Arguing with a Madman

Arguing with a Madman

Long ago I learned an important principle regarding communication.   Mathematically stated, the effectiveness of our communication is inversely proportional to the number of communication devices we employ.   Put more simply, the more we talk, the less we communicate.  The problem is not new.  Scripture addresses the danger of idle words and of speaking more than we listen.   Scripture also warns us against the trap of Job who “multiplied words without wisdom.” (Job 38:2)   Yet we fail to heed this warning in our zeal for a good rant.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, messaging, email, Skype and all the tributary feeds that flow into the ocean of expression, more often than not, lead to a drought of actual conversation.  Social critic and communication theorist, Neil Postman prophetically warned of this long ago.

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.”
― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

While syndicated news outlets have always led with a bias, most news is now presented, not by an anchorman, but by an angry forum of verbal combatants – an art form that culture at large emulates through social media.   Entertainment, not expression, is now the aim, as public discourse is replaced with the arguments of madmen.   Social critic, G. K. Chesterton, noted the futility of arguing with a madman.

“If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by clarity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.” —G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (New York: John Lane Co., 1909), p. 32

And so, we live in a world awash with outrageous claims and inflammatory statements.   Faced with the daunting challenge of distilling fact from fiction out of the mash, we may be tempted to believe everything or nothing.   But among all the outrageous claims, what if there is life giving truth?  What if there is truth we cannot live without?

No man made more outrageous claims that Jesus Christ.   He shocked the men of his hometown, by claiming to be the Messiah.  He challenged the religious leaders to point out a single one of his sins.  He pushed the limits with his disciples, commanding them to love enemies and offer unlimited forgiveness to offensive brothers.   But no claim of Jesus was more outrageous than his claim that “I and the Father are one.  He who has seen me has seen the Father.”   Jesus did not claim merely to be God’s servant, or God’s prophet.  He did not claim to be “a son of God,” but “The Son of God.”  Despite the best efforts of Arian heretics to erase Jesus’ claims to divinity, the Scriptures claim pervasively and decisively that Jesus is fully God and fully man.   Men who seek some value in Jesus as a mere man and moral example, but disbelieve his outrageous claim to deity must face C. S. Lewis’ scathing critique.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else He would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.  — C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

Jesus did not come to point out the way, the truth, or the life, but to be the way, the truth and the life.  This demands that he be both fully human and fully divine.  The Heidelberg Catechism, a time-tested set of questions and answers drawn from Scripture, explains why this is necessary.

Q16. Why must [Our Redeemer] be a true and sinless man?  Because the justice of God requires, that the same human nature which has sinned should make satisfaction for sin; but no man, being himself a sinner, could satisfy for others

Q17. Why must He be at the same time true God? That by the power of His Godhead He might bear in His manhood the burden of God’s wrath and so obtain for and restore to us righteousness and life. 

Join us this Sunday, December 8 as we examine John 1:1-18 and consider the indications, implications and invitations to us that arise from the truth Jesus full divinity.   We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.

Looking for Something More

Looking for Something More

My father delighted in drama.  He was an avid story-teller who knew how to create suspense.   He masterfully drew listeners to the precipice of a story’s climax.  He was often called upon to speak publicly, especially at celebratory or ceremonial occasions.  With carefully chosen words, he lent gravity and significance to every proceeding, no matter how small or common. The natural drama that surrounds the holiday season especially primed my father’s pump.

Christmas Eve brought convergence to my father’s love of suspense.  Before bed, we set out chocolate pie for Santa.   Then Daddy would pull out his giant reel-to-reel recorder and conduct interviews with my sisters and me. With a news reporter’s demeanor, he would conduct his man-on-the-street interview, probing our expectations for the day ahead.  As we prepared for bed, he scanned across oceans of static on his transistor radio for reports from NORAD about an unidentified inbound object over the Bering Sea.  We were never sure which was imminent – Santa Claus or nuclear holocaust?   Every detail of the evening was calculated to create suspense by asking the same question.  “When we wake in the morning, if we wake, will we encounter wonder or disappointment?”

My father knew this was never a settled question for me.  He knew that sometime in the night, I would wake and slip, as noiselessly as an eight year-old can, into the living room where all things Christmas were contained. He knew I would investigate the pie plate then the wing-back chair which was the designated landing spot for the evidence of my goodness in the preceding year.  The pie plate looked like a crime scene and in the chair were many good things, but not every good thing.  Something was always missing.   The big item on my list – that something more — was never there.   Even as he slept, my father created suspense.

