A Prayer for Sunday (John of Damascus)

john-of-damascusOne of the greatest theologians of the early church, John of Damascus is viewed by many as the last of the church fathers. (This of course depends greatly on how you define the “church fathers.”) He was born in Syria as Yuhanna ibn Mansur ibn Sargun and was one of the earliest and most influential theologians to live and write entirely under Muslim rule. His writings on theology, law, and philosophy influenced thinkers in both the east and the west, and he is particularly famous for his defense of religious icons against those who wanted to remove all images from Christian churches (i.e. the iconoclasts).

The details of John’s life are somewhat uncertain, and we don’t even know the date of his death for sure. But the traditional date of his passing is December 4, 749. So in honor of his amazing life and ministry, today’s prayer comes from him.

O Lord and Master Jesus Christ, our God,
who alone hath power to forgive the sins of men,
do thou, O Good One who lovest mankind,
forgive all the sins that I have committed
…….in knowledge or in ignorance,
and make me worthy to receive without condemnation
…….thy divine, glorious, immaculate and life-giving Mysteries;
not unto punishment or unto increase of sin;
but unto purification, and sanctification
…….and a promise of thy Kingdom and the Life to come;
as a protection and a help to overthrow the adversaries,
…….and to blot out my many sins.
For thou art a God of Mercy and compassion
…….and love toward mankind,
and unto Thee we ascribe glory
…….together with the Father and the Holy Spirit;
now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
Amen

Flotsam and jetsam (11/6)

Yep, that's pretty much why I don't watch local news.
Yep, that's pretty much why I don't watch local news.
Yep, that’s pretty much why I don’t watch local news.

Good Reads

  • Hell Links and Lessons: To finish up my eschatology class yesterday, I took my students on a tour of the best articles on the Internet on the subject of Hell. Here are some of the links and lessons we drew from these posts. (David Murray)
  • Biblical Adoption Is Not What You Think It Is: In adoption, the adoptee got a new identity. His old obligations and debts were wiped out, and new obligations were assumed. From the standpoint of the family religion, the adoptee became the same person as the adopter. (Christianity Today)

[Read more…]

Flotsam and jetsam (12/4)

Because-Im-Smart-685x513

Because-Im-Smart-685x513

Good Reads

  • Seven Ways Pastoring Has Changed in Thirty Years: We are out of clichés about change or the pace of change. Sometimes we forget how much particular vocations have changed in a short time. In fact, in thirty years pastoring has changed in ways we likely would have never predicted or imagined. (Thom Rainer)
  • Jesus Pushed the Elf Off the Shelf: As the traditions of the holidays swirl around my children, my hope is that they will learn to distinguish the law from the gospel. I want my kids to know that God is not another Santa Claus. I long for them to embrace the fact that they are not capable of being good enough to receive anything but coal in their stockings and that our hope for goodness can only be found in the only One capable of perfection. (Liberate)
  • When Do We Cross the Line into Plagiarism? Preachers today feel under much more pressure to be spectacular than they used to feel. Christians are much less likely to be loyal to a church of a particular place or a particular theological tradition. What they want is to have a great experience on Sunday, and that means they will travel to get to the most gifted preachers. When you put this pressure together with (a) a busy week in which you haven’t felt able to prepare well, and (b) the accessibility of so much sermon material through the internet—the temptation to simply repreach someone else’s sermon is very strong.

[Read more…]

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

stargazing (275x389)

Sometimes you just need to put the book down, step away from the computer, and give yourself some space to be awed again by how amazing God is.

night sky (550x308)

As Walt Whitman said in his famous poem about astronomy and the wonder of the universe:

When I heard the learn’d astronomer;

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

……………..~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1900

Whitman is, of course, talking about the danger of focusing so much on the data of science that we miss the mystery and wonder of the universe itself. How much more is this true for those who seek to know God himself.

Take this as a timely reminder to let yourself be awed by him today.

[Read more…]