If you find yourself in hell, a victim of natural disaster, drowned by your own ruined heart and participations in evil, do not be afraid or lose hope; a preacher is going to come, and the preacher is the crucified and risen creator, who is patient and who loves the world.
This preacher remembers his covenant with every living thing on earth; he remembers mercy, not our sins.
Unlike the ancient gods, whose malevolence or indifference must be appeased for favors, this preacher enters our world of tsunamis and wars and plagues as one of us to endure the waves and the violence and the pestilence, to suffer hunger and thirst and trials.
This preachers drowns with the disobedient outside the ark, with the chariot armies of the Egyptians, with the lost tribes of Israel, and with us. He doesn’t want to be the only righteous human while his unrighteous brothers and sisters go under. His baptism is our baptism.
Our common ancestors failed to keep a fast but this preacher keeps his. Our ancestors grasped for equality with God but this preacher embraces human limitations. And because he does these human things as God, the one human nature we all share is granted his permanence by grace.
His record of resistance to evil is now the story of our life as a gift. His victory in wilderness temptation is our victory.

And what does this preacher preach?
The time is here. The kingdom has arrived. Repent. Believe this gospel (even if it all seems to damn good to be true). It’s trustworthy. We can venture everything on Jesus Christ, our human brother, with us in all of our prisons, hells to which he holds the keys.
Lectionary preaching used to be a chore. Now it is quite literally life to me.

Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-9, 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15

Note: I am on a mini-sabbatical until Palm Sunday. Expect to hear almost nothing from me until then. 😎

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More from @kennethtanner

5 Jan
Time for some honesty. For five years now the President has said things and done things that I felt we should not tolerate in a leader of the nation. I used to be quite vocal about it but there was always a pattern in response: that’s not what he said (though I heard him say it).
That’s not what he meant (when his meaning was unambiguous). That’s not what he did (but I’m watching the video and, well, that’s what he did). At some point I brought these things up less because the price for bringing them up was too high in relationships with people I love.
At some point, after so much feedback, it’s not that you doubt your ears or eyes, or your judgment or discernment, but you do wonder—somehow—if you’re being fair or perhaps you’ve developed on innate bias, and you try real hard to see the other side of the coin, grant the doubt.
Read 8 tweets
3 Jan
Remember the words of the human God and of all the angels: “Do not be afraid.”

That’s not a command. That’s a promise: I (we) are here and our presence means nothing can harm you or separate you from us, not now, not ever.
I think a misreading of these “Do not fear” texts is to assume that the obligation is now on us to never fear what we face or what we are going through, when it’s far closer to: “I’ve got you” and “I’ve got this.”
When a large, barking dog appears on the trail between my grandchildren and I, they draw close to me, or climb into my arms, and I say, “Don’t be afraid.”
Read 4 tweets
1 Jan
When God created the visible (and invisible) universe he spoke words—"let there be light"—and things that were not in one moment began to exist in the next. Stars. Planets. Oceans. Mountains. Trees. Animals. Flowers.
All things were breathed into existence by God. Our wisdom says it was the Son by whom the Father spoke all things into being; Christ spoke the things that were not as though they were and they were so. Orchid. Zebra. Maple. Everest. Atlantic. Jupiter. Andromeda. And so on.
Instead of speaking humanity into existence, our wisdom says that God hand-crafted us from clay, breathed life into motionless humanity, invested flesh with his image, and gave us something the rest of creation does not have except metaphorically: the divine capacity of language.
Read 17 tweets
1 Jan
The church marks time by the life of Jesus. Our year began back on Nov 27, as we slowed to wait for the coming of God in the manger and at the end, tuning our hearts to the reality that God is always coming into the world in every moment from the beginning to the end of time.
We are the ones who by frenzy and rush become unaware of his myriad arrivals: in the poor, in the immigrant, in the prisoner, in the sick, in our friends and neighbors, in our chosen family, and in bread and wine on all the tables of the world where sinners gather.
Jesus told us that in this world we would have troubles but not to be afraid because he has overcome “the world”—not his good creation, but the powers that make our life in his good world subject to death.
Read 7 tweets
2 Nov 20
A thread of prayers.

May you remember that all politics and all platforms and all legalities and all borders and all leaders are temporary.
May you recall that political movements and boundaries and personalities and programs are here one day and gone the next. All of these are passing away.
May you resist the temptation to place ultimate trust in any person, policy, party, movement, or nation — even a beautiful idea that is embodied by a nation — because there is no nation with an eternal foundation.
Read 20 tweets
30 Oct 20
According to the Larger Westminster Confession, the second commandment rules out even the creation of mental images of God.
What does this mean for children’s Bible storybooks, a television series like “The Chosen,” the sixth century Sinai Pantocrator, or Grünewald’s tortuous Isenheim Altarpiece, all of which present our eyes and imaginations with images of Jesus.
The commandment against “graven images” forbids the human tendency to project or manufacture or imagine gods or objects of worship other than the Living God.

This is not what has happened in the carpenter from Nazareth. He is not made but begotten.
Read 8 tweets

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