Monday, June 25, 2007

this "being a christian" stuff is pretty hardcore

Jesus wasn't messing around. He was committed. Convicted. Hand-to-the-plow (with no looking back).

In Luke's Gospel, he leads the disciples, correcting them and showing them what he means when he says "follow me."

(That's what this "being a Christian" adventure is all about, right?)

First, he shows us how to be intentional about the direction we're taking. He "sets his face" to Jerusalem. And, there's some trouble along the way--some Samaritans who won't welcome him in.

Having noticed that Jesus seems to be connected to a God who's pretty powerful, they suggest a little vengeance--some fire from heaven to destroy those un-hospitable Samaritans.

But that's not what Jesus wants. He's got other plans.

As he goes on, more folks want to follow him, as soon as they take care of some things. Things that sound reasonable. Jesus has time for none of that.

Following him means giving up everything: security, family, home.

I wonder what holds us back from really following Jesus today?

And, speaking of security, family and home (a list that sounds a lot like "mom and apple pie" to me), our celebration of July 4 is approaching. A good time to think about freedom.

Paul had some good things to say about freedom in his letter to the Galatians. (You can skip all those verses about circumcision and worse.) For Paul, we are called to a freedom that makes us slaves. This is peculiar.

This is not "go to the desert for the weekend" freedom like we have here in San Diego, full of things that make us (alone) happy and get us out of the sight of any law-enforcing authorities. This is a strange freedom that lures us to choose our own bondage.

A preacher I heard this past week (Phil Lawson, to be particular) suggested that the opposite of slavery isn't freedom, but community. This is big. Slavery is oppression. It's sinful relationship in which one has power over another. Community, in contrast, demands dignity for all who are a part of it. This feels more like the kind of freedom Paul must have meant--not freedom to do whatever they heck we want, but the freedom to choose to belong in a community that values others.

I think that's the kind of freedom I'm excited about celebrating and working for this year.

Monday, June 18, 2007

jumping in

This week, we get a good story from the Gospel of Matthew.

(OK, so mostly I think we get good stories. But this week is ESPECIALLY good.)

And, we get some good story tellers!

I'll be away at Annual Conference, our annual (but you'd guessed that), regional meeting of United Methodists, both clergy and lay. Karen will be there, too. Hopefully, making good connections and sharing dreams and vision with other church folks from around So-Cal, Hawaii (plus Guam and Saipan...).

Randy's going to host worship. And some of y'all are leading prayers. The music team will be there, as always. And, we're using a clip from a cool video called Nooma, by a pastor and writer named Rob Bell. I think you're gonna like it.

Among other insightful things, he's going to take you out with Peter and the disciples in a boat, when Jesus comes walking across the water. And, like Peter, perhaps you'll dare to think you can do the things Jesus does. May it always be so.

I'm not sure who reads this blog regularly, but if you're someone who comes to worship with us occasionally, I hope you'll choose this week. I am really excited by the folks who are stepping in to make worship special this week. When I'm around, it's too easy for me to just do everything (and, hey, I like doing things...). So, I'm particularly excited about a variety of ways our worship will be community worship this weekend. "Liturgy," which is the fancy name for church worship patterns, literally means the "work of the people." That's what it's gonna be.

Of course, the even BIGGER task is to make the whole Gospel the "work of the people." ;)

Speaking of which...I hope you're having fun with your "portable church" postcards and tasks--if you missed worship you can find them thru the link on the right-hand side of the page.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

lavish forgiveness

In this week's scripture lesson from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus demonstrates lavish forgiveness, even in the face of disapproval from other presumably faithful folks.

I bask in how good this story feels, when I read it imagining myself in the place of the woman forgiven. Jesus seems to have no boundaries to the grace he wants to share. It is inspiring and empowering. In response, the woman is moved to come up with whatever generous outpouring of love she can offer.

How beautiful to know such a gracious God.

When I read it as one of the presumably faithful folks who disapproved of this action--who depended on defining people as "sinners" or as righteous and worthy of Jesus' company, it challenges me. It demands that I see things in new ways. That I open myself to new possibilities.

Which also, I suppose, is good and beautiful (if, more often than not, uncomfortable.)

I give thanks that, even when I sit in this place of those whose actions are exposed as less faithful, the worst case is that I end up recipient of Jesus' actions toward "sinners."

That is, I find myself bathed in grace.

May it be so.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Our first "portable church" postcard is ready. We gave 'em out on Sunday. You can play along by reading it, and doing it. Follow the link on the right-hand side of the page for more info.

Monday, June 04, 2007


This summer, we're going to spend some time thinking about how we do "church." Thinking, of course, that it might have to do with things we can find ourselves doing all through the week, wherever we are, and not just for an hour on Sunday, in the Cove.

For our first Sunday of this adventure, we start with the sharing of story.

For many Christians, this is called "testimony." Or "witness," as in "Can I get a witness??!" But that's just loaded with church-y expectations and predispositions. (Some of which, I admit, predispose me to not want to listen to folks who come 'round to my door in the interest of "witnessing.")

I'm interested in how we ARE called to share our stories--our lives of faith. I suspect that we are, somehow.

Of course, I also love how St. Francis said it: "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." It saves us from hyprocrisy--by letting our actions "preach" more loudly than our words.

But still...

Words can be good, too. (I love words. And dictionaries, and am fond of books and crossword puzzles.)

I've been shaped in faith by the words of many who shared their own experiences in faith in ways that opened me to God's possibilities in this world.

This week, as always, we have some words from scripture to share. In Galatians, we get a quick summary of Paul's testimony. And I'm caught on the way that his story matters in his telling of the Gospel.

He has to talk first about his own tranformation. Then, the Gospel can make sense.

It seems like this is significant: we have to locate ourselves in the story, first, and then God's story can make sense.

What piece of the story (God's story) would you tell, and how does your story put you in a place to do that?