Archive for February 2009

February 26, 2009

February 26, 2009
“Community Fractures and Casts”

I saw Gerry Doty last night at our Ash Wednesday service. He had a “boot” on his right foot- one of those “broken bone” kind of boots. Gerry had taken a tumble off of a ladder about 5 weeks ago and initially he was told that it was some torn ligaments in his ankle.
BUT a few weeks later the fracture became more apparent. It had been there, but hadn’t been seen. The boot cast will now bring stability to it as it heals from the brokenness.
A similar situation happened on a community-wide scale yesterday, Ash Wednesday. A decision to close seven elementary schools and one middle school was approved by the Colorado Springs School District 11 board. Two of those seven elementary schools are within a mile of our church. We’ve had significant relationships with them, and will continue until they are adjourned for the summer.
Decreasing enrollment district-wide and funding were the two factors that brought the fracture to the surface.
What happens now is even more crucial! What is “the cast” for our community that will bring stability to it as it heals from the brokenness? When the school system has had to look at “the bottom line” what is the “cast” that has the ability…the vision… to look beyond the bottom line?
When it is functioning according to God’s design for it, the church is the answer to that problem. The followers of God have the capacity to be the “cast” that helps the healing process slowly happen.
And, boy, is there a lot of healing that needs to happen!
But you see a cast is necessary. Gerry’s foot wasn’t getting any better. Either that or he just got used to the pain and discomfort! There was going to continue to be an unsteadiness in his walk until the support was added. He could have even adjusted his walk to mask the pain, but after a while the lack of proper support for the broken area would have shown up in the affect it would begin to have on other areas, like hips and knees.
When schools close there needs to be that force…that device that brings the community together. It’s not going to be a corporation or company. They have to look at the bottom line. It’s not going to be the local government. They’ve got their own version of splintering that they are dealing with.
It’s got to be…it’s got to be the people of God!
“Blessed are the peacemakers…” (Matthew 5:9)
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
Being “the cast” is part of our function, part of our purpose. Casts for fractures aren’t the most comfortable fit. They are about “proper healing”, not about what feels good. They are about the health in the future, not soft cushions for the present.
The church is the cast. Can you see the splatter spots from the “plastering experience”? It’s a little messy, but the end result is good.
My vision, and I’m hoping our vision, is of a community that is healthy spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and relationally. Perhaps you think I’m a dreamer. I’ll gladly be “cast” in that role! (Excuse me for the pun!)

“Facebook Revisited”

February 20, 2009

February 19, 2009
“Facebook Revisited”

How many of us had one of our parents drive a carload of our friends with us to the movie theatre, the mall, the skating rink, or the middle school dance…and then hang around with us?
I don’t care how long my dad grew his side-burns, it was not cool to have him “hang with me and my friends”. I was always a little suspicious of parents who attempted to dress or look more like their kids’ peer groups than their adult counterparts. There was something out of sync with it.
Thus the current situation of Facebook, the internet social networking creation that is five years old. It was launched by a Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, along with some of his classmates.
In the recent issue of Newsweek, Lev Grossman writes about how middle-aged adults have invaded the social networking space that was created for typical college students. It’s the internet version of hanging out with your son at his college fraternity party. Facebook has 150 million members, and its fastest growing demographic is in the thirty-somethings-and-older audience.
I know this to be true, not because of the college fraternity part, but because I’m one of those middle-aged adults who has invaded the space. My small college in Illinois has a Facebook alumni group that currently has 600 of our graduates as a part of it. Our church has a “Cyber Worship Think Tank” group on Facebook where we can dialogue about upcoming worship themes.
On Facebook I’ve connected with people I’ve lost track of. Grossman mentions that as one of the reasons so many middle-aged adults have become enamored with Facebook. I can connect with Bobby, who I haven’t seen since 10th grade. But not only that! I can see pictures of Bobby, his grandkids, his dog, pictures of the marlin he caught on a fishing trip off the shores of Florida. In essence, I can find out a lot about Bobby, perhaps more than I really want to know!
And now the junior high kids are leaving the dance to find some personal space out in the parking lot. The fraternity brothers have retreated to their rooms to listen to their Ipods since the parents have taken over the party downstairs.
It will be interesting to see what happens next for the younger generation. There’s that other social networking tool called MySpace. That pretty much sums up the attitude that many of them have about middle-aged adults coming too close.
Not that young people don’t like middle-aged adults! They would just like them more at a distance.
The challenge for the church is figuring it out! Figuring what out? Everything related to generational differences.
How to worship the Lord in the midst of multiple generations? We tend to worship generationally. This week is for the seniors. Next week is for the middle-agers. The third week is for parents with young kids. And once every six months we have the young people lead worship Perhaps…perhaps…worship is to be about what every generation, every person, every culture can bring to the Lord.
How to have a momentum that takes the church of many generations into the community as the hands and feet of Jesus? Momentum is mostly momentary. It’s something that we often assign to a group- like the youth group raking leaves- and is watched by everyone else. Momentum should resemble a Habitat for Humanity project where everyone can be involved in the building and feel a part of the finished structure, where everyone is present as the new family moves into their “new hope”.
How to allow “space” while creating “community”? I always was amused at churches that labeled Wednesday night as “Family Night”. The family came to the building together and immediately separated into their appropriate age groups for the evening.
There are many questions related to generations and the Body of Christ. There will always be the seeking of “generational identity.” It’s part of the growing up process. There is also the danger of “un-generating”, trying to invade the space of the younger generations because what they are doing looks “cool.”
And now in using the “c” word, I suddenly am feeling my age again. These days I feel “cold” a lot m ore than I feel “cool”!

