(This post continues yesterday’s thoughts on “How Far is Too Far?” It’s probably helpful to read that one first.)
A few weeks ago, I hand delivered a letter from our church Council to City Hall, expressing our deep concern and opposition with a proposal to locate a casino in downtown Hamilton. I made the seven or eight block walk there, texting with my wife and one of my kids as I walked. I delivered the letter to the City Clerk’s office and turned right around to head back to the office. As I cut across the parking lot entrance, I put my phone away and looked up. Something about the buildings caught my attention. So I stood there between Jackson and Hunter, looking up and down one of the high rise housing complexes. It’s a pretty plain building. Nothing remarkable in terms of design or decor. But I looked it over still the same. I slowly wandered down the street. Continue reading
“How far is too far?” I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately. It’s normally a question we ask while attempting to navigate the sexual desires and angst of relationships before (and regrettably, sometimes outside of) marriage. We have this internal awareness that there is a limit to how far we can go before we cross a point of no return, a threshold where the relationship changes from friendship to playful flirtation to something much more intimate and of much deeper consequence. And so, we ask ourselves – and on our good days, we might even ask others – “how far is too far?” How far can we go before everything changes?
That question has been in my heart and mind lately, only in a very different context. Continue reading
I have been struck by the announcement this morning that Pope Benedict XVI is abdicating his office as Pope at the end of February. It is quite a remarkable step for someone in his role to step aside – not simply historically speaking, but for someone with that type of power and authority, access to resources, etc. As I reflect on this, I am also struck by some comments made by a pastor recently, asking whether the denomination I belong to could ever envision itself coming to the end of God’s purposes for it, or if we simply assumed that it must and will exist forever. (He was drawing from Brueggemann’s The Prophetic Imagination.) Continue reading
I took some time this week to dig out a few reflections that I wrote a couple years ago. Some of them were short papers written for classes in my doctorate program; others were musings that I had started sketching in order to get a few ideas on paper…or at least into a Word doc. One of those papers included some reflections on homelessness and displacement in our culture, prompted in large part by my engagement with Bouma-Prediger and Walsh’s Beyond Homelessness. A section of my paper where I asked a series of questions about my own potential contributions to displacement grabbed my attention again this morning. At that time I wrote: Continue reading
I had a flat tire yesterday. Not that uncommon, I suppose. Most of us who drive a vehicle on any sort will at some point run over a nail, hit a pothole, or simply wear out our tires to the point where they refuse to hold air anymore. The problem for me yesterday was that even with the help of the CAA service, we couldn’t get the spare tire to drop down. The release mechanism had rusted in place – and from the looks of it, the spare tire was rusted, too. So, the CAA driver added some compressed air and the tire held it long enough for me to make it to a repair shop a couple kilometers up the road. Other than a little reordering of my schedule, the flat tire really did not disrupt my day. The rusted release mechanism got me thinking, though. Continue reading
“How do you break silence?”
I suppose the words would flow more freely now if I had planned this silence. “Four Months of Silence” has a bit of intrigue to it. But when I last posted here, I did not imagine going 120+ days without posting. In fact, I had planned to write several posts while on vacation in August, reflecting on the missional church through the lens of travelling, being away from home, and experiences of hospitality. I even thought there would be a reflection or two spurred on by extended time in the car, at museums and parks, while playing with our kids. Silence was not in my plans. Continue reading
In a recent post, Scott McKnight sketched an outline of a lecture he gave on the Mission of God. I appreciated his attention to missional identity being rooted in the Trinity and in God’s sending. It’s a good foundation for understanding the grounding of our inclusion in God’s mission. From this foundation, Scott transitions to consider how to identify a missional Christian. It’s to these reflections on what it looks like to be a missional Christian that I have been reflecting this week. In all fairness to Scott, I have not heard the lecture nor is this post the only thing he has every written on being missional. Yet, what struck me about Scott’s sketch of God’s mission was what appears to be left out of his caricature of a missional Christian. Continue reading
Abandoning the industrialized approach to discipleship and embracing an organic approach to discipleship that Bryce Ashlin-Mayo is calling for (see yesterday’s post) is not an easy transition to make, if for no other reason than we are a people who like numbers.
We are convinced that to make something count it needs to be counted, particularly financial numbers. We look for them in our entertainment industry. Nowadays, the quality of a movie is often simply depicted in terms of how much money it grosses in its first three day weekend. The content is secondary to the perceived popularity determined by how many millions of dollars the movie grosses. We watch numbers with our celebrities: who was the highest paid actress last year? How many downloads has an artists new video or song had? Where does a person rank on the list of the world’s richest people? Our economy, likewise, is healthy or not based largely on the number of job losses or gains in a given month. We constantly poll the popularity of government leaders and of government itself, determining whether they’ve done their job based on whether the people answering their phones have a favorable impression of our politicians – an impression that is shaped primarily by the most recent sound bites the media, spammed email, or a boisterous talk show host has fed them. The quality of their work is understood by popularity polls. Continue reading
I was on twitter this morning. I usually check it most mornings, even when I don’t tweet something new. This morning, I saw a tweet from Leonard Sweet (@lensweet) mentioning a colleague’s blog on discipleship. I’ve been doing a fair bit of thinking about discipleship in our church lately and how to cultivate a culture of missional discipleship. So Sweet’s tweet caught my attention. I clicked the link and was drawn in quite quickly. It’s honestly one of the more well thought out blog posts I’ve come across this year. Bryce Ashlin Mayo reflects quite profoundly on a post-industrial call to discipleship, exposing and critiquing the church’s insistence on efficiency in discipleship making. Playing off a brilliantly done Chipotle video on returning to sustainability, he invites his readers to consider what it might look like to pursue discipleship more organically. He even draws on the tendency toward uniformity over diversity through the greenhouse industry, recognize that the same potential for a “greenhouse disease” exists in the Christian church as much as it does in the agricultural industry. Continue reading
I’ve been working my way through the Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics (2nd edition, Hauerwas and Wells) the last couple days. The book is an extended argument for the integral nature of worship and ethics. It’s pretty costly book, but certainly worth encouraging a library near you to pick up.
In chapter 5, “Gathering: Worship, Imagination, and Formation,” Philip Kenneson writes: ”Every human life is an embodied argument about what things are worth doing, who or what is worthy of attention, who or what is worthy of allegiance and sacrifice, and what projects or endeavors are worthy of human energies. In short, every human life is “ bent ” toward something. Every human life is an act of worship.”
The question I am left pondering this morning is: “What embodied argument am I making by the way I live my life about who is worthy to be worshiped?” It’s a good question to ask from time to time and answering honestly means paying close attention to the rhythms and patterns of my days and weeks. Some rhythms are more obvious – gathering for worship on Sundays, nightly family dinners; some I would guess are less so. To really answer this question, I need the insight and perspective of those around me. I wonder how my wife and our children would answer this question? I wonder what reviewing my calendar or my bank statements would reveal? I wonder what my neighbors and friends and others in my church would observe? Continue reading