If you don’t do so already you should begin reading Pam’s blog (actually she has two and both of them are great). She is consistently brilliant. I really like her latest post “The Theology of Coffee Cups” concerning the quiet servant heart of one of the “threads.”
As many of you now Tapestry is trying morning worship gatherings for 3 months as an experiment. This week I realized two unforeseen consequences of swapping to morning worship gatherings for however long we are doing this.
1. Tomorrow is Daylight Savings Time. How in the world did I not check this out? This is the second week of the trial and it is the worst Sunday for morning church. Spring forward stinks. Argh.
2. It changes my ability to run Sunday running races. For example, the Oshkosh half marathon is Sunday, April 13th. I usually go and run this half marathon and then come back for church. Not an option this year. Just means I can’t do the Oshkosh half this year. No big deal really. I just didn’t think of it before.
The problem this arises for me is that I need to pick a new Spring/Early Summer half marathon to run. Anyone have any experience with any of the following?
- Jailbreak half marathon, April 26 – Wautoma
- Ripon College half marathon, May 3 – Ripon
- Rockin’ Tomahawk half marathon, June 14 – Tomahawk
I haven’t run any of them so I don’t really know much about them. Any help would be appreciated.
All together not really big problems to deal with in trying mornings out. I will probably feel different about this tomorrow morning.
If you have heard me preach more than a few times you may have unconsciously picked up that I love the conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs in scripture. In other words, I love the “and”s, “but”s, ”or”s, “therefore”s, “since”s, & all other words and phrases found in the Bible that tend to join multiple thoughts together. I feel like I reference these enough that I should have some consistent images to display when I talk about them.
For those of you who haven’t heard me preach in the last 7 or so years you don’t know why I want these images. Let me explain.
At Washington Elementary we have a 25″ screen to project our lyrics an my message PowerPoint slides on to. When I preach I don’t put a lot of words on my PowerPoint slides. Instead, I project images or single words that fit with what I am talking about at the moment. Therefore, when I point out a conjunctive word I usually have either the single word or an image conveying that word displayed behind me. This happens a lot and therefore I think it might be nice to have a consistent set of images to display.
So here’s the contest. If you can come up with a few images (one for “therefore/since,” one for “and”, & one for “but”) that convey the thought of the conjunctive words I am pointing out then I will do one of the following:
- Treat you to coffee/ice cream at Emy J’s or Zest.
- Take you to lunch at Green Tea or Politto’s Pizza.
- I will write your parents a letter saying how wonderful you are.
- I will give you Pam’s cat (Pam will probably veto this action but I will still try).
Many of you “threads” are artists, or at least artistic, so this should be easy for you. These images can be photos or illustrations. It is up to you. Go for it.
I have a participated in a few kickstarter campaigns. For those who don’t know, kickstarter is a wonderful way of crowd sourcing the funding for a project. The campaigns I have participated in have primarily been for friends or artists that I enjoy. Typically the way a kickstarter campaign works is that you contribute a certain amount to the project and receive benefits/rewards in return for your contribution. It is kind of like Public Radio fundraising without all the nagging.
Anyway there is one campaign that I am presently in that I believe can serve as an example for anyone doing a project and asking for support. I mentioned in a earlier post that I am participating in Steve Taylor’s kickstarter campaign to fund his first new studio album in 20 years. Steve has run this campaign better than any other fund raising campaign I have ever seen or been a part of. He has sent just the right amount of updates. He started the campaign in November and has sent out 19 updates since then. These updates have not only been informative concerning what is happening in the project but HIGHLY entertaining. Seriously folks these things have been funny all while letting everyone know what type of work their contributions have been funding. I saw someone comment on one of the updates that the updates themselves were were the contribution. This unknown, to me, commenter is completely correct. The fact that I get a copy of the album at the end of the project is just gravy now.
Here is what I have received for my $8 contribution thus far:
*19 entertaining updates
*a “thank you” phone call from Steve Taylor himself.
*a free lossless copy of Steve Taylor’s last studio album “Squint” (I had this already but it is the thought that counts).