In the morning after Santa’s gifts were examined and family gifts were exchanged, just as my mother was getting up to begin lunch preparations, my father would notice something out of place, stuck in an unused corner or fallen behind some furniture.  With great fanfare and musings of “what is this” and “where did that come from,” he produced ‘something more.’

Christmas is often a season which leaves us looking for something more.  Our expectations are high, but our celebrations rarely deliver everything we seek.  And even when we take to heart Linus’ words to Charlie Brown that Christmas is about the birth of a Savior, we are left wondering what type of Savior He is.  Is He a mere teacher, who increased the demands of the law from mere outward conformity, to the perfect obedience of heart, mind, soul and strength?  Is He a mere example, come to demonstrate to us how to love and sacrifice for one another?  Is He a revolutionary who incites us to throw off convention and tradition?  Or should we look for something more?

The men of Jesus’ day were asking these same questions.  As the popularity of John the Baptist grew, a delegation of religious leaders questioned him about his identity. While they were busy comparing John with their own expectations, John provoked them to look for something more — more than a political and religious radical, but one who was God and Man, the Coming King of Kings, and the Lamb of God who takes away sin.   John pointed them not to one who could teach them about deliverance, but who alone could deliver them.   What kind of Savior are you looking for?

The Heidelberg Catechism, a time-tested set of questions and answers designed to teach the basics of the Christian faith,  prepares us to ask this question.  By pointing out saviors who can’t save, it asks.

Q15. What manner of mediator and redeemer then must we seek? A: One who is a true and sinless man, and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is at the same time true God. 

Join us this Sunday, November 24 as we examine John 1:19-34 and consider what type of Savior we are seeking and to what we are pointing others.   We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.

Count Down

Count Down

Our vacation to Melbourne Beach, Florida was filled with expected and unexpected high points.  The beach, the weather, the manatees, and our hosts’ phenomenal hospitality were all amazing.  But among the unexpected high points were the nesting sea turtles, viewing the construction site for SpaceX’s Starship and visiting the American Space Museum and Space Walk of Fame.   With its awkwardly long name and very small building, on a quiet side street in Titusville, Florida, the American Space Museum and Space Walk of Fame did not seem very promising at first glance.  Oh, how wrong that assessment proved to be!

The museum’s collection of NASA artifacts and memorabilia is prodigious, but its greatest treasures are its volunteers, many of whom were career NASA employees.   Their depth of knowledge, experience, and perspective about all things NASA was worth any price of admission.   You quickly discover that these unassuming docents are retired rocket scientists and electrical engineers.  Even some of the guests had remarkable stories.  One woman we met designed and fabricated the heat tiles, as well as the heat resistant quilted lining, for the STS (Space Shuttle) vehicles.

An entire room was required to house the carefully restored  computer used to synchronize the countdown for all the Saturn V and Atlas rocket launches.  After all, nothing is more essential to a rocket launch than the countdown.   But countdowns not only sequence the details of a rocket launch.  They also conduct and heighten expectations surrounding the important events of our lives.

As a child, once Halloween had passed, I could give anyone who asked an accurate countdown to Christmas.  Even now in our family, the beloved Advent calendar is an important part of our Christmas décor and observance.  But in all the excitement of counting down the days to Christmas are we preparing ourselves as much for the reality of the Incarnation as we do for the remembrance of it?

It is easy to confuse the remembrance with the realities of the great mystery of Christ manifest in the flesh.   Perhaps this is why so often when December 25 passes, a sense of unfulfillment and drear settles upon us.  We vested confidence in the celebration and not the thing celebrated.  Then predictably it fails to deliver. And our holiday peace, hope, and joy get stored away in the attic with the lights and greenery.

God spent thousands of years preparing mankind for the coming of Christ.   The countdown begins in the book of Genesis.  Even as God was pronouncing the curse of the Fall, He was also promising a redeemer.  He gave the people sacrifices and law and ceremony, designed to teach them how salvation would be provided — ceremonies that painted a vivid picture of sins curse and its cure.  Yet these ceremonies had no power to save through mere religious observance.   So, scripture warns about the insufficiency of mere creatures to save.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  Hebrews 10:1-4

And again,

… you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Men predictably confused faith in the promise with faith in the practice.  Just as we often confuse celebration with substance, and remembrances with realities, God’s ancient people put their hope for redemption in mere creatures rather than in the Redeemer, God had promised.   Our Heidelberg Catechism warns us not to follow their ruinous example when it asks.

