Saturday, September 24, 2011

John 13:12 "Do you know what I have done to you?"

Image is everything. Pictures drive a lot of what we do. Leaders have vision of where an organization needs to go. Brides have images of what their wedding should look like. Companies invest vast amounts of money and energy in creating logos that "brand" their product or service. Auto makers sell an image of what owning a particular vehicle says about you.
In the text for Sunday, John 13:12, Jesus asked his disciples if they knew "what he had done to them?" The answer is that he gave them an example. It wasn't till this week that I unpacked the word example. In greek the word is "hupo-deigma" or "under-image". A synonym to "hupo-deigma" is "para-deigma" from or "beside-image". It's also the root word for paradigm. We all know how important paradigms are, they are our driving images, our reality lenses. The reality lens Jesus gave us as disciples is the basin and the towel.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Anointed one? Christ? Messiah? Cornerstone? Light of the world? What's your title for Jesus?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

M-4 9/11 Service

We chose to celebrate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 together as a community of M-4 churches. That allowed each church to have full worship in our own tradition and then gather for a totally 9/11 focussed service. 8 clergy from the 4 churches gathered in robes and processed in together, led by an ecumenical choir. One priest from the Episcopal church gave witness as a mother to a daughter who worked in the World Trade Towers. To illustrate her role as a mother, she took off her stole, robe and clerical collar. It was powerful. Then she invited us all to turn to our neighbors and talk about what we still remember.

M-4 is such a gift to me!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Genesis 4:9 "Where is your brother?"

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Thank You

She came by at the worst possible time. The church fire alarms, strobe lights and clanging bells were all going off at the same time. None of had the reset buttons and nobody knew quite what to do. We called various people who all gave us good partial advice.

Then she showed up with a bright big smile, carrying a poster. A poster in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon? What was she selling? What group was she promoting? My mind went to all the wrong places

"I'm from the trailer court" she said. "You know, the ones who received all the back packs M-4 gave away. This is from the kids....they wanted to say Thank You."

The bells were still going off and the alarms still screeched. I half-heartedly took the poster back to my office. And it wasn't till the alarm guys silenced the alarms that I had the peace of mind to look at the poster. Bright colors saying "Thank U" from their area. Inside were over a dozen hand-written thank you notes, mostly in Spanish.

M-4 does make a difference.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Fig leaves wither

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Who told you that you were naked?

In the recent movie “The Help”, one of the maids is charged with the care and feeding of a chubby little girl. The girl’s mother has issues with her overweight daughter and constantly belittles her. The maid wakes her in the morning, and puts her to bed and night by holding her close and saying three wonderful words that I think are: You is kind, You is smart. You is important. That tender scene reinforced to me the power of an inner narrative.

Not all of us have a positive inner narrative. Some of us have battled a lifetime of negative narrative: “not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not ________ enough”. When I first dug into the text for Sunday from Genesis 3:11 “Who told you that you were naked?” I was amazed at all the old voices I heard from my childhood, and not all were good. Teasing phrases friends used on me still sting. Behavior by bullies still makes me wince.

Part of getting ready for worship on Sunday would be for you to spend some time reflecting on both the positive and negative voices that shaped you. What voices still speak? How do Jesus’ words about you silence some of the old noises?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Broken Church

The church has so many problems. It is so messed up. I/we are so over the church. These are just a few of the comments I have heard directly or indirectly over the past weeks. A guy I know and am coming to find as a friend sat with me and said how he just couldn't take it any more, not God, but the church. So he stepped away and has no plans for ever coming back again. A couple recently told me that their faith is not about going to a building and sitting in a pew once a week.
When it comes to the litany of complaints about the church, I have to exercise great self-control because being a pastor's son and married to a pastor's daughter and grand-daughter, having a brother who is a pastor and a son who finished seminary (and spent time as a youth pastor) I can see and raise someone on any complaint they have.
So after a particularly long week, I was talking to my good friend in Michigan (another pastor) about my frustration with the church. His response to me was a question: When has the church not been broken? Certainly the disciples under the direct leadership of Jesus did a non-stop messup, bailing out at the end and reluctantly accepting his resurrection. Maybe from Acts 1-4 the church is seen at its vital-best. But then Annanias and Saphira show up in Acts 5 and off we go again.
Several months ago a visitor asked me to use one word only to describe the church I am serving. After some time the word came: recovering. We are a people continually recovering.

Desperately Miserable Christians?!

A younger Christian told me about her circle of friends, noting one characteristic in common with a group: single, employed, and theologically very conservative. They were, as a group, serious, committed, earnest, focussed, constantly vigilant and.......desperately miserable. They were aware of all the people they needed to avoid, not be tainted by or yoked to. Their life was a spiritual police-state.
As I listened and reflected I wondered....who wants that?

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