Wednesday, August 30, 2006


You've filled my plate with the practice of humility toward self and love toward others. What need do I have to perform miracles?

I've not mastered my tongue, and the world of my thoughts needs constant discernment and correction. Should I desire to have marvelous and exciting experiences?

When I read the stories of Jesus, what do I do with his teachings? With his miracles? What forms me?

We want to learn his prayer that moves mountains, but not the one we need: "not my will, but yours be done."

What is the proper expression of the life of a Christ-follower? What are our expectations?

Do we have a misguided longing for the ostentatious, the impressive, and the gratifying? Will we wreck spiritually on the rocks of what appears grand, while missing that to which we've been called?

I wonder.

Monday, August 21, 2006

New Worship

Monday morning.

First task on Mondays is to write contemplations for the week. Today writing those went very quickly . . . so thought I would take a moment to post.

I think yesterday we discovered a new way to worship . . . starter kits, CD's, seminars, and instrucitonal books and vidoes ought to be available soon . . .

Seriously, Chuck had this great idea of worshiping our way through a book of the Bible. So we read all of Ephesians, and worshiped as a community through the letter. When Paul prayed, we prayed. When he reminded us of our unity with God, we broke bread and shared in the cup. When he wrote about singing psalms and spiritual songs, we sang. When he told us to pray on all occasions with all type of prayers and requests, everyone had an opportunity to pray.

I am always amazed at the creativity of my fellow travelers . . . and thankful to be in a fellowship of believers where we are free from human constrictions to be able to try whatever might edify.

This was definitely a way of worshiping in a gathering that we will try again.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Obviously we corrupted Tyler . . . he'll never be able to minister in a "real" church again. How will he ever finish his MDiv and interview to be a professional minister at some "nice" church? How will he get invited to speak at all the big venues if he's as screwed up as we are?

Our apologies to everyone who had high hopes for Tyler becoming the next superstar preacher.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'm here alone . . .

The usual suspects are absent.

Bill's at the VA this morning.
Gordon is on his way to Decatur for some business appointments.
Tyler and Lindsey have gone after a summer of being co-conspirators.
The Thursday morning study group wasn't here . . . guess most weren't able to make it.
Steve is working at his mother's.
Tom won't be back until the weekend.
Bill even gave away his pet snake (the one I was hoping to raise to sufficient size to have that snake-handling service everyone is anticipating) to one of the kids from the apartments.

I'm sitting here alone . . . which doesn't happen often. Listening to Bob Marley and waiting on an email so I can start on the powerpoint for Sunday.

Thinking I might as well read a little of Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis and enjoy the break.

I am starting some regular prayer time on Monday with Father William Wilson.

Planning some prayertime tonight with our family as Aaron and Adrienne start a new school year tomorrow.

Being alone to reflect for a bit is good. God is good. Life is good. Having fellow-travelers is good.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Worship Assemblies

Some ways of looking at the Sunday morning worship assembly:

1) Since God is very exacting and demanding in how he wants to be worshipped, it is of utmost importance that we get it right and please him so his wrath does not descend on us. Every Sunday is an exercise in appeasing (pleasing) God.

2) Being a good and faithful Christian means attending each and every Sunday to fulfill the requirements so one stays "saved." Each Sunday is an act of self-preservation through punching a card.

3) Sunday mornings are the time to share God's message with a lost and dying world, so we need an event that communicates in the language and context of 'the lost' so they will be attracted and taught as well. Sunday is a time for attracting seekers on their terms.

4) Sunday mornings are another moment in a lifestyle of following Jesus, neither more or less important, but a significant moment because of the gathering of believers. Sunday is an assembly time for believers that reflects their daily walks and feeds those journeys as well.

I know there are more options, and variations for viewing the Sunday assembly, than just these four, but these will serve to illustrate my thoughts.

I don't like the first because it is worship out of fear and a flawed view of God. I don't agree with the second because it is self-serving and ultimately empty. It has no daily-life dimension.

The third, though popular in many churches today, strips Christian worship of anything distinctly Christian if it is also not culturally popular. It is consumer-oriented worship; pop-culture worship for a pop-culture world (or whatever worship for whatever world).

Of course the fourth option is the one I prefer. Sunday isn't more important than other days, but it is an important event - to get together with others. We don't focus on appeasing God . . . we share in whatever has to do with our faith and our journeys. Because it is not elevated to a more important time than other times, we are free to do whatever is helpful to our daily walks.

Sunday mornings are not a time to please God, nor to please people. No order is arranged to satisfy God, nor is something planned to satisfy people's desires. Our gatherings should be meaningful and speak to our daily experiences - giving us opportunities to reflect on what has happened in our daily lives, and to prepare us for what will happen as we walk daily with Jesus.

The 'evangelistic' dimension comes not in having a very comfortable 'relevant' worship experience which is a vehicle for communicating a 'how to be saved' message, but in speaking boldly and authenically about life as lived in faith. As believers gather to have real conversation about real life and faith, the Good News is inherent in that discussion.

Rather than assemblies stripped of anything unfamiliar to a person unacquainted with Christianity, our assemblies ought to contain testimony to our faith . . . no matter how foreign that might seem to some. I heard the rationale for a new church start-up in the 80's where the celebration of communion was relegated to Sunday night small groups because the Sunday morning assembly wasn't to have anything that might make the unbeliever uncomfortable. The logic is sound if one's goal is consumer-friendly Christianity.

I hope we continue to spend time planning our worship gatherings, not to appease God, not to entertain or attract people, but to deal authenically in whatever way possible with how faith and life in our world intersect. We are free to be rich in Christian meaning and free to be adaptive to ways of communicating with no other goal than to be truthful about how to live in the Kingdom of God.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Catching Up

For anyone interested - here's what's been happening:

I survived a week without my laptop (while it was repaired) and was made acutely aware of how much of what I do depends on it.

Went to a Taize prayer service last night and was thoroughly blessed. For me it was a perfect sense of peace and quietness.

Been listening to Peter Gabriel lately - and Matisyahu "Youth" today. Nothing like a hasidic reggae/rapper to give a change of pace.

Have thoroughly enjoyed working with Lindsey and Tyler - our student ministers this summer - and am going to miss them greatly. Fortunately Lindsey is in school here, so she will still be around!

Our "monastic" community is growing - and I need to begin a practice of daily prayer with the brothers. We might need to work out our own version of Benedict's Rule.

I think we are closer to God . . . and further from religiosity than ever before.