Pilgrim Notes

Reflections along the way.

Month: May 2005

The Problem of Wineskins

I downloaded a great (and FREE) sermon by Douglas Wilson on wineskins. Wilson, with his humoruous, thoughtful presentation offers a delightful talk on the nature of the church. Highly recomended.

Update: Sorry but I think they rotate out the MP3 sermons, so the one I listed is not longer available for a free download. But I’m sure there are other good sermons on the site.

Flat Earth?

William Blake writes a poem praisng the flat earth. Was he blind to the advances of science? Did he miss the Copernican revolution? How could a man living in this modern world not realize the earth is a sphere?

I am not a student of Blake, but others have suggested that he despises a world reduced to pure mathmatics and drained of all the passion of living. (Blake scholars correct me if I’m wrong.) He equates a world void of passion and living on a mechanical Newtonian realm alone as the lowest level of existance, which he refers to as Ulro. When we speak of the earth as sphere, we are using mathematics to understand our world. We are focusing upon the universal without feasting on the particular.

The flat earth reminds us of the particularity of our existance. It’s not just some tree, it’s the dogwood in front of my house that captures my heart. It’s not just the abstract principe of female that capture my heart, but the particular–women as realized in my particualr wife, Kelly.

In a world of global politics and national grocery chains (not to mention “branded” churches), we lose sight of the value in little things and local places. Blake calls us back to the particular and rejoices over the wonder of a flat earth.

From “Milton”
And every Space that a Man views around his dwelling place
Standing on his own roof or in his garden on a mount
Of twenty-five cubits in height, such space is his Universe:
And on its verge the Sun rises & sets, the Clouds bow
To meet the flat Earth & the Sea in such an order’d Space:
The Starry heavens reach no further, but here bend and set
On all sides, & the two Poles turn on their valves of gold;
And if he move his dwelling-place, his heavens also move
Whe’er he goes, & all his neighbourhood bewail his loss.
Such are the Spaces called Earth & such its dimension.
As to that false appearance which appears to the reasoner
As of a Globe rolling thro’ Voidness, it is a delusion of Ulro.

William Blake
(cited in A Book of Luminous Things edited by Czelaw Milosz)

Heroes of the Faith

You may have never heard about some of these people, and yet the halls of heaven echo with stories of God’s mighty work through their lives. I encourage to take a moment and visit John Brown over at Scotwise to read some of his summaries of faithful servants of the Lord. May it quicken each of us to pursue wholeheartedly the call of God in our lives!

To Do One Thing Well

Mary Oliver challenges me. She opens my eyes to a world of stunning glory, and yet a world I cannot fully understand. In the midst of life and death, she finds wonder, and remind me of my longing to live well.

The Kingfisher

By Mary Oliver

The kingfisher rises out of the black wave
like a blue flower, in his beak
he carries a silver leaf. I think this is
the prettiest world—so long as you don’t mind
a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life
that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?
there are more fish than there are leaves
on a thousand trees, and anyway the kingfisher
wasn’t born to think about it, or anything else.
when the wave snaps shut over his blue head, the water
remains water—hunger is the only story
he has ever heard in his life that he could believe.
I don’t say he’s right. Neither
do I say he’s wrong. Religiously he swallows the silver leaf
with its broken red river, and with a rough and easy cry
I couldn’t rouse out of my thoughtful body
if my life depended on it, he swings back
over the bright sea to do the same thing, to do it
(as I long to do something, anything) perfectly.

A Post?

Wow. I missed April! Not one post. But I have been studying. I’ve been faciliating two different bible studies. Between working full time, working on various ministry projects and faciliating these studies, I have been in constant motion. I did finish some studies notes for 1 Peter – “A guide for dwelling in earthly places as
heavenly pilgrims.” These notes were developed for my own study but I started handing them out because I thought others might find them useful and now I’ve posted them. Unfortunately, I didn’t include a reference section (which I still need to add). When preparing this study I consulted JND Kelly, Ramsey Michaels, the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, and I prepared against the backdrop of NT Wright’s thoughts. Reading 1 Peter reminded me of the value of immersing ourselves in the stories of the Old Testament. When we don’t keep the stories fresh in our minds, we can easily lose teh wonderfully rich allusion present all throughout the text.

I am also faciliating a study on Galatians – “The Good News That’s Too Good to Be True.” I’ll post those notes when I finish.

I must say that I absolutely love study the Bible. Not to argue the texts; not to knock people in the head; not to garner spiritual brownie points–but to encounter the Word of God, the revelation of Jesus Christ. When the Holy Spirit quickens my heart to the presence of Christ, I am overwhelmed by His goodness. God is better than I could even imagine him to be.

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