Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Pro-Active or Re-Active?

I'm still digesting the meaning of the word 'emergent' as it refers to churches. It seems to be a word that, in typcial post-modern fashion, is squishy enough to encompass lots of definitions. I find it easier to articulate what it looks like than to offer definition, and what it looks like usually includes creative expressions of worship, a clear use of existing cultural structures (film, literature, art) as a means of expressing the good news of Christ, and a commitment to serving and being a blessing in the place where the church is located (I believe the word that describes this is missional, which by the way, is vital to our practice of what it means to be church in the 21st century).

This is all good, and right; welcome and needed changes in the American church. But, in spite of all this, I'm not one who uses the word 'emergent' very often, nor am I one who is ready to pronounce that the 'emergent' church(s) are the future. My hesitancy is rooted in the observation that the movement seems as much to be 'away' from traditional forms as it seems to be a movement towards new expressions of church life. One might argue that moving towards something new is necessarily also a movement away from something old, but I would challenge that assumption. Maybe instead of moving away from, I can move upwards by 'building upon' that which has come before. The problem with moving 'away from' is that I move away from the saints of older generations (thus making II Timothy 2:2 rather difficult). And I move away, not only from the sins of our faithers, but from much that has been good and right in historical Christianity. This is the difficulty with being re-active: we throw too much away.

Can I say something about this? (Of course I can. It's my blog). We've been down this road before. It's been 'weighed and found wanting' to take a Bible verse out of context. Two examples come to mind.

1. In the reformation, we moved away from both the excesses and doctrinal errors of medieval Catholicism, AND we moved away from the rich history of the Benedictines and Franciscans (to name but two important orders), classic ways of reading the Bible, and the disciplines of silence and meditation. We lost a lot by being re-active rather than pro-active, and only now are we recovering some of these elements in the 'reformation' churches.

2. In the days of the Jesus people (I was there - in California - in the 60's and 70's), our movement away from traditional forms not only brought the refreshing winds of authenticity and informality in our approach to God (our church choir in the 60's was called, "The Eternal Trip", and it was cool to come to evening service barefoot), but we also learned to mock hymns and liturgies. When I ran a ministry in the mountains years later, our summer Bible school included nights of singing where I'd sit at the piano and bang out 'praise music.' A girl who grew up with Jesus people parents said one night, "I'm tired of these insipid choruses. Is there a hymnal around here?" Suddenly, we're singing "And Can it Be" and many others, and these young people are stunned at the power of the words. "Where have these songs been all our lives?" they asked. Here's where: They were delegated to the dust bin of irrelevance by a generation that re-acted and threw too much away.

I'm not thinking of any particular church in this critique. But I need to raise the question and voice the concern. Is there a way to build on all that is right with the church, while reforming all that needs changing? Is there a way to 'add' a 2nd story to that which is solid in the foundation, so that we can take some of the ancient saints (both dead and living) along with us, continuing to learn from them? I hope so. I'm tired of seeing movements say, 'this time we're going to get it right' only to, years later go back and pick all that had been too easily discarded.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Ministry of Presence

I just returned from a hike with my daughter and am hoping that the lessons I learned through this trip can be applied to the rest of my life, and especially my pastoral ministry which I return to this morning.

Though there were several important lessons, the most important for me has to do with presence. We were hiking in area filled with lots of possible adventures, ranging from rock-climbing, to mountaineering, to challenging hikes or easy ones. Terrain options ranged from river valleys to spectacular ridges to glaciated summits. And here’s the reality: The necessity of choosing was sucking the joy out of the trip for me. When I thought about climbing, I was regretting hiking. When I thought about the river valley, I mourned the thought of missing the ridge. I can be like that: always wanting to be elsewhere. Such a posture of the heart really sucks the joy out of living. The ‘preacher’ wrote that ‘whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ Let me tell you, that applies to all of us, and especially we who are prone to think that there is more adventure to be had elsewhere than where we’re planted. To the extent that I stop looking around and begin to focus on THIS day, THIS person, THIS passage of the Bible, THIS sunrise, THIS writing project, THIS meal, I find myself much closer to carrying out the will of God, and enjoying life more fully.

