The Faith of George Washington

This morning I showed to my 9/10 and 11/12 grade Bible classes this video sermon by D James Kennedy. I have it in my library from some years back, taped right off the tube when I was watching the Coral Ridge Hour.  It continues to thrill me to hear of the life and faith of Washington. While it has become custom to question the religious faith of our founding fathers and to entertain any suggestion, no matter how small, that they were men of clay feet, there is powerful evidence of extraordinarily deep devotion, moral rectitude and humble piety among them. Foremost must be George Washington.

As Kennedy quotes in his sermon, some considered Washington, in his day, to be the “moral wonder of the world.” The fact remains that there are those who follow in the train of the apostles, who run for the prize and who do manifest a life worthy of emulation.

The book from which Kennedy does much of his quoting is “George Washington, The Christian” by William J. Johnson.

Of course, there was no reference to Washington’s slave holding or to any other worldviews that made him a creature of his day. But if we are to have heroes of any kind, we must at some point be generous enough of spirit to allow others to remain but flesh.

 I think I am challenged enough to do even more reading on Washington. I am in temperament his opposite. I am often hot blooded, quick of response and a man of moods. I like men who do not hold their cards to their chest and who are not squeamish is expressing opinion. (In this I am particularly fond of John Adams). But it would do me well to look at the spiritual journey of such a man as this.

And besides, as a teacher I wonder who will be the heroes of our youth. Washington should be a good start.

That church is dead – really dead!!!

From A Peculiar Prophet

A couple of years ago, a District Superintendent paid me (Will Willomon) of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. He had told a pastor of our interest to move him to a different church. “I can’t do this,” responded the pastor. “That church is dead. It’s been dying for years and now I hear it’s really dead.” The DS replied, “I’ll tell the Bishop but let me warn you, this guy really believes that Easter is true. To tell him a pastor or a church is dead means nothing to him. He just sees death as an opportunity to see what Jesus can do.”

Rob Bell’s “Today”

We used this Nooma video in worship today as we began our Easter celebration. Rob reflects on the moment Jesus said to Mary, “do not hold on to me.” Could it be that Mary thought the old times were back, that it was going to be as good as it was, as if her best days were behind her? Jesus said no, let those days go. Something new is at work today. Today is God’s fullness, so be fully present to God. I began the service with the words, “let it go” – the marriage you had, the job you had, the moment you would have frozen forever. Let go of the grief that it is gone, the bitterness of losing it, the hope to regain it. Let it go. He is risen – today. See the new. Believe again. Run to the light.

An African tribal rendition of the Nicene Creed

Krista Tippett replayed an interview with Jaraslov Pelikan, authority on the creeds of the church. In it he refers to the Maasai Creed, a resculpting of the Nicene Creed by a west Nigerian people. We will be reciting it on Easter Sunday at Coastal.

“We believe in one high God, who out of love created the beautiful world. We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and [humanity], and showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by His people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He was buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch Him, and on the third day He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love, and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.”

Listen to Steve Brown online

Steve Brown is one of my favorite speakers and authors. Those of us in the Boston area know Steve as the former pastor of First Presbyterian in Quincy, MA, but he moved on for wider ministry, and his radio ministry has been outstanding. He is one of those orthodox types who hasn’t lost his sense of humor and faces tough questions. No glibness or nuttiness here. Click here for his online blog and radio program.