Posts Tagged ‘born again’

Broken Hearts, Open Minds 

We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is open wide to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return – I speak as to children – open wide your hearts also. –2 Corinthians 6:11-13

When I was in my early teens, I was enamored with a girl who lived down the street. We started “dating,” which meant I was allowed to come over and sit with her on her front porch once or twice a week. We could also walk a short distance down the street, as long as we remained in view of her mother’s front window. I was devastated when she broke up with me. She gave me my first broken heart.

In his book A Hidden Wholeness, Parker Palmer considers broken hearts. He writes, “There are at least two ways to understand what it means to have our hearts broken. One is to imagine the heart broken into shards and scattered about. The other is to imagine the heart broken open into a new capacity – a process that is not without pain but one that many of us would welcome. As I stand in the tragic gap between reality and possibility, this small, tight fist of a thing called my heart can break open into greater capacity to hold more of my own and the world’s suffering and joy, despair and hope.”

Palmer’s latter definition is reminiscent of the Christian concept of being born again. The initial birth process is difficult. There is no reason to believe being born again will be easy, either. Letting go of beliefs we have long held to, once we discover them to be no longer helpful, is not easy. We must let go of what is known as we reach for something unknown – unknown, yes, but full of possibilities.

Brokenness is a central theme in Christianity. Sometimes our old ways of thinking need to be broken open in order to allow new concepts and ideas to reshape us into more useful vessels for the Spirit. We can be broken voluntarily, meaning we willingly offer ourselves to be broken. More often, at least for me, we are broken by unforeseen circumstances, often of our own making. Our lives are sailing along smoothly, and we feel like we are in control and then, BAM! Something happens that rocks our world and breaks us in such a way that we cannot reassemble our life back the way it was. We find ourselves in a forced career change, a loved one leaves us, or a medical condition inspires a reevaluation of our priorities. Rebirth is not easy and is not without pain, but is ultimately necessary and good. Palmer refers to “the tragic gap between reality and possibility.” If we are to move beyond today’s reality and approach tomorrow’s possibility, we must be willing to let go of yesterday. We should not always be in such a rush to reassemble our broken hearts. And perhaps our hearts should be reassembled with something less adhesive than super glue, leaving them more easily rebroken. A closed heart leads to a closed mind, and a closed mind leads to a small and closed life.

Come home to church this Sunday. Come and be broken with others.

Finding Grace tag

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Life Notes—August 8, 2013 

“Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  Revelation 21:7-8

Death is a fearful subject.  We understand we are not immortal, at least not as we experience our lives today.  We like to joke, “The only sure things in life are death and taxes,” although that caustic reality is not particularly funny.  All living things on earth are born, they live and they die.  The nature of each phase of life is as unique as the different forms it takes.  However, every living being dies.  The thought of dying more than once is not appealing—or is it?

The concept of a second death has several manifestations.  The commonly agreed-upon death is the death of the body.  A body dies and its various elements are recycled back into the earth from which they came.  One version of the second death occurs when the last living person with recollection of the deceased passes.  At that point, the deceased has died the second death.  Some people write books or music that will outlive them.  Most of us leave photographs. Some build memorials, like the Egyptian kings and their pyramids.  However, even the pyramids will crumble back to earth, albeit very slowly.  Like the first death, we all will die this second death, too.

Theologically, the first and second deaths are described differently, and the debate begins with a second birth.  In John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “…no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”  A number of passages point to the need for a second birth and this is one of them.  The first birth is physical and the second is spiritual.  Being “born again” is a common and differently interpreted concept referring to a new start to life.  At its religious core, being born again acknowledges our need for a Savior.  In order to begin a new life we must allow an old one to die.  In this view, the first death is not our physical death, but the death of a part of our being.  This ‘death’ must precede a spiritual rebirth. Some believe being born again is a one-time event.  It occurs when we ask Jesus to enter our lives and agree to follow him. Others believe being born again is an on-going process. We confess we have strayed, we repent, and we seek a renewal of and recommitment to our relationship with Christ.  Being born again is an on-going process of death and rebirth.

Finally, we also read of a second death in the book of Revelation, as in the passage above.  This death occurs after physical death, and is a death for the unrepentant.  In spite of our views on birth, life and death, we are a part of a larger life-experience that is both physical and spiritual.  The cycle of physical life and death is necessary for the perpetuation of life on earth.  How that cycle manifests spiritually is a mystery.  But the good news is that death is not the end.  Death is a new beginning.

Tom will be preaching downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Mitch is preaching at the west campus where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.

Come home to church this Sunday.  It may be time to rebirth your relationship with God.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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