Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Cardinal Virtues

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Christianity, historically, holds to four cardinal virtues.

  1. Fortitude
  2. Temperance
  3. Prudence
  4. Patience
And I love this little word play!  The word “cardinal” goes to the root “cardo” which means “hinge.”  These four cardinal virtues are “hinges” upon which the door of the spiritual life swings.
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The “hinge.” Not the destination.  The “hinge.” Part of the means.  Part of Jesus’ words, “Behold I stand at the door at knock.  If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them.”
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Much of religion confuses love of control vs. love of other people.  In much the same way, it is easy to center on the religious message in regards to moral virtue as the be all and end all of all spirituality. But it is not.  Moral virtue is a means to an end and the end is always, always love.
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The door matters.  And so do the hinges.  Both there to move us to where we deeply desire, in our souls, to be.
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Bringing Caring Into The World

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Our role, largely, is as conduits, bringing caring into the world.  That role entails a journey to the margins where need exists.  AND in journeying to those margins,  creating a new center there.

So the journey of caring is not a journey out to the margins and then a retreat back to the center.  It is instead a pilgrimage.  A journey of discovery.  A journey to a new home.  That I believe is largely the lived message of Christianity.

And Emanuel Swedenborg was emphatically clear … we ignore this journey, as churches, to our own detriment.

The end of a church comes when there is no faith because there is no caring.

The journey to the margins around an axis of caring takes many forms.  But all those varied forms share a constant … caregiving.

The margins, the call to caregiving, in truth, are never far from us.

Christianity and the Art of Hospitality

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

So maybe the Christian message, in one simple form, can be heard as this … In coming to understand God’s love for us, we work as best we can to reflect or share that love using Christ as a model.

And that life does give a model, a clear model.  And key to it … the art of hospitality.

That hospitality in turn may possibly be the most radical of Christian practices.

The challenge is straightforward…

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you  (Matt. 5:44)

And the practices are very real, brought together in Communion and Christ washing the feet of this 12 closest followers.

Table fellowship.  Service. With those we like and with those we don’t. With those similar to us and those not. With saints and with sinners.

There is no “out” in this for liberals.  There is no “out” in this for conservatives. There is no place for cynicism.  No place for anger.

All there is is an “us” and moving forward, as best we can, in the challenging spirit of love and reconciliation.

How Faith Might Open….

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Faith, from a New Church perspective, grows in three very simple ways.

  1. We turn to God:  Important to note, either great suffering or great love will push that shift
  2. We seek to learn: In that humble place we are really open to hear.  To hear what God offers through His Word.  To hear what God offers through those around us as well as through our own experiences and perceptions.
  3. We live what we learn:  We take that “turning” and that “learning” and we practice.  The discipline of practice, of doing, of taking action.  Recipe to Meal.  Playbook to Game.  (True Christianity 347)
And that growth, that opening unfolds for all eternity. That is heaven.  That is joy.  That is true Discovery writ large.
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God forever winds the pieces together, creating a “chord” as Emanuel Swedenborg phrases it, where each “strand” of the three reinforces the whole.
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Maybe all three then become Discovery.  Maybe all three, together, give us a unique voice as our faith opens.
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And as faith opens, expect …
  1. How one holds church to open
  2. How one hears scripture to open
  3. How one prays to open
  4. How one serves to open
  5. How one holds God to open
… a beautiful Adventure continues!
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For Churches: It is not what you believe so much as what you love

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Brian McLaren nailed it…

For churches: it is not what you believe so much as what you love.

Churches tend to start with a list of beliefs.  From that comes the idea that our role is to share those beliefs.  Connected, our job – to hold tightly to our beliefs as overtly distinctive in all ways, and like it or not, superior to the beliefs held by others.

While beliefs are important – clearly important, critically important – beliefs are not the end game. To think of them as such is to confuse the ‘boat with the distant shore.’

What matters in the end is what we love.  Imagine starting there.  Beginning in a sense at the end. A statement not of beliefs but a statement of what we, as a church, love.

For NewChurch LIVE, I would humbly offer what I most witness is two loves.  Connection. Service.

What is it for your church?

Important answers. As those loves wind together, we find joy…

We are not made happy by the true things believe from our faith, but from goodness that comes from faith. (Secrets of Heaven, 4984)

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The Issue is Imagination

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

The issue is imagination.

