Monday, March 30, 2009

Love and Revenge Re-Mixed

My group in one of my classes is presenting tomorrow on a section of the Sermon on the Mount. We will be re-telling Matthew 5:17-48 through a re-writing of the text and a use of cultural artifacts to enlighten us as to the meaning of the passages. My section of the text is Jesus' words on "an eye for an eye" and "loving your neighbor," so I thought I would share my re-write for new thoughts on the idea.

Matthew 5:38-48
38You have heard it said, ‘That next act of vengeance will finally settle the score.’ 39But I tell you, do not try to out-terrorize a terrorist. If someone crashes a plane into your building, feed their kids and give them clean water. 40And if someone tries to steal your identity, remember that nothing in your wallet defines who you are. 41If your boss asks you to stay late, then stay all night and sleep in your office. 42Be gracious beyond all measure, and place no boundaries on that gift.

43You have heard it said, ‘Bless those who are like you and curse those of difference.’ 44But I tell you: Love the ‘other’ and pray for those who put you to death, 45so that you might unite your heart with Christ of the Cross. God’s justice rolls down with endless abundance, from the slums of Calcutta to the high-rises of Wall Street. 46There’s not much prize in returning someone’s love. Don’t the politicians and business execs do that? 47And how are you any different if you only open your life to those closest to you? Doesn’t everyone do that? 48Move toward complete love, therefore, as your God completely loves.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Is That Him?

I work at a rock climbing gym here in Seattle and yesterday we had a fairly famous visitor walk through our doors. I must admit that I didn't recognize him, but when he said his name was Daniel Bedingfield (in a British accent), I instantly began to wonder if I was speaking to the singer/songwriter. I knew that he was from Australia and England, and we don't get many British accents through our doors, so I actually thought there was a chance.

After doing some research, I found out that it actually was him. I am not a huge fan of his music, but still think it is pretty sweet that I was chatting with a celebrity yesterday. The thing that makes him most famous, however, is probably the fact that his sister is Natasha Bedingfield, a really famous female pop singer. Daniel has a month pass at the gym, so maybe I will be able to talk with him again. He is not a part of the "Christian" music scene, but supposedly he is a Christian. I am interested in chatting with him about what it looks like for him to navigate the tension between honoring his faith while remaining true to his art. I commend Christian artists who can find a way to move with integrity through the mainstream market.

Here is a YouTube video of Daniel's most famous song, "If You're Not the One":

A Tragic Night

I do my best to not write about sports very often on here (despite being an avid sports fan), but I cannot resist after such a disapointing even last night. I am a die-hard Duke Blue Devils fan and was devastated by their crushing lost last evening in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Any Duke loss will be cataclysmic for me, but the nature of their 23 point defeat to Villanova has me writhing with anger today.

If you know anything about Duke basketball, you know that their coach, Coach K, runs a tight ship of normally mediocre-talent guys who play fundamental basketball and typically win because they simply outwork their opponent. Which is why their game last night was so tragic. They played terrible defense (constantly lunging for steals rather than staying in front of their man), missed wide open shots that they almost always make (Scheyer & Henderson were like 4 for 27), and, in general, didn't have nearly as much 'heart' as the Villanova's players played with. I had to shut the game off with about 3:00 remaining just to keep from throwing the remote through the was THAT bad!

I guess I have 8 months to get over this tragic loss, but I really do hope that Coach K works hard at finding a solid point guard, a dominant big man, and re-instills the fundamentals of defense, boxing out, and hard work...or next year might be just as disappointing.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Seeing Through New Eyes

For my mission class we had an assignment of doing something missional as small groups and being prepared to present about it to the class. Yesterday morning my group finally did our "project". Each member of my group spends a decent amount of time walking the streets of downtown, but we all generally walk with purpose, simply trying to get from Point A to Point B, missing the people and faces crying out for help in between.

We wondered what it might look like to give ourselves the space and time to walk without purpose or agenda, simply letting God reveal who God would want to reveal. We couldn't have been more blessed by the process. We ended up buying breakfast, setting it out on benches near a common downtown bus stop, and sharing a common meal with a bunch of random strangers. It was such a blessing to hear people's stories (i.e. Buddha & Lisa), see people's faces, and unite with our neighbors around the commonality of food.

I continue to process a number of things from the experience. One of the people we met, Lisa, kept saying over and over again how thankful she was that there were people who cared. Then she said something I will never forget. She said that she wished the news would have been here to see us because this was good news. GOOD NEWS. I couldn't believe her language. We hadn't uttered a word about Jesus, but somehow the good news of the gospel of Christ had gone forth.

Another thing I noticed was that we didn't need to do any evangelism (proclamation of the good news) in order for the word to get out. Lisa did all the work for us. She must have brought 10-15 other people over to have breakfast with us in the hour that we were there. I'm starting to see this as the nature of mission and evangelism, that if your news is good enough news, you won't have to preach it because others will preach it for you. I think about the woman at the well...when she gets ahold of the 'good news' she tells her whole village about it. Jesus doesn't have to say a word to those people because the woman has done all the work for him. Or think about Zacceus...when he hears the 'good news' he tells his whole family, without Jesus having to preach a word to them.