This day can be a good day, a day of life, if I will but allow Christ to express His life through me RIGHT HERE in the present. Contentment and the ministry of presence are, I'm convinced, learned arts. I still have much to learn, but am grateful for the reminder found in the mountains that, when I'm on the ridge, rejoice in the ridge rather than wishing I were on a different summit. This is the time, the place, the context of God's will for me... and for you too.

Living in the present...

Saturday, July 23, 2005


We are assaulted, it seems, daily with both personal and global issues, the net effect of which can be a disorienting of our spirits. There is, it seems, so much to do. There are, it is true, so many who are reeling from the effects of poverty, disease, addiction, terrorism and more. One opens the paper and the avalanche of suffering begins: London, Egypt, Iraq, Darfur, and so many more. So you shut the paper and look around your own house you still see problems everywhere - the paint is cracking on the exterior walls, the gas cap is shut stuck on the car, the check book won't balance. And those are just the easy problems! What are our options when overwhelmed at every turn?

IGNORE - The popularity of this option is exposed by the levels of debt and addiction in our culture, but the reality is that stepping aside from reality doesn't offer any long term satisfaction because reality is still there when you get back.

FIGHT - This reminds of the song, "The Angry Young Man" by Billy Joel, in which the one who has learned to ignore mocks the one who still thinks that he can make a difference in the world by fighting, or fixing.

So about this instead: How about re-orienting our lives so that we recover once again our two main callings, loving God and loving people. Such recovery will lead to a balance between celebration and suffering. Such recovery will lead to appropriate action, while still enabling rest and the enjoyment of this glorious, yet fallen wolrd in which we live. Let's face it, we either carry too much, or too little of the world's concerns on our shoulders, and both options are killing us. So the one who invites us Life, is the same one who reminds as that 'all the law and the prophets' hinge on these two things - loving God and loving people.

Somehow, striving to maintain this focus enables one to enjoy the sunset during a run, to cherish good food and conversation with friends, and to listen to the music of creation and culture, all the while also stepping in, caring, and working to embody hope and mercy, peace and healing, in our homes, our church, our city, and our globe. I don't do this well - but I'm trying.

I was reminded of this focus on love recently, in a marvelous reading from Thomas Merton's book, "Disputed Questions", and I'll be sharing his thoughts on the matter of loving when I get back from the two day climb that will culminate my vacation. Cheers.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A daily Bible reading journal

My commitment to the Aidan way as a form of practicing spiritual disciplines includes a commitment to the daily reading of the Bible. There are many ways to do this, but I find it helpful to read and then write my obsevations, or questions, or applications in a journal, perhaps followed by some prayer. Here's what a typical entry from my own study journal looks like (with the very private considerations edited out):

Judges 2 and 3. There seem to be two different messages in the early chapters of Judges. On the one hand, Israel is condemned for failing to drive out all the occupiers of the land. And yet, elsewhere God says that He is the one who allowed them to remain, in order that he might test them and train them in the art of war.

Another mystery in these early chapters has to do w/ the sovereignty of God – He raises up oppressors. He raises up judges. Where human freedom appears, however, it is only a reminder that Israel prostitutes herself before other gods. So God seems to be pulling the strings, causing nations and leaders to rise and fall, but he seems to be doing so, not capriciously, but on the basis of Israel’s obedience. So, when the day is done, the call to faithful love and obedience on the part of Israel becomes my calling as well, embracing my freedom to choose even as I also embrace the mystery of God’s sovereign power.

Lord I thank you that you've given us the dignity of choosing whether or not serve and love You. Now grant that this day you will open my eyes to the beauty of your creation, seen so clearly all around, so that I might see Your glory and choose to worship and celebrate your life and companionship. I pray for Phil in his preparation, and pray that your mighty anointing would fall on the Bethany Community so that we might stand as a place of hope and mercy, of beauty and healing in the midst of our city. Lead us there Lord as we turn to you and invite you to express your life through us. This is my prayer in your matchless name. Amen.

However one does it, the critical thing is to start. Make a commitment to opening yourself up to hearing from God on a regular basis. I'm interested in creating forum here for people to share how they 'do' or 'don't do' daily Bible reading, in hopes that by sharing our practices or lack of practices, we'll be encouraged to turn over a new life. After all, it is July, and the 2nd half of the year is just beginning. What better time for a fresh start!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

handling, mis-handling, and ignoring the Bible

So when it comes to understanding the principles to glean from any particular passage, one needs to consider the author and the historical context. Everyone does this to some extent, which is why all women don't wear head coverings, and we can wear cloth made of mixed fibers as underwear. Historical context dictates our conclusions in these matters.

