Friday, May 30, 2008
Beginning this Sunday, Nathan will begin a 5 week sermon series on the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations: Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worshiop, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity. Try your best to make it to all five Sunday services as this study will be the foundation of some congregational visioning and strategic planning that we will engage in this year. At 5pm on Sunday evenings, we will go in depth into each of the five practices in a book study. You can purchase the books at our church. Link here or on our margin to the Five practices website for tools, studies, and more.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Around this time of year, I always turn to Jurgen Moltmann’s Spirit of Life because it is such a fresh and inspiring and provocative exploration of the Nature and power of the Holy Spirit.
What Pat preached on last week is the birth of the Holy Spirit in a new and radical way in the life of the church. This week, what the church calls Trinity Sunday, is when we step back and try to get something of a handle on this new and ever mysterious concept of God that our forebears of faith were trying to get a handle on as well, the Trinity.
A New idea. Wrestling with a new idea. We should be doing this as a community. Christ is always inspiring new things. We need to be open to the possibilities.
-Modern believers tend to trust in therapy more than in mystery Kathleen Norris
-Tell me how it is that in this room there are three candles and but one light, and I will explain to you the mode of the divine existence. John Wesley
Moltmann, Spirit as fellowship, as Koinonia.
If it is a characteristic of the divine Spirit not merely to communicate this or that particular thing, but actually to enter into fellowship with believing men and women -- if indeed he himself becomes their fellowship -- then "fellowship" cannot merely be a "gift" of the Spirit. It must be the eternal, essential nature of the Spirit himself. Whereas Christ, the Son of God is called the source of grace, and God the Father is called the source of love, "fellowship" is designated as the nature of the Spirit himself. The Spirit does not merely bring about fellowship with himself. He himself issues from his fellowship with the Father and the Son, and the fellowship into which he enters with believers corresponds to his fellowship with the Father and the Son, and is therefore a trinitarian fellowship.
Fellowship of Fruit. What we do here matters eternally. This is why this fellowship must be an authentic reflection of the love and power of Christ.
Friend relayed the message from a church planner—quit being a “friendly church.” That sounds harsh, but perhaps it holds some truth. We’d probably use it as an adjective for our own church. But when you hold up the word “friendly” to the phrase, “a place where you can make a friend,” maybe you can see my difference.
One of the mysterious revelations of the Trinity is that our own God is in relationship with Himself in some dynamic, active way. We are pulled into this relationship much like a dance partner is pulled onto the dance floor (sometimes unwillingly, sometimes “swept off our feet.”
his relationship at the core of God is described in the classical doctrines of the Trinity as “one being, who exists simulaneously and eternally, as a ‘mutual indwelling’ of three persons.” Isn’t that a beautiful term? “Mutual Indwelling:” in my mind I see a beautiful endless spiral.
John of Damascus, in the 8th century, used the Greek term περιχώρησις (perichoresis, literally: circuition, going around, or more precisely for John of Damascus' meaning envelopment) to signify this, in his explanation of the text, "I am in my Father, and my Father is in me."
In Eastern Christianity, perichoresis is associated with unification with the Godhead upon sanctification. Redeemed humanity is drawn into the circulation of divine love and thus participates in the coinherence of the Divine Persons,
Interestingly enough, the if you replace the “omega” with its long O sound in the word “perichoresis,” with an omicron, a short “o” sound, you have the Greek word for “dance.” Isn’t that beautiful? God’s very being is not very far removed from the idea of an endless, mutual dance, and God is inviting us to be a part of the dance.
One way that the Trinity is often spoken about is the personal idea of being one person, but being in relationship in three different ways. I am one person, but I am a son, a husband, and a father. I like this metaphor for the trinity because it builds on relationships. And that is one of the beautiful messages of the Trinity. Our God is so overflowing with the desire for relationship with Creation, that he comes to it in three distinct persons: a Father Creator, a Son Redeemer, and a Spirit Perfector.
