Europe 08 - keep visiting, new pictures as they arrive
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 faithfully...in the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...
When I finally land at the Zurich airport, I've been awake and traveling for about 20 hours. I still have a train and a ferry, before being picked up by friends and then some social time at supper, and getting ready for preaching on Sunday. In short, I need coffee.
Yes: this is a long post. Yes: it requires careful reading. Yes: it's one of the more important posts... even more important than buying a toaster and getting a free bank! (see below). Please read - pray - respond:
So teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
The church I pastor in Seattle is filled with college graduates, PHD's, college and post-graduate students, and various experts of medical, literary, artistic, and technological ilk. I love these people, love this church, and think that it is truly in the stream of God's activity because the hearts of people are so open to stepping into our broken world to serve, and so willing to consider to love God with their minds as well as their feet.
"...there was famine in all the lands..." (Genesis 41:54)
Are you looking for something do some rainy afternoon this winter, when it's too warm to ski (or too expensive), and good movie options are slim? Why don't you check out Blankets from the library and curl up with the hot beverage of your choice for a thought provoking read.
...June of 2007 in fact, that I recommended reading Bill McKibben's book, "Deep Economy". The material seems more important now than it was then because it posits a different model for economic stability.
Sermon Date - November 16th -
In Celtic Christianity, the concept of "thin places" is described as those places in the our world where the dividing line between the visible and invisible realm is so thin that the two begin to bleed into each other for those with eyes to see, making the common become sacred, and the sacred become common. You can read a bit about thin places here if you're interested.
In the third service on Sunday morning I misspoke, confusing some details regarding how Jesus legs were treated by the Roman soldiers on the cross. You'll not find the error in the downloadable sermon, because it was only spoken in the 11:15 service. Having departed from my notes, I confused the facts (strangely, because I knew the facts already) and was thankfully corrected by several in the congregation after the service. Oh the danger of moving too afar afield from one's preparations! For those who were there, thanks for your corrections and your grace.
When I finished seminary, I was working as a carpet cleaner in Los Angeles, traveling throughout the city in a van and pumping steamed water into stained fabric. This trade allowed me conversation with a large cross section of humanity, and the many conversations I had about God during those days were, in retrospect, a profoundly valuable part of my theological education. It was because of these rug cleaning gigs that I got the chance to learn what people really thought about God.
I'm grateful for several things this very rainy morning before heading off to teach:
Jesus rose again from the dead. - I Corinthians 15:3-8 / 20-28
The votes have been cast. Two stirring speeches were given, both striking in their humility and call for unity. American democracy was on a world stage last night and we collectively demonstrated that the ideals of giving everyone a voice are still alive and well, perhaps more visibly demonstrated this year than any other.
But now that it's over, millions of believers are waking up either elated or exasperated, overjoyed or angry, delighted or despairing. I know this because this is a time of seismic political shifts among people of faith, with fractures growing along geographical, generational, theological, and economic lines, depending on your particular situation. I know this because in this first election since the rise of the blogosphere, inflammatory pixels have been hurled, believer at believer, with such intensity that outsiders would think the left and right worship different Gods.
Millions of Christians are feeling that the country is headed, more than ever, in the wrong direction, while the rest are conviced that better days are finally ahead and the right man won. Many are angry at the other side, incredulous that Christians could vote as they did. But behind the sound bytes, blog attacks, and flashes of apocalyptic rhetoric, if one listens carefully, there's a humble Jewish man saying, "by this all men will know that your are my disciples, in that you have love for one another." This love has largely gone missing during the recent political season. Continuing to wallow in bitterness or gloat in triumphal pride are not acceptable options for people who follow Jesus. We must find a way to move towards the healing of relationships and unity of heart and purpose that is foundational to our calling. Yes, we must.
Recovery begins by realizing that the winner is neither Messiah nor Anti-Christ. Believing that any party is God's party leads to heights of elation or depths of despair unbecoming to those who claim that Christ is our true king, His reign our true hope, and embodying that reign our true ambition. The reality that Jesus stands outside the confines of our political structures was demonstrated during His short stay on earth, when He was no party's poster child, no ideology's champion. He came offering a different kingdom, whose ethics and calling stand apart from the warring systems of this world. This is where we must place our hope.
We must realize that our calling is to live, right now in the present, in accordance with the priorities and ethics of our eternal King, and His coming kingdom. This will mean offering bold critique and resistance at some moments, and enthusiastic support at others, for various positions and reforms offered by both the left and the right. As we seek to embody this Kingdom, the walls that have divided us will fall down, because we will care about life in the womb, and life on the streets; we'll care about justice and mercy; we'll care about loving our enemies and standing up for those who are unprotetcted. We'll become artisans of genuine hope, spilling the colors of beauty, reconciliation, celebration, serivice, justice, peace, and compassion on the canfass of our communities. This, I'm convinced, is not only our calling in Christ, it's what our world desperately needs in these immensely challenging days. We must lay our weapons down and commit to being the presence of Jesus in the world. Yes. We must.
Last night I participated in our church's annual meeting and then drove to the northern limit of the USA, finding a motel at edge of the border at about 11:30 PM, where I slept, showered, shaved, and from which I disappeared 6 hours after my arrival. I drove north, crossing the border in order to catch a float plane to one of the most beautiful locations for a Bible school on the planet.