Learning the Dance of Forgiveness: Wise Words from Célestin Musekura and L. Gregory Jones

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued exploring the Apostles’ Creed, “Living the Creed,” with a message focused on forgiveness entitled, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” Forgiveness is one of the most freeing and challenging practices we encounter in life. We all know we need it from others and should give it to others, yet learning the way of forgiveness can feel unnatural and confusing. This feeling may grow stronger when we read these bracing words from the Apostle Paul:

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

forgiving-as-weve-been-forgiven

In the book Forgiving as We’ve Been ForgivenCélestin Musekura and L. Gregory Jones reflect at length on what it means to forgive. At one point, Musekura reflects on the Cross of Christ in this way:

Because of this divine act, the Christian model of forgiveness stresses the granting of unconditional forgiveness to those who cause injury, pain and suffering in this life.

In the book, Musekura shares his own journey through the pain of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and beyond. Reading his words thrust me back into the trauma-filled stories I had heard from other survivors in Rwanda when visiting in 1999 and 2000 as a staff member of World Relief. Musekura’s own journey into forgiveness and the work he has done with African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM) brought him to this powerful realization:

If forgiveness is the heart of the gospel, it is the center of the church’s mission as well.

Comparing the way of forgiveness to learning how to dance, Jones builds upon this by offering six steps of forgiveness that I have found incredibly helpful. I wanted to share them here as we reflect on our own lives and the divided society around us:

Step 1: Truth Telling: We become willing to speak the truthfully and patiently about the conflicts that have arisen. “We need not only honesty but also patience…[to] discern more clearly what is going on….We must, rather, take the time to talk to one another about the things that divide us” (46-47).

Step 2: Acknowledging Anger: We acknowledge both the existence of anger and bitterness, and a desire to overcome them. “Whether these emotions are our own or belong to others who are mad at us, it does no good to deny them….We learn to overcome bitterness as we begin to live differently through practices that transform hatred into love” (48-49).

Step 3: Concern for the Other: We summon up a concern for the well-being of the other as a child of God. “Seeing as children of God the ones on whom our bitterness focuses challenges our tendency to perceive them simply as enemies, rivals or threats. Now they are potential friends of God” (49-50).

Step 4: Recognizing, Remembering, RepentingWe recognize our own complicity in conflict, remember that we have been forgiven in the past and take the step of repentance. “People need to be held accountable for their actions…we also need to recognize and resist our temptation to blame others while exonerating ourselves….Repentance breaks the cycle of violence and creates space for God to do something new” (51).

Step 5: Commitment to ChangeWe make a commitment to struggle to change whatever caused and continues to perpetuate our conflicts. “Forgiveness out to usher in repentance and change. It ought to inspire prophetic protest wherever people’s lives are being diminished and destroyed. Forgiveness and justice are closely related” (53).

Step 6: Hope for the FutureWe confess our yearning for the possibility of reconciliation. “Continuing to maintain reconciliation as the goal – even if this is ‘hoping against hope’ for reconciliation in this life – is important because it reminds us that God promises to make all things new….Every concrete act – every prayer prayed, every apology offered, every meal shared across dividing lines – is a sign that our history and habits of sin have been definitively interrupted by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ” (55).

Reflecting on Jones’ dance steps of forgiveness, I couldn’t help but reflect on numerous situations I’ve experienced in my own life or in walking with others as a pastor. Some of these steps come naturally, while others take great selflessness and humility. Still, I see them as helpful guides into the pathways of forgiveness.

If, as Célestin Musekura writes, “forgiveness is the heart of the gospel” and “the center of the church’s mission,” then perhaps it is time that you and I enroll in dance lessons under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit!

The Weekend Wanderer: 13 August 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


Joni Eareckson Tada“New Resolve After 55 Years in My Wheelchair” – Joni Eareckson Tada in The Gospel Coalition: “I sometimes wonder, Who am I, God, that you have brought me this far?Lately, I’ve been whispering that question from 1 Chronicles 17:16: ‘Then King David [said], “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”‘ Who am I to enjoy a platform on national radio for 40 years? Who am I that I should be so blessed in marriage to Ken for 40 years? And how did I ever have the strength to survive 55 years as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair? The truth is, I don’t have the strength. I still wake up every morning needing God desperately. Like David, I often confess, ‘I am poor and needy’ (Ps. 40:17). Perhaps that’s how God brought me this far. I cannot say, but I do know that ‘the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him’ (2 Chron. 16:9, NIV). God is searching high and low for weak people who love him so that he can pour into them his strength. Maybe that’s my story, but how I arrived here is not for me to say. I just keep praising my sovereign God with every milestone I pass.”


