This morning I preached in Zurich on walking in step with God and discerning the pace of the Holy Spirit. Then came the Sabbath nap. Then a large block of delightful reading hours – cool, kind of rainy today – my the beauty out on the second floor patio – I’ve been blowing through highlighters and found I could get a couple more chapters out of this one simply by touching the dry tip to the raindrops that periodically hit my arm.
Part of my reason for the extended read time today was I wanted to get through my book on Calvin before we head 2.5 hours south tomorrow to enjoy the city in which he served… Geneva, Switzerland. I grew up going to our family’s cottage on beautiful Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. To be heading to the real Lake Geneva makes me wish my mom would have lived long enough to have joined us here. I regret that she died during some very hard days in our household last fall and know she would have benefited as we are from this heavenly respite. (Those of you who knew her may not know she and my father were fluent in German – though Geneva is Swiss-French, not the Swiss-German up here by Zurich and Germany). We would have had trouble getting Kaitlyn and Grandma out of the cool clear Lake Geneva water that’s for sure.
Kristen says my posts are way way too long so for now I will spare you the five or six lengthy posts that are in my spirit from the two Zwingli books I’ve read and now this Calvin one. Three of them center in some way on how brutal we are to others in the Body of Christ.
Luther was the worst (of the Reformers), Zwingli was deeply hurt by him (and many others – but it hurts far more from those who are supposed to be on your side). My big Zwingli book here says the story of the Luther/Zwingli relationship was “one of the saddest in the history of religion.” These apostles of grace (not works) were sorely lacking in grace toward others. Wow.
Even though Zwingli was abused by Luther (who didn’t even consider Zwingli a Christian because he disagreed about the meaning of the word “IS” in Jesus’ last supper statement… this IS my body), Zwingli himself showed not shred of grace to the anabaptists or the spiritualists (those having Holy Spirit encounters, trances, dreams, visions, etc). It all reminds me of ex-church folk who have tried to influence others to come out from among us because they “care” and “want them to go heaven” as if staying in our midst, under my “heresy,” calls ones salvation into question. Ha! Please.
Look in the mirror. Repent. Love. Why do we so often strain gnats yet swallow camels?
Calvin was so violently opposed (his friend poisoned, false accusations, riots/mobs firing into his house at night) they evicted him from Geneva (he was later called back to his post there after his four main opposers each died suddenly– accidently/fell out a window or were executed/for killing a man in a fist fight). Calvin was so deeply wounded he, at first, refused to even consider going back to the church in Geneva having “made up my mind never again to enter any ecclesiastical charge whatever unless the Lord should call me to it by a clear and manifest call.”
Imagine that, one of the greatest theologians in church history was content to leave ministry forever and go back to being a lawyer because he felt pastoral ministry was too abusive. He did decide to go back to serve the parish and city in Geneva. (BTW, it wasn’t any better for him when he went back (1541) but he did stay until his death twenty three years later (1564) – great stuff in all that about following the hard call of God on your life, making a city/territorial commitment, staying the course, staying steady, crossing finish lines, etc). Though Geneva was “an unstable city” he still “felt a responsibility” and his sufferings there “ought not to prevent me from embracing it with paternal affection. For God, when he charged me with it, bound me to be faithful to it forever.” As you can see, in case you are wondering, there are powerful and positive things I have to reflect on too.
I’ll leave you all to your own armchair pscyho-analysis of me as to why those aspects stand out to me and why I felt like getting them out of my head and plopping them here first- but don’t think too long and hard about it – those of you who have been following my sabbatical musings here know I’ve been soaking in the seven parts – one a week – of what I’m calling my sabbatical verse (given to me before I left by CATG friends/elders Glen and Dianne Heynen). That verse again is 1 Peter 5:10;
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you
and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
The phrase for this fourth week has been… after you have suffered a little while. We covet your prayers for week five’s focus phrase… will HIMSELF restore you!!! Can’t wait for that!