Can any mere creature make satisfaction for us?  None: for first, God will not punish, in any other creature, that of which man has made himself guilty; and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin, and redeem others therefrom.  Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 5, Question 14.

The countdown is on.  Christmas is a little more than 5 weeks away.  What are you preparing for?  Are you preparing for the reality of the Incarnation, or trusting merely in annual remembrance to provide peace, joy and hope? Join us this Sunday, November 17 as we examine Hebrews 10:1-18 and consider the danger of seeking redemption from created things, including our holidays, traditions, religious observance, celebrations or family.     We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.

Sad Songs

Sad Songs

Why is it that the music that grips our souls is filled with sorrow and brokenness?   Think about it.  Without these themes country and western music would disappear and Delilah’s overnight radio program would be reduced to a three-song playlist.   A happy song can lift our spirits for a moment, but a sad song resonates our whole being.   It’s images, its expressions, its vocalization of our own grief is powerful.  Happiness can be superficial, but sorrow has a rich topography – with dark, foreboding peaks and deep valleys.   Sorrow is a richly woven tapestry more common to our human experience than joy.  We can instinctively feel the truth of the Solomon’s sage observation, even though it seems counterintuitive.

It is better to go to the house of mourning
    than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
    and the living will lay it to heart.  Ecclesiastes 7:2

So, it is no wonder that the Psalms in the Bible contain many more songs of lament than songs of joy.   The Holy Spirit instructs us to lay our sorrows before a God who is not a cold, indifferent higher power, but a Heavenly Father who delights to hear cry of his children and wipe away their tears, who loves us with a depth and intensity that we can scarcely grasp.  As Calvin aptly noted, the Psalms reflect the anatomy of the soul and teach us how to exercise faith even in the midst of fear, pain and sorrow.

And Jesus, our Savior, made like us – truly human though also fully God — was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” who bears our sorrows and carries our griefs.   The depth of our character and our being is revealed more clearly in our sorrow than in our joy.   As Jesus’ sorrow is highlighted in the gospels we perceive the depth of his love for broken sinners.   He wept over the unbelief of his people.

Jeremiah demonstrated this same type of grief for the people of his day.   Often called the weeping prophet, Jeremiah’s sharp pronouncement of judgment and urgent calls to repentance are interleaved with songs of sorrow over the unbelief of his people.   Some of these are interspersed throughout his sermons while others are collected in Lamentations.

But in Jeremiah 12 we encounter another lamentation – not from the lips of Jeremiah, but from God himself.  Here we see God singing a lament over his people because of their unbelief.   It is a song that gives us a picture of the depth of God’s love – love that weathers unfaithfulness, love that holds out mercy, love that longs to restore.   To despise God’s love, grace, and salvation, to trample underfoot the blood of the covenant is to be worthy of all His wrath – yet in wrath, He remembers mercy.

From Jeremiah, we have heard of our sin and of the certainty of God’s justice.  We have heard time and time again God’s willingness to have us back, calling us to turn back from having turned backs.   But here we see His grief over our lostness and over every sin that clings so closely.  We see how he feels about us.   There is no harsh, cold, indifference.  There is no eagerness to judge and destroy.   In his love and compassion for us, he has gone to the extremity of entering into our condition in the person of Jesus, to satisfy justice and show mercy.   Our impassible God is no dispassionate God.  His love and concern for us is beyond what we can grasp.  In this passage we are called the “beloved of [His] soul.”

Not sure how God feels about you?   Join us this Sunday, October 20 to find out.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.

Tagging Along

Tagging Along

As a boy, I liked nothing better than tagging along with my dad.   Sometimes he would take me with him to work, where I would unbox and prepare typewriters for delivery, investigate the trinkets littering his desk, and eagerly anticipate lunch at Mary Mac’s Tea Room or chocolate pie on the swiveling stools at Krystal’s.  Other times we would run errands.  My father loved to run errands.  He would spend $0.50 extra in gas to save $0.22 on some small necessity.  And his car was always filled with the smell of pipe tobacco.  Borkum Riff was the smell of my childhood.  As enthusiasm for the quest waned, the last stop would reveal some small surprise just for me – never demanded, but always produced.  My joy in being with my father was never defined by our activity but our proximity.

