The Hindu teacher Swami Sivananda writes, "The fundamentals or essentials of all religions are the same. There is difference only in the non-essentials." Many today have passively accepted this sentiment. It's the mood of our city and age. Strike up a conversation with your friends about God, and within minutes, this is where you are: "it doesn't really matter what you believe, it's all the same" ::shrug:: change the subject to something less controversial, like politics, "did you see the latest tweets?"
This past week, our country faced two disasters that deeply affected their communities–-one, a national hurricane; and the other, a local gas explosion. On Sunday, we prayed as a church for those affected by both. Keep these communities in your prayers. If you would like to get more involved, here are a few ways to help:
Boston in the fall reminds me why I love this city so much. The crisp air, the coming foliage, the Sox with their historic season turning things up, the Pats back in action, pumpkin spice everything, and half my kids in school (PTL!). It reminds me why my family and I have lived here for 9 years, and counting!
In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus is invited to a dinner party at the home of a Pharisee named Simon. The events that follow rival The Office for most awkward party ever! When properly understood, the scene is hard to watch, and full of surprises.
Since we live in a society that does its best to hide the fact of death and does everything possible to evade even the mention of it, it's fairly easy to go through your life hardly ever thinking of it. Then someone close dies. Then you're thunderstruck with the empty finality. Then you are overcome with a tsunami of overwhelming grief. What is this feeling? Where did it come from? What do I do with it? I have not been prepared for this.
Is God ever surprised? Of course not. He knows all: past, present, and future. However, twice in the Gospels, Jesus "marvels," or is "taken aback." In Mark 6, the people of Nazareth (Jesus' home town), those who knew him best, refuse to believe in him. The text tells us "he marveled because of their unbelief." In some sense, he was unpleasantly surprised by their stubborn unbelief, and withdrew His presence and His power.