Wine Before Breakfast – A city set on a hill

Having lived during the eight years of a George W. Bush presidency I have come to have an almost allergic reaction to that deeply biblical phrase, “A city set on a hill.”

America is a city set on a hill!
That has been part of the religious rhetoric of America from its beginning, but I’m not sure that any president employed the phrase more often than Bush.

Of course, it wasn’t just the pretentiousness of it all that got under my skin.
Empires are always pretentious, and they always make exaggerated world historical claims for themselves.
That’s just the way empires are.

No, it was that this bit of pretension was also blasphemous.
Jesus said, “you are the light of the world,
a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
President Bush appropriated that language for America.
America is the light of the world,
America is a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden.

And all of this justified,
provided deep sacred legitimation
for Bush’s foreign policy,
based as it was in deceit.

I know, I know, maybe this weekly Wine Before Breakfast meditation is degenerating into a bit of a political rant.
And I know that it can be pretty cheap and easy for Canadians to poke fun of American rhetorical excess.

But what are we to do when we hear Jesus talking about a city set on a hill and the voice of George W. Bush insinuates itself into our consciousness?

Maybe we need to hear how audacious this language was coming from the mouth of Jesus in the first place.
Read more Wine Before Breakfast – A city set on a hill

Wine Before Breakfast

Title: Wine Before Breakfast
Location: Wycliffe College Chapel, 5 Hoskin Ave.

Lewis, Cockburn and a Jesus Way of Seeing

Do you remember Uncle Andrew in C.S. Lewis ‘s The Magician’s Nephew? While Aslan is singing Narnia into being and talking animals are springing to life, the children can see and hear what’s going on and rejoice in it. Uncle Andrew, however, only sees ferocious animals (Aslan being the worst of the lot as far as he is concerned) and hears the most bestial and frightening of sounds.

Lewis explains in his narration that “what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.”

In his song, “Child of the Wind,” Bruce Cockburn gets at the same thing:

Little round planet
In a big universe
Sometimes it looks blessed
Sometimes it looks cursed
Depends on what you look at obviously
But even more it depends on the way that you see

What you see depends on where you are standing and what you look at.  In the Sermon on the Mount we have already seen that, for Jesus, standing with the poor, with those who mourn, with the meek and those who hunger and thirst for justice is the only standpoint from which you will see the Kingdom of God. Standing anywhere else will render you blind.

And now as we continue our meditation on the Beatitudes we learn that what you see depends also on “what sort of person you are,” “on the way that you see.” Read more Wine Before Breakfast

Wine Before Breakfast is for Hungry People

Wine Before Breakfast is for hungry people.

If you are full,
if you are satisfied with yourself,
if the world is as it should be,
if you’ve got it all together,
then why get up early to go to church?
On a Tuesday of all things!
At 7.22!

No, you’ve  got to be hungry to come to WBB.
You’ve got to have that gnawing hunger in your soul,
in your heart.

And you’ve got to be thirsty.
You need to have a sense of parched lips,
in a parched land.

Read more Wine Before Breakfast is for Hungry People

Wine Before Breakfast Returns

Dear friends:

When a first century Jewish prophet climbs up the side of a mountain and delivers a long discourse about the nature of faithful life in the Kingdom of God, you know that this is serious stuff.

It isn’t just the length of the discourse that tips you off that something significant is going on.

Some folks can be long-winded. Read more Wine Before Breakfast Returns