Stuart Briscoe“Died: Stuart Briscoe, Renowned British Preacher and Wisconsin Pastor” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “Stuart Briscoe preached his first sermon at 17. He didn’t know much about the topic assigned him by an elder. But he researched the church of Ephesus until he had a pile of notes and three points, as seemed proper for a sermon. Then he stood before the Brethren in a British Gospel Hall and preached. And preached. And preached. He kept going until he used up more than his allotted time just to reach the end of the first point and still kept going, until finally he looked up from his notes and made a confession. ‘I’m terribly sorry,’ he said. ‘don’t know how to stop.’ Briscoe recalled in his memoir that a man from the back shouted out, ‘Just shut up and sit down.’ That might have been the end of his preaching career. But he was invited to preach again the next week. Then he was put on a Methodist preaching circuit, riding his bike to small village churches where a few faithful evangelicals would gather to worship and encourage the fumbling young preacher with exclamations of ‘Amen’ and ‘That’s right, lad.'”


Sandra Valabregue, ‘Circle in the tree’“Our Technology Sickness—and How to Heal It” – Micah Goodman in Sources: “Such explanations are locally defined, but polarization is far from unique to Israeli society. It is a global problem. Twenty years ago, political identity did not demarcate our intellectual or social horizons. Today, however, in contrast to the Talmudic ideal of nurturing an intellectual world wider than one’s practice, our intellectual world has shrunk to fit the narrower dimensions of policy and practice. The books we read, the lectures we hear, and the videos we watch are all produced by people in our own camp. In short, we have sunk into an anti-Talmudic world. To understand why this is so, I turned to several leading thinkers, each of whom can help us understand what is going on. In his book The Upswing: How We Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again (2020), Robert D. Putnam, who teaches public policy at Harvard University, presents a fascinating study on polarization. In the 1950s, Americans were asked whether they would be bothered by their son or daughter marrying a person of a different race. About fifty percent responded in the affirmative. They were also asked if they would be bothered by their son or daughter marrying a person who affiliated with a different political party. About ten percent answered yes. When the same questions were posed in the 2010s, fewer than ten percent said it would bother them if their son or daughter married someone of a difference race, but over fifty percent said it would bother them if their child married a person with opposing political views. In other words, Americans are growing more open to people of different races and growing more closed to those who hold different political views.”


Petrusich-WendellBerry-2“In Distrust of Movements” – Wendell Berry in Orion Magazine: “I have had with my friend Wes Jackson a number of useful conversations about the necessity of getting out of movements—even movements that have seemed necessary and dear to us—when they have lapsed into self-righteousness and self-betrayal, as movements seem almost invariably to do. People in movements too readily learn to deny to others the rights and privileges they demand for themselves. They too easily become unable to mean their own language, as when a ‘peace movement’ becomes violent. They often become too specialized, as if finally they cannot help taking refuge in the pinhole vision of the institutional intellectuals. They almost always fail to be radical enough, dealing finally in effects rather than causes. Or they deal with single issues or single solutions, as if to assure themselves that they will not be radical enough. And so I must declare my dissatisfaction with movements to promote soil conservation or clean water or clean air or wilderness preservation or sustainable agriculture or community health or the welfare of children. Worthy as these and other goals may be, they cannot be achieved alone. They cannot be responsibly advocated alone. I am dissatisfied with such efforts because they are too specialized, they are not comprehensive enough, they are not radical enough, they virtually predict their own failure by implying that we can remedy or control effects while leaving causes in place. Ultimately, I think, they are insincere; they propose that the trouble is caused by otherpeople; they would like to change policy but not behavior.”


