Jared Witt - July 4, 2019
A couple is enjoying their lunch at a sidewalk cafe. The day is clear and warm with a late June breeze coming in from the lake. It’s about a week until Independence Day
This couple and their little son are a picture of contentment, casually trading thoughts on the news of the day but without any strong emotional investment this way or that.
She says to her husband, “Do you want my avocado?”
“No thank you.”
“What? You love avocado?”
“No, I always eat yours because you hate avocado. But I’m actually on the fence.”
“No, you love avocado.”
They both laugh.
Jared Witt - June 6, 2019
After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” – John 20:20-21
“As the father is sending me, so I am sending you.”
Think about that one for a second. Otherwise, I fear, it’ll just sound like one of those Bible-y sounding niceties that can make one glaze over. Or even worse, we’ll turn it into the “doctrine of the sending” and rob it of its teeth. A mentor once told me, if no one would ever object to what you’ve said, then you haven’t said anything.
And Jesus has really said something here, no?
Jared Witt - May 31, 2019
I can see it in their faces whenever I teach a Bible study. People want to buy my version of who Jesus actually was: Something like a Dada performance artist meets an occasionally though not always zen-ed out meditation guru meets that guy who stood in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square.
They yearn for my image of Jesus, yearn for it in a vital and eager way, because they see Truth there easily and organically, not in the forced, top-down way that they’ve been taught they’re supposed to see the Truth in Jesus, depicted as a somehow weightless God-man who floats about saying wise old aphorisms about life in this world but who is basically unaffected by it.
They want so badly to believe in the earthy relevance and spiritual urgency of my version of Jesus, but there is a mental block. And it's one of the hardest things for people raised with the felt-board God-man image of Jesus to absorb. It sounds off to them, like some kind of blasphemy even if it's just a simple fact: Jesus didn’t know we were recording.
Jared Witt - April 10, 2019
Hosea is a man who married an unfaithful woman. He did so, knowing full well that she always had been serially unfaithful and would continue to be so. He would get just as enraged as you might expect by her unfaithfulness, and that was the plan all along. But he lacked the resolve to leave her. So he was ever caught in this pathetic cycle of being cuckolded and then trying unsuccessfully, through gifts and forgiveness and grace, to win back the faithfulness of the woman whom he never had in the first place. Even worse, he would try to buy her something nice to heal the relationship, as if he were the one who needed to do the apologizing. But inevitably she would see the gift wrapping and just assume it was from one of her many other lovers.
Jared Witt l March 28, 2019
If my life were the movie D2: The Mighty Ducks, anxiety and depression would be the Bash Brothers. One of them tries to stick out a skate and trip me. I jump last second and think I’ve successfully avoided the danger, only to be close-lined by the other one.
Unfortunately, our Bible is full of stories of what Jesus can do for dead people. But what does Jesus do for those who are just kind of always a bit sad?
We don’t have the story where Jesus cures the man of his situational depression.
Jared Witt - December 18, 2018
I'm looking for people who might describe themselves as spiritually motivated, who would like to participate in a series of midweek centering sessions that I am calling "Spiritual but Not Ridiculous: A thinking person's place to explore the divine."
By "spiritually motivated," think open and intentional as opposed to advanced or knowledgable. I'm looking for people who don't have all or perhaps any of the answers but who know there is a depth and a mystery to life and God still to probe. I'm looking for people who are perhaps not sure where to begin but who suspect that by seeking that depth first, joy, beauty, abundance, or what Jesus calls "the reign of God" will be added as well.
If that describes you, my disclaimer as the leader of the group is that I also don't have "the answers," but I share that same suspicion with you.
I'm designing this to be part theological exploration, part prayer practice, part spiritual exercise, part Bible study. We will center conversation around Jesus of Nazareth and his Way of being in the world as well as the mystical spirituality of finding the Holy Spirit in and among our lives together.
As all truth is God's truth, we will draw freely from other traditions and influences in which I have found Christ-like spiritual food. Examples include:
- Hebraic storytelling and the Rabbinic tradition
- Medieval Rhineland Christian mysticism
- Jesuit Examen Prayer and Ignatian Spirituality
- Zen Meditation
I'm there every Tuesday at this time for pastoral counseling with whoever shows up (closed on Christmas). But I hope to begin in earnest with a larger group on Tuesday January 8th.
You know who you are. Hope to see you there.
Cheers and Peace,
Jared Witt - September 10, 2018
Christians have a problem with sin.
Or rather, we have a sin problem.
Specifically, we have a problem with the word sin and defining just what it is supposed to mean. More progressive-minded Christians tend to see all the problematic ways that the word has been used to browbeat and alienate and for that reason might prefer to throw it out all together. More conservative-minded Christians see this as dangerous refusal to call the evils of the world what they are. In response, they are inclined to double down on their use of the term, throwing it at just about everything and, in the process, making it seem as though all the problems of the world ultimately boil down to a labeling issue.
Jared Witt - July 30, 2018
Oh? What do I love about 2018? I’m glad you asked. I love that we can laugh about the filioque. It took us centuries to get here.
You know all about the filioque, don’t you? Filioque is a latin word which literally means “and from the Son.” It started to showing up in the Nicene creed sometime around the 6th century in the western (i.e. Rome based) region of the church. The original creed that both western and eastern bishops had agreed on read:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
Jared Witt - July 5, 2018
I couldn’t be bothered with generosity of spirit the other day. I was busy rehearsing a sermon.
That’s how it goes sometimes. You have to talk about the love and grace of the Origin and Redeemer of the cosmos in a couple hours. So when my friend sends me a nice thought via text—“I just saw a bumper sticker that said ‘Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.’”—what was I going to do? Reflect on it with new eyes? Allow myself to be moved that my friend would think to share a little spiritual gem with me that morning? Enjoy the profound realization that we are not alone in this spiritual journey? That there are travel partners on the road with us?
Not this bona fide saint and sinner, specializing in sinner. No no no. The snotty, know-it-all words that spilled onto my iPhone keyboard were “St. Francis was an aphorism machine.”
Jared Witt - June 21, 2018
Do we get our beliefs from our Bible or our Bible from our beliefs?
This is a pretty urgent question in this twilight zone time in which we’re living, when so many of my pastoral colleagues are being reprimanded by their congregants for “getting too political”—typically by the same congregants who want to see the ten commandments and Christian prayer mandated in public schools and who see no problem with our Attorney General saying in an official statement on an urgent public crisis:
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.