On top of the above I receive a copy of the new album before it is publicly released. This really is by far the best kickstarter campaign I have participated in. I might start sharing this with friends who start their own kickstarter campaign. I have help fund a few campaigns that never sent out an update at all. Seriously, I helped fund one campaign that went 18 months without a single update. I know through sources I found on accident that this person is working on the project.
In this end if you are doing a kickstarter campaign learn from Steve Taylor. Do more than people expect, rather than less. Not sure we can go wrong with the mindset in much of life. It would work in our businesses, churches, lives, etc.
Do more than people expect when they help you get started. I hope I normally live like that.
I listened to the Relevant podcast this morning while driving to Tapestry’s monthly Leadership Team breakfast. During the podcast they talked about a list of of jobs most likely & least likely to attract psychopaths. Here are the two lists.
- Media (Television/Radio)
- Police officer
- Clergy person
- Civil servant
- Care aide
- Charity worker
- Creative artist
The list comes from a book called The Wisdom of Psychopaths (which I haven’t read). This article on the list and book mentions that the “why” behind the attraction probably has something to do with the ability to connect and really empathize with people. That actually surprised me a little at first because I think one of the main attributes of a good minister is the ability to connect and empathize with people. I am sure that my Dad (a salesman at heart) would say the same thing about good salesmen. Of course, I also know clergy and sales people who are able to take an ability to connect with others and use it for their own power motives rather than empathizing with others.
I guess that is why some of the best people I know in the world (people who are giving, creative, sacrificial, passionate, etc) are ministers and some of the worse people I know in the world are also ministers. When those talents are focused on other people it is a wonder to behold and amazing things happen. When those same talents are focused on one’s own motives they are destructive and terrible. I think my dad would say the same thing about sales people.
The good news is that Pam is a therapist at heart and thus on the least likely list. So the boys have at least one good role model. :)
While working on Sunday’s sermon I ran across the following quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued. What is weak shall become strong through God, and what dies shall live.
I was challenged by it, liked it, and thought I would incorporate it into Sunday’s message. I do however hate attributing things to secondary sources so I thought I would go find the original source and look at the context of the quote. I found it in a collection of Bonhoeffer’s writings from 1928-31. I think the context makes the quote even better. Unfortunately it is rather long to share on a Sunday evening so I am, therefore, posting it here on the blog.
Ethics and religion and church all go in this direction: from the human to God. Christ, however, speaks only and exclusively of the line from God to human beings, not of some human path to God, but only of God’s own path to humans. Hence it is also fundamentally wrong to seek a new morality in Christianity. In actual practice, Christ offered hardly any ethical prescriptions not already attested among his contemporary Jewish rabbis or even in pagan literature. The essence of Christianity is found in its message about the sovereign God to whom alone, above the entire world, all honor is due; it is a message about the eternally other, the God removed from the world who from the primal ground of his being has loving compassion for those who render honor to him alone, the God who traverses the path to human beings in order to find there vessels of that honor precisely where human beings are nothing, where they fall silent, where they give space to God alone.
Here the light of eternity falls upon that which is eternally disregarded, the eternally insignificant, the weak, ignoble, unknown, the least of these, the oppressed and despised: here that light radiates out over the houses of the prostitutes and tax collectors . . . here that light pours out from eternity upon the working, toiling, sinning masses. The message of grace travels over the dull sultriness of the big cities but remains standing before the houses of those who spiritually speaking are satisfied, knowing, and possessing. It pronounces upon the death of people and nations its eternal: I have loved you from eternity; stay with me, and you will live. Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued. What is weak shall become strong through God, and what dies shall live.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The Essence of Christianity.” In Barcelona, Berlin, New York: 1928-1931. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008. pp. 354-55.
I also love the creativity in their videos which I have mentioned before. They have a tendency to decontruct how they make their music and videos. They let you in to see the “man behind the curtain.” I feel like many people try to hide how they make something creative. I think this is probably for fear that others will see how it is made and then do the same thing, or fear that if someone sees how something is made they will think less of it because it seems too simple. But that’s not what Pomlamoose does. They let you in to see how the sausage is made and it just adds to the greatness of their music. Single Ladies, one of their earlier covers, is a great example of them deconstructing how a their music is made.
