Archive for February, 2018

What do you love?

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Love is the underlying reality of our life.

And our loves, from a New Church perspective, arrange themselves in a beautiful hierarchy, one love giving rise to a myriad of others.

There is of course that one love, that primary place where our heart comes alive.  It is where our best, noblest, and truest intentions lie.

That primary love, blessed, points away from self absorption, and instead points towards God and towards others.

So imagine we grow to the point where we actually celebrate – CELEBRATE – the many forms of love in the world.  The breathtaking variety.  The passion – each one.  The “best intention” at their core.

My heaven will be different from yours, because what I deeply love differs from what you deeply love.  And I wonder if what all of heaven shares is this… celebration.  Celebration of the gifts.

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Convenience is not Happiness

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

“Convenience is not happiness”  Many of you emailed or talked about that concept after Sunday’s service.  And it is big one!

One email especially struck me.  It was from a dad with 3 small children.

I think there is going to be a problem with children who have been afforded on-demand TV to watch a favorite show or any song they want on iTunes.

I agree.  And therein lies a challenge.

The challenge is this I imagine.  We as adults have a foot in a passing world that was far less “convenient.”  Even play took time.  I grew up building damns across small streams, constructing hay forts with buddies, riding bikes, camping.  I even remember saving for months to purchases a prized b-b gun on lay-away.  Nothing “convenient” there.

Our children are coming of age largely outside of that paradigm.   They are raised within a simple and incessant message that convenience is the name of the game.

Maybe that is why churches often struggle in this day and age.  Putting aside the obvious truth that some of the struggles are of our own making, maybe another key to understanding the decline in churches in North America is that church simply is not convenient.

Church, at its best, asks of people to commit to the inconvenience of embracing a larger hope.

That struck me last night.  There is a monthly group at NCL made up of Dads in the Congregation.  In the final round, where everyone takes a turn offering a last word or reflection, one of the dads in the group simply said “I love you guys.”

His reflection came at the end of a group of guys, gathered in a circle, simply offering the gift of listening generously to one another for an hour and half.

Nothing “convenient” about it.  And nothing could bring more happiness.

Will our children ever know that slower, 90-minutes-in-a-circle world and the beauty of slowness it embraces?  I don’t know.

But as a church we must certainly try.

It Really Is That Big

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

It really is that big.

Christianity is nothing less than a new way of living in the world.  A new being.

The challenge is straightforward and maybe has been for all time.  As the famed World War II General Omar Bradly put it…

We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. . . . Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.

That “way” breaks through with surprise in the face of those challenges.

Clearly centered on love, it is a love that does not rest in a pleasant detachment but a love that instead rests in an active engagement.   It is a love that challenges our cherished, foundational allegiances, calling us again into new circles outside our own.  It is a love that comforts, not with the false peace of inactivity but with the more paced peace of wonder, gratitude, calm, service and perspective.

I know I certainly loose the bigness of Christianity at times.  As one author noted, we start out as Pastors trying to serve a church and find ourselves needing to be businessmen growing an enterprise.

And then inevitably the “bigness” returns.  Simple reminders that in Christianity lies a tremendous almost unspeakable blessing.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matt. 11:28-30)

The bigness and the beauty … hand in hand!

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What Are Families Searching For?

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

A really important question to answer is “What are families searching for?”

Over Christmas people offer “prayer cards” as a way to bring their deepest wishes into the Advent Season.  Alex Hanlon, a wonderful parishonier, took the prayer cards and did a word graph on them.  We wanted to see the themes.

It is a beautiful uncovering of what our souls yearn for, not just at Christmas I imagine, but any time of year.