I wonder what it might look like to actually trust that the gospel of Christ is good enough news that if the world catches glimpse of it, they will spread the message without us saying a word. Maybe this is at the heart of St. Francis' words on preaching without words. May our message truly be good news for the world.

Offered Drugs...Again

I am always amazed at the courage and audacity that people have to approach nearly anyone on the street to subtly ask them if they are looking to buy drugs. I doubt that I look like the normal customer, but yet I continually get asked as I walk the streets of downtown Seattle.

They usually ask in a way where my ignorance makes me briefly unsure as to what they are asking. A few seconds later I realize their querie and most likely look dumbfounded as I shake my head no. Yesterday, the phrase of choice as the question was simply "You lookin'?" Its all they needed to say.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Update on a Lack of Posting

It feels like ages since I've last been on here and I miss frequently posting. I'll need to get better about that. There is something about getting your thoughts and feelings out and knowing that people (very few!) actually care enough to hear about them that make you feel pretty good inside. For some reason journaling never really worked for me, but this blogging thing has sort of stuck. excuses for not posting very often lately:
  • Tons of Homework -- I'm not sure why all my professors felt the need to make all of their big assignments due within a 3 week period, but March has just been crazy for me with reading and writing
  • I'm Sick -- I never get sick. I hate being sick. Its just a cold but it has really set me back. I hope it doesn't last much longer.
  • Moving -- I didn't anticipate this move being so emotionally draining, but it has been. It has been great living with our great friends thus far, but it is more time consuming as we've been getting our house arranged and we end up staying up late just chatting and hanging out.

Friday, March 13, 2009

An Unexpected Medley

Today on the bus to class, I was surrounded by two men who were engulfed in their iPods and both had the volume up far too high. The one was loudly jamming to Elvis, while the other was calmly grooving to Kenny G's jazz sax. It was such an odd, eclectic mix of music. I felt like all I was missing was the typical, blaring hip hop to complete the Bermuda Triangle of bus music. I should have just bust out in freestyle rap.

Some Thoughts on Technology

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I've Been to the Mountaintop

A friend of mine was recently telling me about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s finally speech he gave before he was tragically killed, and I thought I would share a brief snippet of the video that I found on YouTube. It is hard to believe that King uttered these prophetic words less than 24 hours before being taken from this earth. I was encouraged to see this video clip and look forward to reading the rest of the sermon.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Typical Church Hospitality

We have been reading about hospitality lately in one of my classes and it has me thinking a lot about what it looks like to truly be hospitable, to be the church who is open to all. I fear our churches often 'emphasize' hospitality without actually practicing it in its full intention. We say we want to reach out to others but instead, we cluster around those who are most like us and make us feel the most comfortable. We say we want to break down walls of separation but instead, we form cliques that make junior high friendships pale in comparison. We say we want to unite rather than divide, but it seems that Dr. King's statement still rings true...that "11:00 on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week."

Even the element of our church liturgy that ought to be the most inclusive part of the service, the Eucharist (communion), is wrought with exclusive language. Many congregations talk about the Eucharist being at an "open table," but what they usually mean is that anyone who has "accepted" Christ is welcome, and if you haven't, then respectfully do not participate. If Christ's death and resurrection was really for us all, then I'm not sure why we would exclude some from the table. If the Eucharist is meant to be an "outward sign of an invisible grace," then I'm not clear why we would deny anyone the grace of God. It baffles me!

What would it look like for followers of Christ to embrace their difference while laying down those differences for the sake of community? What would it look like for the church to pave paths of reconciliation? What if hospitality in the church looked less like a big smile and a warm handshake, and more like laying down your life alongside the person in church who most drives you nuts? What would it look like for the people of God to slowly align themselves with the hospitality of the cross, for the broken heart of God to beat strong within their chest, to embrace the impossible task of caring for a broken and bleeding world?

Our Last Week

Boy, seems like forever since I've written on here. A lot has happened in the past week will continue to happen this weekend. I was skiing in Montana from last Wednesday through Sunday. I met 2 of my best friends in Bozeman, MT for a great time of hanging out and hitting the slopes. We had so much fun laughing together, enjoying great food, and basking in God's goodness that are the Rocky Mountains. I was also able to see our great friends Shad, Patti, and their 3 amazing boys while we were in Big Sky Country. This trip was a much-needed respite from the grind of normal life, a great chance to recharge for the remainder of the semester and to reunite with good friends.

The bad part of our week happened yesterday when Mandy had her wallet stolen from her own desk at work. We have no idea who stole it, but they tried to scam us by calling Mandy's work phone and pretending to be our bank, while asking Mandy to confirm her PIN number. Luckily she is smarter than that. There was nothing irreplaceable in the wallet, but we continue to worry about identity theft and hope that we have taken any precautions to keep that from happening. Lord, help us!

Our week will culminate in grand fashion as we move this weekend. We are pretty excited about all that communal living has to teach us, and are excited to getting going with the experiment. Us and 1 of the other couples are moving in on Saturday, with the other couple moving the following weekend. It seems so strange to be moving again, only 8 months after our last move. At least we aren't heading cross-country again on this one. This move has been relatively stress-free thus far, and I don't antipate that feeling changing.