Archive for February, 2012

Are We Limited to Correct Answers?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

It was stunning to read a recent New York Times article on crime at an Indian reservation in Wyoming.  The numbers on the Winding River Reservation startle. As the article notes, “On average, residents can expect to live 49 years, 20 years fewer than in Iraq. Unemployment, estimated to be higher than 80 percent, is on a par with Zimbabwe’s, and is approaching the proportionate inverse of Wyoming’s 6 percent jobless rate.”

Many causes no doubt contribute to create the situation – historical, political, economic etc….  Solutions likewise will need tp be multifaceted.  However, one thing does remain true – a basic sense of order, or structure is a key starting point.

Of course saying that is deeply unpopular.  I feel a discomforting twinge of “Oh I hope no one actually reads THAT” as I type the sentence.  Because shouldn’t the problem be laid carefully and cleanly on the “system” that creates perpetrators who in turn create victims?  The challenge however in taking that tact is then no one person is held accountable.  Responsibility just shift to the nebulous “system.”

Yet we all in a sense bear responsibility.  We all in a sense owe something to the solution.  With a reservation as far away as Wyoming, direct help may well be challenging – beyond our reach – with the exception of a few individuals for whom it may be a call.  But what is not beyond anyone’s reach reading this is a simple call to exercise discipline in our own lives.

Such an unpopular term discipline.  Yet it is critical.  It is how we move beyond our tastes to deeper forms of God given discernment.  It creates the foundation for growth.   In the end, we are actually a bit limited to at least a few correct answers!

A Jumping Off Place

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

New Church theology holds many simply precious truths. One that struck me when I read it last week is the idea that salvation is “an ongoing act of creation.” Many see salvation as an act avoiding damnation. Salvation then is not about creating anything but far more about avoiding punishment.

But lets just think for a moment what that might mean to see salvation as a creative act – if that was our “jumping off place.”  Creation itself is about growth, reproduction, change, even adventure. Imagine those being the antonyms for “salvation”!

I feel in many ways my eyes opening wider and wider.  Now that is not about some grand pastoral insight – because we all know that is in short supply.  It is about eyes widening as I witness more and more people living into a church that is in itself a creative endeavor.  Just this week ….

Baseball: Angel gave Angela 3 Philly baseballs from the NLCS for me to give Brayden Walsh and his parents.  Brayden, as many of you are aware, is a young man battling some serious health issues.  Brayden’s comments to his mom, on receiving the gifts, was that he was never going to wash his hands again.  Beautiful stuff.  That gift was a a gift creation.

Roofs: Sam wanted to know the name of a pastor I referenced in a service, a pastor who moved from the Main Line to Kensington because that is where he felt could best use him.  Sam wants to get in touch with him so he can offer to repairs roofs for those in need for free.  Beautiful stuff.  That gift was a gift of creation.

Cleaning: Elizabeth would like to get a group together to help clean the office.  I am not sure how she knew it needed cleaning – alright actually I do know – because it is dirty.  Our office serves small groups, as well as a being our “home base” during the week.   So that helps all of us.  Beautiful stuff.  That gift was a gift of creation.

Tithing: From an online viewer in Canada, “We are committed to modeling a tithe and beyond….The Vision of sharing these beautiful truths through meaningful contacts with a world that so desperately needs them is just as compelling as the day we signed on to help build a better distribution network to share these precious truths with the world. With this in mind, we are committed to placing our modest gifts with those parts of our worldly organization dedicating themselves to expanding efforts to reach out to others.”   Beautiful stuff.  That gift was a gift creation.

So yes, salvation is an act of creation.  In our own way, lets be an act of creation as we join that wider project singing into our hearts.   What a great place to jump off from!

 

 

Superbowl Sunday

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

As a Pastor, of course I have no opinion about who wins the Superbowl.  I am a completely neutral observer.

Alright, maybe not so neutral.

American culture is a funny thing, and I am part of it.   I am so very much looking forward to this event.  I like the competition.  I like the easy breakdown of “good” and “evil.”  I like the fact my wife will actually ask that I pick up a bunch of buffalo wings.  The only reason I find the Patriots “evil” honestly is because (a) they aren’t the Steelers and (b) Boston wins a lot of championships in many sports.  So yes, in one word they are “evil” because I am jealous.

And in the end, the Superbowl does not matter outside of a fun distraction.  And some days, a meaningless, fun distraction is actually ok. (As long as the “good” guys win!)