Crazy is Afoot | Sermon

Crazy is Afoot. (2 Cor. 5:13-15)

I preached this sermon at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Chester, CA. and First Lutheran Church in Greenville, CA. on June 14, 2015 (Third Sunday after Pentecost– Three Year Series, B).

Heresy and Orthodoxy

I’ve been thinking about something all day long…

G.K. Chesterton once expressed that in his attempt to be theologically original, to stand alone apart from the rest of civilized religion, he realized that he actually stood with all of Christendom, that he had “only succeeded in inventing all by [himself] an inferior copy of the existing traditions of civilized religion.” He tried to “found a heresy of [his] own; and when [he] had put the last touches to it, [he] discovered that it was orthodoxy.”

This concept has stuck with me ever since I read it and as I think about today’s religious climate, and especially the state of Christianity within American protestantism, I see the truthfulness of such a sentiment to be ever present.

As I was studying the Gospel reading for this coming up Sunday (the 12th Sunday after Pentecost), Matthew 16:21-28, I came across another great thinker’s thoughts which caused me to pause as Chesterton’s wisdom pushed forward through the grey matter in my head.

Francis Schaeffer, in his book, True Spirituality, expounds on Luke’s parallel to my Matthew passage. He notes that Jesus provides an order to his coming substitutionary death – rejected, slain, raised – and then applies it to the Christian life, declaring that there is no other order with regards to true spirituality (a term he uses synonymously with “Christian life”). But the most profound idea, the thought that trapped me in my mind with “the master who left no masterpiece” (which is, by the way, a completely inaccurate title for the man who wrote Orthodoxy) comes next.

Frank writes,

“If we forget the absolute uniqueness of Christ’s death we are in heresy. As soon as we set aside or minimize, as soon as we cut down in any way, as the liberals of all kinds do in their theology, on the uniqueness and substitutionary character of Christ’s death, our teaching is no longer Christian.” He continues that likewise “if we forget the relationship of this order to us as Christians, then we have a sterile orthodoxy, and we have no true Christian life. Christian life will wither and die; spirituality in any true biblical sense will come to an end.”

What was on your mind today?

Photo © 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

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Pop Fiction

If you say that popular fiction is vulgar and tawdy, you only say what the dreary and well-informed say also about the images in the Catholic churches. Life (according to faith) is very like a serial story in a magazine: life ends with the promise (or menace) “to be continued in our next.” Also, with a noble vulgarity, life imitates the serial and leaves off at the exciting moment. For death is distinctly an exciting moment.

— G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
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Going Back to Eden

“If you want to [truly appreciate nature], you must go back to the garden of Eden. For… only the supernatural has taken a sane view of Nature. The essence of all pantheism, evolutionism, and modern cosmic religion is really in this proposition: that Nature is our mother. Unfortunately, if you regard Nature as a mother, you discover that she is a stepmother. The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us…This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity. Nature was a solemn mother to the worshipers of Isis and Cybele. Nature was a solemn mother to Wordsworth or to Emerson. But Nature is not solemn to Francis of Assisi or to George Herbert. To St. Francis, Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister: a little, dancing sister, to be laughed at as well as loved.”

— G.K. Chesterton

Photograph of the Grand Tetons © 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

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Exulting In Monotony

I have a handful of flower pics. I’m not particularly fond of flower pictures. I mean, they’re alright for what they are, but what am I supposed to post with them. I feel like anything I say comes across like I’m trying to write a Hallmark card simply because a picture of a flower sets a certain mood. 

Mr. Chesterton has solved that problem, at least this time. Below is a excerpt from Orthodoxy that I find to be extremely refreshing. Enjoy.

“The variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets in an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy… The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg… Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance.”

Photograph © 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

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Evening Reading

© 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

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Inspired To Scribble

You know an author has stepped into your mind, pulled up a chair, and poured himself a snifter of your single-malt scotch when, as you’re ruminating over his words, you have the impulse to rapidly scribble the image he placed in your imagination for fear of losing the mental image. Even if you’ve never actually put pen to paper in this manner, I’m sure you are familiar with the experience. It’s the kind of event that makes you want to invite your guest to stay a little longer, the impetus that drives you to ask, “Sir, can I pour you another drink?”

The line that stirred me to sketch a rhinoceros…

“It is one thing to describe an interview with a gorgon or a griffin, a creature who does not exist. It is another thing to discover that the rhinoceros does exist and then take pleasure in the fact that he looks as if he didn’t.”

— G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

© 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

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G.K.Chesterton describes the average – ordinary – person as one who desires “an active and imaginative life,” a life that is “picturesque  and full of poetical curiosity,” not a blank existence, but one full of “variety and adventure.” It is this sense of ordinary that I aim to instill in my children. For as “the man in the yacht” says, “We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable.”

All quotes are from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.

© 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

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