Welcome to Pastor Jack Buckley's weekly blog and podcast.
You have three ways to hear his weekly message:
- Read Pastor Jack's GODblog.
- Listen now to an audio of the scripture reading and Pastor Jack's sermon.
- Listen anytime. You choose the time and place. Download Pastor Jack's GODcast to your MP3 player.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
How To Make God Happy
Isaiah 42:1-9; Matthew 3:13-17
Saturday, January 8: Pastor, church staff, and elders gather for a retreat to seek a common vision for the new church year.
Activities include a timeline with notes about when we became part of the church, significant events since we joined, happy memories, sources of sadness, and such.
Our facilitator comments, "Why don't you show any landmark events in the world outside your church -- the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Loma Prieta earthquake, Columbine massacre, 9/11? Didn't they affect your church's life and work?"
Ouch. We had followed her instructions to the letter, which had not mentioned outside events. So our church history seemed to happen all within a nice little time-warp.
Sunday, January 9: I read the shocking news of the tragic shootings in Tucson, which took place while our timeline was being innocently built and critically dissected. I think and pray and wrestle with how I might use my sermon to say something -- anything! -- about that bad news from Tucson while celebrating the Good News about Jesus' baptism. I don't want to repeat our timeline's time-warp, as if the church was an airtight refuge from real-life problems.
But my brain and my heart aren't agile enough to wrap that Gospel story around the shocking events in the Tucson story. So I use Plan B, and include the shooting and its aftermath in our prayers of the people.
+ + + + +
All these days later, I remain unsure exactly what to say about that terrible tragedy. Others wiser and more articulate than I have done admirable jobs of that.
But let me try this...
John the Baptist got all worked up when Jesus, Son of God and Messiah and Holy One of Israel, stood in line to be baptized among all the penitent sinners. "This is all wrong!" he said. "No," said Jesus, "It's absolutely right."
The King James Bible says Jesus' choice to be baptized would "fulfill all righteousness." Same thing. It was the one sure way to make God happy that day. In fact, once John did baptize Jesus God's voice came booming out of heaven, "This is my son. I love him! I am so very pleased with him right now!"
When holy Jesus came to stand alongside imperfect you and me, he set himself to experience all of life's curses and blessings, its uncertainties and worries and woes, just the way that we do. He knows what it's like to be tempted, to suffer pain and loss, to be betrayed and beaten, and to die a horrible death.
If that's at all true, then in some profound way he was spiritually present in Tucson, fully aware of all that was happening and fully involved in it all. Nobody's fear and anguish and pain and even death was happening all by itself, being suffered all alone.
Christ was right there with them. Feeling their pain. Suffering their loss. And Christ is here with me, in me, opening my spirit to feel their pain and suffer their loss. I am not powerless in the face of such tragedy. None of us is, or ever has to be.
Listen to the GODcast!
posted by Jack Buckley at