Archive for October 2010

Nitty Gritty Christianity

October 21, 2010

Today’s gospel reading is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s a parable that usually makes me feel uncomfortable. I realize how much I’m like the “expert in the law” that asks Jesus a question about eternal life, and when Jesus turns the question back to him, gives a really great answer: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’, and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘” What great concepts! What profound thoughts! Jesus says, “Great response . You hit the nail on the head. Do this, and you’ll be fine.” (more…)

Divine Appointments

October 19, 2010

This past Sunday I talked about how while I’m not completely comfortable with calling the spiritual disciplines “disciplines,” there’s no denying that it takes discipline to practice them. For that reason I think it’s helpful to think of the disciplines as “divine appointments.” The gift of something being a discipline is that you don’t have to decide whether or not to do it; for example when you don’t feel like it, or things get too busy. A discipline becomes an actual discipline when you are no longer choosing but just doing. I won’t say it’s automatic, because we may still be tempted to skip a day. But when the temptation rises, not doing what we have committed to do becomes less and less of an option. (more…)

Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead

October 18, 2010

“‘Don’t preach with such impassioned rhetoric,’ they say excitedly. ‘These prophets should not preach of such things; we will not be taken by humiliation‘” (The Net Version of Micah 2:6, today’s OT reading).

After the service yesterday, one of our members said to me, “I wish I had your passion for the things you talk about.” Preaching passionately is one of the ways I develop that passion. I can only hope that listening to passionate preaching may help others experience that passion.

In my own life, I’ve discovered that it’s pretty hard to have any real passion unless I’m willing to be humiliated. In other words, I have to be willing to humbly face the things in my life that are numbing me to the realities of God’s kingdom, that are keeping me stuck in the shallows. If I stay in shallow water, my feet may be able to touch bottom, but the river passes me by. Shallow living feels safer, but lacks passion. Maybe I can see the bottom, but there is no whitewater there. (more…)

Sankofa Continued

October 13, 2010

Yesterday I described the first part of the Sankofa which Tim, Dave and myself attended this last weekend. Sankofa is a West African word that means “to look back in order to move forward.” A Sankofa is a three day cross-racial/ethnic bus trip into the South in which historic sites are visited where critical events occurred related to civil rights movement.

On Saturday we drove to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The institute contains an exhibition that offers visitors a comprehensive picture of the civil rights struggle. We spent about an hour and a half there, which wasn’t nearly enough time. The constant barrage of auditory and visual media transported me into the events of those days. It was especially poignant for me to see the faces the four young girls who died in the bombing of a church in Birmingham. They reminded me of my African-American granddaughters. (more…)

Mid-journey Reflections

October 12, 2010

I meant to post the following thoughts a few days ago, but had a problem with the blog site. I’ll share more of what happened since Saturday in a future post.

It’s Saturday morning, and it felt awfully good to sleep in a bed last night. Tim, Dave and I flew from Albany to Grand Rapids, Michigan on Thursday morning. We connected with our other Sankofa travelers (about 30 of us) at Roosevelt Christian Reformed Church for some lunch and prep for the journey. Each of us was paired with a partner who would be our traveling, discussion, motel room companion for the remainder of the journey. My partner is Raul. Raul lives in Chicago, helps oversee a Puerto Rican cultural center, and is an elder and preacher in his predominantly Puerto Rican congregation. He is married and has two teenage children. Raul also snores. (more…)

This Next Sunday

October 6, 2010

I want to let people know what’s up for this next Sunday. As I mentioned yesterday, Dave, Tim and I are going to be away on a Sankofa. But I’m really excited about what’s going to be happening at BRC this week. This will be the beginning of our October focus on cultivating our life in Christ. I’ve asked four people to share their experience of working with spiritual disciplines and how these have affected their life in Christ and their lives in general. I’m really sorry I’m going to miss it. I hope that you’ll make every effort to be there.

Taking Offense

October 6, 2010

A couple of thoughts around today’s gospel reading:

Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Jesus didn’t speak those words to the Pharisees or teachers of the law; he said them to the disciples of John the Baptist who had been sent by their leader to ask Jesus if he was “the one,” or if should they be looking for someone else. In John’s case, it appears that he took offense at the fact that Jesus wasn’t more offensive. He really expected that the real Messiah would probably have been knocking some heads and taking some people out by now.

Given how easy it is for people to take offense at each other’s words and actions, it’s not surprising that we would take offense at God, too. (more…)