Wednesday, June 27, 2007

C hurch Signs

The sign for the church on the corner of our street says:
Judgment begins at the House of God

I wonder what message that conveys?
I should have finished my thought...
I wonder what message that sign conveys to a person walking down the street or driving by who has no prior connection with Christianity? I wonder what it might convey to people who have not really explored Christianity? Just wondering...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Reflections on leading a faith community

Some of my mentors on leadership and belonging to a faith community:

...I can never be involved in creativity except by entering the mess. Mess is the precondition of creativity. The tohu v'bohu of Genesis 1:2. Chaos.
...if we in fact believe in the Holy Spirit, then we must not at the same time try to moonlight as efficiency experts in religion. We cannot nurture the life of the Spirit in a parishioner while holding a stopwatch. We cannot apply time management techniques to the development of souls."
E. Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant, (Eerdmans 1992), p163-4.

To listen, when nobody else wants to listen, is a very beautiful thing.
Mother Teresa

Let us be very sincere in our dealings with each other, and have the courage to accept each other as we are. Do not be surprised or become preoccupied at each other’s failures-rather, see and find in each other the good, for each one of us is created in the image of God.
Mother Teresa

The road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.
Dag Hammarskjold

Prayer and action, therefore, can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates in into questionable manipulation. If prayer leads us into a deeper unity with the compassionate Christ, it will also give rise to concrete acts of service.
Henri Nouwen

Letting Go

Keeping up with responsibilities is tricky. I am practicing letting go on many levels. Eighteen months into a doctoral program is proving to be more time consuming then I could have imagined. I love school and receive it as a gift. So, I don’t want to whine. When something as “big” as a doctoral program enters your life (at least mine) others things have to go to make room. That’s the “letting go” I am constantly practicing these days. Some of the “letting go” that does not come easy for me:

  • Spending much leisure time with friends
  • Having time to cultivate new friendships
  • Often having people over to just hang out
  • A clean house (which is why I don’t have many people over these days)
  • Saying "no" to things I used to so easily say "yes" to

These are just a few things…I know this is just a season and in two years when I am graduating with a Doctor in Ministry it will all have been worth it. For now it seems that much of my spiritual work is “letting go” of some of the luxuries that have to be on hold for now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random thoughts about Church History

I am preparing a four part series on Global Church History to present at VCC over 4 Sunday's. This will be my project for the class I took in May. It's hard to pin down 2000 years of history in four 30 minute talks...hopefully I can wet a few appetites for folks to do some reading and study on their own or in a group.

One thing that has been stirring in me since the class is this…we watched the movie Luther, which by the way I highly recommend. Something dawned on me…how is the indulgence selling back in Luther’s day any different from the folks that preach messages on if you give “seed” money to this or that you will “get” this or that from God? You can fill in the this or that. I am sure we have all heard and seen it promised that if you give you get.

Can someone tell me what the difference is?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Course Work

Well I am down to it. I have stacked three courses (16 credits) and now have until August 1st to complete the course work. Today I am at Mars Hill Grad School for the day. I am using the library and quiet to get my head into writing. I'm going to begin with the Global Church History class I just finished. My project is a 4-part sermon series to be taught at VCC this summer.
Also, on that note, one of my blog posts while at the church history class made comments about cremation. Just to clarify, Ray was not opposed to cremation, his negativity was around our cultural phobia and denial of death. Cremation is not the point, honoring and remembering the dead was the point. So often when ashes are scattered there is no "place" to go to remember and honor the dead. Ray's suggestion to me, make a garden on the church property to at least put a stake in the ground with a name to remember those that have been a part of us. We don't own our grounds so that's not an option. I get his point though. Remembering and honoring the dead does not come easy for us. Embracing a theology of death (we are all going to die unless we are those that remain and are alive when Jesus comes back) is important...helping each other die well is something I have seen sorely lacking. Enough on that for now.
Back to work!