A letter to the racoons that live in my ceiling.

Dear Racoons,

I have lived underneath you for some time now and desire to make a formal complaint against you in the public domain, so that others may know of your gross breaches in the unspoken accord between man and beast.

Long ago, humans were given dominion over creation by God. All the animals are included in that statement. That means you. You better shape up.

Lately I have noticed that your noises have gotten louder and more careless as though you have no regard for those of us with two legs who do not regularly spread rabies. I have hit the ceiling several times to no avail. This does not please me.

You have crossed too many lines. You don’t respect my time while I sleep, you don’t respect my time while I study, and you’ve even gotten into my dreams. I am going to file a restraining order in hopes that someday you can learn what it means to really care about your neighbors. 

In general, I am called to be a steward of God’s creation, and you are not being helpful in encouraging this divine calling. I often think about ways of making you be quiet. Rat poison is one of the ways that most often comes to mind. I strongly suggest that you reconsider your actions. 

If you desire to make amends you have the choice of a formal apology letter or a duel (pistols at 50 paces). The choice is yours.

Your neighbor 3 feet below the floor you scurry about on,

Chauncey

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The sun is out.

Hey everyone. The sun is out and I am pumped about it. I thought I would tell you about what I did in the sun yesterday.

I went to Pike Place market and got free cheese. It was the cheese festival that happens every year. Fun stuff. Plenty of calcium.

I played baseball! It was super fun! Guys from my house and I played out in the sun and hit baseballs at a park in Queen Anne. This kid walked by me while I was going for my waterbottle and told me “nice hit.” He had a popsicle. That popsicle and his existence as a kid served to be the encouragement I never really got when I played ball as a kid. It was as though the past merged with the present and the embodiment of those kids on my team when I was little told me that I can actually play decently. Baseball was redeemed a bit in that moment.

I have been having dreams about racoons lately. Mostly in the dreams they make the same noises they make in the attic right now. 

I had this great moment yesterday with my friend Andrew. We were talking about the beatitude in Matthew where Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” It occured to me that so many times I am totally jonesing for this state of being with the Lord that is more or less having it all together. I want to be good to go. I want to be on top of the world. I want to have successfully built the spiritual equivalent of a sugarpacket village at Denny’s (an impossible feat). Yet, when you read some of this guy named Tozer’s book he points out something along the lines of the fact that our preferred spiritual state is to be like the beggar on the streets of Jerusalem. 

In other words, going off of this poor in spirit idea, the place where we ought to be is continually in a place of realizing the reality of our own lack of “having it togetherness”. Going from the beattitude it seems that this is really what Jesus wants from us. The One who said “I can do nothing by myself” (John 5:30) wants us to share that perspective. The state of blessedness here is for those who get that they don’t have it all together and that they never will.

I suppose that it is in that place you trust God above all because you know yourself to be spiritually poor. You need God to pull you through. Poverty back in the day was hard (if not impossible) to get out of…I don’t think that being poor in spirit is something that you get to stop being. It may be that it’s one of those things that you probably have to find out to be true and deal with the reality that though you have nothing spiritually to offer God, He still wants to be with you. It would seem that  it was never really about what you could give Him to begin with…

Here’s a paper I wrote on the Lord’s Supper. Maybe you like it…maybe you don’t.

Is Eucharist no More than a Reminder?

            On campus over the past week or so there has been a variety of conversations regarding the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist). The context of these discussions is a topic for a different paper. Nonetheless, in the space created by many dialogues regarding in what circumstances communion is and is not appropriate something became clear for me. It would seem for many that the concept involved in the Eucharist is simply a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for us. This apparently is the sum total for regarding the purpose of the Lord’s Supper: that in taking the bread/wafer and the wine/juice we are involved in a process of remembering the Lord’s death for us that carries no greater meaning than the remembering in and of itself. In this view the necessity of ordained clergy administering this sacrament to the congregants is often written off as unnecessary or belittled by the derogatory use of the word “traditional.” This perspective while very freeing for the American individualist, is hardly befitting the seriousness and (dare I say) eternal significance of the task at hand when the Eucharist is served for the body of Christ. It is for this reason that I must protest in essay form. The biblical record regarding the Eucharist shows that it is and will continue to be far more than a simple reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for the body of believers.

            The first mention of the Eucharist in the NT comes in the book of Matthew, and it is here that the crux of the issue lies. While giving the wine to his disciples (Mt 26:24) Jesus states that “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many.” The phrase blood of the covenant is what carries significant meaning to this discussion beyond the idea of a simple reminder. In the context of ancient Israel the blood of the covenant implies the blood of the mosaic covenant. The mosaic covenant in Exodus 24 features prominently the use of the blood of sacrificial animals as the binding agent of God’s agreement with Israel; the signature on the document so to speak. Exodus 24:6-8 describes the process (emphasis added):

 

“Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar.  Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

 

            Moses sprinkles half the blood against the altar, and the rest on the people of Israel after they have agreed to obey the LORD. Moses’ statement at the end is in my perspective an affirmation of the Israelites statement of obedience. God and the Israelites are in agreement. The covenant is then sealed with the blood of bulls marking this as fact. The theme of the covenant and the renewal of said covenant plays out through the rest of the Scripture. The Israelites fail to keep the covenant, they repent, and they fail to keep the covenant again. They (and we) fail to obey in a repetitive manner. Nonetheless, their failure does not negate God’s part of the covenant. God’s faithfulness is not lessened by the unfaithfulness of his people.