My Saturdays were completely defined by my father’s agenda.   My absolute favorite Saturday activity was to help mow the church yard.   Mowing with the riding mower was both terrifying and exhilarating.  Navigating the board ramps into the storage room and mowing the steep bank behind the church always produced a surge of adrenaline.  My dad’s anxious expressions and “earnest” admonitions, no doubt, increased to the adrenal flow rate.   My driving produced tense moments for my father – especially when I ruptured the freon line on the church AC unit.  Yet he continued to entrust the job to me.  Being with my dad gave me a sense of my place in the world.

As I got older, however, my diverging interests and preferences made my father’s agenda less pleasurable and more drudgerous.  Nothing had changed for his part.  Yet, now his plans always seemed at variance from my own.   Activity trumped proximity.  What we did was more important to me than that fact that we were together.  My friends got to sleep in and wile away their Saturdays in sports and leisure, while my father’s plans never included those categories.   Being with my dad was no longer more important than doing what I liked.   Now he is gone and I would love to have a few more days weeding the garden, raking leaves, and running errands.  But in the foolishness of youth, following him became more of a chore than a joy.

This danger also awaits us in the Christian life.  We are called to follow Christ.  Our chief calling as Christians is defined by proximity not activity.  Wherever Christ goes and whatever He is doing, we are called to follow him in the going and the doing.  Often as young Christians our enthusiasm to be with Him overcomes the calculus of the where and the what.   Then, like Peter walking on the water, we take our eyes of Him and begin to look at the wind and the waves.  Suddenly following Him does not seem like such a good idea.

How far are you willing to follow?  What inconvenience, crisis, relationship, or circumstance will be the place where you say, “this far and no further.”  Hebrews reminds us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” And Jesus has a challenging word for the casual, conditional follower.

Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

How far will you follow?  The prophet, Jeremiah, had taken great risks to follow God’s call.  His preaching offended everyone, alienated him from family, and made him the mortal enemy of powerful people.   His words were powerful but seemed ineffective.  The people did not turn back to God.  And God’s judgment was not turned back from the people.   He gave up the hope of wife and family and a peaceful life as a priest to be an outlaw, hated and spurned by the very people he suffered to serve.

The Bible preserves for us Jeremiah’s teaching as well as his personal struggles.   Like Jeremiah, sorrow, opposition, broken relationships and ineffective ministry can deter us from following Christ.   It is easy to quit following, if we are following an idea or activity.  But we are called to follow a person.  Jeremiah’s struggles resonate with us and challenge us to consider, “how far will we follow?”

Join us this Sunday, October 13, as we consider the challenges we face as we follow Christ.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.

Sarcasm

Sarcasm

A software engineer is a living contradiction – vacillating between optimism toward what might be and pessimism about what is.   Software development is the nearest thing to creation ex nihlo man can achieve.  Created in the realm of abstract ideas and breathed into life on digital devices, an app reflects unlimited possibilities, limited by only one thing — users.  Software is designed for totally depraved users.  Optimism regarding what an app can do is counterbalanced by pessimism of what users will do.   Though over 90% of any given app’s code is error checking, it is never enough.

This paradigm makes software engineers some of the most pessimistic people you will ever meet.  They are definitely in the category of “glass nearly empty” people.   They effortlessly convert every management attempt at team-building and motivation into sarcasm and non-compliance.  This is what makes them frustratingly anti-social, but this also good at their craft.   Being connoisseurs of human folly and masters of sarcasm enables them to drill down to what is actually deliverable in a world in which anything is theoretically possible.

The dictionary defines sarcasm as “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.”  By its very nature sarcasm uses absurdity disguised as seriousness to bring clarity to what is true and contempt to what is false.   A colleague of mine once remarked that sarcasm had no place in preaching, that it was a form of speech beneath the dignity of a sermon.   Yet as a form of distilling truth, sarcasm is employed often in the Bible.  Sarcasm in scripture and in preaching often functions as the perfect colander to strain out the pulp of superficiality from the nectar of clarity.