Askonas-Puzzle-Piece-Part-2-B-300x300-1“Reality Is Just a Game Now” – Jon Askonas in The New Atlantis: “On the recent twentieth anniversary of 9/11, I reflected on how I would tell my children about that day when they are older. The fact of the attacks, the motivations of the hijackers, how the United States responded, what it felt like: all of these seemed explicable. What I realized I had no idea how to convey was how important television was to the whole experience. Everyone talks about television when remembering that day. For most Americans, ‘where you were on 9/11’ is mostly the story of how one came to find oneself watching it all unfold on TV. News anchors Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw, broadcasting without ad breaks, held the nation in their thrall for days, probably for the last time. It is not uncommon for survivors of the attacks to mention in interviews or recollections that they did not know what was going on because they did not view it on TV. If you ask Americans when was the last time they recall feeling truly united as a country, people over the age of thirty will almost certainly point to the aftermath of 9/11. However briefly, everyone was united in grief and anger, and a palpable sense of social solidarity pervaded our communities. Today, just about the only thing everyone agrees on is how divided we are.”


liturgy a la carte“Why We Shouldn’t Practice Liturgy ‘A La Carte'” – Benjamin Vincent in Christianity Today: “If you told an evangelical pastor in 2005 that the Book of Common Prayer might soon be trendier than church-lobby coffee shops, he would almost certainly have laughed. It was not so long ago that countless evangelical churches abandoned the use of prayer books and traded their hymnals for high-resolution projectors. The use of the historical church calendar to order services became a rarity as most churches began to develop thematic sermon series or preach through the Bible one book at a time. Liturgical prayer and call-and-response confession fell by the wayside, and even the names of churches changed in ways that distanced congregations from their denominational roots—as many a Hometown Baptist Church became a Wellspring Christian Community. In short, the rhythms, readings, patterns, and prayers of historical liturgies fell decidedly out of style. Over the past several years, however, a new trend has begun to emerge. Anyone who spends time among Christians in their 20s or early 30s has likely noticed a major uptick in the use of the word liturgy, which has become commonplace in both corporate worship and private spiritual practice.”


Music:Vampire Weekend, Sunflower,” (feat Steve Lacy) from Father of the Bride

The Weekend Wanderer: 6 August 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


im-591119“Pope’s Canada Visit Highlights Complex Relationship Between Catholicism and Indigenous Cultures” – Francis X. Rocca in The Wall Street Journal: “Pope Francis’s visit to Canada, which he has described as a penitential pilgrimage, took a more celebratory turn on Tuesday [of last week] when he presided at Mass in an Edmonton stadium and took part in a traditional lakeside ceremony with indigenous Catholics. Although organizers of the papal visit and the pope himself have made it clear that its purpose is to apologize for Catholics’ role in what Francis called government-sponsored ‘projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation,’ his second full day in the country highlighted a more harmonious legacy of the church’s relationship with indigenous Canadians. On Monday, the pope apologized repeatedly for Catholic participation in the country’s system of residential schools which, for more than a century, assimilated indigenous children to white culture. On Tuesday, he pointed to the church’s practice of presenting its teachings in forms compatible with local cultures.”


Nicky and Pipa Gumbel“Nicky Gumbel’s Fitting Farewell to HTB Church: ‘The Best Is Yet to Come'” – Krish Kandia in Christianity Today: “What does a lifetime of fruitful public ministry look like? Last Sunday, Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) tried to answer this question in a video montage marking the end of Nicky Gumbel’s 46 years of leadership at the London multisite church. Images of people whose lives had been impacted by the senior pastor and author flashed across the screen as one incredible statistic after another scrolled past: 30 million people introduced to the Christian faith through the Alpha Course, across 140 countries and 170 languages; 2 million people fed spiritually by a Bible reading app; and 2 million meals delivered during the pandemic from HTB alone. The July 24 video was a fitting homage to a nowadays unusual career, spanning almost five decades in the same congregation. It is rare in Anglican churches in the United Kingdom for a trainee leadership position to last more than the minimum requirement of three years, with many moving regularly to the next parish. But Nicky sat under the tutelage of HTB’s then senior leader, bishop Sandy Millar, for 19 years. He was 49 years old when he took over the church, and admitted to uncertainty about it all—feeling both too young and too old to do so.”


