Tuesday, April 24, 2007

An Earth-like planet: what about a doctrine of extraterrestrial life?

As science fiction fans such as myself have long dreamed, the day has finally come when scientists have confirmed that a planet capable of sustaining life, Gilese 581c, exists a little more than twenty light-years from Earth: orbiting a star in the constellation Libra.

The planet exists within exactly the right temperature range, 32º to 102º F, to allow both liquid water and life to flourish on its surface. In addition, the planet's sun has been stable for several billion years, long enough for life to have established a foothold.

We don't know whether the planet sustains life. But the very possibility that it does requires thoughtful, faithful Christians to ask: if Gilese 581c (let's call it Decima for now) is home to life, intelligent or otherwise, how can our faith in the Bible as God's revealed word deal effectively with such a paradigm-shifting discovery? The answer, I believe, is surprisingly better than we might think.

———

First, let's look at exactly what the Bible says about creation.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

Now, obviously, the creation recounted in Genesis gives primacy of place to earth's creation -- and why shouldn't it? God wasn't revealing what he did to our hypothetical Decimans, he was speaking to folks right here, a little closer to home.

But notice what the text doessay: "God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). While the text specifically mentions earth, not surprising considering its earth-based audience, the Bible does mention the heavens.

We know, from our reading of Scripture, that the Bible talks about three distinct "heavens," the shamayim.

First, there is the sky here on earth, the heavens of the birds and the clouds and the weather. Second, there is the heavens where the sun, moon, and planets exist, what we would call "space." Finally, there is the third heaven, the heaven we think of as "Heaven," proper -- the place Dante called the "Empyrean," the source of light and the abode of God.

I believe that when the Bible says that "God created the heavens and the Earth," it is referring to God's laying out of the divine canvas that is the universe.

The Bible then recounts how God's Spirit hovered over the face of the formless void of earth and walks us through the steps of creation that God took in making the earth he had just created into the form that he purposed. God creates light: the very essence of his presence shining upon the creation as he hovers over it, filling the universe with his light by his Word.

Then verses 6-8 record the creation of the first heaven, the sky. "So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome [i.e., the weather]. And it was so. God called the dome Sky" (Genesis 1:7-8a).

God makes the earth fruitful: he specifically calls forth vegetation. "Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so" (Genesis 1:11). Note the specificity of the text: God specifically tells the Earth to bear plant life. The command recorded here neither limits nor presupposes that God has reserved earth as a special abode for life.

After bringing forth vegetation, God divides the light into day and night, assigning the sun and the moon their roles.

All of the conditions necessary for animal life -- water, light, air, plants -- are now ready. And God creates: "And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so" (Genesis 1:24). Again, notice the permissive phrasing of the text: Earth is called to bring forth life; nowhere does Scripture deny the existence of other animal life.

The sixth day sees the culmination of God's creative action on Earth: "Then God said, ‘Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humans in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:26-27).

God's plan for the creation of Earth is complete: his sentient creatures, designed for fellowship with him, were ready. "And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed" (Genesis 2:8). Notice that God does give special attention to his newly created humans. To this point, he has spoken and creation has burst forth. But here, God "plants" -- a picture of the almighty King of the Universe lovingly preparing a place for those to whom "dominion" over "the earth" has been given.

Again, however, nowhere in the text do we see Scripture telling us that Earth is the only place where God's creative action is at work. We are told that humans are created in God's image; yet we are not told that we are the only ones to whom that honor has been bestowed. And, once they are placed in the garden, humans are given a chance to choose God or to choose their own way. God gives them the opportunity to make a moral choice: whether to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We all know, of course, what Eve, and then her husband Adam, chose. Rebellion.

Of course, this, too, was within God's plan.

Even at the Fall, God's love for his sentient human creatures was there, when he prophesied concerning the fate of the humans and the Serpent.

God sais, "I will put enmity between you [the Serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15).

———

The Bible does not rule out the creation of other planets, or other life, in the Genesis account. Nor does the Bible even say that humans are specifically the only sentient creatures in God's creation. But does the Bible suggest that there are other sentient creatures, other life?

