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Dave Brisbin | 9.10.17
Anyone who’s played football had to learn the playbook and how to run the plays in the book, but the real play of football begins where the playbook ends. What do you do when the playbook has delivered you the ball, put it in your hands, and now it’s just you, a field full of linebackers, and a goal line? A great chef begins where the recipe ends and jazz players are defined by the music they make beyond the printed page. It’s a great irony that the church has traditionally told us that God will bless us if we just obey the rules, the law…especially considering that Jesus spent most of his precious time trying to tell us and show us that we can only begin to see the blessings God is constantly showering on our lives once we outrun the rules:
Dave Brisbin | 9.3.17
A pastor once told me that the pulpit is the last bastion of uninterrupted speech in America. That may be true, and monologues have their place and power, but from time to time we like to have “Conversations” on Sunday mornings, times when we can interact as a group—ask questions and make comments, tell personal stories—sometimes open ended and sometimes directed. Today, directed a bit, realizing that how for the past few weeks I’ve been focusing on the “via negativa,” the ancient, Christian tradition of descent, of letting go of whatever is false in our lives may have created an overly negative view of Jesus’ Way, it seemed to good time to talk about what willingness to let go actually brings into our lives.
Dave Brisbin | 8.27.17
In saying that Jesus’ hidden years show us a life of willingness to let go of anything that is not truth, to descend first, with no guarantee of ascension, just a promise…what does that look like? What does it mean in real life? Our lives? Piecing together the clues in the few stories we have in the Gospels, it looks like leaving home. Leaving everything that is familiar, comfortable and comforting, what has always been and seems secure and certain, stepping out into the unknown without a safety net, away from those on which you’ve always depended. We see Jesus leaving home four times in the Gospels—short bloodless, matter of fact descriptions with little or none of the raw human emotion and drama of such leavings, both for Jesus and his loved ones.
Dave Brisbin | 8.20.17
Francis of Assisi is credited with saying that we should preach the Gospel continuously and use words where necessary. Taking his cue from Jesus, Francis understood that the Gospel was first a way of living life and only secondarily and of necessity a concept put into words. That words were only as good as the experience that gave them life. Jesus himself and his life itself is the message, the Way, but in our hyper-intellectualism, we miss all that, and in our focus on Jesus as God, we miss his life as a human, as a man—as scripture tells us: fully human, like us in all things, prone to all our weaknesses, learning and growing as we do, yet with an unquenchable desire to know truth, which brought him fully one with the Father, or as scripture puts it, “without sin.” What does that “gospel” look like, what does the shape of Jesus’ life tell us about the shape of ours?
Dave Brisbin | 8.13.17
The hardest thing for us to understand about Kingdom is its immediacy. The understanding of Jesus’ Kingdom as the heaven of afterlife is so deeply embedded in us, that intellectually understanding otherwise doesn’t really move the needle much. We can say we understand and yet for years still operate as if this Kingdom is still off waiting to happen in some undertermined future. It’s only by living the process of Jesus’ Way, day in and day out, that little by little the conviction builds that when it comes to Kingdom, its’ always today.
Dave Brisbin | 8.6.17
When Jesus says that he is the Way, truth, and life, if we’re to take him at his word, what he is saying is that he is both a person and a process. The implications of this statement are radical, but we typically don’t even consider them as the church has come to focus almost exclusively on Jesus as a person and has lost the promise of process: finding the person/truth that makes us free. But though the processness of Jesus may be lost on us, it wasn’t on his first followers who called themselves “talmidey urha,” Aramaic for Followers of the Way…not followers of Jesus.
Dave Brisbin | 7.30.17
How could an abundance of emphasis on the absolute love of God be a problem? What could go wrong? It is one of the ironies of my life and chosen profession that my absolute focus on the absolute nature of God’s love has placed me at odds with many of my Christian contemporaries, and though this over simplifies the nature of any controversy, it at least accurately expresses my intentions and the method in my “heresy.” At a recent gathering, in the midst of an energetic discussion, one man called me a “functional heretic,” a term I just loved and enthusiastically accepted. I knew what he meant: that I was someone pushing the envelope just short of too far to remain functioning within Christendom, remaining true to Jesus and his message even if expressed in radically different ways. But the reason I loved and accepted the term is because I believe it absolutely applies to Jesus as well.
Dave Brisbin | 7.23.17
If God is a playful God—as mirrored by Jesus who loved to play with children, tell colorful and funny stories, eat and drink with his friends—how are we to react and respond? How does this notion that God doesn’t live life as a duty to perform but a playground to be experienced change the shape of our journeys? Why is playfulness so important? Think on it: to be in a playful mood and mode is to be tender and open…to be vulnerable. It’s a place of the surrender of control, a suspension of disbelief and reason and defense. It’s far too frightening a place for many of us to go, who don’t feel safe enough to be playful.
Dave Brisbin | 7.16.17
On the 15th anniversary of my ordination, I took a look back at the subject of my first sermon on ordination day all those years ago: The Gospel According to Lou. A beloved friend who died from complications arising from diabetes two weeks before my ordination, Lou’s last words to me and my wife fueled a fundamental change in me and my first sermon that I thought I already had in the bag… “Love each other, just love each other…and kid around a little.” Twelve words. But it was the kidding around part that characterized Lou, who’s playful smile always made me feel I was the only person in a crowded room. It was his playfulness that made all of us aware that Lou actually enjoyed the love he expressed for everyone in his path.
Dave Brisbin | 7.9.17
What about faith healing? What is it? How does it work? Does it work? Is it biblical? Questions such as these are always present. They are born out of a deep human need for healing and wholeness—and out of the pain, trauma, and fear life presents. People in pain can be most easily manipulated so we need to be wary, yet Jesus healed many of the people around him…aren’t those gifts still in operation? How do we know how to proceed?