Jesus used many figures of speech.   Surely Jesus instructions in Matthew 5:29-30 to pluck out the sinful eye or to amputate a sin-stained right hand are hyperbole and not surgical asceticism.  But it is in the prophets where we routinely encounter the literary device of sarcasm.  A short survey of the prophets all the way back to Elijah, shows that whenever they addressed the issue of idolatry, sarcasm was used to mock the impotence of false gods.   Elijah’s comments on Mt. Carmel are the gold standard.

And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 1 Kings 18:27

And Isaiah’s scathing rebuke of the folly of idolatry drips with sarcasm when he observes that idols are usually fashioned from scrap wood.

Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” Isaiah 44:16-17

The prophet Jeremiah continues this tradition as he confronts the people of Judah with the folly of their idolatry.  Comparing and contrasting their false gods with the true God he calls his people to see the error of their ways, to help them understand how to recognize their own idolatry, and to use the gifts God has given to keep them sliding down that slippery slope.   The sarcasm of the prophet makes it ridiculously clear how foolish their idolatry is, but how clearly do we see our own idols?

Can we recognize the things in our lives which take but never deliver, make fools of us, and keep us in fear of losing them?   It’s so easy to see the speck in the eyes of others, but planks are hard to detect.  What idol has your heart?  What is it, that if you lost it would make life not worth living?  That is your idol.

Join us this Sunday, September 15, as we learn from the warning of the prophet Jeremiah how to recognize the idols in our lives.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.

A Time to Mourn

A Time to Mourn

The older I get, the more emotional I have become.  I have always been a bit of a stoic but, now children’s stories and sermon illustrations easily choke me up.  I try to pass these episodes off as dramatic pauses, but in reality I can’t read The Three Trees or Papa Panov’s Special Day or recount poignant sermon illustrations without turning into an emotional mess.   As I reflect on why this is, I have come to believe that with more of life’s water under the bridge, those stories and illustrations bear a strong resemblance to my own stories and my own grief – grief over opportunities and people lost and grief over my callousness to God’s grace and insensitivity to His presence.

But I have also come to understand that grief is a normal part of life.   Though it often takes us by surprise, it is not unexpected.  The longer we live, the more grief we live with.  Grief is not contrary to faith, nor a lack of faith.   Indeed, Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  At the tomb of Lazarus and in the midst of the Triumphal Entry, “Jesus wept.”   In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said that His soul was “sorrowful unto death.”  And Jesus’ faith and knowledge were complete and He was in perfect communion with the Heavenly Father.   Yet He was “acquainted with grief.”  Grief is a part of life in this fallen world.  Being a Christian does not change this, it only changes how we respond to it.

I appreciate the wisdom of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3.  He notes that life “under the sun” is a life with seasons.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; …
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; …. 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart. —  Ecclesiastes 3:1-10

There is a time to mourn, a time to grieve.  But grief can be complicated.  Each person’s “Tear Soup” requires different ingredients, different cooking times, and has unique complex flavors.   Grief brings complexity to our feelings and to our faith.  Grief challenges the clichés by which we live and confronts us with the God who IS, and not the God we imagined.    But God has not left us without guidance for our grief.  His Holy Spirit is often called, in Scripture, the “Comforter.”  This Comforter inspired chosen men of old to give us words to speak, pray, and sing in the Psalms to teach us how to grieve.   John Calvin famously noted, regarding the Psalms,

I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.  

John Calvin, Preface to Commentary on the Psalms.

And we have many examples in Scripture of grief observed.   Jeremiah’s emotional confessions and lamentations are potent examples.   Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet.”   As one commenter noted, he was “never a dispassionate observer of his nation’s sufferings, but entered into the anguish of the people and suffered with them….  [He bore] a message of divine judgement while at the same time sharing the sufferings of the people…. [He was a man] torn asunder between God and the people, to both of whom [he] was bound with deep ties.”  (The Book of Jeremiah, J. A. Thompson)

In Jeremiah 8 and 9 we encounter the prophet in the depths of complex and conflicting grief over the sin and judgment of Judah.  God has called us to draw near to observe his grief to instruct us how to grieve over the sin and judgment of our own time.   In Jeremiah’s grief we see the necessities, complexities, expansiveness and available comfort for our grief – grief over our own sin and loss, and over that of our people.

Join us this Sunday, September 8, as we consider how the example of Jeremiah instructs us to grieve when it is a “time to mourn.”  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.