081022green-church“What does it mean to be a green church during a climate crisis?” – Anna Woofenden in The Christian Century: “At Presbyterian-New England Congrega­tional Church in Saratoga Springs, New York, environmental sustainability is woven into every aspect of church life, from how the church is heated to what happens at coffee hour to the content of sermons to what products are purchased for events. Being a green church has become a way of life, not an issue to be debated. The pastor, Kate Forer, said that church members began this work several years ago by exploring together a series of questions that helped them to connect the dots between their actions and the entire network of creation. Where does our electricity come from? Are there opportunities for us to buy renewable energy, as a congregation and as individuals? If not, how can we as a church work to make those available? What are we doing with our trash? Are there ways to reduce our trash and increase our recycling and composting? What about transportation to church?…Such questions became powerful guides as the congregation navigated the choices and actions they were taking as a community. While people were generally supportive of the idea of being more environmentally active and sustainable, the work limped along for several years as they did a little here and a little there.”


Screen Shot 2022-07-29 at 2.05.26 PM“Are Humans Naturally Good or Evil?” – Chinese house church pastor Yang Xibo in Plough: “Sin is sly and will hide itself. If we ask why there is so much injustice in the world – massacres, war, corruption, and bribery – many people will answer without hesitation, ‘Generally people are good except for a handful of scumbags.’ Consequently, they take away judgment. In fact, this neglects sin. Communism and Marxism teach that only a few people are evil, and they become capitalists who take control over the economy. As long as we can get rid of these few, most people are intrinsically good and the world will become better as human good exceeds human evil. We all subconsciously believe this story, but what happened when the people were granted authority in China? No one wanted to work for the common good. As a result, China’s economy crashed, because people are selfish, and they would rather put more effort into taking care of their own fields than communal ones. The Bible says all have sinned (Rom. 3:23) and the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9). Without being taught, the intention of a person’s heart is evil from youth (Gen. 8:21). Humanists and anthropologists often consider humans to be good, because without God that is the only hope they have. They cannot accept or bear the fact that humankind is evil. Yet such hope has been shown to be bankrupt in history.


Timeline of African American Music“Timeline of African American Music: 1600-Present” – Dr. Portia K. Maultsby and colleagues at Carnegie Hall website: “From the drumbeats of Mother Africa to the work songs and Spirituals created in a new land, a path can be traced to the blues, gospel, jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, and hip-hop expressions of African Americans that are celebrated throughout the world. The Timeline of African American Music represents decades of scholarship conducted and led by Dr. Portia K. Maultsby, a pioneer in the study of African American music, as well as the contributions of numerous scholars. From the earliest folk traditions to present-day popular music, the timeline is a detailed view of the evolution of African American musical genres that span the past 400 years. This celebration of African American musical traditions reveals the unique characteristics of each genre and style, while also offering in-depth studies of pioneering musicians who created some of America’s most timeless artistic expressions.”


mechanization and monoculture“Mechanization and Monoculture: Why eliminating the unpredictable leads to unintended consequences” – Alan Jacobs in The Hedgehog Review: “Near the end of his brilliant memoir Tristes Tropiques, anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss describes his visits to various rum distilleries in the Caribbean:

In Martinique, I had visited rustic and neglected rum-distilleries where the equipment and the methods used had not changed since the eighteenth century. In Puerto Rico, on the other hand, in the factories of the company which enjoys a virtual monopoly over the whole of the sugar production, I was faced by a display of white enamel tanks and chromium piping. Yet the various kinds of Martinique rum, as I tasted them in front of ancient wooden vats thickly encrusted with waste matter, were mellow and scented, whereas those of Puerto Rico are coarse and harsh.

Meditation on this contrast leads Levi-Strauss to a more general insight:

We may suppose, then, that the subtlety of the Martinique rums is dependent on impurities the continuance of which is encouraged by the archaic method of production. To me, this contrast illustrates the paradox of civilization: Its charms are due essentially to the various residues it carries along with it, although this does not absolve us of the obligation to purify the stream. By being doubly in the right, we are admitting our mistake. We are right to be rational and to try to increase our production and so keep manufacturing costs down. But we are also right to cherish those very imperfections we are endeavouring to eliminate. Social life consists in destroying that which gives it its savour.

