patmarrin's blog


Do You Love Me?

“Lord you know everything; you know that I love you” (John 21:16).

If you are reading this today, it is because Jesus forgave Peter on a sandy beach after breakfast two millennia ago. This moving story of mercy and restoration is part of our story. Its implication are about us being the church right now.

All history, not surprisingly, is written looking back. But what may surprise us is how later interests shaped the story to hold up certain individuals as crucial. This selective, interpretive filter reveals the truths the community wants to protect that validate its own decisions.

One in Love

"May they all be one, as you, Father are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, that that world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:21).

Because we are created in the image and likeness of God, our destiny is to realize this image within and among ourselves. God is a Community of love, and our mission is to reflect that beloved community. Wherever a group of people attempts this unity in love, God is revealed. This can be in a marriage or partnership, a small intentional community, even a simple friendship. Mutual love is the sacramental sign of God's presence.

Consecrated in Truth

"I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One" (John 17:16).

What does evil look like? We seldom hear the word outside of religious conversations, as though in our modern world the idea of some malevolent force at work in society were an outdated, prescientific myth.

In the World, But Not of It

"Now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you” (John 17:11).

One of the key challenges facing the church has always been how to relate to the "world," that is, the power structures and cultural norms that direct human society. This includes economic and political systems. History reveals times when the church was persecuted for opposing secular power and other times when it accommodated itself to the state, blessing its policies in exchange for protection and privilege.

Prepare for the Spirit

“We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:2).

In his missionary journey Paul encounters a group of believers who received the baptism of John, but have not yet heard about the gift of the Spirit of Jesus. He instructs them and lays hands on them, and they receive the Spirit and begin speaking in tongues.

Acts gives us a window into the expanding church and the progressive stages believers go through to engage the full mystery of Jesus, no long physically present in history but in his disciples through the Holy Spirit.

Ascending and Descending, Holy Commencement

“Why do you stand here looking up at the sky?” (Acts 1:11).

Yes

“As the Father has loved me, so I also love you. Remain in my love” (John 15:9).

An Unknown God

"What you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you" (Acts 17:24).

A recent national survey showed a sharp increase (from 16 percent in 2007 to 23 percent this year) of Americans who say they are unaffiliated with any church. Over one third of young adults self-identify in this category. All mainline Christian denominations have lost ground, including Catholics. Many of the unaffiliated say they are atheists or agnostics.

We Are the Church

"It is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, The Advocate will not come to you" (John 16:7).

Absence makes possible a different, even deeper, kind of presence. Jesus tells his disciples that his departure (death, ascension) is necessary for the Spirit to come. His time on earth, physically present with them in that moment in history, is complete.

Dear Graduates

"I have told you this so that you may not fall away" (John 15:28).

May is graduation month. Commencement speakers across the country will attempt to inspire, instruct and entertain tens of thousands of college and high school seniors as they move up and out on their life journeys.

Jesus brings a touch of realism to his final words to his disciples. "The road ahead will be long and arduous, and you will encounter stiff resistance, even violence, from some who oppose the message you are to bring."