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The professional term “Pharmacist” has been a recent label to what was more of a generalist term of “druggist.” With the bigger and more numerous drug companies, the nuance of actually concocting and creating a medicine to treat a particular aliment has slowly dissipated. But there was a time when a druggist did just that. They “created” medication for people. You may remember Mr. Gower (the druggist) in “It’s a Wonderful Life” had filled a child’s prescription, George Bailey out of concern for both Mr. Gower and the child realized Gower, in his own depression over the loss of his son, had used poison in the capsule. Bailey saved the child by pointing it out to Gower who in anger slapped Bailey repeatedly in the left ear – resulting in hearing loss – came to realize his mistake and thanked Bailey for what he had done.  Sometimes the medication for good may in fact be poison.

In medical practice today, “Off-label” use is the practice of prescribing pharmaceuticals for an unapproved indication or in an unapproved age group, unapproved dose or unapproved form of administration.  This “off-label” use of medication is closer to the druggist notion of care.

What about with practicing following Jesus? There was a time when following Jesus was all about nuance, and experimenting, and making it work for each person and group. Then there was a time of “mainstreaming” and the result was a religion with rules and regulations which worked for some time. Though it was oppressive.

Today, I believe, we are entering a new time of “off-label Christianity”.  A time of looking backward to get our best gifts of our past constantly checking as we move into the future. (Based on the idea of “Sankafoa”.)

Are we, in the mainstream of Christian tradition, reluctant and potentially averse to experience Jesus as he is, in the multitude of ways that he has transformed lives for literally thousands of years, outside of the normal prescription. How can we begin to get “off-label”?


Strong Wind

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Today it is really windy. Not just gusting from time to time, but consistent, strong winds.  There is nothing gentle about the wind, yet the rest of the weather paints a different picture: clear skies, warm – just plain nice. The wind is strong enough that as I was driving a 7″ in diameter branch snapped from a tree crossing the opposite lanes traffic (me, the guy behind me and two student moved the large limb – funny how no one else bothered to help).

Scripture is filled with images of wind – breath/Spirit of God. Sometimes it is gentle and life giving. Others it appears to be destructive, challenging, difficult to bear.

What I was reminded of today was that in the midst of what can be really beautiful, strong winds can arise, cause conflict, breakage that must be cleaned up (sometimes with help), and that even this strong wind is God’s presence.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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What picture would you add?

Angel & Nemesis

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There’s this camp game called “Angel & Nemesis.” Here’s how it goes: with your group of people – usually a group of 8+, you have everyone secretly chose for themselves an angel and a nemesis. Your goal is to keep your angel in a straight line between you and your nemesis. Assuming that everyone actually wants to play, there should be a great deal of scattering, always trying to keep that angel person between you and your nemesis. There is no winner or loser to the game – it is just a game.

On a different note, we all have things or people that act as a nemesis in our lives. An addiction, someone you really cannot be around for whatever reason, temptation to abuse the trust of someone – I’m sure you can think of your own.  The question is, what “angel” have you put in your life to come between you and the nemesis? How do you protect yourself?  How do you use your faith to help you?

Public Nuisance

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It is official according to the Town of Blooming Grove, WI that I am a Public Nuisance.  I allow the grass in our ditch to grow longer than 6″ and am planting flowers within the grass. Grass, since it can emit pollen (duh) and have weeds (duh x2) and hide debris (need I say more) must be kept to a maximum length of 6″ – military cut for grass, and I am not in compliance I therefore on file as a “Public Nuisance” and I am happy to own that.

I wonder how often Christians are seen as Public Nuisances? Emitting a theology that is no where close to what Jesus actually taught. Bringing up weeds that proliferate the body and generalize all Christians in one particular way. Hide Christianity, and the true subversive love and grace that it carries. I guess I don’t mind being a Public Nuisance – it sort of goes with the rest of my persona.

Interpreting the Bible

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I’m stuck with the issue of interpreting the Bible. In seminary I learned Hebrew and Greek so that I could “translate” from the more original text. But translate has little to do with interpret. It seems to me that interpreting involves engaging the text with a particular context. So, when people say to me, “The Bible isn’t relevant to my life, much less this day and age.”  I pretty much have to agree. Any attempt to convince, show interpretation, explain biblical history is bound to blow up.

I’ve been thinking lately that the role of the church is not to interpret the Bible for people, but to interpret Jesus. Jesus was all about love, forgiveness, grace, and the presentness of the kingdom of God. What I’m going to try to do is “read” day to day living. My expectation is to see grace and love lived out. To listen to and engage in active forgiveness. And experience the kingdom of God as truly present. I believe that when Jesus invites us to be his students and followers, he not only invites us to be like him, but to be him in the world. This will take interpretation, passion, patience – you are invited to join me in this practice.

I’d love to hear of your experiences, your God-sightings, the way that you have seen grace, love, forgiveness, and the kingdom being lived out.

Henry’s Mom

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The days leading up to April 8, 1974 were stressful for Henry and his parents.  Henry had received over 10,000 death threats – all over a piece of wood and a ball of leather. The Atlanta Braves were playing at home on April 8, 1974 and Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron was due to hit home run 715 eclipsing Babe Ruth. Security in the stadium was ramped up, his parents were instructed that if (when) Henry hit the home run they could run the bases with him.

The right pitch came, Henry swung, and the ball sailed – home run 715. Now, would the threats come to pass? As Henry was rounding the bases, his parents did come out, so did a pair of white men by third base. What were they up to? Was this the end? No – they wanted to cheer Henry home. His teammates are making their way out of the dugout, but it is Henry’s mom who appears “off.” She is making a b-line for her son. Between third base and home she catches him, and puts him in a head lock as they approach home plate. Henry said that from her grip he knew she wasn’t going to let him go. Hammerin’ Hank’s mom said, “If they’re gonna kill my boy, they have to go through me first.”

Jesus said, “There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for a friend.”

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