A melancholy reflection, to be sure—but perhaps not an inevitable one. The Puerto Rican rum industry observed by Levi-Strauss is a clear example of what happens when, as Sigfried Giedion put it in his still-essential book from 1948, Mechanization Takes Command, mechanization conquests more and more dimensions of human existence: agriculture, food production, bathing and washing. He even has a chapter on how mass-produced furniture changes our very posture.”


Music: The War on Drugs, “Pain,” from A Deeper Understanding

Our Longing for Justice and Need for Mercy

justice and mercy.jpg

One of our deepest desires as human beings is a longing for justice. We long for our lives and the world around us to be bounded by what is just, right, true, and fair without impartiality.

At our jobs or in our classrooms, we want things to be fair with all people treated well and measured equally against a dispassionate measure of job expectations or class requirements. In elections, both here and around the world, we long for fairness in the process so that votes are counted and everyone is give appropriate consideration. This is why we have impartial monitoring groups paying attention to elections around the world. This longing for justice is behind the outcries that arise when human rights are violated, whether around the world or here in our own country. International watchdog groups give voice to the helpless or the ignored so that justice can be brought to bear in their lives. We long for justice because we experience injustice and sin in our world.

This is a concept that appears throughout the Bible. When we wonder what God is like, we inevitably encounter the God of the Bible as a God of justice. The Torah calls for maintaining justice and dealing appropriately with the wrongs in the world: protecting widows, orphans, foreigners and the weak in the face of a difficult world. The Hebrew word, mishpat, is the word most often translated as ‘justice’ in the Old Testament. It conveys the idea of right and appropriate order of a just cause being maintained in the world. When we ask the question, “What is God like?”, we discover that at least one answer is this: He is a God of justice.

But here is something interesting. Even as we long for complete justice in the world, we encounter our own need for leniency. We call for justice for wrongs done by some to us or others, but we often hesitate when we do wrongs ourselves.

When a toddler has his toy taken by another child who did not ask, the toddler cries out for the toy to be returned. It was taken unfairly. But it comes as a great surprise to that same toddler when he is placed in a time-out for unfairly taking a toy without asking from one of his peers later on. Justice looks good from one perspective but looks a bit more painful when justice hits closer to us personally.

In 1984, Jennifer Thompson was a 22-year-old college student with a promising life ahead of her. But when a man broke into her apartment and assaulted her on a warm summer night, she vowed to put him in jail for the rest of her life. When the police gathered a lineup of men for her to identify, she pointed to man #5: Ronald Cotton, as the perpetrator. In the 1985 trial, Cotton was sentenced to life in prison with little hope of release. Justice had been served, or so it appeared.

11 years later, Jennifer Thompson received a knock at the door of her home. She had moved on, gotten married, had children, but every day for 11 years, she had been praying for Ronald Cotton to die. The detective at her door had some important news for her. After a review of evidence through advanced DNA testing, it became clear that Ronald Cotton was not her assailant but, rather, another man already in prison, Bobby Poole. Ronald Cotton was not guilty.

11 years. Ronald Cotton falsely imprisoned. Jennifer Thompson held in a prison of anger. The tables had been turned and Jennifer Thompson said, “I was overwhelmed with guilt and shame for mistakenly putting an innocent man in prison….I found it almost impossible to forgive myself.”

So, when Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson were reunited, she begged for forgiveness. Ronald Cotton took her hands, and with tears in his eyes, told her that he had forgiven her a long time ago.

Ronald Cotton said that both he and Jennifer were victims of the same man. They both became wounded, but they both began to heal. He said, “I choose to forgive…so that I stay free and not be a prisoner the rest of my life.”[1]

You see, we long for justice – for things to be set right in our lives and world – but we also long for mercy because we all need it. The chasm of injustice and sin runs right through our world and also right through us. 

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells a story about a servant who was gravely indebted to a king for a tremendous amount of money. He owed the king so much money, in fact, that as a day laborer it would have taken him about 3,000 lifetimes to pay the debt off. When the king brought this man in to settle the debt – to experience justice – the servant begged for mercy. Seeing the servant’s pleas, the king decided to cancel the debt and give the man a new lease on life. Justice was going to be served but instead the servant received mercy.