So it is with respect to ALL matters of Bible interpretation. Who was the author? What was the cultural context around which the text was written? What has the church had to say about this matter historically? How do other Scriptures either reinforce or dismantle our tentative conclusions? Without doing this hard work, there's a real danger of misinterpretation.

The problem, however, is that the danger of misinterpretation exists even in the midst of this hard work because history, context, authorial intent, etc. are all subjective considerations. Post-Modernism has realized this disheartening reality and come to the conclusion that the real truth of a text can't be attained. Seeing the plethora of interpretations to reinforce pre-existing conclusions, be they liberal or conservative, the post-modernist has concluded that all interpretations are power plays. This pessimism, however, fails to consider the vital role of God's spirit in the matter.

What to do then? I am convinced that OUR intent is just as critical as authorial intent, for the Bible indicates that the Holy Spirit is needed in order to come closer to gaining the mind of God on any matter. If my own motives approaching a particular text are anything other than to listen with humility and dependence on the Holy Spirit, to what God has to say, and discover the heart of Christ, then I'm in grave danger of missing the point.

When the point is missed, the Bible becomes the pretext for hate, murder, colonialism, imperialism, greed, and lust. Yes, the same words that God intends should lead us to generosity, peace, hope, mercy and reconciliation are used to reinforce their opposites. Never humanity's capacity to pervert truth!

For this reason, we need the Spirit of God when studying these matters. We need the kind of humility that says, "I'm coming to the text, trusting that God will use these words to pierce my heart." (How different than approaching it as a legal brief). And finally, we need an utter confidence in the truth, knowing that truth can stand on it's own gives us the freedom to listen, explore, and prayerfully consider all angles of a matter before coming to conclusions. I hope this is happening all the time, not just in discussions on homosexuality.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Defining Inspiration

In my earlier days I did some baseball umpiring, and while I had a few conflicts over my judgement (or my eyesight), any disputes about the actual rules of the game were easy to settle: "here's the rule book coach: Rule 8 - Section 4 - heading 'A': 'blah blah blah.' Coach reads and then shakes his head in agreement. The rule book was always appealed to as the final authoriy, and it was agreed by everyone that this would be the source for settling disputes.

In matters of faith, the follower of Jesus makes a similar claim, but one needs to be careful, because if the analogy is carried too far, the Scriptures are reduced to nothing more than a rule book, legalistically decreeing an ethical code of conduct to which we must all adhere. When it is only this, it becomes a weapon used to beat people up. When it is never this, having been stripped of it's authority, the church becomes shaped more by the forces of culture than by God's spirit.

The Bible declares itself to be 'God-breathed' and this means that God is the originator of the Bible's books; but it doesn't mean that God overuled the individual personalities of the prophets and poets who wrote the various books. And this, of course, is where the dilemma enters in: God is the source, and because of this the Bible is the supreme authority when it comes to matters of faith and the meaning of both God and humankind in the universe. Yet man is the agency through which the Scriptures are delivered, and because of this, the cultural context must be considered as part of the interpretive process.

My concern lies with the errors that arise on both ends. We can stress neither divine origin, nor human agency at the cost of the other. To make this practical, when we talk about ethical issues, we need to be careful to avoid 'decontstructing' historical interpretations by just waving our hands and saying, 'well we all know Paul hated women so .... etc. etc.' Careful reading and scholarship reveals we don't know that at all.

On the other hand, we need to be careful to not blindly shout a text (Paul says "women should be silent" so no teaching etc. etc.) without considering the historical context and other texts from both the same and different human authors of the Bible.
When we do this we come to a point of seeing that this matter of interpreting the Bible is harder than it first appears. When it comes to Romans 1...well I'm going to save that for another entry.

