Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Why Leviticus?

This past Sunday I started a new sermon series on the book of Leviticus, but before I could get into much of the actual text, I had to do some setup to make sure we are all on the same page as we embark. For those of you who are a part of our congregation and were in worship on Sunday, this will be redundant. But for those of you who weren’t with us Sunday—or those who are just interested in a few thoughts on Leviticus—I thought it would be helpful to recap my introductory sermon.

I began my sermon on Sunday by declaring the irony that my main reason for preaching on Leviticus right now has very little to do with Leviticus itself. What I’m really interested in is developing a ‘Rule of Life’ for our church. A Rule of Life is a framework or structure that can help guide us in the way of God. It’s a set of practices and values that, if we strive for, will help us to live more closely like Jesus. There’s nothing legalistic or obligatory about these practices, but they serve as a guide for faithful living as the people of God.

Which is where the book of Leviticus comes in. I think Leviticus is essentially a Rule of Life for the people of Israel as they emerge from the captivity of Egypt. They’ve been slaves for 400 years and have no identity or practices of their own. As Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, they have no idea how to faithfully live as the free people of God. How should they connect with God? How should they practice their religion? What does an ethical and faithful life look like? They need help!

So, Leviticus becomes a framework for faithful living—a guide to help them live as the free people of God. It’s personal and practical and meant to be helpful for a specific group of people thousands of years ago in an entirely different world.

Which is why this book seems so archaic and barbaric—and largely gets ignored today. Of course it seems archaic…it is! Of course it seems outdated…it is! But that doesn’t mean it’s not meaningful and can’t be helpful for us today. If we will do the hard work of scraping off the top of layer of this text and mine it for the real meaning and purpose behind these ancient practices—this ancient Rule of Life—we will find immense value and wisdom in crafting a new way to be a community of faith.

I’m excited to embark on this new journey and am prayerfully hopeful that we will emerge as more devoted disciples of Jesus with a Rule of Life to guide us as the free people of God.


If you weren’t here on Sunday, it would be helpful to listen to the whole sermon. You can find it HERE.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

An Undistracted Peace

I spent Monday holed up in a little cabin in the woods—with no internet, no cell service, and heck, no running water—and it was glorious! With the beginning of a new sermon series coming this Sunday (and a challenging one at that), I needed to spend some undistracted time in serious sermon preparation. And that’s exactly what happened!

It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when interruptions are eliminated and attention is undivided. For all the blessings technology has brought into our lives, it has also opened the Pandora’s Box of procrastination and disturbance. It’s pretty hard to get things done when emails keep coming, the lure of Facebook looms, and the distraction of the internet sucks us into its vortex.

Never have we needed the wisdom of the Sabbath more.

We need moments, hours, and days to unplug from the tether of technology and unwind from the chaotic cacophony of our busy existence. We need room in our schedule where we can’t be reached by anyone but those we let into those spaces (including, at times, no one). We were rhythmically created to rest and never designed for the stressful schedules we keep.

We need time where we can’t be reached and we won’t be bothered.

So, let’s build this unplugging practice into our daily, weekly, and monthly rhythms. Let’s be intentional about finding moments, both short and long, where we can unwind from our stressful, busy, multi-tasking world. And let’s spend those moments being unadulteratedly present to both the work and rest God is inviting us into.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Recreation & Re-Creation

I get my money’s worth out of my summers.

There’s soccer on Mondays and Wednesdays, softball on Tuesdays and Thursdays, hiking, mountain biking, and camping. God bless Mandy for letting me keep that crazy schedule. And then there’s family activities—from swimming at the pool and playing at parks to riding our bikes and taking family walks—that keep our summers full of fun in the sun. And I love every minute of it.

Now, that routine might be a bit extreme, but the point I’m trying to illustrate is the importance of recreation. As humans—and I would argue especially as people of faith—it is vital that we take time away from the busyness of work and school and life to simply relax our bodies, refresh our minds, rejuvenate our souls, and enjoy our world.

You see, all recreation is deeply and inherently spiritual. To recreate is to re-create.

When we play…when we rest…when we connect with creation and community…we are participating in the re-creation of the world. Creation was endowed by God with a rhythm—six and one, six and one, six and one—designed for us to beautifully labor as the stewards of creation, but then take time to rest, rejuvenate, and step back to enjoy the wonder of God’s goodness.

We too often don’t operate within the boundaries of this sacred rhythm, however, so the world is not as it was intended to be. Creation is off-kilter. But when we recreate—when we pause from the daily grind and step away from the busyness of life—we allow the world to re-create. When we do what we love, we partner with God in re-creating our world. When we connect with who we love, we are re-creating the world as it was meant to be.

The original covenant God made with his people was a contract of re-creation—where God would bless his people so they would be a blessing to the world—co-creating a new and better existence alongside the Creator. And this co-creating task has not changed. We still bear this awesome responsibility of re-creating the world alongside the Creator, and one way this co-creational process can occur is through simply recreating in ways that lead to refreshment, rejuvenation, and joy.

When we pause from the busyness of life, engage in the lovely and life-giving things of this world, and do so with others, we partner with God in the renewal of all things.

So, spend this summer recreating as a means of re-creation. Have some fun. Do some things you love to do but never make time for. Spend time doing nothing with people who mean everything. Play, be silly, get muddy and wet. Share your dinner table with good friends. Share your life with your neighbors. Take time to rest, rejuvenate, and enjoy our world. And as you re-create your body, mind, and soul, you’ll be partnering with God in re-creating our world.