Mary-ed Martha or Martha-ed Mary

February 6, 2009

February 5, 2009

“Mary-ed Martha or Martha-ed Mary”

I was recently graced by a new perspective on Martha and Mary that I hadn’t even thought about. (Sub-point: I’m amazed and blessed when someone brings a new picture to something I’ve only been able to see a certain way.)
Martha usually gets a “bad rap” for her attention to the work at hand and displeasure at her sister Mary’s “unconcern about the work”. Luke 10:38-42 gives us the story. It’s a mixture of sibling rivalry, jealous feelings, and conflicting views on what is most important at that moment.
Many of us have been there! We have experienced the feelings of injustice as we work our hands to the bone while our sibling sits in the recliner with the foot rest up. Or how many of us guys have been sprawled out on the couch while our wives have been perspiring over a hot stove? In our house “clanging and banging pots and pans” was a warning signal, not an accident!
Luke 10:40 is like a verbal red flare. “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made…”
Had to be made!
There’s a sense of urgency! Dinner doesn’t just magically appear. Someone or… someones have to prepare it!
Verse 40 comes on the heels of a description of what Mary is doing. “Mary…sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” She was living in the moment. Martha is overwhelmed by the moment. Martha asks Jesus “Don’t you care…?”
Here it comes. Jesus replies “Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
What was the better thing? To sit at the feet of Jesus? For Mary…yes! For Martha…not necessarily!
There are times to be about the work, and there are times to sit, listen, and learn. Mary was at that sit, listen, and learn stage. Martha was at the serve point.
In churches there are people that we rush into ministry who are really still at the sit, listen, and learn stage. We have a bad habit of fast-tracking new believers, or spiritually immature believers, into “working for the Lord”.
Scripture speaks to growing in our walk with the Lord. We’re to be moving towards being Martha’s.
On the other side, there are many…many…many Christians who could be characterized as “life sitters”. They’ve been sitting at the feet of Jesus for so long their legs have gone numb. “What is better” isn’t continuous sitting. Even movie theatres have an intermission when the film is extra long.
“What is better” is different for each believer. The constant is a seeking after God.
Mary progresses. John 12 has her serving at the feet of Jesus by pouring expensive perfume on them and wiping them dry with her hair. Her sitting in worship progressed to serving in worship. That John 12 story also mentions Martha. She was serving!
Each one of us has to be asking ourselves whether or not we’re in a “sit and listen” time or “serving” time. We are probably called to bounce back and forth between the two, instead of being regimented in a certain way. Answering “what is better” is a question that needs to be asked each day.