Here's a link to standard definitions of inspiration. Enjoy

Monday, July 18, 2005

North Cascades

Here's the link for a few pictures from our vacation. It was a fabulous time filled with uncertain weather, bear sightings, quiet reading, incredible beauty, lots of sleep, physical challenge, spiritual renewal, and even some very good food. I'm grateful that my wife introduced me to the backcountry so many years ago, and profoundly grateful that the two of us have both the health and enjoyment of the outdoors that enable us to continue! I would add that making the effort to travel light is increasingly worthwhile in direct proportion (or perhaps even exponentially porpotional) to one's age!

In another vein, if you're looking for some summer reading, try this link for a variety of what appear to be really good books. I can't say I've read them all (thankfully) but the selections I know are very good!

The discussion on the ethics series has been stimulating to say the least. There have been many great comments, some thoughtful dialogue, with a few instances of labelling being thrown in along the way. Regarding the labelling, I think it reveals how difficult clear communication is and how we all, in spite of our best efforts to the contrary, tend to interpret everything we receive through our own filters and biases, with the result that people draw different conclusions from the same collection of words. I can see from the responses that I'm viewed as both liberal and conservative, post-modern and fundamentalist. Perhaps we all need to drop these categories and extrapolations and simply continue to dialogue as those who know that Christ alone is the source and end of all truth, and therefore, all life as well.

Inspiration: A topic whose time has come!

I can see that the discussion on homosexuality has led to a fundamental issue of whether or not Paul's writings were/are inspired. This is a vital topic that I will address tomorrow or Wednesday, because a great deal hinges on a) what we mean by inspiration b) our convictions regarding the inspiration of Paul's writings and c) the implications of those convictions on our interpretation of His writings. Big topic, and perhaps I'll tackle it a day at a time! In the meantime, enjoy the backpacking pictures.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Nouwen and Christian Community

In preparation for student ministries at Seattle Pacific University, for the past two summers I have read Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus. His reflections on the challenges on Christian leadership come from his own experience as a priest at Daybreak, a community for people with mental handicaps. Following the three temptations of Jesus, Nouwen states that the temptations of contemporary Christian leaders are to seek relevance, popularity, and power. At Daybreak, where his reputation and gifts meant next to nothing, Nouwen reflected on the prayer, confession, forgiveness, and humility that are essential to effctive ministry and healthy Christian community.

As I read this book again, for the first time not preparing for or pursuing student ministry, I find that the issues Nouwen presents are critical not only for Christian leaders, but for our communities as a whole. While espousing contemplative prayer as a means for leaders to remain rooted in Christ, Nouwen writes:

Dealing with burning issues without being rooted in a deep personal relationship with God easily leads to divisiveness because, before we know it, our sense of self is caught up in our opinion about a given subject. But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative. (47)

How important to remember, as this summer we encounter together these ethical issues of our faith, to remain rooted in the God who lives in and through us and our community. Nouwen's exhortation to prayer, confession, humility, and fogiveness are important not only for leaders but for each member of our community, as we together grow in Christ. Nouwen's reflections are both practical and inspiring, and In the Name of Jesus offers an excellent model for Christian leaders and the communities they serve.

Kristi Dahlstrom

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fishing and Philosophy

Relishing the freedom of summer to read whatever I like at whatever speed I desire, I recently re-read The River Why, by David James Duncan. In this 1983 novel, Duncan offers thoughts on such topics as family, ecology, and the purpose of existence, all through the context of angling on the rivers of Western Oregon.

The River Why cheifly concerns the search for meaning of Gus Orviston, a self-proclaimed "Scientific Angler" and the son of a fishing family. Having seen nothing better to attract his interest, Gus leaves home shortly after his twentieth birthday to live in pursuit of his most meaningful passion--the art of fishing. Finding this way of life less than satisfying, Gus quickly amends his quest:

The Spirit Father business was getting to me, too. I'd reckoned once that if He was so blasted important, He would make Himself less scarce. But how scarce was He? It was beginning to seem like everybody I respected... had some kind of secret Deity they worshipped, but who mostly just confused me. Yet everybody without a Deity looked a tad pedestrian beside those (140).

Thus a great deal of The River Why follows Gus's search for the elusive Diety he comes to refer to as "the Whopper" (183). The setting of angling and philosophizing provide a lively context for this search for meaning.