Returning home, this servant encountered a fellow servant who owed him about four month’s wages and began to choke him, commanding him to repay the debt. Although this other servant too begged for mercy, the first servant denied it and had the man thrown in prison.

The king eventually heard of this situation and called the servant in. Hadn’t this servant owed the king more than he could repay in 3,000 lifetimes? Hadn’t the king shown mercy and cancelled the debt? And now the servant had thrown another man in prison for a debt of four month’s pay? Where is the justice in this lack of mercy?

We long for justice, but human justice can, honestly, at times be unjust. The encounter with justice leads us ultimately into a plea for mercy.  We long for mercy because we know we all need it. The chasm of injustice and sin runs right through our own souls as well.

What good news it is that the God of the Bible is both a God of justice and a God of mercy. One of the most prevalent cries in the psalms is for mercy: “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony” (Psalm 6:2). And one of the most resounding themes of the entire Bible is that God is a God of mercy:

  • “Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7)
  • “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” (Daniel 9:18)
  • “You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18)

It is in the character of God to be both just and merciful. We struggle to bring these two characteristics together, but God is capable of bringing both to bear upon human lives in a way that also reflects His wisdom.

Ultimately, we encounter this within the work of Jesus Christ, whose ministry is one of both justice and mercy. James’ description of the Christian reality speaks to the ministry of Jesus: “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Paul’s marvelous summary of the good news in Ephesians 2, finds its center in the mercy of God:

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:3-5)

What a gift that our strongest longing for justice meets with our strongest need for mercy in Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God. What is God like? He is a God of justice and a God of mercy.


[1] “Finding Freedom In Forgiveness,” NPR – This I Believe, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101469307, November 26, 2011.

The Weekend Wanderer: 18 June 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


Juneteenth“For Christians, Juneteenth Is a Time of Jubilee” – Rasool Berry in Christianity Today: “I was never taught about Juneteenth growing up. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, the ‘cradle of liberty,’ in Pennsylvania—which was the first state to end slavery with the Gradual Abolition Act of 1780. Philly was one of the major stops on the Underground Railroad, thanks to the abolitionism of the Quakers, and the home of Richard Allen’s Free African Society. And while slavery was abolished in Pennsylvania more than 80 years before the Civil War began, I always thought of the Emancipation Proclamation as the document that ended slavery in America. It wasn’t until years later when I heard of a woman named Ms. Opal Lee, who walked halfway across the country at 89 years old to advocate for Juneteenth to become a national holiday, that I discovered a history I had never learned in school. Over two and a half years passed between President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and when the first of those enslaved in Texas tasted freedom: 900 more days of being separated from family and forced to work under the threat of violence and death. But the question remains, why does Juneteenth matter to the church?”


Taste and See“Introducing Taste and See” – Featured at The Rabbit Room blog: “Every once in a while, the Rabbit Room team has the good fortune of crossing paths with someone whose creative work is shockingly aligned with our own. These moments re-invigorate us not only in our own mission and vision, but in the desire to share the good and lasting work of kindred spirits far and wide. Most recently, this wonderful convergence has taken place with Andrew Brumme, who is directing a new documentary series called Taste and See that will blow your mind and change the way you think about breakfast. If, in some blessed alternate universe, Robert Farrar Capon had decided to make a documentary with Terrence Malick, guided by the foundational wisdom of Wendell Berry, then they would have made something like the pilot of Taste and See. Yes, it’s that amazing. Put more succinctly, and in the words of the official website, Taste and See ‘explores the spirituality of food with farmers, chefs, bakers and winemakers engaging with food as a profound gift from God. Their lives in the fields, in the kitchen and around the table serve as a meditation on the beauty, mystery and wonder to be found in every meal.'”


