be fulfilled in heaven. Amen.
It is one of three red letter days in the week after Christmas–December 27 (Stephen), 28 (John), 29 (Holy Innocents). The remembrance of martyrs immediately following the Nativity remind us that this baby Jesus we celebrate was born into a real world, full of pain and death. And, it is a reminder to all of us that when we put our trust in the Christ Child, we will experience reality–sometimes its more real than we want.
It is a feast day for the community that I have been associated with for several years now. A Benedictine, Anglican group in Boston- The Society of St. John the Evangelist. Since becoming associated as a member of their dispersed fellowship, I have grown in my faith and have developed some holy disciplines that have been central to my life. When I was not working in the church, my community reminded me that I was in ministry every day, and that what I was called to be about Kingdom business. Now that I am back working in the church, they are a reminder that at the heart of all ministry is an ongoing relationship with God, and with others who are seeking the Kingdom Life.
Today, I pause and remember the Son of Thunder who left it all and followed Jesus on a journey that changed history, and our lives forever.
Shed upon your Church, O Lord, the brightness of your light; that we, being illumined by the teaching of your apostle and evangelist John, may so walk in the light of your truth, that at length we may attain to the fullness of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.