We know, of course, that there are angels, of both the holy and fallen varieties. Nowhere in the Genesis account do we learn the specifics of their creation. Does that mean that God did not create them or that they are co-eternal with God? Certainly, other Scripture would belie both those arguments. A logical conclusion -- and a conclusion consistent with the witness of Scripture -- is that the angels, as agents of God, are created (see Isaiah's account of Lucifer's creation and rebellion) and that we are not told about their creation.

Why did God not tell us? The answer seems obvious: the Bible is God's revelation of Himself and his interaction with humans. We do not know how God reveals himself to the angels -- or if revelation is even necessary. Why, then, would it not be possible for God to have created life elsewhere, without revealing that to us?

In answering that question, we are not left in a Scriptural void. The clearest argument for a divine reference to non-Earth life comes from Jesus himself.

In the tenth chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus is answering the Pharisees' accusation, captured in John 9, that he sinned by healing a man born blind on the Jewish Sabbath. The parable that he tells is the familiar story of the Good Shepherd.

As a part of that story, Jesus identifies his "flock" as all the faithful people, Jews and Gentiles alike, who listen to his voice. Then, curiously, Jesus speaks of "other sheep":
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me -- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father -- and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life -- only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:14-18) (emphasis added).
Did you notice verse 16? "I have other sheep," Jesus says. It is true that this verse is the subject of some contention, and we must deal with that contention before we discuss its implications for our argument here.

Some scholars suggest that Jesus is making a distinction to his Jewish audience, the Pharisees, that the Gentiles -- the "other sheep" in this interpretation -- will also be made a part of the flock of the faithful. This argument parallels the idea that the Gentiles are grafted-in to the Tree of Life whose root is the people of Israel. But, considering the verse in context, that seems to contradict what Jesus has been saying in the earlier verses of Chapter 10 about the sheep being all of the faithful people, regardless of whether they are Jew or Gentile.

One of the minority views about this verse is held out by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Mormons argue that this verse is a direct reference to the Jewish remnant that they believe existed in North and South America during Biblical times. They argue that Christ is referring to these "sheep" and bringing them into the flock of the faithful.

But to me, neither of these interpretations (certainly not the one alleging that the Jews scatted from the northern Kingdom of Israel based at Samaria made it to the Western hemisphere) make sense in the context of John 10. So if Jesus is not talking about phantom people-groups in the West and if he is not referring to Gentiles, who do the sheep "not of this sheep pen" represent?

I argue that the sheep referenced by Jesus before this mysterious "other ... pen" represent all the sheep -- or people -- on Earth. In the classical language of the Old Testament, you're either Hebrew -- a Jew -- or you're a Gentile, one belonging to the nations to whom the Israelites were charged to be witnesses as God's covenant, chosen people. So if Christ's earlier references to sheep account for all the people on Earth, who are the sheep in the other pen? Could they be sentient creatures on other planets?

Suppose, arguendo, that the other pen is another planet. Look at Christ's statement: "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." Jesus is proclaiming his impending substitutionary, atoning death and subsequent resurrection. He is asserting his sufficient Lordship over all creation. And here, in John 10, he appears to even be applying that sacrifice to "other sheep pens" and the sheep in those pens, too!

———

It is, to be certain, a bold argument to say that Christ himself references sentient life on other planets. But I must not claim that I originated this idea.

One of the Twentieth Century's most influential Christian writers, C.S. Lewis got to it before I did. In his books Out of the Silent Planet and Thulcandra, Lewis boldly asserts, in fiction, that Christ's atoning sacrifice covered not only the sins of humanity, but also gave hope to God's creatures on Mars and Venus.

We know, today, that there is no life, at least sentient life, on either of our two neighbors in this solar system. But what of other planets? What about Decima?

If, one day, a human probe or vessel visits Decima, and they do find life, who is to say that such life will not have already discovered the worship of Creator, His Son, and His Spirit? As Lewis theorized, such a discovery would -- like the possiblity and potential of life on Decima itself -- have enormous implications for Earth and her people.

After all, how astounding an affirmation of God and His Gospel would the discovery of sentient life worshipping the Triune God be?

Whether or not Decima, or some other planet that science may soon discover, sustains life, the Bible, and our understanding of God and his revelation to us, will not be shattered by the discovery. Indeed, such a worldview-changing event may draw even more of God's image-bearers on Earth -- and Decima? -- to relationship with him.

