mgpcpastor's blog

Leave a comment

The Worst Thing Man Did Was Also The Best Thing God Did (via Robert Farrar Capon)

The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance of and participation in God’s victory of sin and death.
It is not a place to dwell on his actions rather than ours.
We could think that God’s focus is on the work of Jesus, and not our works, as well.

…when Christians meet, they break bread and drink wine because they were commanded to “do this in remembrance of me.” Specifically, they gather in special and sometimes opulent buildings – frequently having dressed themselves to the nines – and they proceed, to the accompaniment of expensively produced music and fairly ambitious choreography, to sing and trip their way lightly through the fantastic business of recalling how on a hill far away they once kicked the living bejesus out of God incarnate in Christ. They take the worst thing the human race has even done and make it the occasion of a celebration. And why? Because the worst thing man did was also the best thing God did. The Friday was Good.
What that suggests to me is the that when God remembers evil, he remembers it as we remember the crucifixion in the eucharist: in the light of the good he has brought out of it. And because that is such a hilariously positive good compared to the grim negativity of evil, it simply becomes his supreme consideration.

Robert Farrar Capon, The Youngest Day, Mockingbird, 2019, pg 111-112.

Leave a comment

Why Does The Saved Hour Go To The Owl’s Account Rather Than The Lark’s? (via Robert Farrar Capon)

Another reason to hold Robert Farrar Capon with some affection is his dislike for daylight savings.
Well, not so much a dislike for the concept, but for the inequity that it imposes against early-risers at the hands of the more indolent.
To illustrate his point that is their laziness deserves no indulgence he poses a scenario that accepts their imposition of daylight saving but instead credits that which is saved to the account of the larks, not the owls.
As with most things Capon there is a theological point being developed, but theology can never be divorced from the realities of life.

My personal disenchantment with [daylight saving time], however, derives from the second of my charges, namely, that in practice it results in inequities. For one thing the daylight it purports to save is all in the evening. For another the dates at which it undertakes to begin and end this one-sided rescue operation … serve only to skew things even worse. And for the last, rather than making the summer more bearable, it in fact obtrudes the sun’s heat on the very part of the day that needs it least…
Does that mean I must accept the present system quietly? It does not. Instead it immediately raises the question of why the savings are not deposited at the beginning of the day rather than at the end. Why not to the lark’s account rather than to the owls’?
I am aware that owls do in fact run the world and that they show little interest in whose ox is gored as long as it insn’t theirs. But I am also aware that their principal argument for “saving” daylight in the evening is the fact that if we didn’t do it the sun in solstice would rise at the, to them, monstrous hour of 4:31am. Accordingly, since the best defence against such people is to be as offensive as they are, I propose a new system. Set the clocks back instead of forward in the spring and frighten them with an even bigger hobgoblin: sunrise at 3:31.

Robert Farrar Capon, The Youngest Day, Mockingbird, 2019, pg 70-71.

Leave a comment

Alive Willy-Nilly In Jesus (via Robert Farrar Capon)

When Jesus brings the dead back to life in the Bible the events are not resurrections. All those returned to life eventually went to a grave.
But the power of life that Jesus exercised demonstrates the completeness of human need and the presence of a life in him that can meet all that need.

Jesus came to raise the dead: not to idle those who were half-immortal anyway into some other slightly improved life but to take those who had completely lost their grip and give them back every last one of the days that he, as their resurrection and their life, had always held for them. He never met a corpse that didn’t sit right up then and there because, although it may have been dead as a doornail on its own terms, it was alive willy-nilly in him and just couldn’t help showing it.
When Jesus came to raise Lazarus, the dead man’s sister Martha had her doubts. Like the rest of us she could imagine eternal life only as something out there – as a blessing to be achieved only after the protracted clanking of some religious or philosophical contraption. And therefore when Jesus told her her brother would rise again, the furthest think from her mind was that it would happen on the spot: “I know,” she said; “he’ll make it at the last day.” But what Jesus in effect said to her was: “Wrong! He’s made it now. I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even though he’s dead, will still live. And whoever lives and believes in me can’t possibly die in eternity – because in eternity is exactly where I’ve got him for good.” Lazarus, in short, might lose his own grip on his life but he could never shake loose of Jesus’. Ergo forth he comes when the Word who holds him speaks his name.

Robert Farrar Capon, The Youngest Day, Mockingbird, 2019, pg 47-48.

Leave a comment

We Walk Into The Future Backwards (via Robert Farrar Capon)

While the future is ahead of us, we find ourselves facing the past; there is a comfort in focussing on what we know more certainly that bids us orient ourselves toward what has been rather than the uncertainties of what will be.
Facing the unknown and uncertain future results in us looking in a direction where we are more able to freshly appreciate the works of God rather than explain them away.

…it isn’t only death that comes from behind. The whole of the future approaches from the same direction. We like to think that we walk into it forwards – that tomorrow is somewhere up ahead of us and that, while it may be hidden by mists, we’re still at least looking the right way. But in fact the only thing before our mind’s eye now is yesterday. It’s the past we see clearly; the future we can’t see at all. And we we miss it not because of thick clouds or bad vision but because it’s 180 degrees out of sight. What will happen after this is, quite literally, aft of us. We walk into the future backwards.

Robert Farrar Capon, The Youngest Day, Mockingbird, 2019, pg 14.

Leave a comment

The Preacher As Faithful Home Cook (via Robert Farrar Capon)

If you’re attending worship with other Christians tomorrow and hearing a sermon, may it have this character:

Preachers of the Word labor under three distinct requirements. First, they are to be faithful (pistoi). They are called to believe, and they are called only to believe. They are not called to know, or to be clever, or to be proficient, or to be energetic, or to be talented, or to be well-adjusted…
Second, the clergy are to be wise (phrenimoi). They are not to be fools, rich or poor, who think that salvation can come to anyone as a result of living. The world is already drowning in its efforts at life; it does not need lifeguards who swim to it carrying the barbells of their own moral and spiritual efforts. Preachers are to come honestly empty-handed to the world…
But it is the third of these clerical requirements that strikes me as the most telling: preachers are stewards whom the Lord has ‘set over his household servants to provide them with food at the proper time.’ After all the years the church has suffered under forceful preachers and winning orators, under compelling pulpiteers and clerical bigmouths with egos to match, how nice to hear that Jesus expects preachers in their congregations to be nothing more than faithful household cooks.
Robert Farrar Capon, The Parables of Grace, Eerdmans, 1988, 91-2.

Leave a comment

Confession – A Word From The Dead Surrendering To Life

From Robert Farrar Capon:
Confession is not the first step on the road to recovery; it is the last step in the displaying of a corpse.
Between Noon and Three, pg 74.
Confession is not a transaction, not a negotiation in order to secure forgiveness; it is the after-the-last grasp of a corpse that finally can afford to admit it’s dead and accept resurrection.
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment, pg 297.

Leave a comment

The Worst Kind Of Three Point Sermon

“Here’s what you should do. You are not doing it. Try harder.”

The writer of this post ascribes this quote to Robert Farrar Capon, but doesn’t tell us where it comes from exactly.
It reads like something Capon would write.