Saturday, April 10, 2004

Dear Friends: We have arrived at the threshold of Easter. Alleluia! Lent and Holy Week have flown by. It's been great to see some new faces among us. I've been wondering if the Passion of the Christ movie has had some effect on our attendance- probably some.

During Lent and Holy Week the themes I've thinking, praying, and sharing about have centered around two basic hopes: that we can free ourselves with the Spirit's help from the limits we put on our love of God and our neighbor, and, in doing this take on more and more the mind of Christ as the way we view the world and all the people we meet. The time in which we live is demanding this of us and even dragging us, kicking and screaming into a new way of living.

The biggest shift in mentality to enable all this is the Crucified mind. The Crucified mind is one with God and neighbor, seeks the good of the other, is willing to repent of personal faults, while overlooking the faults of others, and go the extra mile. The Crucified mind is able to let go of all those judgements of others which separate us from God and all of our brothers and sisters. We can meet each person and situation (even brought close in the media) trying to see it through the eyes of Christ: conquering the evil and pain in the world by a willingness to take some of it in to be destroyed by love- Christ's love in us!

But another mind is vying for our attention and among religious people and clearly has the upper hand in our day: the Crusading mind. The Crusading mindset permeates our thoughts with conviction about everything that is wrong in our world and other people- especially those who differ from us. From a position of self-righteousness we clearly see who is in the wrong, who our enemies are, and we take on the goal of annihilating them. We become very careful about who we share the love of Christ with because many are unworthy of His love. Our judgements make us more and more isolated, enjoying gathering only with like-minded "Crusaders" like ourselves.

St. Paul, who was the greatest example of a person who changed by God's grace from a Crusading mindset to a Crucified Mind, writes in Philippians 2:4ff: Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who,k though he was in the form of God, did not regard egaulity with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death--even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.