Let us pray, with C.S. Lewis and all God's saints from throughout time and space, that as we explore God's universe, we will but uncover more of God's glory.

FEELING: Inspired
LISTENING TO: Air 1

Monday, April 23, 2007

Gordon Gee's measure of VU athletics success

In an article by the Associated Press, Vanderbilt chancellor Gordon Gee discussed how the program has progressed since he eliminated the Department of Athletics and the position of Athletics Director four years ago.

Gee also responded to the AP reporter's contention that "some doubters" of Vanderbilt's athletics restructuring "won't be converted until they see success in football" with his own measure of how far the Commodores have come since the VU Athletics Department went the way of the dinosaur:
And Gee has faith that the ultimate measure of football success -- a bowl game -- is near. "We're no longer anybody's homecoming game," [Gee] said.
FEELING: Pumped
LISTENING TO: Professor giving a review for one of our Law Finals

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Reflections on the murders at Virginia Tech

Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time, Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel, for his part, brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering; but for Cain and his offering, he had no regard.

Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it."

Later, Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out to the field." And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"

Cain replied, "I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?"

The Lord said, "What have you done? Listen: your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!" *

———

Sin lurks at our door, desiring us. God challenges us to master it. But we do not listen.

This is the first time a man killed another. Cain slaughtered his brother as he had done to this animal sacrifice. Lured him into a field, a trap, where he rose up against Abel. Pre-meditated. Brutal. Bloody.

The sin which led Cain down the path of murder need not have done so. God warned Cain that Cain's wounded pride was a foothold for sin. God warned him, "Sin is lurking at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it."

But Cain did not listen.

Instead of seeking God's will in mastering the sin that threatened him, Cain pursues his sin. His pride begins to consume him. And begins to burn with rage against his brother. This man whose parents literally walked with God did not seek their wisdom in following God's command. He did not ask God why God rejected his offering in the first place. He did not seek God's will in how to make his sacrifice worthy as his brother's had been.

He shifted the blame for what happened away from himself and decided that it was his brother's fault. If Cain could not have the favor of the Lord, then neither would Abel.

And so Cain lures Abel into the field: "Let us go into the field," he said.

His brother, a man whose faith led him to offer up the firstlings of his sheep, saw no malice in his own flesh and blood. And in the innocence of the morning of the world, he never dared suspect his brother of so heinous a motive. He followed.

Scripture does not record how Cain killed his brother. And, in the end, the method he used does not really matter. We know that he rose up against him and killed him. I imagine the two brothers walking silently in the field. Perhaps Cain is nervous; he knows what he is about to do. He knows that he is about to spill blood that has never been shed before. And he knows he is about to disobey God.

He knows, with the voice of God still ringing in his heart, that what he is about to do is wrong. And yet, as he and his brother walk into the field, he resolves to complete his revenge. His pride yearns to destroy the source of its demotion. One can imagine Cain leading his brother into the field. The two walking, perhaps with Cain in the lead.

All of a sudden, Cain turns; his brother, surprised, wonders what is happening. And then the reality begins to sink in as Cain destroys the life that had wounded his pride.

We do not know how Cain killed Abel; but we do know that it involved spilt blood.

How does God respond to what Cain has done? The Lord gives the man with blood on his hands a chance to admit what he has done. He offers Cain an opportunity to confess and seek the Lord's forgiveness. What does Cain do? He lies.

The sin that Cain allowed a foothold is working its evil. First, Cain was envious. Then he was prideful. He harbored wrath. That wrath grew into murder. After the murder, Cain turns to lies. Even then, God would have heard Cain's confession had he offered it. Certainly, there would have been consequences. But perhaps God would have mitigated the curse under which Cain would labor. Perhaps he would have eased Cain's guilt.

We cannot know, because Cain did not confess. He thought he could hide his inquity from the eyes of Almighty God. When God came looking for Abel, Cain replies with sarcasm, anger, and guilt. "Am I my brother's keeper," he bitterly asks.

But God will not be mocked. When Cain refuses to acknowledge what he has done, God's righteous wrath is kindled against the murderer. "What have you done," the Lord thunders, "your brother's blood cries to me from the ground!"

———

As our nation responds to what happend in Blacksburg yesterday, we ask one another what we would ask the gunman, as God asked Cain, "What have you done?"

