Summer

With getting a taste of the current 70-80 degree weather AND emailing in both of my final papers last week my mind is starting to head toward summer.

This summer will be filled with…
-hanging with my boys (and my girl).
-mowing the lawn while Gram follows me around with his little mower.
-brewing summer beers: Bavarian Hefeweizen, German Pils, Berliner Weisse, IPA, and a Widmer Summer Ale clone to be exact.
-regularly grilling meat.
-gardening.
-fixing up the garage.
-rest and prayer.
-laughter with friends.
-the Zoo.
-spending some time on the coast.
-I’ll probably work a bit too. ūüôā

This summer will not involve…
-writing papers.
-reading books that are not about baseball (or theology most-likely).
-packing my schedule full of “stuff” or overcommitting myself.
-deadlines.

I LOVE the summertime and it’s too short of a season in Portland to waste it or to be stressed the entire time. ¬†I’m excited to slow down a bit, enjoy my family, and not overwork or overcommit. ¬†Here’s to summer!

Finding, not seeking, is still the goal.

“It is always the case that we can only seek that which we already know. ¬†If I do not really know what I am looking for, I’m not really seeking. ¬†Thus we must already know which God we are looking for before we can really seek him. ¬†If I do not know that, then I drift from place to place, and “seeking” becomes an end in itself, and finding is no longer the main thing. ¬†Thus I can only find when I know what or whom I am seeking.

Now either I know this God whom I am seeking on my own, by my experiences and insights, from nature or history interpreted this way or that-and this means I know God by myself, from my own resources-or I know God by his revelation in his own word.  Either I determine the place where I will find God, or I let God determine the place where he wants to be found.  If I am the one who gets to decide where God will be found, then I will always find a God there, a God who some way or other is the kind of God I am looking for, a God I like, a God appropriate to my own nature and personality.

But if God is the One who says where he will be found, then this will very likely be the place that at first does not at all fit my own nature and character, a place I probably will not like at all.  This place is the cross of Jesus.  And those who want to find God there must take their place under the cross, as demanded by the Sermon on the Mount.  This does not at all correspond to our own nature; it is exactly contrary to it.  But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New Testament but also in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53!).

In any case this was the understanding of both Jesus and Paul: in the cross of Jesus the Scripture, that is, the Old Testament, is fulfilled.  Thus the whole Bible is permeated by the divine intention of being that word in which God wants to be found by us.  No place that seems pleasant to us, or that at first even seems reasonable to us, but a place in every way strange to us, totally alien to us.  Precisely there is the place God has chosen to meet us.

This is the way I now read the Bible. ¬†I ask of every passage, “What does God have to say to us here?”

Every other place outside the Bible has become too uncertain for me.  I fear that there I will only bump into my own divine look-alike, a reflection of myself.

And I want to say something to you quite personally: since I have learned to read the Bible in this way-which has not been long at all-it becomes more wonderful to me each day.  I read some every morning and evening, often also during the day, and every day I take one text that I keep for the whole week and try to immerse myself in it in order really to hear it.  I know that without this I could no longer truly live.  Even less would I be able to believe.

The only thing left is the decision whether we are willing to trust the word of the Bible or not, whether we are willing to let ourselves be held by it, as by no other word in life or in death. ¬†and, I believe, we can find true joy and peace only when we have made this decision…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Letter to Rudiger Schleicher, April 8th, 1936

Easter

Between the amazing Good Friday experience that our home communities designed and the celebrative Easter gathering today, this may be the best Holy Week I’ve experienced at Evergreen. ¬†Here’s a pic of the packed out pub today! ¬†How important are fire codes really?

I preached on the resurrection this morning. ¬†Thought it fit well. ūüėČ

Jonathan Case, a graphic artist who has created this and this, did some live art for us while the gathering was happening.   Pretty amazing!

Finally, our little baby Owen was dedicated today. ¬†I went on and on about how he was born on St. Patrick’s day and gave everyone a short history lesson. ¬†Despite that, it was a good moment!

LOVED our time together this morning.  I was really encouraged by the powerful implications the resurrection has on our lives right now.  Great morning.

Good Friday

For Good Friday this year instead of doing our typical gathering, our home communities created a stations of the cross experience as well as a prayer labyrinth that people could use.

As you can see, we have some incredibly talented people who created a very thoughtful and moving experience.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen! ¬†I’m really proud of our church community!

A Contradiction in Terms Pt. 2

“There is no doubt that people who live apart from the assembled community can also belong to the sanctorum communio, namely the sick, or castaways for example…However, the assembly retains its full significance for the church-community. ¬†For those who belong to it also received their faith through concrete contacts with others, through ‘preaching’ (Rom. 10:17).

The assembly of believers remains our mother. ¬†Thus the question why, psychologically, one should stay with the assembly is first of all equivalent to the question why one should love one’s mother; if need be, one might answer by pointing to the motive of gratitude. ¬†The decisive factor, however, is that Christians will never feel they have outgrown the place of their spiritual birth. ¬†They thus seek the assembly not merely out of gratitude for the gift they have already received, but are driven by the desire to receive it ever anew, to be born anew again and again (John 3:3; 2 Cor. 4:16).¬†

In all their solitude as individuals they know themselves to be members of the good shepherd’s flock; they know themselves to be part of the historical community of the church, the assembly, from which they have received life and continue to receive it, and in which alone they live. ¬†In the assembly the church community pledges itself to God, according to God’s will; and here God pledges to be present within the church-community.

The concrete assembly thus has a very specific significance of it’s own. ¬†First, it shows that church is something ‘visible’, a community of human beings consisting of body and soul; it is not a community of common convictions or based on kindred spirits, but a community of love made up of real human beings.” ¬†

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sanctorum Communio 228-229

A Contradiction in Terms Pt. 1

“A Christian church-community, whether a publicly visible congregation or a house-church, is held together by its assembling around the word… The concrete function of the empirical church, therefore, is worship that consists of preaching and celebrating the sacramentsOnly when an individual outlook began to transform this obvious necessity into a psychological one did it ask about the meaning of the assembly in terms of its usefulness and necessity for the individual. ¬†This question reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of the church-community.

Since I belong to the church community, I come to the assembly; this is the simple rationale of those who are assembled. ¬†This act is not based on utilitarian considerations or a sense of duty, but is ‘organic’ and obvious behavior….It is here alone that the Spirit is at work and dispenses the charismata (gifts of grace). ¬†A Christian who stays away from the assembly is a contradiction in terms. ¬†The church-community, united by one word, hears this word again and again while assembled; conversely, the word that created the church-community again and again calls it together into concrete assembly.

Of course, this answer will not satisfy the individualistic inquirer. ¬†For cannot each member of the church-community read the Bible on their own, and in private profess that they belong to the church-community, namely the invisible church of the ‘conscience’ and the ‘soul’? ¬†What is the purpose of the deadly boredom of a publicly visible assembly in which one risks sitting in front of a narrow-minded preacher and next to lifeless faces?”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio 226-228

Favorite Records of 2012 so far…

Why wait until the end of the year to start doing lists?  This is what has stood out to me so far this year.  What are your favorites?

Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself

Laura Gibson – La Grande

New Multitudes – Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker and Yim Yames

Rocky Votolato – Television of Saints

Tyler Ramsey – The Valley Wind