            The ultimate sense of God’s faithfulness to the covenant He made with His people is in becoming incarnate in Jesus Christ and therein renewing and fulfilling the entirety of the covenant for all time. Christ fulfills all the necessary roles of the covenant. Jesus takes on the role of the sacrifice required; the blood of the covenant becomes His blood of the covenant. Jesus takes on the role of the priest in mediating the connection between God and man through the blood of the sacrifice (His blood). Jesus takes on the role of Israel by living a sinless life in perfect obedience to God. Finally, Jesus being at the same time the fullness of man and the fullness of the Living God affirms the henceforward eternally renewed holy covenant in the name of His Father in heaven by initiating in the Spirit the very act of renewal itself.

            If this is the meaning carried by the implications of Lord’s Supper, then why is the Eucharist still not just a reminder of this immensely theologically complex and holy action of the Lord in His death and resurrection? It is not because of the nature of faith itself. We as Christians do not presume to live in separation from God, in fact a main point of the resurrection was to achieve exactly the opposite. We participate through Christ in the Spirit in the eternal community of the Triune God. As Christ’s death is our death, so is His life our life (Colossians 2:12). The same point can be made regarding the Eucharist.

            In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 the apostle Paul writes, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” According to Paul, we are truly the body of Christ. Our participation as such includes us is His death, His life, His resurrection and His renewal of the covenant that is initiated in the Eucharist.

            When Christ renews and fulfills the holy covenant, we as the body of Christ are fully participatory in this action. There can be no separation. The church is the body of Christ. In this sense when we break bread and take of the cup in the Lord’s Supper we are participating actively in Christ’s continual and eternal renewal of the covenant and remembering therein the role played by our One Holy sacrifice, priest, faithful Israel, and eternal God in making all things new. However, as a result, the Eucharist will always be far more than a reminder.

Time to take time to blog.

I hit the silly tired wall a few minutes ago. I assume that many of you know this wall. It happens when you’re really tired and things become really funny. In my case I started talking about how great of a film D3: The Mighty Ducks was…that was a tad off base to say the least. 

I have been thinking about the Holy Spirit lately. He’s really confusing. I think that for a long time I have tried to imagine what I assume God is doing. It works only so well. Recently, I discovered something obvious: I don’t see the Holy Spirit. I notice it, but I don’t see it like I see a tree or a bicycle or another human being. The Spirit of God moves and no one knows where He goes or where He came from. This may seem a bit convoluted and yes I know that we see God in other people and other places, but that to me resembles catching a glimpse of someone right before they walk around a corner. They’re there, but you can’t quite get a feel for in what capacity or how. 

I think God is like that a lot. He’s always working, He’s always around, but He isn’t seen (at least not in an overt way). I don’t really understand why that’s so strange to me. I guess it never really quite occured to me in this way before, that I believe in and worship a God that I have never seen. This doesn’t really affect my faith in Him, but it did surprise me when I realized the depths to which that may confuse other people. I believe the testimony of witnesses (the apostles) who saw the Risen Christ and through whom God built the church…but the way some people talk about Jesus, you feel like they’ve shook hands with him. Although…can I really say that I haven’t?

If people bear the image of God (and I believe they do), then each and every person is someone in whom a bit of God dwells. The image of God is in all of us, whether we be Christian or not. Jesus died for all of us, Christian and not. In that line of thinking, how do we learn to see others as that? How do we make steps towards being able to see with the eyes of the mysterious and unseen Spirit of God? 

Sometimes I really want God to tell me lots of things. I would love His opinion on lots of little things, but I am realizing that maybe God doesn’t necessarily care if I have yogurt in my oatmeal or not…maybe He just wants me to share the time I am eating oatmeal with Him. There’s another thing. 

Lots of people are graduating soon. Some of them plan on striking out for bigger and better things. Some of them (I assume) to prestigious roles in groundbreaking communities and businesses. I don’t think this is what God has for me for the next while after graduation. I do get to work at camp, which is great. However, I also plan on coming back to Seattle and getting a job for a bit after the summer ends. I think that however, the task for all of us is very similar. We are to live in relationship with the LORD. Every single day. All the time. If you think about it, that is a huge task. Learning to live in relationship with God is scary and challenging, I think moreso in a lifestyle that people would label “small.”

When asked if a janitor bring glory to God by being a janitor, people would answer yes. Yet, if they were asked if they wanted to be a janitor, most would say no. Unless someone happens to have an unusual penchant for cleaning stuff. There’s the problem though. I think that we all have bought into this idea that following Jesus will be entail the sort of life that movie stars live in film, only in real life. I guess that we read the bible and see stories of pillars of fire, battles, water changing to wine, people raising from the dead, people being lowered out of windows, etc… and we think that our lives should be that way all the time. Well, they’re not…and I don’t think they need to be.

When I read the bible I notice things like “Abraham traveled through the land as far as the site of the Great tree of Moreh…” This was after God called him. Abraham traveled with all his stuff for awhile. It didn’t seem like the Lord was constantly dropping memos to him in the process. When He stopped, the Lord spoke. Interesting. The point I am trying to make is this: Abraham walked a long way, so did Jesus. You cannot tell me that the disciples or Abraham had the best and most “super keen” time on the road everyday. I think that sometimes it must have been boring. It’s hot in the middle east. Some days I bet they were just out walking. All day. Have you been out in the sun all day? You don’t say much sometimes. It’s rather dull.

I suppose it would be nice if people would take the time to tell you that following Christ costs everything you are, even your expectations for how fun it will be. At the end of the day I didn’t start following Jesus because it was fun. I hope you didn’t either. Just wanted to throw it out there that it’s necessary for a relationship with God to factor in the little things, because eventually…that’s what life is made out of.