vampire "over my knee" -xxx -porn -tranny
Whoever it was didn't stay too long. Um...sorry for disappointing you...I think.
Eternal God, Creator of years, of centuries, Lord of whatever is beyond time,
Maker of all species and master of all history --
How shall we speak to you from our smallness and inconsequence? Except that you have called us to worship you in spirit and in truth;
You have dignified us with loves and loyalties; You have lifted us up with your lovingkindnesses.
Therefore we are bold to come before you without groveling [though we sometimes feel that low] and without fear [though we are often anxious].
We sing with spirit and pray with courage because you have dignified us;
You have redeemed us from the aimlessness of things' going meaninglessly well.
God, lift the hearts of those for whom this holiday is not just diversion, but painful memory and continued deprivation. Bless those whose dear ones have died in accident or misadventure.
We remember with compassion those who have died serving their countries. There is none of us but must come to bereavement and separation, when all the answers we are offered fail the question death asks of each of us.
We believe that you will provide for us as others have been provided with the fulfillment of "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Bless those who mourn. Grant us hope for peace. Instill in us courage to face a new day. Amen.
The second thing I’d like to mention is more important for the Church to consider. Christianity is a major, world-wide religion. It is 2000 years old and is the largest common expression of spirituality in the history of humanity. Does the Christian Church really need to worry about a book and a movie? These things are here today and gone tomorrow, almost literally. The Christian Church has withstood the Roman Empire, medieval Christianity, and the Age of Enlightenment. Somehow the Church even manages to survive its most dangerous challenge - scandal, decadence, and corruption within its ranks. Will Dan Brown now topple us?
I understand a carefully worded response to scholarly inaccuracies, but I don't understand the anger, the outrage, and the hoopla. Anything more than a gentle, factual correction is as silly as if George Bush were to show up at Patooka Elementary School with the secret service because a 4th grader said something mean about him. It's as silly as if Ron Howard and Tom Hanks were to show up at my door, screaming at me for lifting a Da Vinci Code graphic from their website. Why would they bother? What threat am I to them?
The best and only appropriate response for the Church is to be about the business of the Church. Don't we have, I don't know, CHURCH things to be doing? Or even better, human things to be doing? If our love of humanity was as radical as Jesus called it to be, then we would never have to say a word.
...Anyway, the RevGalBlogPals Friday Five meme is in regard to belief. I realize that through the years, I've depended on the mostly-helpful notion that Christianity isn't about belief as confidently assenting to the truth of a set of doctrines, but cultivating faith in God as a way of life. The difference between faith and belief (when it is articulated with more clarity than I'm managing here) has been of vital importance to me. When I was about nineteen, I decided that whether or not I believed in the five things I thought I was supposed to make myself believe in to be a bonified Christian, I would try to trust God and participate in communities of faith anyway. For the most part, this has worked out for me, though sometimes the utter ambiguity of my faith exhausts me. The notion of orthopraxis - right practice - as opposed to orthodoxy - right belief - deeply appeals to me. Give me communion over catechesis any day. Which is not to say that I don't love theology; I simply see it more of a practice of imagining the God in whom we have faith rather than laying down a set of orthodox doctrines.
I’ve never had any big ego problems about criticising my own preaching. The next day I went to my tapes, and put on my last few sermons. I was shouting. I’d always been shouting, but now I was hearing it differently.
Those of you who didn’t grow up in the Southern Baptist Bible belt may have no idea what I am talking about here, but in my experiences of Baptist fundamentalism, shouting was fundamental to real preaching. Preachers didn’t talk in conversational tones. Preachers shouted. They yelled. They…”preached” by raising their voices to a shout and keeping it there most of the time. Their voices were in a higher gear, at a higher volume, and came from a higher plane.
Artificial? Absolutely. Biblical? Not that I can tell. Useful? In many places, probably, particularly with older people. Impressive? Yes, if you actually have something to say and say it well. Necessary? Yes. In our church a non-shouting preacher would have been unthinkable. Understood by the general public? Well……probably not. It was “preaching,” and that was about all you could say.
The United Church of Christ will move its 2007 national convention out of Hartford if the dispute between labor unions and the operators of the Connecticut Convention Center is not resolved by June 6, and the organization has asked the governor to intervene.
In a letter to Gov. M. Jodi Rell Monday, the organization - an umbrella group of Congregational churches - said that it will soon be forced to relocate its 8,000- to 10,000-person event scheduled for June 2007. Organizers say the event would use 18 area hotels for a week and could bring $10 million in economic benefit to the state. If the convention were to move, organizers say, it would be to a venue outside of Connecticut.
"In the event of a just and significant labor dispute, which we currently find this to be, we will not violate boycotts or cross picket lines," the organization said in its letter to Rell. "We are quickly approaching a time when we must make a decision to move our meeting to another city."