The issue is moving beyond cherished and long serving ways of doing things, and finding in the process, newness. A newness connected to the old and at the same time reaching for the new.

That remains the challenges for many institutions.  And for churches seeking to serve in new ways.

What we need to ask, continually, is how are we keeping score and how are we telling our story.

The story is good.  Beautiful. And matters.

Matters so much in fact that we need to remain open and imaginative about how we tell it.

Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. (Matt. 9:17)

 

 

Kensington in the Snow

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Fr. Gregory Boyle offered a wonderful short story.

In his cramped LA office, rushing to prepare for a noon baptism, a heroin addict stumbled in asking to meet.  As  Mother Theresa would say, ‘God in God’s most distressing disguises.’

Initially annoyed, initially rushing towards the logical “I don’t have time for this”, Fr. Boyle settled, opened his heart to hear her, and offered this line about that experience.

“I had almost forgotten.  People are not interruptions.”

It is easy to forget people.

We live in world readily consumed with algorithms, busyness masquerading as effectiveness, thinness as connection.  Ministry is no different.  The pressing demands of running a church easily trump the more important work of being the church.  In other words, it is easy to forget and far easier to forget those broken. Easier to forget those who are already largely forgotten.

That is why Mary is one of my heroes.  She reminds me every few weeks, “What date works to got to Kensington?”, a place where we pass out lunches and visit with the homeless and addicted.

Even in winter.  Even in snow.

People are not interruptions.

 

 

Beyond the Politics of Outrage

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

How is church to fit into this week leading up to the election?

Maybe, humbly, there is a place for churches to be voice beyond the politics of outrage.

Yesterday, getting coffee, two pairs of people erupted in argument. One group, “Trump is the anti-Christ.”  The other group “See what Hillary has done to you!”  Both non-sensical. Both incredibly angry.

That type of outrage solves nothing, heals nothing, brings nothing.

What heals is love, care, compassion, listening, commitment.

I am so very sad by how much we are driven by outrage. By soundbites.  By 140 characters or less.

Churches have to stand up.  Not in a partisan way but as a calmly clear voice for a third way.  For a way to hold conversations.  For a way to move towards the suffering of the world. For a way to live in sacrificial, humbling commitments around love. For a way to simply be Christians…

… beyond the politics of outrage.

Remembering Orlando

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

A sad week as many of us come to terms with the horrific shooting in Orlando that left 50 dead.

The hard part, for me, was the creeping, uncomfortable feeling that shootings like this indeed are the “new normal.” San Bernardino, Paris, Brussels, Charleston… one right after the other. And that list is without an even more horrific list for those caught in the violence of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each new report of violence in some way – and hard words to find for this – somehow deadening us to the world around. Violence now the norm.

I don’t know but I can feel that slow shift in myself and I don’t like it.

This type of violence is not the norm. It is not what or who we are created to be. It degrades society, frays relationships, feeds ever widening spasms of hatred and retribution. All the things that we as Christians are called to stand against, allied with others from many faith traditions who hold to the same.

We are to stand. We are to stand against this darkness with love. Compassion. With a willingness to draw alongside of suffering in all its forms.

We are to speak. We are to speak of forgiveness. Of healing. Of a third way. Of moral imaginations able to chart new courses towards hope.

And that is what we can do.

That calls us to more than entertainment. To more than the next adventure. To more than the next must-have thing. It calls us to a deeper love, to, as the Greek in the Bible reads again and again, “agapé love”, a self-sacrificing love willing to embrace the greater good. The “we.” Serving there.

So this Sunday, we will light candles at the end of the service. We will gather. We will pray. We will remember.

A Fusion of Horizons

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

The softer, more powerful Christian spirituality that can come to color worlds is, as one author phrased it, “a fusion of horizons.”

A fusion as in something we all look towards, shoulder to shoulder.  A direction.  A horizon. A journey. One that implies movement, hope and blessing. One concerned about the other as well.

What flips here is movement away from a need for control centered on our own myopic self absorption. What grows is “a love of service not for the sake of ourselves but for the common good.” (Divine Love and Wisdom, 424)

That is actually a very, VERY soft place.