Saturday, February 27, 2010

filled vs. centered

A little over a month ago I was in Chicago for two weeks with 20 other senior christian educational ministries majors on our two week capstone trip. As we’ve back at Taylor there’s been many things that have got me reflecting on that trip as there was much to unpack (visiting around 30 ministries I would venture to say). Specifically I remember a service we went to at an Anglican church. I was sitting next to my professor, who knew I had been going to a local Episcopal church for a while. She leaned over as the services was over and said, “That was centering.”

Ever since that conversation, I’ve found myself using that same word to refer to my little Episcopal church in Marion (Gethsemane) as people ask about it--centering. Frequently I hear people talking about being filled after a service or saying that that one church just didn’t ever fill me. Much of this is based upon if the sermon was engaging or the music stirring. Now these things are not wrong in the slightest; I do not mean to say that. But as I’ve been thinking about why I went back to the Gethsemane, it comes back to this idea of centering.

The service there is not one that is going to fill you. Instead of everything building up to a sermon, it is all building up to the Eucharist. The liturgy is so beautiful as it reminds up of who God is no matter where we are at. Each week I come away not feeling filled, but centered. Centered in that I am reminded of who Christ is, what he has done, and who I am in light of how he is.

I’m thinking that I want to be a part of a centering church over a filling church in the future.

the mobile church

I don't think there are words to describe this. Strange, thought provoking, surreal, and, well, hilarious.

How far would you go to relocated a church?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

a prayer (edwin mcmanus)

I thought this was worth sharing...

"Lord, I need a dream worth giving my life to.
I need a life worth
waking up to each morning.
I need a mission bigger than me.
I want to
believe for not only me, but also for this world.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

an unimpressive god

Sitting in chapel the other day, I was taken back as I looked around the auditorium. To the right the girl sitting next to me was checking her email on her cell phone; the girl to my left was texting. Another row up a guy pulls out his phone as his thumbs meticulously pound on the screen. I felt that maybe I was missing out in the chorus of small glowing screens that seemed to be appearing all around me.

Now I must admit that I’m currently not the biggest fan of chapel, but I couldn’t help but wondering ‘is it really that boring? Is getting that text out right now that important? Have our attention spans become that small?’ I’ve had conversations with people after chapel asking what they thought of the services and answers tend to be all over the spectrum. However when there’s a teacher who’s able to speak with high energy, clever rhetoric, and an in-your-face message, the majority of students come away generally pleased--it was an impressive chapel. Yet those times that don’t seem quite up to par, well, that’s when the cell phones come out.

Lately I’ve been chewing on this thought of am unimpressive God. When I was talking with a friend about why he and his family chose to start going to the Episcopal church (where I’m now going), he mentioned that there’s really nothing impressive about it. No one is going to pull out flashy teaching or put on something that will draw more people in. You can take it or leave it.

Now in all of this I do not mean to say that God is unimpressive in the way that we commonly think of the word. He is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient, and he is God; that is impressive. But even in the ministry of Jesus we see that when the Pharisees ask Jesus for a miracle, something flashy and impressive, Jesus rebukes them. He never tried to be impressive. Henri Nouwen refers to it as the need to be relevant, when in reality all that one has to offer is their vulnerable self.

Often times we think of how this applies to us as church leaders as we struggle with the temptation to be impressive. But I want to ask what implications does this have on us as we participate in things such as chapel and church? Are we able and willing to open ourselves up to the unimpressiveness of Jesus? Can we put aside our impressive technology and desire to be entertained for a moment to be stilled by something unimpressive?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

here's the warning

Spring semester senior year at Taylor University means one thing to Christian Ed majors--their senior paper. For a good chunk of time I was wondering how in the world can I incorporate all of my passions and what I want to do vocationally...holistic ministry from a pastoral position, teaching, story, creating culture, and so on. But there was a lightbulb moment over our senior capstone trip where it hit me--my paper topic would be scripture engagement!

Never did I think that I would be writing on this theme and be as excited about it as I am. Yet it is all making sense to me. I’ve long thought that if we can simply get a better orientation of who Jesus is and catch the vision of his story, the kingdom of God, as laid out throughout the entire Bible. And when we begin to read and let the word speak to us, it should mess with us in big ways. So why not scripture engagement?

I’m thrilled. I really can’t begin to express how exciting this concept is to me. I think I described it to someone today saying that it, ‘makes my soul flutter.‘ I’m discovering that I can’t work on this paper or read content about it late at night because I won’t be able to sleep. Like I said, I would have never expected this from a thing like scripture engagement.

So here’s the warning: this whole idea of scripture engagement may be a reoccurring theme here.