Two matters of import
First: The statistics quoted in yesterday’s sermon about the difficulties facing North American Christianity were taken from The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, and are well documented in that book for those interested. My concern is not to castigate the church, but to ask the question: “What is it supposed to be that characterizes us as different from the prevailing culture?” The answer, Jesus tells us, needs to have a lot to do with the quality of our relationships with the human race. This means that we will be about hospitality and reconciliation, about offering hope and mercy, and about doing so without strings attached because our love in Jesus name is as unconditional as God’s love toward us. There’s nothing new here, except that this is not how the church is generally seen by the culture at large. Instead, we’re often perceived, in the present as militaristic, bigoted people who have largely bought into the values of our prevailing culture (individualism and wealth) with a dose of arrogance thrown in. Though these perceptions aren’t wholly accurate, they’re rooted in enough anecdotal evidence and statistical weight as to be quite popular. The way we’re perceived by the world will change only when the way we invest our collective lives changes as well. There are more hopeful signs within our little flock towards this end than I can mention, but one example would be the over 180 people who signed up yesterday to help with a new ministry for hosting homeless women on our church property. This is but one of several encouraging signs that God's reign is taking up residence in human hearts and communities!
Second: There’s something about running at 5 in evening on these November nights that is conducive to worshipping the Creator. Maybe it's the blend of color and light, the interplay of clouds, setting sun, trees, leaves, headlights, waxing moon, and the beautiful variety of people at the lake that makes one glad to be alive, glad to be in this city at this time in history. Where the cosmos dances with the cosmopolitan – this is where I find it easy to perceive God. The Celts said that November was a ‘thin’ month, meaning that the barrier between spirit and flesh seemed more permeable somehow. On my run early this evening, I found it to be true.