The very blood of those thirty-two people cries to us from the floors, walls, and ground upon which it lays spilt.

We cannot escape the horrible sound of the ominous, incessant gunfire, as our minds recall the horrible images of yesterday. All day long, the death count continued to rise. Shock and disbelief turn to anger. Why did this man do this? Why?!

What we have heard of this man, this killer, is that he was a loner. No friends, really, to speak of. The police have had difficulty finding information on him because he just did not know many people. He did not have the fellowship for which he was designed. He was a foreigner living in a land not his own. This man, an image-bearer of the Almighty and Everlasting God, created from eternity for relationship with him, could not find a friend, even on a campus of 25,000. If early reports are correct, he may have just lost his girlfriend, perhaps the only real relationship he had.

Surely, his pride was wounded. He was lonely. His world was collapsed. His reasons for trying to fight against the self-doubt and sense of isolation finally ran out. Like Cain, sin was lurking in at the door. He should have, like Cain, received the call to fight sin, and master it.

"But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?"

Paul asks the difficult quesiton that we, too, must ask in the aftermath of a tragedy such as what happend only three hours from my home, in the mountains of my birth.

The sin that caused Cho Seung-Hui to coldy, calmly, and deliberately murder thirty-two of his fellow human beings yesterday should be no stranger to any of us, "since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

After something like this, we always ask, "Why?" But we often ignore the answer. Here was a man lonely and hurting. Some published reports suggest he may have been the vicitm of pedophilia from his father as a child. This was a young man who needed the transforming relationship and fulfillment that only God's love can bring. Because he never found it, he never mastered his sin.

And so, yesterday, the whole world saw the consequences of sin left to itself. It festers and grows and multiplies until it can no longer contain itself, and then it spends its energy destroying as many lives as it can. And in this case, it did so on international television.

People have called what happened yesterday senseless. And, in the sense that there was no reason for innocent people to die, it was.

But we must remember that Cho's actions were neither random nor unpredictable. Like Cain, Cho let sin master him. And ultimately, the lonliness and anger that consumed him on the inside destroyed not only his life, but those of others.

God of Infinite Grace, we confess that so many times we, like Cain, do not seek your help in mastering our sin. We proclaim that you alone are worthy to break the power of sin in our lives, to reclaim us from the curse of death eternal and to purchase for us everlasting life. Help us, O Father, to understand that your power is available to each of us to conquer the sin in our lives. Comfort those who lost friends and loved-ones to death and use this tragedy to bring glory to your Name. We give you thanks, O Lord, that you love each one of us; that you have called each one of us into intimate relationship with you. We ask and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

* Genesis 4:2b-10

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Endorsement: Fred Thompson for President

Since I'm sure the world has been waiting to see who I will endorse for President of the United States in 2008 (said with tongue very firmly in cheek), I hereby endorse and encourage Fred Dalton Thompson to stand for nomination by the Republican Party and to seek election to the office of President of the United States in 2008.

First, I endorse Fred because of his record of service to my home State. Fred grew up in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. After he graduated from Memphis State University (now University of Memphis) and Vanderbilt University Law School, Fred became an assistant United States attorney in Nashville.

At the age of 30, Fred was appointed Minority Counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, where he served in 1973 and 1974. In 1977 Thompson took on the case of a Tennessee Parole Board chairman fired under suspicious circumstances. Thompson's work helped to expose a cash-for-clemency scheme that ultimately toppled corrupt Governor Ray Blanton.

Then, in 1996, he ran for and was elected to the United States Senate by the people of Tennessee. It was then that I first met the Senator, when he was touring Tennessee's ninety-five counties, and he stopped at the Courthouse in my hometown (the picture from that occasion is going to be dusted off and published to Facebook soon).

That is the second reason that I endorse Fred: his rock-solid, Tennessee-style conservative record. One of the things that marks a Tennessee lawmaker on the state-wide level is their tendency to practical conservatism. According to On the Issues.org, Fred is a moderate, populist conservative. Check out his voting record (especially toward the bottom of the page, where the website summarizes his career in the United States Senate).