Also three personas in the Latin sense, the word meant “mask” and it was a theater word. You might think of how an actor can wear three masks and be three different parts in a play. Most people who have acted know that the parts that you play influence one another, and you have prob. Read intverviews of actors saying they drew from this character from 10 years ago when they figured out how to play another character.
Beginning in June, 5 week exploration of some of the things that are consistently found in fruitful congregations where the Spirit of Fellowship is stirring. We can find some of those things here, but we need to learn how to articulate them and invite people to be a part of them. They are: Radical Hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity.
With regard to Seniors, this is what they should look for in a Christian community in the years to come and they may move away from this community.
Whether we know it or not we not only believe in the triune God, but also "live" in the triune God.
This reciprocal, sometimes called mystical, "living in God" also belongs to the trinitarian life: "those who live in love, live in God and God in them" (1 John 4:6). "We in God and God in us" is not meant merely as some sort of fleeting, mystical rapture, but is a daily relaxing quiet and intimate "living.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Last year, kids at summer camp around the state made little patches for churches to use to make quilts to be sold at annual conference to benefit Oklahoma camps. It's kind of a quilting circle of life. Well, Karen Morris headed up a group of quilters in our own church to make a quilt to be sold at annual conference in Tulsa this year. Here are some photos. You can bid on the quilt at AC! Thanks to Karen and all who participated.
Monday, May 05, 2008
You’ve all probably said and heard the cliché question from the back seat on vacation: Are we there yet?
Eager anticipation. Waiting for news, waiting to hear about a mortgage loan, or waiting at the airport for a long departed loved one.
On the other hand, waiting to hear about treatment options or the results of a medical test. Waiting for a family to repair itself after a fracture like a divorce or a betrayal of trust or a death.
We can understand the disciples question, “is this the time when…”
But how does Jesus answer them? “It’s not for you to know.”
“It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.”
Oftentimes, the church it seems forgets this passage and busies itself searching out the hidden meanings of scriptures and speculating endlessly on the end of time. Reading the “Left Behind Series,” when we could be reading “The Imitation of Christ.”
Don’t think I’m being too critical, there are no doubt some social communities who take great solace in the hope and eager anticipation of the apocalypse. The slaves of 19th century America come to mind. Or churches under persecution, like the 7 churches to which John wrote the apocalypse.
I just haven’t had the experience of being brutally oppressed or enslaved. Furthermore, why should my soul sour to the heights of heaven when I haven’t yet figured out how to love my neighbor? Maybe it’s a distraction for me. And that’s why I tend to avoid speculating about it.
Instead, I’m more interested in this “being filled with the power of the Spirit” bit.
Keeping our eyes on the ascension rather than wondering about how he’ll descend. Keeping our vision focused on how Jesus walked and talked while on earth and watching where he’s going, in the scriptures and in our lives. This should be our focus rather than what Jesus will say and do when he returns. Because if we really care to hear what he says he’ll say when he returns, if fail to live with his love in our heart, then it will be, depart from me, goats. You failed to live with me and love me when I was the prisoner and the widow and the oppressed.
Do you see how this shakes out? There is God's business and the disciples' business. God alone is in charge of the timing and the disciples are in charge of the mission!
As he went into heaven, Jesus prayed the blessing of the spirit on his followers. His spirit compels us to pattern our lives after Jesus’ actions and words. In the actions of this church, such as those pointed out to us in the letter from Eva’s parents, and such as the dedication I witnessed in those who helped with the church workday, we set our tracks in the footsteps of Christ. Jesus walks with us in every moment. If we’re endlessly consumed with the coming of Christ in a future tense, we’ll lose sight of the fact that Jesus walks.
He walks and Luke shows how the disciples are given three things to make them “apostles” The power, the promise and the prayer. ………….
When is the peace and joy of God's kingdom going to come to this mixed up and violent world? It's not for us to know.
What is for us to know, however, is the foundation for our life of faith until the kingdom comes. Our family of faith is built on these three foundation blocks. The power of God to accomplish our Christian work, the promise of God that all things will be brought under the reign of Christ and the prayer of the community of Jesus' followers that gives access to the presence and power of God!