Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Cinnamon Roll Effect

So, tomorrow we start the two day event of baking home-made cinnamon rolls (and if you haven't tasted the Stock--now Kubicek--family recipe, you've never tasted dessert as it's meant to be).  Our family recipe has magical powers to break down societal walls and lay an even playing field for us all: namely, "the stuffing of the faces".

Anyway, we're baking them to take to a friends' house where we'll be hanging out after church on Sunday.  Ironically, we'll be spending a few hours in the afternoon with two other families who attend two other churches, yet we are beginning to consider these families as our brothers and sister even more than the couples in our church whom we've known longer and spent more time.  Why is this?

There's something about church today that detracts from community.  This may very well be in my mind alone, but I feel that more and more church is an event, a Sunday morning reminder to check in with God to be sure, but an event mostly.  I mean, is it possible for me to go to church without thinking about checking it off the list so we can do the other things in our day?  And when we're there, are we not singing the same songs we've sung for years just with slightly different chord changes?  Seriously, I'm not a poet laureate, but learning a "new song" at church that's chorus is "Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God Forever" is either a really bad joke or a mockery of the creativity and intellect that our Lord has placed into our bodies.

So, we go over to our friends house on Sunday to learn what community feels and looks like as we participate together.  And we challenge each other to live deeply and seek Jesus with purpose and questions and anticipation.  We talk about our struggles to know God more and how to walk in His footsteps and follow His direction and serve each other.  We're trying to figure this life thing out together.  We're trying to figure this church thing out together.  What's it supposed to look like?  How is it supposed to operate?

We could spend timing deciding if Pope John Paul II should be deemed a Saint like the current pope, Benedict XVI, has requested.  But I'm not certain how that will really have any effect on any living creature (and as a subplot, aren't all who are saved, saints?).  I guess if Pope Benedict stops by this Sunday we'll save an extra cinnamon roll for him.  I wouldn't want him to miss out on a little heaven on earth action!

Friday, April 22, 2011

May We Weep

Today is Good Friday.  The day when our Lord willingly gave himself over to be destroyed for our sake.  So, as we all celebrate together our Lord and what he is doing, let us find ourselves in a deeper love for one another...

...As you may have picked up over my previous writings, I've found myself more in-tune with my struggle to love the Church.  It turns out, I have a big problem with people who are claiming to follow Christ while hurting other people, be it with words, actions, or in action.  There are so many screwed up things happening today in Christian circles that often times its hard to believe it has anything at all to do with this Person we know as Jesus. 

In writing, I seek to journey through these questions raised by all of us in an effort to know Christ better.  And by questioning the vocalized doctrine, tradition, actions, and beliefs of the talking heads in Christian circles, maybe we can better understand the Person of Jesus.  Because honestly, there is a lot of mystery in our Lord yet to be discovered!

So, today let's all mourn the death of our Lord and prepare to celebrate this Sunday.  But let us also mourn the afflictions and struggles of His people.  Let us weep over the broken Church.  Because through mourning we are healed.  Through tears our struggles are identified and acknowledged and peace can infuse with our souls.  May we celebrate this weekend not only the resurrection of our Lord, but of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  May we celebrate the rebirth of the children of God as we enter new life through Jesus; a life of love, compassion, mercy, humility towards our fellow humans. 

Because whether we know it or not, like it or not, want it or not, we're all the children of God.  Some of us are nearer to Him than others, some know Him more than others, and some running to and others away from Him.  But our Lord made each of us in His own image, as His children here on earth.  May we all be reborn into a life in which we honor our fellow brothers and sisters no matter what race, religion, ethnicity, or country in which we were born.  It's time to hammer our swords into plows and join together in this world as family.  And for all the places we do not see this happening, may we weep.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Christian Condition

Do you ever wonder why we think its our job to decide who is and isn't a Christian?  We'll sit in a Starbucks, an office, a church and read everyone in the place like a book.  He's a Christian, she's not...I wonder what his story is...he needs Jesus...

We are sick people.  We all need Jesus.

From what I can read in scripture, Jesus taught and loved, and built relationships.  He sees us all as children of God whether we know it or not.  Whether we are running from God, to Him, or standing still.  We're all God's children.  So why are we compelled as Christians to decide who is in and is not?  Or even further, why do we feel that it is our duty to tell other people who is or isn't a Christian?

In the midst of the recent drama with Rob Bell's new book, I've been trying to figure out why so many people took such deeply-rooted sides against him and his book.  Perhaps it is because as humans, we seek to assign people motives to their actions.  So, although many people hadn't read his book nor heard him speak they assigned him motive based on the current events and climate of debate.

For example, a friend of mine recently criticized Rob Bell as using the controversy to sell books.  So according to this perspective, Rob Bell isn't bringing up ideas and questions to help us know God or spur change in our hearts; instead, he is simply using controversy as a platform to make money.  Really?  And yet you've never heard him speak or read his books and you know his motives?!

But if the change we all long for in our own hearts and for the Church as a whole to happen, won't this cause controversy on its own?  Won't this cause growing pains?  Won't this make some people inflamed and others ecstatic?  Isn't this what we're really looking for?  Someone to look us all straight in the eye and challenge us to love without reserve, with open arms, and with a fresh view of who God truly is.

Yet, by assigning motive to others' actions we shield ourselves from the ideas that could challenge and break our false beliefs and propel us to further love for both God and people.  Because we're all children of God.  Even those who don't agree with us.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Just for Fun!

In response to my last blog and all the hoopla recently, I wanted to post this blog by Donald Miller: Love Wins.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rob Bell: Leading us back to God

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go and hear Rob Bell speak.  If you aren't aware of Bell, I'd recommend you read one of his books: Velvet Elvis or Jesus wants to save Christians.  Both are excellent reads and help us rediscover who God is instead of what we have come to believe from all the false beliefs invading our hearts and minds.

Over the past two weeks Rob has been on a book tour and on a journey of the "worst two weeks of his life."  Why the worst two weeks?  Because it turns out that people can generate a lot of anger and hatred when someone expresses a view or belief that is different than their own.  It's been unbelievable the condemnation that has sprung up from lots of leaders in christian America.

By the way, if you want to read a much better blog than mine on this subject, read this one.

What pains me is the fact that so many people can be so destructive against anyone on this planet!!!  I don't care of you disagree with Rob Bell.  But if you wail against his works and against him as a person how is that showing any love towards God or other people?  Is not this attack against him simply an obvious sign that the attacker has abandoned God's call for us to love Him and others?!

This is why it is ever-increasingly difficult for me to have any affection for the church.  I'm starting to think that I'd like the christian American church to disband; it would likely do more good than harm if it did so.  Instead, a threat to theology, doctrine, or some other man-made idea causes an all out war against the very nature of who God is.  Why would we sacrifice the love of God for a belief system?

**I have purposely not capitalized the words christian and church today as my small way of protesting the way our faith has been dishonored with these events***