With life-like characters, vivid settings, and a jovial tone, The River Why is both entertaining and thought-provoking. Duncan's novel offers the striking distinction to other post-modern fiction of declaring that God (though Duncan and his characters hesitate to apply this title to "the Whopper") and His purpose exist, but that they should be sought with passion and energy.
"The lovers of God delight in hyperbole, because we need hyperbole to talk about God. Poets can't describe Him; scientists can't quantify Him; the sages state flat out that from the disadvantage points of language and logic, God is a Whopper--yet from the vantage point of love they say this Whopper can be known." (177).

I hope that you are able to enjoy this work as much as I have!

Kristi Dahlstrom

Sunday, July 10, 2005

North Cascades

I'll be out in the North Cascades this week with my wife, backpacking, and then heading to Birch Bay for a couple of days, so I'll catch up with you in 8 days with some thoughts on sexuality, marriage, and backpacking lightweight style.

In the meantime, I've invited my daughter to offer a couple of book reviews for those of you looking for some great reading this summer. They'll be posted later this week, and feel free to use the 'post comment' section to recommend other good books you're reading this summer.

May His life sustain each of us in the midst of these amazing days. I'll chat with you soon.


Do Something

It's been great to open the discussion of these many ethical issues, and I hope people are able to keep posting on matters of sexuality, economics, violence and (still to come) environmental stewardship issues. The depth of insights, and the quality of questions asked lead me to believe that we have a need for more discussion forums for ethics, and I hope that we can provide that at Bethany in the coming year.

To follow up on a recent posting about the need to continue working on our own faithfulness while wrestling with these issues, I quote Henry Drummond, who offers sound advise for all of us in the midst of our wondering what to do next:

Where are you to begin? Begin where you are. Make that one corner, room, house, office, as like heaven as you can. Begin? Begin with the paper on the walls, make that beautiful; with the air, keep it fresh; with the very drains, meake them sweet. Abolish whatsoever makes a lie - in ocnversation, in social intercourse, in correspondence, in domestic life. This done, you have arranged for a heaven, but you have not got it. Heaven lies in kindness, in humbleness, in unselfishness, in faith, in live, in service. To get these in, get Christ in. Teach all in the house about Christ, what He did, and what He said, and how He lived. Teach it not as a doctrine, but as a discovery, as your own discovery. Live you own discovery.

Then pass out into the city. Do all to it that you have done at home.

This is our calling and to the extent that we get on with it, I assure you that we will continue, indeed must continue, to sort out the ethical issues along the way.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


One of the comments to an earlier posting indicated that 'relative truth' is the perceived enemy of many holding to a high view of Scripture. This has been a major point of discussion for the July 5th entry, and because of this I want to take a moment or two and unpack the 'moral relativism' discussion. This issue really centers around two questions. First, what is the source of my moral conviction (from what authority do I derive my ethic?). Second, there's the question of how I digest that authority and apply it to my life.

What is the source of my moral conviction?

A moral relativist is so called because there is no aboslute transcendent authority outside of him/herself. I may alternately make pleasure, economic expediency, a sense of justice, and the desires of the masses my 'highest authority' in any given moment. But in such a paradigm I, the one affirming or rejecting the authority source, become the authority. (This, incidentally, is part of the larger discussion in Romans 1. Paul is pointing out that when we reject the authority revealed to us in God the Father and in Christ, we are left to a self-derived ethic and authority).

Ultimately, it is unacceptable for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ to also claim any authority other than Christ. We are under His Lordship. He and His Word are the absolute authorities in our lives.

How do I digest that authority and apply it to my life?

The difficulty that we face: all who claim this absolute authority don't agree on how we both interpret and apply it. And I think right here is where there is a real divide between modernity and post-modernity. The modernist is tempted to quickly come to fixed and conclusive interpretations/applications of God's revelation and fight for the protection of that interpretation.

The post-modernist resists such quick conclusions and dogmatic defenses, having seen the church be forced to change it's position too often (on matters ranging from service in the military, to whether Christians can act in plays, to slavery, to dietary laws, to whether an organ is an acceptable instrument for Christians to listen too, as it isn't listed in the Bible anywhere {and don't even think about getting that group started on the matter of drums!}). But the danger for the post-modernist is, I believe, a tendency towards holding convictions so loosely that they fail to act.