Lawrence+Cherono+at+Kiptagat+Training+Center,+Kiptagat,+Kenya-1_web“How Christian Faith Propels Elite Kenyan Runners To Global Success” – Dr. Robert Carle in Religion Unplugged: “Since 1988, 20 out of the 25 first-place men in the Boston Marathon have been Kenyan. Of the top 25 male record holders for the 3,000-meter steeplechase, 18 are Kenyan. Eight of the 10 fastest marathon runners in history are Kenyan, and the two outliers are Ethiopian. The fastest marathon time ever recorded was Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge’s in the 2018 Berlin Marathon. The fastest women’s marathon ever recorded was Kenyan Bridgid Kosgei’s in the Chicago Marathon. Three-quarters of these Kenyan champions come from the Kalenjin ethnic minority, which has only 6 million people, or 0.06% of the global population. The Kalenjin live in Kenya’s Rift Valley. Iten, a town that sits on the edge of the valley at 7,000 feet above sea level, is nicknamed the City of Champions. ‘If you look at it statistically, it sort of becomes laughable,’ said David Epstein, a former senior writer at Sports Illustrated. ‘There are 17 American men in history who have run under 2:10 in marathons. There were 32 Kalenjin who did it in October of 2011.’ American journalists have been fascinated by Kalenjin runners for decades, and their explanations for Kenyan dominance in running have included training, culture, biology and diet. However, one factor remains little explored or understood in media coverage: The spiritual lives of the Kalenjin runners have received scant attention.”


OPC general assembly“Orthodox Presbyterians Apologize for Racism at General Assembly” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “The General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) apologized Friday for four racist incidents at its annual gathering. In a statement of ‘sorrow and regret’passed without dissent, the General Assembly said ‘there is no place in the church for such conduct’ and ‘we repudiate and condemn all sins of racism, hatred, and prejudice, as transgressions against our Holy God, who calls us to love and honor all people.’ The 126 commissioners from the Reformed denomination’s 296 congregations gathered in Philadelphia at Eastern University on Wednesday. The annual meetings do not normally involve much controversy and could even be considered boring when compared to the dramatic conflicts within the Presbyterian Church in America or Southern Baptist Convention.”


MISSING“The Mysterious Disappearance of Moses: Somehow the Jewish sect that claimed to follow the Messiah Jesus very quickly ceased to follow the Law” – Todd Brewer in Mockingbird: “Investigators from the missing persons unit of Christian Theology are seeking the public’s assistance in locating Moses ben Amran, who has gone missing. His last known whereabouts appear to be some time in the first century. His last known associate was Saul of Tarsus, last seen traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus on a secretive business trip. While some witnesses are claiming that Moses has been heard from recently, his public appearances have mysteriously dwindled and investigators remain baffled as to the cause. Where did Moses go? At the heart of Christian origins stands the mysterious case of Moses’ disappearance. Somehow the Jewish sect that claimed to follow the Messiah Jesus very quickly ceased to follow the Law, i.e. the covenant of Moses given on Mount Sinai.”


'Bathing the Baby Jesus in a wooden bowl', scene inspired by the apocryphal gospels. Detail of m?

“‘The Apocryphal Gospels’ Review: Good News and Fake News” – Michael J. Kruger in The Wall Street Journal: “In December 1945, Muhammad Ali—not the boxer but a peasant farmer from Nag Hammadi, a town of Upper Egypt—uncovered an ancient earthenware jar. Muhammad and his brother broke it open and found books, 13 in all, among them more than 50 ancient Christian texts. The circumstances of the discovery have long been debated—the books may not have come from a jar after all—but no one disputes that he had made one of the greatest archaeological finds in the modern era. The cache of Christian texts came to be known as the Gnostic Gospels. The discovery upended the world of biblical scholarship. The new texts generated an insatiable interest in the so-called apocryphal Gospels—the ones not included in our Bibles. For those outside the scholarly guild, what is commonly known about these ‘lost’ accounts of Jesus typically comes through blog entries, internet lore, fictional books (think of The Da Vinci Code) and a host of conspiratorial documentaries. It’s often suggested that all the ancient Gospels are more or less the same and that the four biblical Gospels made it into the canon only because of political pressure or an ecclesiastical power grab. What’s almost invariably missing in debates over such claims is a careful reading of the original apocryphal texts—which are both similar to and different from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Apocryphal Gospels edited by Cambridge University scholar Simon Gathercole, is a welcome addition to discussions about these mysterious writings. Mr. Gathercole offers a brief and helpful introduction to the world of the apocryphal Gospels, but the bulk of the volume is devoted to his English translations of the earliest apocryphal Gospels, those that appeared before A.D. 300.”


Music: Robbie Seay Band, “Psalm 91 (He Knows My Name),” from Psalms LP