Wednesday, August 30, 2006

why did we let nike get that copyright?

Just do it.

Not that I want to get caught in the trap of thinking that I have to achieve lots to be a good Christian; I just don't want to think I've ever quite gotten there. Or--the horror!--that I can just sit back and "be" a Christian.

James 1:22-24 is clearer: "But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like."

We've got to act out our faith. Do things differently because of it. Continue to be a part of the world--maybe invite the world to do things differently because of our faith...

And, this week, the words of Psalm 72 are echoing around in my head. (Maybe it's 'cause I'm working on a video for worship...) They remind me, again and again, that God isn't about the fancy sitting-back, but about the work of lifting-up of those who have fallen, about caring for the poor, about comforting those who are in pain.

James says that this is pure religion. This, and keeping "oneself unstained by the world."

"Stained" can be such a loaded word. I wonder what James meant. What do you think it is that "stains" us? Cynicism? Hopelessness? Materialism?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

real food

I think about eating a lot. Maybe it's because food can be so good...

This week, Jesus keeps talking about food, inviting us to "eat" of him: "For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink."

I guess it makes me glad that I get to read this knowing about our sacrament of Holy Communion--"eating" and "drinking" Jesus' flesh and blood sounds a lot more, well, beautiful when it's in the form of Communion.

I wonder how I would hear this invitation, if I didn't treasure Holy Communion. These words are jarring. Scary. Bizarre. Almost vampirical. (Is that a word?) Eating flesh, drinking blood...

From another view, though, they remind us again that our God is about the work of sustaining us--nourishing us. Throughout our biblical tradition, God is providing food and drink for the journey of life. Whether it was mysteriously providing this nourishment on Moses' journey through the wilderness, or in a prophetic vision of the ideal world where everyone enjoys the fruits of their labor, God is manifest in food and drink.

Jesus is no less.

True God--in all the mystery "God" entails, and also real sustenance for our lives.

Check it out: John 6:51-58. And while you're at it, look at Ephesians 5:15-20 for some more advice on what to "feed" ourselves with...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

a genuine copy

When I spent a semester in Niger, as a senior in college, I studied as apprentice to a weaver. Amadou worked in the National Museum, weaving in traditional styles but making innovative items which the few tourists who found their way deep into West Africa might buy. (They sold tablecloths in traditional designs in a country where only foreign guests and people in restaurants eat at dinner tables...)

One of my favorite moments in our weaving area happened when a French woman living there in Niamey, Niger came to pick up the baby blanket she had commissioned Amadou to make.

"This isn't an African blanket!" she complained loudly. "This looks like a French blanket. It's the colors of Paris: black and red and white! I wanted an AFRICAN blanket. One that was green and gold and orange--the colors of the earth. This isn't African!"

To which Amadou replied, "Look. I didn't make this up. I just copied it. You can look for yourself in the exhibit over there--I just copied it."

My art-and-innovation-loving instincts were amused by an artisan who insisted he was just copying things.

This week, Paul calls us to copy--to imitate--God. And to see that we belong together.

I find this challenging--I want to be individual, independant, and special.

See what you think: Ephesians 4:25-5:2.