Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sabbath = Good Eats: Borinquen Style!

The one good thing about having Puerto Rican cousins, aunts and uncles is that you can visit Puerto Rico and practically stay for free. Moreover, all the hole-in-the-wall food joints that are on their maps wind up on your map as well. Therefore, all you have to do is tag along to taste the entire island.

We went to a wedding in El Yunque, that's the rain-forest; then to a reception at a cousin's cousin's house in Carolina and had amazing paella. Next, we spent Tuesday night in Ponce (which is a 2 hour drive through the mountains from San Juan) and woke up to great cafe con leche and wonderful breads. Then, on the drive back from Ponce, we stopped at this little roadside joint (and I mean joint) in Caguas where we had succulent pig (lechon) and great arroz habichuelas (that's rice and beans), yuca (that's a starchy root vegetable like a potato) and different PR sausages.

Right down the street from the place we were staying on the last two nights (in order to escape my crazy family) was a wonderful little sandwich place that had great cafe, an array of Cubano sandwiches and fresh squeezed china (that's PR for orange juice). (Orange juice got the name "china" in the early part of the twentieth century when the crates used to pack the oranges bound for the USA were branded: MADE IN CHINA.)

Enough about food: I think the single most exciting moment for me was going with my PR cousins and uncles to the cock fights (and losing $60). What a bizarre experience!

[The photo above is of my daughter Hannah and me.]

Monday, May 21, 2007

PROLEGOMENA: Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Sunday, May 20, 2007

A few weeks ago, in the magazine section of the New York Times, there was an article entitled: “Reinventing Middle Age.” Now, the article attempted to show how Americans, especially New Yorkers, fear the inevitable--we fear growing old. And if we fear growing old, then it logically follows that we fear death.

Now, the writer drove this point home to me when she said this: “For one thing reality has hit me in the eyebrows where I first started going gray some years ago and where I keep going grayer underneath renewed coatings of eyebrow tint.”

You see, what the writer made clear to me was this: We’ll do anything to avoid the inevitable; we’ll do anything to avoid the downward spiral of this life. We're all guilty of this at some level--every one of us.

Yet, we’ll disagree with that when we sing the first line of the opening hymn which reads, “A mighty fortress is our God a bulwark never failing. Our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills, prevailing!

You see, the God we come to worship this morning; the God we come to sing praises to, has given us hope beyond our graying hair. And that happened the moment Jesus stepped out of the tomb. So, are you ready to worship the God who gives us hope beyond death this morning? Welcome to worship!

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Brief Open Letter to Moderate TEs and REs in the PCA:
Vote "NO" on the New Perspective and Federal Vision Study Report!

There is little doubt in my mind that the report issued by the PCA's study committee on the New Perspective and Federal Vision attempts to sneak the strict subscription issue in the back door. (And let's not forget that that issue was settled three years ago. We have already decided that we are a "good faith subscription" denomination.) I saw this in the Soiuxland Presbytery commttiee report and I see it here too. Let's not be fooled by this move by the "Far-Right."


Monday, May 14, 2007

PROLEGOMENA: Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Sunday, May 13, 2007: Mother's Day

Because it’s Mother’s Day, I’d like for us to reflect on the words of St. Cyprian, who’s obviously the first person that comes to mind for all of us when we think about Mother’s Day, right?

Cyprian was a third century bishop of Carthage in North Africa and he’s most remembered for this one great statement. And that statement is this: “No one can have God as their Father if they don’t also have the church as their Mother.”

You see, Cyprian saw the church as having the qualities of a mother. And we all know that mothers: care, nurture, provide, and protect. So, he saw the church as a care-giver, a nurturer, a provider and a protector And guess what? He was right!

You see, the God we come to worship this morning; the God we come to sing praises to, has decided to “mother” his children--those who believe in his Son--in the church.

So, this morning, are you ready to worship the Father, through the Son, in the church, the one St. Cyprian calls our "Mother?" Welcome to worship!

Monday, May 07, 2007

PROLEGOMENA: Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Sunday, May 6, 2007

I’d like to prepare us for worship this morning by turning your attention to one sentence in the reflection quote printed on page 1 of your bulletin. In the middle of the quote we read, “The cross reminds us that we too were enemies whose hostility and offence have been reconciled.”

Now, this week I attended a lecture at Princeton Theolocial Seminary given by Stanley Hauerwas--a theologian and ethicist at Duke University. And during the Q & A, Hauerwas was asked about heaven--about what the future would be like when we’re with God. And his answer was simple, yet surprising. He said something like this: “Heaven will be about our restored friendship with God.”

Now, to some of you that may sound overly simplistic and/or reductionistic. But at bottom I think Hauerwas is right. Because both the reflection quote and Hauerwas are picking up on a thought of Paul in Romans 5 which reads, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.”

You see, the God we come to worship this morning; the God we come to sing praises to, has done something special for us: He’s allowed for us to befriend Him again. And that happened the moment Jesus died; the moment he gave up his friendship with God so we can have a friendship with God once again.

So, are you ready to worship God our friend this morning? Welcome to worship!