If you've been in or around the United Church of Christ the last couple of years, you've seen our now-famous comma logo (see picture) and its tag line "Never put a period where God has put a comma." Over time, the comma has become an interesting point of conversation as we discuss precisely what this means. Well, someone has finally identified what's going on here. In the most recent issue of "United Church News," a Bruce Farrell from Myerstown (Pa.) UCC had this to say:
"Jesus often teaches that you can have the right theology but the wrong actions. What Jesus is not teaching is that theology is unimportant. Jesus was harshly critical of the theology of the Samaritans...when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. "Healthy theology, like good grammar, has a wide range of punctuations: commas, periods, question marks, exclamation points. We in the UCC seem to have one: the comma."
The is an issue not just for the UCC, but for all mainline denominations. Like a run-on sentence, the theology that is happening in the UCC just seems to go on and on and on. At what point does it stop? When do we say, "Here I stand, I can go no farther"? Jesus does use periods. We had better learn how to do likewise.
I just ran across an excellent article on the Town Hall website about a different way of approaching Lent, perhaps the most relevant piece concerning modern Lenten practices that I've read in a long time. Check it out.
In worship this past week, we talked about where temptations come from - not an external source per se, but, as James tells us, "...each person is tempted when he is lurned and enticed by his own desire" (1:14). The idea of disordered passions is not something I had really given much thought to, yet it makes a great deal of sense in our Lenten context. Apparently, the Orthodox tradition is well out ahead of me. For Lent this year, I'm reading, "First Fruits of Prayer - A Forty-Day Journey Through the Canon of St. Andrew," which is a Orthodox litany of confession by St. Andrew. In it, he writes this, some food for thought:
I have fallen beneath the painful burden of the passions and the corruption of material things; and I am hard pressed by the enemy. Instead of freedom from possessions, O Savior, I have pursued a life in love with material things; and now I wear a heavy yoke....I hav cared only for the outward adornment, and neglected that which is within - the tabernacle fashioned by God. With my lustful desires I have formed within myself the deformity of the passions and disfigured the beauty of my mind. I have discolored with the passions the first beauty of the image, O Savior. But seek me, as once Thou hast sought the lost coin, and find me.
""I charge you, in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead...preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching." - 2 Timothy 4:1-2