inner stillness: when everything is all the same to you, and you live for the day, and you are not dreaming and waiting

john r. harrison

my other websites
The United Methodist Churches of Sheldon, Bronaugh, and Moundville

The Southwest District of the Missouri West Conference of The United Methodist Church

The Rotary Club of Nevada, Missouri

The Beloit, Kansas, High School Class of 1960

The Academy for Spiritual formation #17

books I've been reading
Communion, Community, Commonweal: Readings for Spiritual Leadership, by John S. Mogabgab

The Ascent of a Leader: How Ordinary Relationships Develop Extraordinary Character and Influence, by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and Ken McElrath

The Catholic Imagination, by Andrew Greeley

Spiritual Guides for the 21st Century: Faith Stories of the Protestant Reformers

Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, by Dallas Willard

movies I'd like to see
American Splendor


Lost in Translation

The Station Agent

Winged Migration

sermons in process
Ruth 1:1-18--"Why Go with Me?"

Mark 12:38-44--"Abundance and Poverty"

1 Samuel 1:4-20--"The Desperation of Hannah"

John 18:33-37--"An Interrogation"

Malachi 3:1-4--"Messages and Messengers"

lectures on tape in my car
Introduction to Renaissance Literature

Dante's Life and Times

Dante's Literary Antecedents

Erasmus, In Praise of Folly

Introduction to Shakespeare


-- HOME --

This page is powered by Blogger. Why isn't yours?
Saturday, February 2

This morning I preached on the beatitudes. I don’t believe we can overstate how important these few verses are. Their location in scripture and their content should tell us much about what Jesus total message was. The sermon on the mount is the largest single chunk of Jesus teachings, aside from parables, in the gospels. It runs for three non-stop chapters of Matthew. So, to have this prefaced by the beatitudes tells us something about how Matthew perceived the beatitudes in relationship to Jesus’ teaching. Also noteworthy is the content of the beatitudes. Who is Jesus talking to? The poor, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger. When the very first words out of Jesus’ mouth to begin three chapters of teachings are “blessed are the poor,” I think it is rather clear not only what Jesus theology was, but also what his ideology was. In light of what he says in Matthew 5:3, I find it unbelievable that clergy would maintain that it is good to be wealthy. In fact, some clergy argue that Jesus was rich. But this is not only about whether we should or should not have big bucks. I think it is also about self-esteem. I suspect that many of the people to whom Jesus preached thought that they were the scum of the earth because others treated them that way. Indeed, Gentiles may felt that way around the Jews. They definitely did not feel accepted. So, in light of that, what might be Jesus’ message. I think it is that all of the downtrodden, in spite of who they are, the poor, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry, all are accepted by God. They all have God’s blessings. But in my preaching on the beatitudes I also make a distinction between the first four beatitudes and the last four. The first four are aimed at the passive downtrodden. The second four are aimed at those who are trying to do something about the social injustice in the world: the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. In other words, God cares for and blesses both the downtrodden and those who seek to minister to the downtrodden. There are eight third-person beatitudes and one second person beatitude: “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” In other words, you are not the first. Others have been down this road, and they have met the same obstacles. It is a message of reassurance, and the same truth holds today. Those who fight for social justice today are putting up with the same obstacles that have been present throughout time. The contexts and the events change, but the principles of good and evil remain the same. And Jesus responses are still helpful to us.

posted by John Harrison at 11:26 PM

Sunday, January 27

It’s too bad we don’t know more about Jesus’ procedures for selecting disciples. It all seems so easy. “As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers...” And what does he say to them? “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” And that is all it took. Or so the scriptures would have us believe. On the one hand, I can believe that Jesus was looking for common, everyday kinds of people. But on the other hand, I still wonder at what it might have taken to persuade them. According to Matthew, “Immediately they left their nets....” That’s difficult to belief. It makes Jesus appear to be a master of hypnosis, a magician. And, although he may have been divine, he was still human. And the disciples he was selecting were human. I would like to believe that it took more than a handful of words to attract the disciples, that they needed to be convinced by strong arguments to give up their boats and nets and fishing to follow Jesus. If they were absolutely unquestioning in being called by Jesus, how would they behave during his ministry? If we are to consider ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ, are we supposed to be unquestioning, unthinking followers? I should hope not. It would also appear that the first four disciples, Peter and Andrew and James and John were chosen rather rapidly. Were the other eight also chosen with such speed? Or did this take a while? And what kind of disciple-building would we have expected of Jesus? The United Methodist Church makes much of its mission to “make disciples for Jesus Christ.” But what, exactly, does that mean? And what did it mean for the first twelve? What did Jesus WANT it to mean? Later in Matthew, in the twenty-fourth verse of the sixteenth chapter, Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” So, let’s give this a twenty-first century twist. Let’s imagine we are seeking to make disciples of the unchurched, to bring them into our flocks. And we tell them, “if you want to be a member of our church, you must deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Jesus.” So, how do we follow Jesus? Do we do what he did? Do we sacrifice like he did? How many of those who are currently official Christians can claim that they deny themselves? How many of them are prepared to sacrifice like Jesus did? My point is that I think we take this whole discipleship thing much too lightly. We toss the word “discipleship” around as if it were synonymous with “membership,” when, in fact, what Jesus seemed to have in mind was denial and sacrifice. Are Christians really up for that? Or would most of them prefer to remain comfortably settled in their pews? Like I said, I wish we had more details on how Jesus went about drawing folks to him to be his disciples.

posted by John Harrison at 1:20 AM

thinking links

Alan Colmes

America Held Hostile

American Civil Liberties Union

America's War On Terrorism is about oil

The Association of World Citizens

Barnes & Noble



Bush Occupation

Bush Watch

BuzzFlash Report

Common Cause

Common Dreams

A Common Reader



Democratic Underground


Doc Searls Weblog

Earth Education

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Guardian Unlimited

i.e. America Radio Network

International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)

Journal of the Hyperlinked Organzation

Let's talk sense

Liberal Slant

London Review of Books





The Nation

The New York Review of Books

The New Yorker

Nothing Like the Truth

Political Strikes

The Progressive

Public Action, Inc.


The Smoking Gun

Smudge Report




The Upper Room


Young Democrats of America