Thursday, January 21, 2010

February Letter to Holy Cross

I therefore… beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. (Ephesians 4:1 & 7 NRSV)

Get me out of here?

I am always up for a good movie. The problem is that I never know if the film is good until I actually watch it. I recently received a film via the mail in the familiar red package from Netflix. It came recommended by film critics; the actors and the director were accomplished academy award winners. It was supposed to be the kind of movie that someone like me should like, but I didn’t. While the film tried its’ best to be shocking and deep, it turned out to be an unimaginative succession of stereotypes and had nothing to really say at all. The film was about a happy young couple whose life becomes a train wreck because they decide to move their kids to the suburbs. This film belongs to certain genre of film popular these days that likes to point out how suburban American life is supposed to be empty. It is as about as realistic as films that always depict our cities as “urban jungles” or rural areas as populated exclusively with “rubes”.

Empty Life?

I have spent the last 15 years ministering in Northern New Jersey the last 13 of which have been in the suburbs. I have seen that the life characterized in films such as the one I recently saw is a fiction with little connection to the lives people actually lead. It communicates this lie: the place where you live gives your life meaning. It is a lie because where you live matters less than who you are living with. It is the relationships we have with God and others that give our lives true meaning. Those who walk with Jesus find meaning and purpose in their lives no matter where they might live. Certainly the life I see today going on in the suburbs in which I have lived in is not empty. If anything our lives might in fact be too full.

A Meaningful Life

This leads me to discuss another lie of our culture: a full life is a meaningful one. Don’t we say upon a person’s death as a compliment that they “lived a full life”? Life and God’s Word teach us something different; an empty life or a full life is not the point. The point is revealed in the question “what are we actually filling our lives with”? A life filled with real people and real prayer will have more meaning than a life filled with random stuff. According to the Word of God contained in the Bible the place where life happens is not particularly important. How life is lived in that place is what will really matter. How that life will be lived will depend upon who or what we are filling our lives with.

Early Spring Cleaning

When St. Paul wrote to those Christians long ago in his letter to the Ephesians he advocated that we fill our lives with Jesus Christ and those who gather around him He argues powerfully in chapter 4 quoted above that when we do we will find purpose, peace, and solid ground to stand our lives upon. By remaining centered in Jesus Christ we will grow to learn who or what is best to fill our lives with. This coming month we will begin the season of Lent where we get back to what is essential about our faith. It is a perfect time to clean out our spiritual attics and garages of the random stuff that crowds out what is truly necessary to live a life of meaning. It is an opportunity to relearn the basic message of our faith. It is a time to meet Jesus once again and fill our lives with activities guided by God’s spirit. We have a chance to live a life of meaning if we so desire to fill our lives the grace bestowed upon us by his son our Lord Jesus. The message of the Gospel is that there is more than enough grace for all because of what was done at the cross.

Keep the Faith

Pastor Knecht

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January Message to Holy Cross

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." (John 1:37-39 NRSV)


Jesus asks “What are you looking for?” The two new disciples of Jesus reply that they want to know where Jesus is staying. Jesus grants their request not by giving them any information at all but asking them to come on a journey and to see for themselves. The two who set out on this journey will be transformed by him. Andrew will be the first Christian evangelist as he will invite his brother Peter to come along on the journey to meet the Messiah he has found. The other disciple who will remain unnamed will occupy a special place in Jesus’ heart as John’s Gospel will call him beloved. (Church tradition names him John).

This simple encounter reveals to us God’s desire for those who seek Him. God does not want to merely give us information about Him; he wishes that we begin a journey with Him to see for ourselves. Jesus desires this out of love because He knows that good journeys always transform us. People need God because they are incomplete without Him. The only way to be with Him is to walk with Him.


To have some information about a place is never the same as taking a journey to that place. We may know all the facts there are to know about Europe or Asia or even the Holy Land, but until we go through the security checkpoint and get on the plane and make the journey we will actually know very little about those places. Indeed the most important aspect of the journey will be getting to know the people who actually live there. The same is true of our faith, until we take the journey by actively following Jesus we will in reality know far too little about God. Until we meet those who are living with God we will know little about our faith. Please know that I understand that these journeys are expensive. I also know that they are messy, inconvenient, and we can sometimes lose sleep or even some of our luggage. There is a clear cost of discipleship.

The Real Danger

This is why the devil tries to tempt us with information. Satan is a master of information (just see his portrayal in Matthew 4, Luke 4, and Job 1-2); and he wants us to have the illusion that by obtaining only information we will have enough. The devil wants us to believe we can have it all free of any price. The devil wants you to stay home! Satan wants you to think that you can have it all without getting up and getting on the road with Jesus and may even try to convince you that the there is too much danger on the journey. Jesus reveals the truth that real danger is to stay home and miss the transformation that can happen in your life when walking with Him. This I know is true; Jesus turns around to us just as he did when we turned around for Andrew and John and asks us to come and see. There will be adventure and challenge on the road. These experiences will reveal to us what we are really made of, but there will be no danger because we will not be alone. God will be with us. So I plead to you, don’t stay behind; come and see! You will find Jesus, who will help you find your own soul.