Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas is About Incarnation

Christmas means, among other things, that we are incarnated and should always incarnate. In other words, we have bodies and those bodies aren't insignificant and we should always take that seriously.

The following is attributed to Saint Teresa of Avila and is especially applicable at Christmas.

Christ has no body now but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which
Christ's compassion must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Catholic Morning Prayers

As we were packing up at the hospital last week, getting ready to take Corban home for the first time, morning prayers came over the loudspeaker (the hospital is under the auspices of the Catholic diocese of Richmond).

I was so moved that I called the Sister who read prayers for a copy. Apparently, I wasn’t alone. Several people had already asked her for a copy. Here it is.

Today is the feast of St Nicholas. He was a bishop who became the model for Santa Claus, exemplifying the art of giving and receiving.

“Even if you decide to choose love right now,

it doesn’t mean that you will get a new Mercedes.

Choosing love is a more profound choice because it is not just

the spiritual adult who must choose, but also the wounded child

who isn’t sure s/he is worthy of love.

You might have to realize you will have to confront the darkness

in order to find the light.

This isn’t the cotton candy kind of love.

It’s not the instant oatmeal approach to salvation.

It is the kind of love that takes a lifetime to learn to give and receive.

It’s the kind of atonement that happens in the trenches.”

--Paul Ferrini

O God,

Thank you for the graces we receive that enable us to give and receive.

Help us deepen our capacity and ability to give as well as receive.


Friday, December 14, 2007

One So Soon From the Throne (and, What's in a Name)

Shakespeare (I think) has a beautiful phrase somewhere that describes children as "those so soon from the throne." Newly minted souls. Freshly painted masterpieces with the paint still wet. Our newest, Corban Scott, arrived 12/03/07 at 3:16pm, tipping the scales at 9lbs. 4oz, 22".
Andrea and he are both doing great. Unlike his big brother, he is a champion eater and sleeper--a winning combo for the inevitable parental sleep deprivation experiment that is the first months of parenthood.

Hudson thinks he is great, always asking to "hold the bee-bee" and "kiss the bee-bee." He's a great big brother.

What's in a Name
His name is from the Hebrew root (QRB) which means "to come near or draw close to God." It's from a sacrificial milieu, so it carries the connotation of "sacrifice" or "offering" given to God. In Greek it comes to mean "gift devoted to God." Jesus uses it in that context in Mark 7:11. It also shows up several times in the Old Testament as well, places like Leviticus 1:2 and Leviticus 7:7-8 (both times translated as offering) - Here's a great article from Corban College about the meaning of the word. Corban is a gift devoted to God.
We mean it as a blessing for Corban--you are a gift to us and the world from God, and so we devote you to God and want you to devote yourself to God and his world in return. God stands behind his gifts and so is behind you through all your life.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Six Negative Influences Shaping Contemporary Evangelical Spirituality

This post is straight from New Testament Scholar Scot McKnight's excellent blog. His blog is substantive and worth reading.

Robert Webber, in The Divine Embrace, points six negative influences shaping contemporary evangelical spirituality. Here they are and what are your thoughts?

1. The dangers of legalism have been eliminated and now we are into anti-nomianism (no rules, no law, I can do what I want, I’m free). Freedom from legalism means freedom for Christ.
2. Intellectual spirituality has been exchanged for an anti-intellectual spirituality that does not approximate classic pietism. The way to know as a Christian is to reflect on Scripture in community.
3. Experiential Christianity is shifting into narcissism.
4. Worship has become far too narcissistic — “did I like the worship or preaching?” is the question. No, he says, this is not the question. The question is about theological fidelity and learning to live out the story.
5. We have now an emphasis on a romantic relationship with God instead of a focus on God and our union with him by his grace.
6. We have a consumeristic emphasis, a McSpirituality.

He points out that good writers today are Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and Eugene Peterson.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Good Leadership Defined

I found this in the middle of something my Aunt sent to me. It struck me so profoundly because of how I understand Jesus to be a leader. This is what leadership in the Kingdom means. A leadership that is "under" and not "over." Now how do we pattern our leadership after his?

Jesus had no servants, yet they called Him Master.

Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher.

Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer.

Had no army, yet kings feared Him.

He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.

He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.

He was buried in a tomb,yet He lives today.
Feel honored to serve such a Leader who loves us .

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Up and to the Right in the Church--a new metric?

Bob Roberts Jr. is pastor of church in Fort Worth, TX that gets it.
They are one of two churches I know of who's stated vision is more for the community than for the church. Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City is the other (I'm sure there are more, I just don't know of them). They are, in a word, missional. It's not that other churches aren't (like ours for instance), it's just that the vision statements tend to be self-referential.

Bob's latest comment on 'New Metrics for the Church' rang my bell, so I commented on his comment (this whole blogging thing is also a little self-referential if I'm not careful).

Typically a church's metrics are butts in seats, budgets raised and buildings erected. Basically it's all attractional--"come to us for the goods." If those things are going up and to the right, then we're happy. Certainly some good is done with those things, but what if we changed the game entirely?

What if we instead counted number of butts outside the church walls we served, budgets given to serve the community, the poor and the needy, and building consensus and vision in our people and the community that creates justice in the world? Jesus "so loved the world", my question is do we? We can talk all we want about how we do, but until we put our metrics behind it, I'm not sure we're really doing it.

What’s so scary is that giving up the attractional paradigm means we don’t know where the money is coming from, if the people will “buy into” the vision (I think people have an innate sense that the church should be doing good–which is why they won’t give to a “keep the machine running” vision) and stick around, and if we can be important and influential without buildings. Thoughts?