Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Block Party

Moved indoors with the rain, but lots of fun. Thanks to Bob for coordinating the festivities!

Study Retreat

I was in Virginia Beach last week, visiting my parents and taking my annual fall study retreat – reading, planning Sunday message themes and series, running, catching up with my folks, doing a few chores. They’re a bit behind us in the seasonal changes. (Mom thinks it’s getting cold, at 68-71 degrees.) I saw a five foot spider web while running this morning, with a big spider in the center . . . and, no, I didn’t run through it!

In my reading today, two different excerpts stood out. Both, in my mind, connect to how we welcome others with the grace of Christ Jesus. First, from the autobiography of J├╝rgen Moltmann, A Broad Place, a reflection on his time as a German WWII prisoner of war in a Scottish camp:

The Scottish overseers and their families were the first to meet us, their former enemies, with a hospitality that profoundly shamed us. We heard no reproaches, we were not blamed, we experienced a simple and warm common humanity which made it possible for us to live with the past of our own people, without repressing it and without growing callous. . . . This humanity in far-off Scotland made human beings of us once more. We were able to laugh again (28-29).

Second, a selection from Dave Browning’s Deliberate Simplicity: How the Church Does More by Doing Less, in the chapter on "reality" (authenticity, sincerity, etc.). We talk about being "giving, faithful, and real" or "generosity, fidelity, and integrity" as the shape of our spirituality here at Bethany. Browning reminds us that REAL is also IMPERFECT, and uses the note that came with his new leather wallet:

Your wallet is made of real leather. Unlike artificial or simulated leather, authentic leather may have imperfections and variety in coloration or texture. These are not indications of defect. These are marks of distinction. You are the owner of a genuine leather article (100).

As Paul wrote, "Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God" (Romans 15:7).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mission Football

Well, it is football season anyway! Mike Singletary, now coach of the 49ers, and his wife, Kim, and seven kids have their family "mission statement" hanging in their kitchen:

As Singletarys we will always strive to do our best. We will strive to be honest and respect each other's feelings, property and time. We will always pray for one another, fight for one another and encourage one another. For our trust be not in our home, nor money or knowledge, but in each other, and above all, in Christ.

From Guideposts, August 2009.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Isaiah 29:2 Jerusalem shall be to me like an Ariel.

An Ariel? The word appears to be the name of an "altar hearth", and a double reference to Jerusalem as the center of Hebrew worship and to Jerusalem destroyed and burned by invasion. The judgment image aside, as I read and prayed through the passage this week, I wondered what God would have me put on the altar of my heart. One of the new Pentecost hymns calls out, "make my heart an altar-pyre" ("Wind Who Makes All Winds that Blow") and Psalm 5 declares "every day I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and wait for fire to descend" (The Message).