Of course, it helps that I enjoy their music too.
SIDE NOTE – I do find the part where the video projects her singing on her bustier rather disturbing and strange.
For a few years now I have been using this image of Brett Favre whenever I spoke about examples of evil during a message at a Tapestry worship gathering. I am beginning to think it is time to give #4 a break and beginning to acknowledge that there is another great example of evil that I could use during sermons. This new example of evil is the oblivious left lane occupant. ARGH! You left laners drive me nuts.
Pam and I have recently begun watching “The Good Wife.” Please don’t spoil anything for us because we are only in the second season right now. One of the things that I have found most interesting about the series thus far is how the concept of faith has been dealt with in the show. A couple of the main characters (bouncing off the title I would refer to them as “the bad husband” and “the do the wrong thing daughter”) have had close encounters with Christian faith and the response of the family around them has seemed to be to view the possibility of these discovers of faith as a threat to their political ambitions and way of life. This might change in future episodes, like I said Pam and I are only in the second season right now. All I know is that I love this portrayal of faith as a danger to the present power. I believe it is honest.
Real faith in Christ is a threat to one’s present way of life. Jesus has a manner of coming into a person’s life and turning everything around. He especially likes to play around with the power dynamics of a culture that a believer lives in. That whole “first shall be last” and “when [you are] weak, then [you are] strong” thing goes against the way a society typically functions. If it is really lived out it has a tendency to really mess with people and society.
The Romans understood this about early Christians. Jesus was killed by the Romans because he was viewed as a threat to the peace of the Empire. He was handed over by the religious leadership of His culture because he was viewed as a threat to their power and possibly sparking trouble with Roman. Jesus and His kingdom were a threat to the powers of the culture of the day because Jesus’ kingdom would change everything from priorities to practice. Powers don’t like that kind of change.
Power has a tendency to deals with threats of that kind of change by trying to annihilate the threat. After all, those of us who are followers of Christ know that Jesus gave His life for sinners like me to have a relationship with God, but the Empire of the day thought they were sacrificing Him to maintain their power. From their view the only appropriate response to the threat of Christ was to get rid of Him. Caiaphas, the high priest, saw the threat Jesus’s new kingdom represented and said “it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” It made sense to them because they needed to protect the powers of that time, which they thought brought stability, from the obvious threat of instability that Jesus brought with Him.
After Jesus death and resurrection His followers continued to be a pain in the side of the powers of the day. Thus the persecution of the early church. Early Christians were killed over a theological debate but the debate wasn’t was
Some of the Anabaptist leaders that I admire the most viewed suffering and persecution as a mark of the actual church of Christ. As the Anabaptists learned from personal experience the powers of a society don’t respond nicely to people that they view as threats to their power and way of life.
If Jesus would only morph into everyone’s personal agenda then everything would be nice and cozy. He wouldn’t be a threat then. He would just be a god who wanted us to be better citizens and work within the powers of the society to make everyone nicer. He wouldn’t be pushing His own kingdom where everything that the powers value is flipped on its head.
Of course, the real Jesus doesn’t fit into other people’s agendas. He has His own agenda and that is summarized in His kingdom where the last are first and weakness equals strength. Jesus is the type of God where even those who eventually will become some of His closest followers initially respond to the threat that He is by saying “go away from me, Lord.” You don’t say that to a god who isn’t a threat to your agenda for a nice life, but you might say that to the God Who is a threat to it.
I guess that is why I like the portrayal I have been seeing on “The Good Wife.” These characters see the possibility of another character that they love encountering Jesus as messing everything up and playing around with the present power dynamics. I think they have it right because that’s is exactly what Jesus does.
For me the question comes back to whether Jesus is changing the priorities and values or my life and how I live within my culture. Is He messing with my life by changing my values into the values of His kingdom. Is He doing it in your life? Is Jesus a threat to the status quo of us and our society?
SIDE NOTE – If you are wondering about the above photo it is from “Threat Level Midnight.”