Finally, I endorse Mr. Thompson because I echo many of the arguments made by Tennessee's newspaper of political record, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press in their editorial endorsing Fred's run for the presidency:
The barbarians are at our gates. Our nation -- our civilization -- is under attack by countless jihadists who are so dedicated to our destruction that they are willing, even eager, to destroy themselves suicidally to strike us.

At the same time, although our country enjoys great prosperity and promise, we are being afflicted domestically by a vile and intense degree of petty partisan political hatred and divisiveness that inhibits application of sound principles and positive possibilities, generating ill will and negativism.

In this frustrating atmosphere, are you satisfied that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John Edwards has the vision to unify our country in progressive good will with presidential leadership for a brighter future?

Do you believe Rudy Giuliani or John McCain or Mitt Romney can light a torch of leadership that will generate national unity of purpose and good will on a sound path to confront our challenges and overcome them?

Each of them has "something" that kindles his or her ambition. But each obviously is lacking "something" that is needed to stimulate the national will required for our troubled times.

It is significant that while there are many actively "seeking" the presidency of the United States, there is one outstanding individual who is not -- but is being "sought" because he has demonstrated many unique qualities of sound principle, possesses wisdom gained from proved experience, has admirable qualities of character and has displayed a cooperative spirit of good will that could inspire a great majority of Americans to unify enthusiastically to elect him.
I agree that in these troubled times, we need a Statesman. We need a leader. Someone who, like Ronald Reagan, can remind Americans of why our nation should be seen as a "city on a hill."

I enthusiastically endorse Fred Thompson. And I pray that God will lead him to seek the nomination to the office of President of the United States.

FEELING: Excited
LISTENING TO: One of Fred's speeches when he filled in for Paul Harvey on ABC Radio

Friday, April 06, 2007

He said 'It is finished'

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face.

Pilate went out again and said to the crowd, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him."

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"

When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him."

The Jews gathered there answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God."

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, "Where are you from?"

But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?"

Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor."

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called "The Stone Pavement," or in Hebrew, "Gabbatha." Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!"

They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!"

Pilate asked them, "Shall I crucify your King?"

The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar."

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called, "The Place of the Skull," which in Hebrew is called, "Golgotha." There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.

Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'"

Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it."

This was to fulfil what the scripture says: "They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots." And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, John, standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son."

Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), "I am thirsty." A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him.

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken." And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced."

--Ninteenth chapter of the Gospel of John

FEELING: Contrite
LISTENING TO: Psalm 22

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mandatum novum do vobis: Maundy Thursday

Today we celebrate and remember the night Jesus institued the Lord's Supper, washed his disciples' feet, gave them a New Commandment, and was betrayed by one of his inner circle.

Maundy Thursday, as it is called in English, developed its name from the Old French word mandé, which in turn came from the Latin mandatum. The Latin comes from John 13:34:
Mandatum novum do vobis: ut diligatis invicem: sicut dilexi vos, ut et vos diligatis invicem.
Which, of course, is translated, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

We are invited to gather this night to celebrate the Lord's Supper, recalling the "New Covenant, in my blood, which is shed for you and for many." We relive the anxiety and courage that Jesus underwent as he prayed that "this cup may pass," but "not my will, but yours be done." We watch Judas' betrayal of Christ in the garden, and we confess the part our sin plays in the ultimate treason of creature against Creator.

We look to the paradoxically-named morrow: Good Friday, with its torture, abuse, and murder. And we mourn the death of God's only Son, the sinless, perfect sacrifice.

But we do not mourn without hope. Because we know that Easter, with its Resurrection light and joy, is just beyond the horizon.

FEELING: Thoughtful
LISTENING TO: Sounds of breaking bread and wine outpoured

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Quote of the day: April 3

From the Family Guy episode "Bango was his name-o":
Brian: "Maybe you should slow down."

Stewie (yelling because he's hyped up on caffeine pills, while driving a Winnebago): "Why?! We're making good time!"

Brian: "We're not even on the road!"

Stewie: "Huh?!"

Brian: "I said, we're not even on the road!"

Stewie: "Don't need to be! Compass says, 'west,' that's where we're headed!"

Brian: "Stewie, we're in the middle of the desert."

Stewie: "I know! Imagine the nads on the guys who did this is in a wagon. Pioneers! We share their spirit... manifest destiny!!"
FEELING: Distracted
LISTENING TO: Stewie and Brian arguing