Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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 Jürgen 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).

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