I would offer, as I stated on Sunday, a middle path. We need to consider our convictions carefully and hold them actively, being willing to both articulate and act on them, believing that Christ is teaching and shaping us and calling us not only to belief, but to action. Without action, we have no real beliefs. But we need to hold these convictions, particularly in divisive ethical matters, in the context of both love and humility, recognizing that while we are committed to the absolute authority of Christ, we are not omniscient, and therefore cannot claim to know with aboslute certainty, the mind of Christ on all matters. This will create an environment and community where there can be the safety of ongoing dialogue without the 'epistimological nihilism', or 'ethical squishiness' (choose your favorite term), that characterize deeper strands of post-modernism. And hopefully the arrogant certitude of modernity will also be lacking.

This will be, I believe and pray, the best environment for both truth and healthy conviction/certitude to rise to the surface, as was the case throughout the book of Acts where people wrestled with how to live out convictions as a community submitted to the Lordship of Christ.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

sorry for the delay

The web mistress is on holiday this week from our church office, so there may be a slight delay in pulishing the sermon notes and the mp-3 download. Sorry about that.

In the meantime, it was a great day to be up early with a run at the lake, followed by eggs and trout on the deck, along with good coffee (a nice blend of colombian supreme and espresso beans).

In the wake of yesterday's 4th of July celebration, I was noting this morning that I never tire of trees, never tire of flowers, never tire of sunrises, never tire of candlelight, never tire of that intimacy which happens when heart meets heart, never tire of my cat sleeping beside me as she purrs. But apparently I do tire of fireworks because last night, while I enjoyed good conversation with friends, the fireworks bored me. So after 8 years, I think I'll take next year off, or perhaps hike up Sauk mountain and camp on the summit so that I can look at the fireworks from Concrete and then fall asleep under the stars.

The best things in life are still .... made by God.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Controversy of Homosexuality

I'd spoken with several pastors prior to teaching this past Sunday on homosexuality. Amongst 'emergent' pastors, I didn't find any who were willing to teach on the subject. I wonder why this is?

As of July 5th, the notes from this sermon, along with the download, will be available on the Bethany website.

Part of the purpose for this teaching series on ethics is to begin conversation on these important issues. So please post your thoughts and responses to Sunday's teaching, along with questions for the community to consider.

Here are some of my questions -

Why has homosexuality been declared as the 'watershed issue' of western civilization, when marriages are disolving, families are sinking in debt, and our nation continues to amass debt to sustain our interests and lifestyle? These issues and many others, seem more ominous - so why aren't we more intent on investing our energies in strengthening covenant relationships and teaching contentment, generosity, care for the poort, and showing hospitality to all peoples?

How can we be a community that allows God to continue to do a transforming work in all of us, without insisting that everyone conform, on the front end, to some proscribed lifestyle?

Other thoughts you have about how this issue has affected you?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Global Poverty and Being a Blessing

I've been speaking out of Acts this week at this conference, and have been reminded of that our pirmary calling as believers is to BE a blessing to those around us, irregardless of whether they ever believe. Bless, simply because we've been blessed, and we as image bearers of our Father, delight to give and serve!

How do we apply this? There are many ways, but one of the important ways is by wrestling with and responding to the causes of global poverty. Did you know that the developing world now spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants? This, and other fun facts are yours to digest, if you'll take the time to do so. Why take the time? Because in Luke 14, and 16, and 18, and 19 Jesus tells us to make caring for poor a priority. And Paul says that caring for the poor is the one thing that we simply must do.

The point? Pray for the G8 conference and for the leaders of the free world, who hold in their hands the fate of billions. And in keeping with the intention to bless, stand with those who are calling for debt relief, as this will be one critical factor in addressing the scourge of poverty. The Live 8 concerts will be unfolding for this very purpose in the coming days. Far from the indulgences of Woodstock, these concerts (at least the Hyde Park one in London, I'm not sure about the rest) will be alcohol free events, intent on articulating the desperate nature of the global poverty situation, as the lives of increasing millions of children are at stake.

Poverty is a kingdom of God issue. Surely, if Pat Robertson and Tom Hanks can agree on this, our community can join together as well, praying for the world to send a powerful message, through concerts, conversations, legislation, and peaceful protests, to its leaders: Make global poverty a priority!!

Of course we can do more than pray. But that's a subject for another time, or your feedback.