So right off the bat, we discussed The Da Vinci Code. In a larger sense, The Da Vinci Code was the theme of the week for me, since the movie opened last weekend. Every news channel had a good amount of discussion devoted to this stupid book, I had several conversations with my in-laws about it later in the week, and I even heard a sermon about it on Sunday. I'm going to see it for myself on Thursday. Just between you, me, and the entire public who reads this, I'm not that excited to go see it. I wasn't that excited to read it. I think all the hype and all the religious 'OMG faith destroying~!' nutballism has ruined this piece of FICTION for me. Yeah, I broke out the caps lock, bold AND italics for that. Get a grip, people. Seriously. Somalian children are starving and this is what you get hot and bothered about.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, so I went to Eden and we talked about this FICTIONAL story and its effect on church and culture. So we talked about the nutballism as well as how this book has inspired laypeople to open their Bibles and read for themselves. Yep, mainliners do that. Rock on. We also compared this book's effects with the hype around The Passion of the Christ, talked about how they're both interpretations, how they're both presented as fact in their own way (nutballism*), and American Christianity's reaction to/endorsement of each one.
The next morning was spent talking about liberals and conservatives and how we should be in dialogue and not shun each other, etc. I really can't bring myself to elaborate on that, because I'm sure most or all of my readers have heard it before. However, I will say that the method of presentation was a little different. Our presenter, Dr. Michael Kinnamon, used 1 John. This book is part of my 'canon within a canon,' so I looked forward to what he had to say about it, even though I thought that this would be about loving those you disagree with or something like that. What it turned out to be was what preachers call 'preaching against the text,' as he focused on the exclusive nature of the 1 John community when the writer refers to those who have left as antichrists and outside the truth. It was a great presentation, 90 degrees out from what I expected.
And the afternoon was spent talking about the pastor as spiritual leader, in contrast with pastor as therapist, talk show host, or CEO. It was an abridged version of any basic spiritual direction course, offering suggestions for contemplative disciplines one may take on to maintain a spiritual life. At one point during the 'pastor as...' discussion, someone asked about pastor as shepherd. I've been thinking about this one since the other Sunday when Jesus the Good Shepherd showed up in the lectionary, since no one is called a shepherd in that passage but Jesus. We're all sheep. The woman sitting next to me wrote me a note that said as much: 'Jesus is the one Shepherd. Pastors are sheepdogs.' I found that really helpful.
So that was the official program of the gathering. There was plenty of time to talk about what's going on in our churches and what we're thinking about ministry now that we've logged some field time, eat frozen custard (you've missed out if you visit St. Louis and have never sampled Ted Drewe's), and generally catch up with friends we haven't seen in months.
And someone caught us in this candid unplanned situation near the end:
It was a relaxing couple of days, followed by a few more relaxing days with my wife's family. And then I came home. But that's another entry.
*Nutballism is my term. No one used it during the presentations. But seriously...it's FICTION.
Please pray for me to Our Lord that, instead of merely writing something, I may be something, and indeed that I may so fully be what I ought to be that there may be no further necessity for me to write, since the mere fact of being what I ought to be would be more eloquent than many books.
If you are producing consumers or fans or people who think you are really cool, you may be successful and popular, but I’m wondering if you are doing what matters. Our command is clear: make disciples, teaching them everything Jesus commanded. We can’t change the definition of disciple into “guy who really likes the body surfing at the 9 p.m. youth service” and have any integrity.
The Jesus-movement produces Jesus-followers. Wow. What a concept. If you spent $70,000 to entertain people, did you produce Jesus followers, or fans of your show? Answer the question. It’s important.
The number of votes seems to remain remarkably constant (this year, somewhere north of 40 million) week to week. This indicates the same people continue to vote each week. It also means that the people who voted for the contestant who was kicked off go ahead and just choose somebody new to vote for.
This is a direct parallel to the presidential primary process. In the early primaries, candidates who do poorly usually drop out of the race, leaving those who would have supported them in other states high and dry. Those supporters then have to pick somebody else among the surviving candidates to vote for.
This winnowing process allows the most appealing candidates to pick up steam by adding new voters to their cadre of supporters. And as they do so, the field continues to be winnowed, until finally there are only one or two candidates left standing. The single-issue candidate, the flash-in-the-pan, the guy who has one fantastic debate - they may all have their moments, but in the end, the candidate with the most broad-based appeal will usually win.
And this is what explains Chris Daughtry's stunning loss this week on "American Idol." He has a distinctive voice and distinctive appeal. The problem is that he never broadened his base very much. If you liked him from the start, you stayed with him - which is why he remained solidly among the top contenders through most of the show's run.
But if you didn't much like his sound when there were still 9 contestants remaining, you weren't suddenly going to decide you liked his sound when there were only 4 remaining.
Those are really the main churches that I'm considering. I know of a few 'new monastic' communities that I may add later. This time of sabbatical would involve spending 4-5 days at each church, attend their regular activities, chat with the pastor(s) and members, and simply take in their sense of community, mission, and living as disciples in their setting that doesn't involve upkeep of a building, among other differences.
Why embark on such a tour? Well...the more I read about what these churches are doing, the more I wonder if such a project is not out of the question for me. The theological word for that is 'call,' but it's too soon to say that. More and more, I find myself visiting my bank, my tax place, local businesses for sale, and wonder how it might be converted to be a hub of outreach for an emerging group of Christians, probably younger, but committed to something new and different and unconventional and first and foremost missional. It would want to serve the community and carry out what the kingdom of God expects of them.
I have a few years to whip up this proposal, as well as consider other options. No rush. But it's one that I'm feeling a lot of energy and excitement over.